REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): I dreamt of an anarchist nun. (I knew that's what she was because those words were on the T-shirt she wore over her habit.) She came up to me and whispered conspiratorially, "Tell Aries it's time to explore the areas where piety and rebellion overlap." I asked her to expand, whereupon she dropped to her knees and uttered a prayer that began, "Dear God, please help Aries folks rise up and overthrow all influences that hinder their intimacy with the sacred."

Taurus (April 20-May 20): It may be hard for you to believe how attractive you are right now. Even worse, you may be incapable of appreciating the exact nature of your gorgeousness. As sad as this is, I'm not surprised. On the one hand you're accustomed to giving exaggerated attention to your flaws. On the other hand, you overcompensate for that mistake by inflating the importance of good qualities that aren't at the heart of your beauty. Do you think it would be possible to drop all that fancy maneuvering and simply cherish the real reasons you're such an exquisite creature? I do.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): Feeling a little pinched, crumpled, parched, and stiff? There's nothing wrong with you that a lot more juicy, sizzling, witty, teasing temptation wouldn't cure. And beginning next week that's exactly what I'll be urging you to hunt down. To prepare yourself for that happy occasion, see if you can spend this week weaning yourself from all those pinched, crumpled, parched, and stiff temptations.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): Those of the Cancerian tribe, myself included, are notoriously noctiflorous -- meaning we flower at night. We often do our best work after dark, and many of us generate our deepest insights while hiding under the covers or skulking around inside our own self-made fog. There's one more way we fit the definition: We bloom in the dark of the year, reaching our creative peak in the astrological month of Scorpio, when November's dimming light awakens our primordial fertility.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): I've got a healing visualization for you to meditate on this week. It's a little gross, but well worth your effort. Now please envision the following scenario: God has asked you to carry out a special assignment, but you refuse and instead book a luxury cruise. During your journey, a storm blows you overboard, whereupon you're swallowed whole by a whale. After hanging out in the beast's belly for a little too long, surviving on yucky plankton and squid, you're finally vomited out onto a beach. God's there waiting for you with a fresh contract, ready to give you a second chance.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): I went to a new hairstylist. As she prepped me, I launched into my "bubbly conversationalist" mode. Chirped on about astrology. Asked her about her life. Tried to create a comfort zone for two strangers about to share an intimate moment. Problem: She barely knew what astrology is and misunderstood all my queries. "Uh-oh," I thought. "An utter airhead?" I relaxed my motormouth. Ceased my probing. Let things develop at their own pace. Gradually I saw that though her IQ might not match mine, she had an artist's touch, as well as a talent for wacky nurturing. By the end, I detected a sensibility that was intriguingly different from mine -- and that would've stayed invisible had I not shut up. I invite you to learn from my experience this week, Virgo.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): A mechanical little voice in my head just told me that you should get your brakes inspected. I assume the voice meant the brakes in your car, but I can never be sure with these autonomous personalities in my brain. They often use commonplace objects as metaphors for subtle psychic processes. Whoops. The voice just spoke again. It said that while you're at it, you should check your shock absorbers, get a tuneup, and drive like crazy toward the dawn.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): As the author of 13 novels, Scorpio Kurt Vonnegut has proved his mettle as a dogged, self-disciplined worker. To write even one book, I can attest, takes supernatural levels of concentration and stamina. And yet get a load of this pithy quote from Vonnegut concerning the meaning of life: "We are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you any different." Could it be that Vonnegut's intrepid ability to accomplish herculean tasks has thrived not in spite of but because of his mastery of farting around? I suspect so. Keep this uppermost in mind during the next few weeks whenever you're tempted to lose yourself in your oh-so-serious work.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): I went to a workshop on the art of cultivating spiritual bliss. Midway through, the teacher conducted a guided meditation designed to lead the group into a state of "compassionate ecstasy." Many of us, however, seemed to take a detour on the way, and for a time the room was filled with sobs. In the discussion that followed, we almost unanimously testified that the meditation had shepherded us straight into the most painful memories of our lives. Only when we'd let those wash over us were we ripe for relaxed rapture. The moral of the story, I concluded, may be this: To find the bliss you're missing, you must first let your heart break wide open. Which is my advice to you this week, Sagittarius.

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