REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): When I'm not doing astrology, I sporadically ply a career as a rock singer and performance artist. Wacky rituals are my specialty. I've staged money-burning rituals. I've conducted Eucharist ceremonies in which audience members enjoy a holy meal composed not of bread and wine, but good old dirt from my back yard. Maybe my favorite shtick is the way I offer to kiss the butt of anyone who's got the nerve to traipse up onstage. That's my way of battling any ego inflation I might be susceptible to as a "celebrity." And what's all this got to do with you, Aries? After divining your stars, I believe you'll benefit from carrying out a comparable act of humility. I don't expect you to imitate my example exactly, but try to find something that's as much of a stretch.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): I'm a great admirer of the Taurus poet Carolyn Forche. In her 20s, she pursued an academic study of her craft at placid Midwestern universities. Her first book dealt with her childhood and family. Then came a radical departure. Leaving behind comfort and familiarity, she moved to El Salvador at the height of the death squad activity, and later to Lebanon during its traumatic civil war. It was as if she'd decided she wouldn't wait for fate to come to her, but would go out and seize it. Her adventures forged her into a passionate human rights advocate and accomplished poet with striking moral sensibilities. While I don't recommend that you initiate such an extreme wake-up call, I do advise you to try a tamer version of it in the next six months.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): Not for many moons has your ethical code been pushed and probed and pricked as it will be this week. Today maybe you'll be offered an opportunity to buy stolen property at a rock-bottom price. Tomorrow you could be baited with a chance to gain personal advantage by betraying a friend. As you wend your way through all the gray areas, remember that morality is as much about saying yes as saying no. One of the most righteous acts you can make, ironically, may be to embrace an uplifting temptation.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): I hate to say this, but I'm afraid you've become addicted to your pain. From where I sit, you seem to be contemplating your wounds almost obsessively, as if you derive perverse pleasure from rehearsing the hurt over and over again. Sorry to be so blunt, Cancerian, but I may be the only one in your life who can awaken you from your dream within a dream. After all, I think you know beyond a doubt that I love you and want nothing but the best for you. So maybe you'll let my harsh but compassionate words jolt you into sloughing off the morbid self-pity that's serving as your excuse to avoid the cure.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): The year's not even half over, but you've already provoked more gaping jaws, sweaty foreheads, burning ears, and broken hearts than any other sign will do in 12 months. Why wait until 1998 to hand out awards? It's clear you've earned the following titles: "Least Insipid Sign of the Year" ... "Best Imitation of a Hurricane in a Forest Fire" ... "Most Ingenious at Blending the Qualities of Hero and Anti-Hero" ... "Most Likely to Provoke an Emotional Avalanche" ... "Most Eager to Splurge on the Urge to Merge" ... and "Most Likely to Get Away With Flat-Out Hubris."

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): I celebrate eight holidays that mark turning points in the relationship between Earth and Sun. At the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, day and night are equal in length. Winter solstice brings the greatest darkness, and summer solstice the brightest light. Then there are the feasts halfway between each equinox and solstice. Halloween is midfall. Beltane, or May Day, is the fertility feast of midspring. Lammas, Aug. 1, heralds the coming harvest, and Candlemas on Feb. 2 signals the return of the Sun's warmth. Why should you care about any of this, Virgo? Because these are the festivals that are imprinted on your genes, that marked the rhythms of your ancestors' lives for millennia. Celebrate the summer solstice this week with the certainty that your body and mind, like the Earth, are now in full bloom.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): In researching material for this horoscope, I came across a problem. You see, I very much want to include the term "Summer of Love" in your forecast for the coming months. Unfortunately, it seems the sharks at a certain music production company in San Francisco have applied for a service mark for that very phrase. I'm not sure I can use it without incurring their wrath, possibly risking a lawsuit. Nevertheless, I'm pressing ahead with my prediction. You deserve to know in advance about the glorious romantic possibilities awaiting you. I hope that later this summer, when you're lolling in the hot embraces that I'm now giving you the courage to quest for, you beam a nod of gratitude my way.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): There's a right way to be a flamingly moist contradiction this week, Scorpio, and a wrong way. For god's sake, don't be even remotely like a blind hunter or a deaf music critic or an emotionally numb lover. But feel free to experiment with being a smart beast or a cynical optimist or a cautious explorer on the romantic frontiers. One other thing: Don't mend your evil ways if there's a possibility that your evil ways are about to mutate into a fascinating new approach to goodness.

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