REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): The next 11 months will be anything but bug-free. Judging by the planetary alignments, I expect that bugs will be your constant companions. This doesn't have to be anywhere near as ghastly as it sounds, though. Consider the possibility that you may be able to ally yourself, metaphorically speaking, with good bugs that will chase away the bad bugs -- sort of like in the insect world, where ladybugs eat those nasty pests the aphids. Meditate on this hint, Aries, and I'm sure you'll be led to a secret weapon that'll give you robust immunity. In the meantime, to build up your psychic power, I suggest you make the ladybug your power animal. In fact, why don't you acquire a symbol of that noble beast?

Taurus (April 20-May 20): I've brushed up against many celebrities in my life. I rode in an elevator with ex-boxer Muhammad Ali. Writer William Burroughs and I shared a stale bagel in a Greyhound bus station restaurant. My band once opened for the Neville Brothers, and I said, "Hey, man," to Aaron Neville. And you know what all that's worth? Absolutely nothing. I'm even ashamed to be bragging about it. That's why I'm going to encourage you not to bother trying to meet someone famous this week, even though your astrological aspects suggest it's quite possible. A much better use of the available cosmic energy would be to seek an encounter with a remarkable, inspiring, but mostly unfamous person -- a mentor-type character who's doing everything you hope you'll learn to pull off someday.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): Gemini writer Joseph Brodsky, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1987, believed that every hotel room should have a book of poetry to go along with Gideons Bible. My old Gemini friend Bob Lordsburg used to push the idea that every college freshman should be required to take a course on the work of Gemini songwriter Bob Dylan. And now I, who was born just north of the Gemini-Cancer cusp, am advocating that all you Geminis should carry a world atlas with you everywhere you go in the next few weeks. This'll remind you to ceaselessly meditate on making travel plans and to act like an explorer on a pilgrimage in all the familiar places you frequent.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): Everyone has a dark side. Even Mother Teresa. Even you and I. One reason I fear many Christian fundamentalists and New Age bliss-ninnies is because they deny this universal truth; it leads them to be, in a sense, "demonically possessed" by their own repressed anger and elitism and hatred. Why am I bringing this up, Cancer? Because I hope it'll make it easier for you to have a tete-a-tete with the evil twin you harbor in your own heart. There could be very sweet rewards. Carl Jung believed that if we don't avoid but rather confront our "shadow," it can become a source of invigorating inspiration. (For the nasty lowdown on Mother Teresa's dark side, read Christopher Hitchens' book The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice.)

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): It'll be a good week to stop returning to a person or situation that leaves you oozing with self-doubt. It won't be such a great time to obsess about being seen in the company of people more celebrated than you. Got that? As soon as you do, you'll start phasing out relationships that pander to your dumb vanity and phasing in more relationships that nurture your funky, ingenious soul.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): It's healthy to worry this week, Virgo -- preferably with a touch of self-mocking detachment. It's smart to entertain anxious fantasies and fearful visions -- preferably as you chuckle about how extreme they make you feel. If you're not flirting regularly with a state of nagging perplexity, you'll miss vital clues about the precautions you need to put in place and the sins of omission you need to counteract. Please note that I am not necessarily predicting that your apprehensions will come true. On the contrary. I'm scaring you into taking action to change the future.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): The word "yeast" seems to have acquired some unfortunate connotations in recent years, but I'd like to rehabilitate it. As a metaphor, it perfectly captures the role you can play for your tribe or crew or gang right now: as an agent of fermentation. You should be much like the frothy stuff that makes the dough rise and potentiates the medicine and turns the brewing beer alcoholic.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): I ain't ashamed to confess it: Ex-welfare mother Clarissa Pinkola Estes is one of my favorite authors, and her book Women Who Run With the Wolves not only changed my life, it keeps changing my life to this day. I heartily recommend it to story-hungry people of all eight genders. The passage that I think is most apropos for you Scorpios this week comes from her chapter "Heat: Retrieving a Sacred Sexuality." There she praises "speaking from the vulva," or drawing from the "mother lode" to utter the most basic, vital truths. You don't have to be a woman to speak from the vulva. You just have to be brave enough to spill the raw stories you've barely been able to breathe a word of before.

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