REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): Don't feel guilty if you decide against carrying out this week's assignment. The kind of heroic introspection I have in mind is a luxury that may only be available to a select few childless, unemployed dreamers. Besides, you'll have a deep, dark, sweet week whether or not you take my advice. But here goes anyway: I propose that you relive your birth experience in graphic, gorgeous detail. Interview your mother at length, if possible, and any other witnesses. Consider trying to recover your memories of the event through hypnosis. Then you'll be primed to get a feel for how your earliest experiences on Earth have conditioned everything that's happened since -- including the rebirth that's dead ahead.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): All the following activities have been approved for your use in the next two weeks: practicing mental gymnastics; bending over backward to explain yourself with crisp clarity; executing tiny leaps of faith; turning the tables on those who are unrighteous and unjust; perfecting the art of rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time; negotiating a truce in the war of your left hand against the right; and disproving certain folks' belief that the shortest distance between two points is a convoluted spiral.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): When I was dating the exotic dancer who worked at the Lusty Lady club, little did I know she'd one day have a gig as editor at the very publishing house I most wanted to put out my novel. If only I had ended our relationship less unceremoniously, maybe I wouldn't still have to be shopping the manuscript today. Let that be a lesson to you, Gemini. Learn from my mistake. Before you torch the bridge it would be so satisfying to burn down, be absolutely sure you're never going to want to cross it again.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): I was trying to compose your horoscope in my head today as I drove home. "Send me an omen," I asked the cosmos. Moments later, I arrived at the toll booth on the Richmond Bridge. To my surprise, the clerk waved me through. She said the car ahead of me had paid my fare. I spied a black Chevy Lumina racing away, and followed it in hopes of glimpsing the face of my unknown benefactor. But the driver seemed intent on remaining anonymous, speeding off at 90 mph. I strained to keep up, but my old Ford Festiva overheated, and I had to pull off to the shoulder to recover. Here's my interpretation of the cosmic sign: You'll soon receive a blessing from an unexpected source but may be better off not knowing all the details of how it came to you.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): Psychologists say that depressed people fill their minds with three recurring curses: 1) "The world is a negative place." 2) "I'm worthless." 3) "There's no hope for change." All of these are of course dirty lies. Yet if a dispirited soul holds them to be true with passionate certainty, they do indeed attract experiences that tend to confirm their validity. Now I'm not saying you fit in this category -- not yet, anyway. But you will if you keep harping on the demoralizing clues that trickle your way, and ignoring the redemptive ones. At the risk of sounding like a New Age huckster, I must insist that in the next few weeks your beliefs really will create your reality.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): It's truly an epic moment to be a Virgo. When shamanic scientists perfect time travel in the next century, I'm sure that July of 1997 will be a time you'll want to return to and live through over and over again. As hard as it might be to believe, though, there are still a few improvements you could make. Instead of settling for mere popularity, for instance, why not use your high approval rating to triple your clout? And rather than forging just one new connection that'll serve your ambitions for many moons, how about aiming for two? And as opposed to waiting for them to come to you, wouldn't it be shockingly stylish for you to go to them?

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): My favorite word in the Iroquois language is ondinnonk. It refers to the secret wish of your soul as revealed in your dreams. I bring this up, Libra, because I think I've deduced the ondinnonk of your big dream this week: your need to be wilder and feistier and less predictable; not to the point of hurting anyone, of course, but simply to confound and derail those who would interfere with your plans to do the right thing.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): According to the folks at the Boring Institute in Maplewood, N.J., July is Anti-Boredom Month. They intensify their efforts around this time of year to fight against the proliferation of apathetic yawns. As an astrologer, I have a suggestion: They should enlist as many Scorpios for their campaign as they can. Your tribe -- which even in slow times is among the least boring of signs -- is now a raging inferno of intrigue and allure.

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