Taurus (April 20-May 20): Taurus Shirley Temple received 135,000 presents for her 8th birthday in 1936. You emphatically deserve a comparable cornucopia when your big day rolls around this year. To aid your cause, I suggest you cut out this horoscope and show it to anyone who might be even vaguely amenable to forking over a goody. Underline this next sentence: The current configuration of the planets practically guarantees that anyone who's generous to a Taurus between now and May 20 will have their blessings return twofold. And by the way, my birthday gift for you is a prediction that 1997 will be the best year ever for your career.
Gemini (May 21-June 20): A wise teacher once told me about the crisis she suffered when she first entered the mystical path 22 years ago. Within a month of beginning yogic breathing exercises and meditation, she had what we now call a "spiritual emergency," though back then it was a "nervous breakdown." As she lay in the hospital staring at the red elves that were crawling on the ceiling, a healer arrived, sent by a concerned friend. Taking her feet in his hands, the healer proceeded to massage just that part of her body for the next half-hour. Amazingly, she was cured, and checked out of the hospital the next day. The moral of the story, Gemini: To turn your upcoming spiritual emergency into a spiritual emergence, be very good to the part of you that anchors you to the earth.
Cancer (June 21-July 22): Once upon a time, long ago, Pepsi was not even in the same league as Coke. In fact, the company actually went bankrupt, and the executives at Coke were offered the chance to buy it out for a piddling sum. "No thanks," they said, "we've already got a monopoly." If they'd had more foresight, Coke would today be to the cola industry what Microsoft is to computer operating systems. What's all this got to do with you? I believe you're now at a point comparable to where Coke was when it had the chance to gobble up its future competitor.
Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): I'm not so unrealistic as to expect you to be totally at peace with yourself. I'm fully aware that many of you don't fully like the way you look, or suffer from the feeling that you lack essential luxuries, or fear that your peers are speeding toward their dreams faster than you are. And yet every now and then there comes a grace period when you're so thoroughly united with your destiny that it makes perfect sense for you to stand on a rooftop and shout, "I envy no one," for all the world to hear. I believe that the next few weeks will be such a time.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): A few days into the media's crazed feast on the Heaven's Gate corpses, this headline appeared in my daily paper: "SEARCH FOR MEANING LEADS TO CULT MEMBERSHIP." By that idiotic logic, you Virgos would be prime candidates for recruitment by some wacko right about now. You are, after all, on the verge of outgrowing the belief systems that've sustained you for so long. And you're getting itchy for more provocative, less predictable theories about why the world is the way it is. But the odds of you getting sucked into some elitist sect that's out to wash and shrink your brain are as great as Time magazine printing an article that points out the similarities between icky cults and organized religions. Your quest for meaning is headed into expansive, liberated territory.
Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): If you're fantasizing about a nice pleasure cruise on a love boat, you'll be disappointed. If you'd accept an intelligence-gathering mission on a love submarine, though, you're in luck. Sure, the claustrophobia might be thick. But that would be a small price to pay for the exotic strains of intimacy you'd get to reconnoiter. Besides, if you're far beneath the waves, you won't have to worry about negotiating the waters between the rock and the hard place.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): At any other time I would ridicule the simplistic advice I'm about to give you, but at this particular twist in your astrological destiny it makes perfect sense. As you take inventory of which influences you want to keep in your life and which you don't, I suggest you borrow my 6-year-old daughter Zoe's rating system. To those things you like, squeal, "YUM!" To those that feel irrelevant, ambiguous, or just plain gross, snarl, "YUCK!"
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): You're the zodiac's resident expert in taking the bird's-eye view of the world. Flights of the imagination are your specialty, your birthright. But the time is overdue for you to try on a perspective you don't have a natural affinity for: the worm's-eye view. Any success you achieve in the next few weeks will come because you've managed to get excited about seeing things up close from the ground level. Maybe next fall you'll find an ingenious new form of self-expression by liberating your imagination -- but it'll only happen if you lay the detailed groundwork now.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): In my first college course in painting, our teacher had each of us students choose an old master to plagiarize. For the first half of the semester, I concentrated on reproducing as exactly as I could some of my favorite works by Breughel. It imprinted me with the artist's genius, and taught me more about painting than 20 lectures in technique. I'd like to suggest you take on an analogous assignment right now. Choose a person who has excelled at doing some work you'd like to do better, and imitate that person with as much detail as you can for, say, six weeks.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Comedian Ellen DeGeneres is by no means the only Aquarian who's found the courage to lay bare the whole truth and nothing but the truth about herself. Last weekend my Aquarian cousin Ruth, who has often given us the impression that she's aligned with the principles of feminism, confessed that she's actually a Republican! And yesterday my Aquarian acquaintance Ronnie, who until now has always acted as if she has pagan sympathies, shocked us by admitting she's a closet Catholic! More power to all of them, I say. I hope they're just a few of millions of Aquarians who'll drop all pretenses and experiment with what it feels like to be an undivided self. The astrological aspects are wildly favorable for such a mass unveiling.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20): Your lucky number this week is one-half. Your power spot is in-between. Your sacred color is plaid and your special emotion is skeptical faith and your magic talisman is a partially ripe apple. Your word of power is toward. It signifies that you're on a path, you're a work in progress, you're in a state of becoming -- and proud of it. For the foreseeable future, toward is a much more beautiful and useful word than perfection.