REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): You know what they say about you behind your back, don't you? I'll tell you: "A magician at launching new projects, but a dunce at seeing them through to the end. Enthusiastic in the beginning, but no staying power." I hope this malicious gossip steams you up, Aries. I pray that it motivates you to prove those mean-spirited know-nothings wrong. From an astrological perspective, there's never been a more favorable time for you to pull off a virtuoso display of stick-to-it-iveness.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): Here are five visualizations that will prevent you from being a knee-jerk knucklehead this week. Visualization No. 1: Imagine using a knife to slice through a gnarled knot that's too knotty to unravel. Visualization No. 2: Envision knocking white knights off their high horses. Visualization No. 3: Think of how often you find yourself kneeling down in front of sacred cows, and imagine that maybe it's time to know more about the knack of cow-tipping. Visualization No. 4: Do not visualize carrying around a ton of knackwurst in your knapsack. Visualization No. 5: Imagine sounding the death knell for known quantities that force you to knuckle under.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): May 3 is the eighth annual Lumpy Rug Day. During this liberating holiday, you have license to call attention to all the cans of worms that people have shoved under the carpet ... all the not-so-well-hidden smoking guns that everyone keeps tripping over ... and all the clumpy grunge that no one has had the guts to actually sweep up and throw away. Lumpy Rug Day comes at an ideal moment for you Geminis, since this is a perfect astrological time for you to expose cover-ups.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): In Old Europe, no holiday was celebrated with more festive abandon than the one that fell in the first few days of May. Our predecessors cavorted around maypoles in skimpy attire; leaped over bonfires as they called out their secret wishes; tried to bite into doughnuts hanging from tree branches while being tickled by friends; and slipped away into the woods to make love under shady trees. I wish these noble customs had survived, if only for your sake. This is the hottest party time of the year for you, after all. By my astrological reckoning, you should be in the mood to dance insanely and show off outrageously and use doughnuts creatively in erotic rites of passage. I strongly recommend that if no one you know is planning a maypole revel this weekend, throw one yourself.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): O ye of little faith: Do you not understand that the events of May 1997 are but the fruition of seeds you planted in August of last year? Do not thank or blame the gods for the destiny that is upon you, but only yourself. Go forth and assume your new rank and serial number, O favored one -- as well as your new temptations and headaches -- with full knowledge that these are the juicy responsibilities you asked for. These are the yayas you earned when you got your gagas out.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): The old Anglo-Saxon name for the month of May was Thrimilc, or "thrice-milk." That's because cows were so overflowing with abundant springtime vitality that they gave milk three times a day. I bring this up, Virgo, because these days you're not at all living up to your reputation as modest, sparing, and virginal. In fact, I've rarely seen you in such a prolific, generous, Niagaralike mood. Mind if I call you "Thrimilc"?

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): For pagans, the midpoint of spring (which happens this week) is prime time for the most exuberant intimacy of the year. That's when they celebrate the fertility festival known as Beltane. "Join together two substances to form a third" during this holiday, advises witchy writer Scott Cunningham. Now it just so happens that for Librans of all religious persuasions, the coming week is also a perfect moment to exult in the urge to merge. So even if you're a Jewish Buddhist you'll most likely be filled with brilliant notions about blending and collaborating. And if you're a pagan Libra, the wonders you weave will be legendary.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): The folks at the Institute of Monogamy offer support groups for people who prefer to avoid hopping from infatuation to infatuation. In the press release they sent me, they decree that May is Date Your Mate Month. They hope you'll spend the coming weeks putting the sizzle back into your relationship with your main squeeze. I guess they never heard that our pagan ancestors regarded midspring as the most licentious time of the year; as the period when marriage vows were most likely to be cast aside in favor of adulterous trysts. Or maybe they are aware of May's reputation, and scheduled their campaign specifically to combat it. I know one thing, Scorpio: If you don't date your mate with extra flair and grace, one of you will be wickedly tempted to stray.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Visitors to the Gnostic shrine I went to last week were required to fast, pray, and shower before they entered into the holy ground. I offer up that image for you to keep in mind during the next few weeks, when all manner of exotic new influences will be seeking admission to the sacred temple of your psyche. You shouldn't let just any old interloper barge in. Insist on the best, the purest, the healthiest.

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