REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aires (March 21-April 19) A thorny astrological aspect began pricking our collective conscience around the time the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Paula Jones' sexual harassment case against Bill Clinton: Mars in opposition to Saturn. This configuration epitomizes the need for discipline and responsibility in the use of sexual energy. On average, it occurs briefly every two years. But during the first seven months of 1997, in a rare spectacle, the two planets will sync up in a showdown on three separate occasions. And guess which sign will feel most intensely the command to be discriminating with the most powerful natural force on the planet? Aries, of course.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): Today my Taurus friend Daniel told me about the disconcerting impact of his recent success. I think his testimony is exactly what you need to hear as you begin to receive treats that are even bigger and better than what you wished for. Here's Daniel's story. "It was like I called for a cab," he said, "and a jet showed up instead. At first I didn't want to climb aboard. I asked myself, 'Do I really want to get there that fast? Do I really want to feel that much power?' Ultimately, I accepted the wild ride, but not before I talked myself out of my shrunken expectations."

Gemini (May 21-June 20): You're close to being at the top of your game, but you may not be able to take advantage of it yet. That's because you've been thrust into a version of the game you've never seen before. It's as if you were a chess master having to play a match on a board with eight more squares than regulation size, or as if you were a basketball star having to compete in a contest in which slam-dunks were illegal and you had to hop on one foot every five times you dribbled the ball. As soon as you figure out the quirky new rules, though, I'm sure you'll be checkmating kings and swishing three-pointers.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): I predict you'll have a rather druglike effect on people this week. Which drug? At various times, your impact will resemble either Prozac, cognac, or an aphrodisiac -- and sometimes all three simultaneously. What are you going to do with all that power to alter moods and kill pain and expand minds? I recommend that you whip up a frenzy of support for your pet project and lead a charge in the direction of the far horizon.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): Biologists recognize four styles of partnership in nature. In the parasitic mode, one creature damages another in the process of exploiting it. The commensal is likewise based on exploitation, but doesn't cause harm. In the epizoic type, one partner carries around the other on its back but receives nothing in return. It's only the symbiotic relationship that can be considered mutually beneficial. I bring this up, Leo, because it's now an excellent time to take inventory of your affiliations -- and to begin phasing out a few of the non-symbiotic ones.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): The ancient Romans celebrated a festival called Charistia on Feb. 22. Devoted to reconciliation and truce-making, it was a day when folks tried earnestly to settle their long-standing disagreements. For some twisted reason, no such holiday exists today -- or didn't until now. I predict and hope that you Virgos are about to launch a new tradition. From now on -- please please pretty please -- you will set aside the last weekend in February for the sacred work of healing schisms between you and those you care about. As soon as you finish reading this, I beseech you to call the friend or loved one from whom you're most estranged.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): I asked my subconscious to show me a scene that'd help me give you the right advice. What bubbled up into my mind's eye was a summer afternoon in Ohio when I was 10 years old. My brother Tom and I were playing catch with a baseball. Through the open kitchen window, my mother called out, "Dinner's ready." Tom immediately turned around and headed toward the house, but I yelled after him, "Throw me one more." He did. It was wild -- 20 feet to my right. I ran and dived. As I caught it in my glove, a rip of pain seared my pinkie. An hour later I was at the doctor's, getting my broken finger wrapped in a splint. The moral of the story, as far as you're concerned: When you hear something like your mama calling, quit what you're doing. Don't hang around for one more throw.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): It would be a very propitious time for you to bathe in hot water filled with orchid petals -- preferably while surrounded by 22 violet candles and sipping organic grape juice. Can you arrange that? I have a feeling that if you did, it would magically lead to the dissolution of a stubborn romantic obstacle. For even more dramatic results, invite a gorgeous creature to join you and exchange stories about the most dramatic healings you've ever been blessed with.

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