REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): It's shrine-building time, O Restless One. The kind of shrine I'm talking about is a homemade altar crammed with objects that symbolize your devotion to a specific dream. I feel very strongly that the dream in question should be one you're nowhere near mastering -- a vision of the life you want to be living two years from now. Here are a few suggestions about what materials to use: rocks on which you've inscribed prayers with felt-tip pens; piles of vegetable seeds or images of eggs; a music CD that captures feelings and ideas you want to cultivate; photos of your newest role model; votive candles carved with your word of power; toys that appeal to both the child and the adult in you; a talisman or curio that energizes the secret that's immobilized you.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): Your education may take curious paths in the next few weeks. I would not entirely discount the possibility, for instance, that you could absorb the contents of thick books simply by slipping them under your pillow overnight. Nor would I say it's impossible for you to receive homework from waterfalls and lightning bolts, or to find a new teacher in a convenience store parking lot. Would you be freaked out or thrilled if I hinted that you'll soon be invited to learn a whole new way to learn?

Gemini (May 21-June 20): I'm a connoisseur at attracting and cultivating temptation. More important, I understand the difference between good and bad temptation -- between the thrilling promises that serve my highest goals and those that play to my neuroses. And when I get a lock on a good temptation, I know how to work it so it drives me wild with smart desire -- the best muse of all.

I am now telepathically communicating to you all my expertise about temptation.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): Picture yourself poised on a threshold. (This shouldn't be too hard, since that's exactly where you are, metaphorically speaking.) Envision this threshold as a transitional space between two strikingly different worlds. The place you're leaving is familiar and protected, if a bit unhealthy. Where you're headed is a hot spot teeming with medicinal agitation. As you linger here expectantly on the threshold, mull over this monster question, which you'll need to answer before busting through: What bond are you willing to break in order to be as innocent as you need to be?

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): Excuse me. I'm going to have to ask you to answer a few questions. You have the right to remain silent, but I wouldn't advise it. No, you haven't been charged with anything -- yet. It's just that karma-purging season has arrived, and it's my duty to alert you to how much of that old psychic gunk you've accumulated. (If I were you, I'd start making atonements immediately.)

Let's get started. In the past year have you: 1) broken any big promises; 2) longed for more freedom but not worked very hard for it; 3) blamed others for your own failings; 4) fantasized about a different partner while making love; 5) taken anger out on the wrong person; 6) beguiled someone into loving you and then not loved him or her back; 7) faked an emotion; 8) done any other bad thing?

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Let's talk about power, and about how you can get more power. What works for the other signs of the zodiac may also bring you a measure of success: formulating precise goals, expressing yourself forcefully, generating original ideas, being skilled at manipulating people's emotions. But all those strategies pale compared to the first law of Virgoan empowerment, which is this: Your command and authority and influence will thrive to the degree that you put yourself in service to people and causes that're worthy of your investment. Ask yourself continually, "How can I be of best possible use?" And one day you will rule a kingdom.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): From where I sit, you seem to have gotten fixated on a sign that's pointing to a sign that's pointing to a sign that's pointing to the place where the object of your dreams used to be. Please stop this pointless obsession now. Not in an hour. Right now. Stop the world, accept the fact that I'm telling you the god-awful truth, and take this pledge: "I vow to never again be hypnotized, conned, or waylaid by middlemen who claim to have the sole key to my dream."

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): You won't like what I have to say if you're a lazy lard-belly or shallow-breathing mind-tripper. The cosmos is begging you to work out, to break lots of sweat, to move and move and move your sweet ass. Why? Well, you'll feel better, of course. But that ain't the half of it. Your aerobic activities are also likely to bring you into close proximity with the kind of twinkling-eyed folks you need more of in your world. A third bonus is that strenuous exercise will unleash an eruption of smart chemicals in your gray matter. You can't conceive of the brainstorms that await you if you try mountain climbing, river rafting, or gymnastic sex.

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