REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): About the fifth month of pregnancy, the mother-to-be starts feeling the growing fetus kicking her. It's often a breathtaking event: the palpable evidence that there's a creature living inside her. I'm guessing, Aries, that even if you're not literally germinating a new human being right now, you'll soon experience something resembling that first kick. Congratulations. You're further along toward materializing your future than you'd realized.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): Dentists love tooth decay. Treating cavities provides them with a steady source of income. Likewise, exterminators are dependent on termites, lawyers need crimes, and priests are hungry for sinners. In fact, lots of people have symbiotic connections with icky stuff. Let's take this theme a step further. Isn't it true that almost everyone in the world nurtures his or her feelings for the things he or she loves to hate? Leftists like me, for instance, cherish big, mean corporations because it feels so good to rail against them. Ditto fundamentalist Christians with Internet porn. And you, Taurus? What's your favorite poison? Whatever it is, I guarantee your relationship with it needs updating. Might even be time to ditch it altogether, and choose a brand-new one.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): I hope you've appreciated all the free advice my column has provided you over the months and years. Certainly beats paying a therapist $80 a week, doesn't it? Now I'm going to ask you to do me a favor in return. I could have sought help from the other signs, but I picked you because I believe you are, at this moment, the zodiac's top networker. What I'd like you to do is help me find an agent for my novel. Send me any leads you might have -- your aunt who works at a publishing company, a friend of your cousin who knows Tom Clancy's agent -- to PO Box 150247, San Rafael, CA 94915. And oh, by the way, you now have an uncanny ability to make connections that serve your own ambitions.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): On my daughter Zoe's third lesson at horse camp, the instructors had her try to carry an egg on the end of a spoon that she held in her mouth while sitting backward on a trotting mare. I couldn't help but think of you as I watched her straining to fulfill what seemed to be an impossible assignment. The balancing act you now have to master is almost as demanding. I still think you'll get the hang of it faster than Zoe did, though. She broke nine eggs before achieving success. I doubt you'll drop more than five.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): Famed women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer is on record as saying that "every great player has a screw loose." In my opinion, that assessment holds true not just in the world of sports, but in every field. As long as you're straitjacketed by mediocre normalcy, it's hard to summon the wild-eyed originality and manic drive for excellence that propel you to master your fate. Interested in exploring more of these taboo possibilities? Now's the perfect astrological time.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): My parents, my daughter, and I were in the back yard reminiscing about good old Grandpa Dembowski, dead now more than 25 years. As I told the story of how he used to magically pull silver dollars out of my ear, a broken music box my daughter had left out in the grass weeks ago suddenly began to play. Chills electrified the back of my neck. I fantasized that Grandpa's spirit was among us and giving us a sign. The reason I'm telling you all this, Virgo, is that I believe you'll soon receive a comparable message from the other side of the veil.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Seven months ago you were in the "before" stage of your dramatic before-and-after turnaround. Right now you're near the climax of the "after" phase. And while the improbable goals of last January and February have not been entirely accomplished, 70 percent ain't bad at all. Soon your work will be done, and you'll be on a kind of hiatus until the next cycle begins in October. In the meantime, I urge you to stand on your head and cross your eyes or do whatever it takes to see the big picture of the story you've lived in the last half-year. Events that made little sense when they were first happening may finally reveal their exact purpose.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): The bigotry Scorpios face doesn't compare to what gays and blacks suffer. Still, your tribe endures more verbal abuse than all other signs. Even many of my fellow astrologers gratuitously bash Scorpios as if it were fashionable. And I'm sick of it. I propose, as an antidote, that we celebrate Scorpio Pride Week this week. The astrological aspects suggest it's a perfect time to correct misperceptions about you and rehabilitate your reputation. Now read these Scorpionic affirmations sent me by proud Scorpio Carol Cashman of Springfield, Ore. 1) "I am a catalyst, not a manipulator. The metamorphoses which you experience in my presence are of your making. Own up to them please." 2) "I am not secretive; I just perceive more than anyone really wants to know." 3) "I am neither your fantasy come true, nor your worst nightmare."

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