REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): Try to convince some feisty lover to pick you up in his or her arms and carry you over a threshold this week. See, too, if you can arrange to have friends throw rice at the two of you, and tie tin cans to your car's bumper, and cover for you at work while you escape on a romantic getaway. But wait! I am not suggesting that you officially tie the knot. What I have in mind, instead, is a very vivid trial run. You're not quite ready for the 30 percent more commitment that would turn your relationship into a real work of art. But there's no time like now to practice your ass off.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): I wonder what would happen if this week I simply reprinted your horoscope from a week ago. Would you catch my subtle implication that you need to hear the same damn thing again until you agree to get it right? Would you consider the possibility that you're not listening well enough to the good advice you're receiving? And would it dawn on you that maybe you're more stuck in your ways than you realized? Since I've psychically sensed that you'll be saying yes to at least two of those questions, I've decided to give you a break and not repeat what I told you last time. But please go back and read it again anyway. (Hint: It was Love the Warts Week last week.)

Gemini (May 21-June 20): If I'm reading the astrological portents correctly, the only wet dreams you enjoyed for most of September were nightmares of rain dripping down through leaky roofs. But I have good reason to believe that's changing. With Mars having just spurted into your House of Moist Intimacy, and Venus soon to follow, you're likely to be sloshing through more fluidic encounters than you know what to do with. And that should be pretty f***ing fun.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): Even if you're not one of the millions of Cancerians who actively cultivate a relationship with agoraphobia, you'll probably be doing a lot of hiding in your bedroom this week. And even if you're not a hypersensitive sentimentalist like most of your fellow Crabs, you'll most likely be breaking into sobs at the slightest provocation. (Please avoid sappy long-distance phone commercials.) And as if that weren't enough, your maternal instincts will be gushing out all over the place even if you're a testosterone-possessed jock. In other words, take all the qualities attributed to your sign by the average coffee-table book on astrology, and multiply them by 10: That'll be you during the next eight days.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): Let's review the term "oxymoron" so you know just what garish elegance you'll be getting into this week. It's derived from the Greek words oxys, which means sharp or keen, and moros, foolish. You might think that "astute lunacy" would be a good synonym, or "crazy wisdom," but the official definition is "a combination of contradictory or incongruous words." Armed with this understanding, you're now ready to make your selections from this week's menu of oxymoronic experiences: 1) organized chaos; 2) selfish gifts; 3) wild discipline; 4) twisted calm; 5) uproarious lucidity; 6) ironic sincerity; 7) aggressive sensitivity; 8) sleek messes; 9) convoluted simplicity; 10) invisible presence.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Nothing helps me mutate my way out of a rut faster than waxing wacky about whatever I'm so dead serious about. I suggest you use this technique to try to wriggle free of the crotchety old attitudes about money that are preventing you from attracting more of the stuff. Start by playing some music that puts you in an uninhibited mood, then do a cash boogie (a variation on a rain dance). When you're feeling good and loose and sweaty, take a crisp new dollar bill and turn it into a good luck talisman. Glue an oval-shaped picture of yourself right in the center of the bill, for instance. Or inscribe the edges with a prayer to the Goddess of New Cars. Finally, Virgo, here's a money mantra you might want to chant a hundred times or so before bed each night: O monnee gimmee summ.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Psychologists say it takes 10 times more information to change your mind than it did to make up your mind in the first place. So please be very fussy about what new notions you fill up your beautiful head with this week. They'll have almost as much staying power as the pet theories you collected when you first left home. Did you ever hear about that famous experiment in imprinting? Baby ducks were separated from their mothers the moment they hatched, and encouraged to cuddle with a terry cloth dummy. For the rest of their lives, they acted as if that dummy were their mother. I believe you are now as impressionable as a newborn duckling, Libra.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): For the foreseeable future I think your power animal should be the mongoose. This small carnivorous mammal is renowned for its cobra-fighting talents, which will be helpful to you as you approach your own showdown with snakelike influences. Calling on the spirit of the mongoose will arouse in you all the qualities it brings to its tangles with slithering reptiles: agility, a thick coat, an acute sense of timing, and a virtual immunity to venom.

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