REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): Attention all Aries on the edge of time! And you Aries on the edge of the couch, too, for that matter! The cosmic powers say that your quest must begin now! Understand? They'll accept no more excuses for postponing it! Yes, I know it's the warm and cozy holiday season. But in case you forgot, the cosmic powers are not in the business of making things convenient for you. From what I can tell, though, they don't care whether your mission unfolds in the vast tundras and archipelagoes of your imagination, or else in an actual long-distance journey to the outbacks and cloud valleys of Mother Earth herself. Your assignment is merely to wander and explore and improvise until you get your mind utterly blown.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): I really wish you'd enjoy this horoscope with a glass of grapefruit juice. Why? Because researchers have proved that grapefruit juice dramatically boosts the body's ability to absorb medicine. It so happens that I've subliminally embedded a medicinal love spell in the words at the end of this message, and would like you to ingest it at its most concentrated levels. Got your juice? Chug-a-lug it, then read the following spell, first as it's written, then backward. Evol dliw rof yticapac ruoy gnidnapxe won era dereffus sah traeh ruoy sdnuow eht lla.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): My first acting teacher, David Mamet, relentlessly reminded me that the best way to improve my craft was to take my attention off myself. Being a young, narcissistic punk, I hated doing that. Yet when I finally got the hang of it, my acting ability soared, and so did my spiritual insight. Now that you Geminis are in an astrological phase that rewards listening and receptivity, I'm going to bug you to take your attention off yourself, too. Check out this quote from poet W.H. Auden: "The definition of prayer is paying careful and concentrated attention to something other than your own constructions."

Cancer (June 21-July 22): It's been my observation over the years that we Cancerians often gear up for the holiday season by getting sick and depressed. I don't think that's because of some astrological imperative, mind you. It's true that this part of our yearly cycle asks us to scale down our operations and think smaller. But it's our resistance to these mandates that typically leads to our malaise. Willingly embraced, the limitations can be quite constructive, even invigorating. All of which is my way of introducing a prescription designed to keep you healthy and chipper for the next few weeks. It's a quote from Sidney Howard: "One-half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it."

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): "Dear Love Doctor: I have an itchy heart. I'm serious. It's not just the skin on my chest. The prickly tickle actually seems to originate in the throbbing red organ below. Have you ever heard of such a thing? -- Itchy Scratchy Leo."

Dear Leo: Your itchy heart is perfectly understandable. You're in an astrological phase, you see, when you simply must liberate the feelings that have been trapped in your love muscle for way too long.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): It's actually quite a blessing that you don't remember your previous incarnations. Think how tightly you're gripped by your memories of this lifetime alone. Multiply that by a hundred and you would barely be able to make a spontaneous move. Having said all that, though, I must say it's fun to get glimpses of the person you were centuries ago. If you think you can handle it, the next few weeks will be prime time to tune into these mysteries. Watch your dreams for clues, as well as the images that pop up during transitions between sleep and waking. Notice, too, what historical movies make you cringe and exult and weep.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): I predict you're about to deploy reverse psychology to achieve a truce in the ancient battle between your right hand and your left. This will in turn lead to a period of robust inner peace and fascinating harmony, during which you'll never talk about yourself behind your own back or kick yourself in the butt when you're not looking. May all your internal contradictions reveal their secret affinities! May you slip away from the melodramas of saboteurs who enjoy playing both your ends against the middle!

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): A publication on the Internet recently asked me to write a weekly astrology column for animals. To determine whether I have any talent for this sort of thing, I thought I'd practice on you. First, here's this week's horoscope for scorpions, symbol of the most unevolved of the Scorpio tribe: Try to hunt down some extra prey to sting. You need a bigger stash. Next, here's an oracle for eagles, tutelary for those who rank among the more evolved Scorpios: Try to catch more field mice than usual. You need a bigger stash. Finally, here's a divination for phoenixes, power animals for the superevolved members of your sign: Try to scare up more gold and silver. You need a bigger stash.

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