REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): The ancient myths don't tell us, but I'm guessing Hercules was an Aries. Like you, that heroic pioneer scared up more adventures in one lifetime than most people do in 10 incarnations. In fact, what you've been going through reminds me of the time he was compelled to perform those arduous assignments known as the "Twelve Labors of Hercules." I believe you're halfway through your own version of that project. You've defeated the poisonous snake and man-eating birds; you've subdued the three-headed dog in the underworld and banished the eagle that was gnawing Prometheus' liver. But you've still got to figure out how to legally pilfer the golden apples in the magic garden. And then you've got to tidy up the stables, which haven't been cleaned for years.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): My Taurus acquaintance Michael decided maybe it was time to begin to tiptoe in a roundabout way up to the verge of telling his mom the truth about his sexual preference. "Just hypothetically speaking," he asked her, "how do you think you would react if I ever told you I was gay?" "Oh honey," she chuckled, "I know that would never happen. I'm not even going to worry about it." End of discussion. My advice to Michael -- like my advice to any Taurus who's thinking about dropping a bombshell -- is either to spill the whole story or else lock it up even tighter. This is no time for halfway measures.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): Your featured theme of the week is mutation. In biology, the term refers to an abrupt change in DNA that leads to an offspring having some characteristics that are strikingly different from its parents. Fans of the Darwinian theory regard mutation as the engine of evolution. In a less literal sense, the word means any sudden, radical alteration that propels a person in an unpredictable new direction and provokes twists of fate that were simply not possible before the mutation. I believe you're very close to zeroing in on such a breakthrough, Gemini.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): It would be a good week for a slumber party in an exotic sanctuary, or long-distance phone sex with a seductive Buddhist, or a goodwill excursion to a funky paradise. But it wouldn't be such a good time to hide under the covers and count the hairs on your arms, or to wolf down bowls of sickeningly sweet hot cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or to dream so vividly of fun adventures that you feel no need to actually make those adventures happen.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): Saffron is the priciest spice in the world. To make a single pound of the precious stuff, you have to handpick and process 80,000 flowers. Doesn't that remind you of the task you've been working on? It reminds me. I'm in awe as I meditate on the delicacy and stamina you've had to summon in order to produce your diminutive treasure. Be assured that what your prize lacks in size it will more than make up for in robust and concentrated value.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Some astrologers regard Capricorns as the champion late-bloomers of the zodiac. If that's true, you Virgos are the first runners-up. I'm reminded of Virgo painter Grandma Moses. Though she didn't launch her career till she was 76 years old, she churned out more than a thousand pictures before she expired. Then there's my Virgo acquaintance Chris, who was a virgin until age 25 but ultimately made a serious run on Wilt Chamberlain's record of 20,000 liaisons. I bring this up, my friend, because in the next month you could make up for a lot of lost time all at once. Precocious you may have never been -- until now.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): In Greece recently, thousands of people whacked jugs and pots against their front doors while chanting, "Away with fleas and mice!" It's an old folk ritual that serves to psych everyone up for spring cleaning. Judging by your current astrological aspects, I'd say that a similar ceremony would be a fine tonic for your mental health right now. Maybe instead of merely sticking to the Greek incantation, you could scream, "Away with fleas and mice and cockroaches and spooks and viruses and dumb ideas and all other pests that have become parasites on my life!"

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): There'll be hurricanes in your eyes this week, Scorpio, as well as flash fires coursing through your heart. I predict peals of thunder accompanied by downpours in the back of your mind, and a molten surge of surprising words erupting from your mouth. You will, I believe, be a gushing, throbbing force of nature. You'll have the conscience of an avalanche, and a lust to express yourself with the ferocity of a 70-mile-an-hour gale. All in all, brave explorers may regard you as a bracing thrill. Let's hope, though, that innocent bystanders have enough sense to stay out of your way.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Some people think that just because ghosts are dead they're smarter than those of us who're still alive. But I happen to believe that while these spirits are certainly privy to a realm of information unavailable to us, most of them are not wildly observant or wise. So if a departed soul appears to you in a dream or vision this week, enjoy the hair-raising feeling it gives you and indulge your curiosity to the max, but don't regard its word as law. Furthermore, be skeptical of any source, dead or alive, who can't provide hard evidence to back up his or her claims.

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