REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): The Chinese city of Lanzhou is plagued by stagnant pollution. Its cars and industries pour out a constant supply of waste gas, and the surrounding landscape bottles it up so it can't readily flow away. Solution: Demolish Big Green Mountain, a prime culprit responsible for trapping the noxious air. Huge teams of laborers are even now hard at work doing just that. They're blowing up the towering edifice of rock and dirt, hacking at it with picks and shovels, flushing it away with piped-in water. I hope this monumental exertion inspires you, Aries. It actually makes sense right now for you to try tearing down a mountainous impediment to your own purity and well-being.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): It's Love the Warts Week. That means you should find a place in your heart to accept not only your own shortcomings and imperfections, but also those of the people who bug you. In fact, I suggest you actively call attention to all the blemishes, maybe even celebrate them with rousing toasts and songs. You think I'm joking? No way. Nothing could be better for your mental health than to tenderly mock unsightly truths.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): One reason I'm in your life is to coax you into placing less trust in know-it-alls like me. Another reason is to show you a kind of astrology that doesn't mess with your free will, but instead clarifies your choices. In this week's horoscope, for example, I'll crisply define your alternatives so that you may embark upon a savvy course of action that's most aligned with your highest ideals. Read the following question carefully, then briskly flex your freedom of choice: Would you rather have love hit you upside the head, knock your feet out from under you, or kick you in the butt?

Cancer (June 21-July 22): Did you ever wish it was socially acceptable to drool? For whatever reason: because you'd like to simulate the state of infancy and relive what it was like to have no expectations to worry about; or because you want to be completely uninhibited in fantasizing about making love to some delectable creature; or just because it would feel godlike to be so utterly uncontrolled. If this taboo urge has ever tempted you, Cancer, now is the time to let it flow. The Drooling Season has arrived.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): Did you know that babies receive almost as much pleasure from learning as they do from eating? Even in us adults, the processing of fresh and interesting information generates endorphins, the chemicals in our brains that produce a natural high. I mention this, Leo, because you're entering an astrological phase in which your brain should be especially hungry for data it's never tasted before. Of course, its ability to cram itself full of delicious new notions could be tragically reduced if it's already stuffed with a backlog of fixed ideas and stubborn opinions. Would you consider using a psychic laxative?

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): My taxi driver told me he has a master's degree in ancient Near East religions from Columbia University. The woman who scooped my ice cream mentioned she was trained as a corporate headhunter. Then there's my friend Jerry, who's mastered the game of Myst while killing time as he waits for his computer consultant business to pick up. I won't go on, because it pains me to talk about these underachievers, who happen to be just a few of the Virgos I've encountered recently whose talents are going to waste. Instead, I will COMMAND you to do whatever it takes in the next five weeks to start living up to your potential. Well, actually, the astrological powers that be command you, and I'm just relaying their message.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): "What causes happiness?" wonder David Meyers and Ed Dieners in their book The Science of Happiness. "This question not only went largely unanswered during psychology's first century, it went largely unasked." They note that from 1967 to 1995, essays on negative emotions far outnumbered those on positive emotions in the psychological literature. (The ratio was 21-to-1.) I'd like to suggest that it's high time to rectify this gross asymmetry -- and you Librans are the perfect candidates to lead the charge. Why? 1) You're the zodiac's masters of balance. 2) The uproarious planet Uranus is in your House of Fun for the foreseeable future. 3) You'll soon begin your astrological New Year, when seizing joy will be easier than at any other moment.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): A recent tabloid story on Disneyland reported how a young boy ran up to the Big Bad Wolf (or rather a person dressed as the Big Bad Wolf) and kicked him in the groin. Another kid punched Captain Hook in the stomach so hard it knocked him down. While I certainly don't condone violence against cartoon characters, I do admire the passion with which these children felt moved to battle villainy. I wish you Scorpios would rise up with an equal fervor and throw some metaphorical karate chops at the personifications of evil in your own environment.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): If Deepak Chopra and Gwyneth Paltrow had a baby, it would probably grow up to embody the qualities you've been expressing lately: sorta wise but slick, sorta sexy but in a way that doesn't interfere with your talent. Come to think of it, if Rosie O'Donnell and RuPaul had a kid, it too might resemble your recent behavior: sorta gabby but cool, sorta bigger-than-life and packing one helluva mixed metaphor.

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