REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): Although you'll never find an advertisement for Coke or Nike within the hallowed confines of this column, you will find lots of hype for more spiritual commodities, like freedom, psychosexual satisfaction, and creativity. I'm just as much a huckster as everyone else. My flackery may be more sacred and uplifting than most others, but the fact remains that I'm still trying to coax you to "buy" my ideas. Moral of the story: Everyone, even Mother Teresa and Dan Rather, is selling something. It's with this in mind that I urge you to spend this week honing your sales pitch. There's never been a better time to coax other people to believe in and acquire more of what you think is good for them.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): I was trying to zero in on your horoscope this morning when my 6-year-old Taurus daughter, Zoe, and her Taurus pal Max pushed open my door. Their faces were painted like tigers. Their homemade feather-and-leather costumes made them look like apprentice shamans. As they leapfrogged over each other in circles, they screeched out war whoops and crazed bird cries. Next they jumped up on my piano bench and began bashing out tuneless melodies on the keyboard with their toes. Was I upset by the interruption? Of course not. It was obvious they'd arrived just in time to act out the advice I was supposed to give you.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): Cut back on the adrenalin. Stand down from the red alert. Call off your dogs and take your hand off the panic button. Your home will not be smashed by a meteor as large as a car -- though it may be dinked by a chunk of ice falling from a passing 747. Your boss might fling your coffee mug against the wall and curse your ancestors, but he won't fire you. Your angry lover may spray-paint obscene graffiti on your car, but he or she won't put dynamite in the gas tank. So relax. Calm down. Things are better than they look. Not a lot better, but better.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): I got an e-mail notification that my Website (www.realastrology.com/) has not been placed on CyberPatrol's "Banned Webpage" list. That worries me. If my writing isn't provocative enough to offend right-wing zealots, I'm doing something wrong. After all, I'm not here to help you float placidly in the mainstream. My goal is to inspire you to splash and surf and maybe even walk on the water now and then; better yet, I'd like you to branch off the mainstream and forge your very own tributary. Therefore, in response to my failure to get censored, I've resolved to redouble my efforts to be a creative troublemaker. Luckily, the stars are with me. All us Cancerians will receive extra cosmic encouragement whenever we reveal -- or invent -- new naked truths.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): Which do you want more: to foment a useful revolution or to manipulate everyone into paying you lots of attention? Are you truly hoping to boost the fortunes of your local network, or are you driven to pull off feats that would turn your peers green with envy and red with passionate adoration? These are not rhetorical questions. The nature of your motivations will make all the difference in whether or not your heroism saves your tribe from self-sabotage.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Be alert for stone tablets dropping out of burning bushes and talking ravens appearing on your windowsill, Virgo. Look at pizza billboards out of the corner of your eye just in case the pepperoni conceals the smiling face of Jesus with a special message for you. Your rational mind may be inclined to pretend these wonders and marvels are not happening, but I urge you to override its ridicule with this old Rosicrucian affirmation: "I will interpret every one of my experiences as a dealing of God with my soul."

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): The saffron robes of Tibetan monks and black habits of nuns are outer signs of their devotion. But among religious devotees there's also a tradition of wearing hidden clothing that's charged with symbolic meaning -- in other words, sacred underwear. Some Mormons, for instance, regularly slip on a white neck-to-knee garment that's meant to remind them of their pact with God. The philosopher Pascal scrawled poems on a parchment at the height of an intense spiritual revelation, and forever after wore it under his clothes. Now I want to recommend the practice to you. Draw magical glyphs on your briefs. Stuff a talisman in your bra. Write a prayer on an undershirt or slip. This will be a secret sign -- between you and the divine spark alone -- of your spiritual intention.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): I love your capacity for passionate obsession. Sure, you go too far sometimes, acting like a wounded, starving animal even after you've been healed and satiated. But I far prefer too much zeal to too little. Having said all that, though, I must also declare that every so often it's good for you to loosen your grip and back off. Now is such a time. Check out the following words of wisdom, which one of my Scorpio readers, Karol Lee McLeod of Louisville, keeps on her refrigerator: Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. And dance like nobody is watching.

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