REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): Between now and 1997, a host of cosmic jokes will tickle you in that sensitive spot right between your funny bone and your panic button. Here's just one example: At the very same time that your confidence in yourself reaches a low ebb, you're likely to receive intriguing offers for career reinvention. Here's another example: After falling into a swoon of implausible-yet-somehow-possible love in September and October, you'll have to work your butt off to keep it from vaporizing in the weeks after Halloween.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): When I first got this gig, I wasn't looking for it. In fact, I was hunting for a used bike in the classifieds and by chance caught a glimpse of an ad for an astrology columnist in the "Help Wanted" section. When I called the editor, he told me that Robert Cole, the guy who'd been writing the horoscopes, had quit, and he needed a replacement immediately. I wrote my first piece that day and was hired. Since then, I've dreamed of Robert Cole four times, and each time it's turned out to be an omen announcing an accidental opportunity coming from left field. I'm telling you all this, Taurus, because when I was contemplating your fate for the next two weeks, I got a vision of Robert Cole.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): I'm afraid, my friend, that your elevator doesn't go all the way to the top floor right now. You're a few Chicken McNuggets short of a Happy Meal, if you know what I mean. To be diplomatic, you're a couple clowns short of a circus; a flying buttress short of a cathedral. What to do? I say don't try to hide your temporary vacancy; turn it into an asset. Pump up your popularity by playing the fool, for instance. Force people out of their oh-so-logical ruts by making as little sense as you can get away with. Convince everyone that your blankness is due to the raging success you've had in your meditation practice.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): A recent scientific study found that some successful people generate abnormally high levels of norepinephrine, a hormone that makes stress an enjoyable experience. You might say that these lucky dogs, who thrive on pressure, are always at the top of the Best-Stressed List. I've never considered you to be a likely candidate for the list -- until now. The planets seem to be mutating your very body chemistry, turning you into one of these anxiety-loving freaks of nature. My conclusion? The next few weeks should be blissfully victorious.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): Were you held enough by loving adults in the first year of your life? If so, you'll now have what it takes to fix what's ailing your tribe. You could, for example, create an infectious new rallying cry to replace the worn-out old one. You could elevate the tone of the group communication, and make everyone feel secure as you repair the foundation they're standing on.

If you weren't held enough as an infant, you'll still be able to heal the gang's collective neurosis, but you'll probably kick a few asses and bruise a few egos along the way.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): I'm sick and tired of you not receiving all the kudos and gifts you deserve. Why do you have to be so damn awkward about accepting compliments, anyway? Are you actually afraid of having your dreams come true, or what? Please, Virgo, I'm begging you to murmur the following prayer 10 times daily for a week: "Every day in every way I am dissolving my unconscious resistances to praise and presents. I am making it ridiculously easy for people to bestow their blessings on me."

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): I'm not suggesting that you become bosom buddies with the dark side of your personality. All I ask is that you strike up a more civil acquaintance. The practical fact of the matter is that if you keep a dialogue going with this prankster, it won't feel compelled to turn you into a ventriloquist's dummy at inopportune moments. After a while you might even come to think of it as a handsome devil with spicy advice on how to be a better lover and more discriminating dreamer.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Some brute named Roger Dawson sent me an invitation to buy his cassette program, The Secrets of Power Negotiating. He writes: "When you destroy the guy across the table, that's negotiating. When you make him thank you for it, that's POWER." Now I know, Scorpio, that you yourself will soon be in the midst of some furious wheeling and dealing, so maybe Dawson's perverted teachings would have a certain appeal to you. (His address: c/o Nightingale-Conant, 7300 N. Lehigh Ave., Niles, IL 60714.) To be frank, though, I hope you neither have to destroy the guy across the table, nor make him thank you. If those are even a possibility, you're definitely not in the right place at the right time.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): For the foreseeable future, don't put much credence in people who present themselves as specialists and authorities. Assume that all the "experts" are dispensing well-packaged BS that's at least half-wrong. The fact is, Sagittarius, the nature of the consensual hallucination we call "reality" is changing so fast that anyone who acts like a know-it-all is an arrogant idiot. The moral of the story: If you're not confused right now, you're just not paying close enough attention.

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