REAL ASTROLOLY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): How do you feel about cosmic jokes? Are you one of those paradox-loving folks who can appreciate them for their priceless teachings even as they make your whole soul feel like a bumped funny bone? I hope so, because fate has a virtual stand-up routine full of cosmic jokes lined up for you in the months ahead. I kid you not when I say that the harder you laugh, the less it'll sting.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): You may have to travel all over creation to fall in love with an asset that's been too close to appreciate. You might have to lose your faith in order to attract the experiences that'll revive your faith and pump it up twice as strong as ever. It's possible you may even have to act completely unlike yourself so as to provoke the reactions necessary to teach you how to be a better lover. Are you ready for the stickiest, trickiest week of the year?

Gemini (May 21-June 20): While enjoying a deep meditation on your future, I was surprised to discover that you'll soon be communing with the archetype of the pearl. We modern savages regard the pearl primarily as just another glossy emblem of material wealth, but for many cultures in many eras, it has been the embodiment of feminine wisdom, hidden genius, and spiritual balm. I've got to say that I'm hesitant to discuss such esoteric matters in a mere newspaper column. Without getting too graphic about the sacred revelation coming your way, let me just say this: Something that's irritated you for a long time will show you the way to a moist and beautiful truth that can, if you take care of it, sweeten your life forever.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): The New World's first slave rebellion happened exactly 470 years ago this week, when kidnapped Africans on the island of Hispaniola rose up against their Spanish oppressors. To celebrate the hell-raising, rabble-rousing righteousness of your current astrological aspects, I suggest you draw inspiration from those heroes. Revolt against any circumstance that's turned you into a virtual slave -- whether the slave master is someone you depend on or is no one else but the big, bad judge in your own brain.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): If your life were a TV series, your likelihood of winning an Emmy would be soaring but your Nielson ratings would be sagging. Your sponsors would be pressuring you to cut out some of the artistic crap and throw in more of the kind of cliches that couch potatoes can feel sentimental about.

I'm begging you, though, to stave off the arbiters of the lowest common denominator. I have an intuition that if you resist the temptation to water yourself down for a little while longer, you'll please your toughest critics AND your ratings will start to climb.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): I can hardly believe I've neglected to tease you about what a love nut you've been lately. I guess it's because you've earned my reverent respect with your tough new wisdom. Against all odds, you've actually figured out how great love can be if you don't expect it to be a panacea. It's just another example of the ringing rewards that can come your way when you're willing to drop your obsession with perfection. Care to try for yet another stirring triumph in the same vein? All you've got to lose are your illusions.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): This would be a perfect time to elope, even if it's with the person you're already mated to. For that matter, it would be a great week to wear a wedding dress everywhere you go, even if you have no one to marry and even if you're a guy. At least, for God's sake, do something that'll symbolize your desire to concentrate on intimacy with a fierce (and fun) new intensity. Throw rice at yourself. Take listening lessons. Read -- and try the exercises in -- Margo Anand's The Art of Sexual Ecstasy or Charles and Caroline Muir's Tantra: The Art of Conscious Loving.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): What critic Alexander Woollcott once said about Scorpio Katharine Hepburn is true about you in the next few days: You'll run the emotional gamut from A to B. That might have been an insult to Hepburn, but it's actually quite lucky for you. This week should not, after all, be crammed full of gooey, complicated feelings; it should be packed with clear thinking and discriminating honesty. There's no better way to prepare for the deluge of passions that'll be raining down for the next 40 days and 40 nights.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): In the old myths, dragons are often portrayed as being the owners of fantastic caches of jewels, gold, and talismans -- which they never use. They're too wrapped up in hoarding their treasure to ever spend it on anything fun or adventurous or educational. Sometimes when I watch children play, they remind me of dragons. A 5-year-old can be so intent on not sharing a toy with another kid that he doesn't even play with it himself. Why am I bringing this up? I'm hoping these hints will keep you from making a similar mistake. This is one time when giving your inner child free rein could turn you into a dragon that squanders your wealth.

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