REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): I figure your week ahead will probably have something in common with that roller coaster malfunction in Belgium a few weeks back. Did you hear about it? In the middle of a loop-the-loop, the cars came to a dead stop, stranding riders upside down. They were all rescued and unhurt (as I believe will be the case with you), but only after a long interlude of feeling very up in the air. One good thing: The world will probably make much more sense to you after you view it turned on its head for a while.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): I really like the fact that in 1997 National Coming Out Day falls on the same day as Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement: Oct. 11. I think all of us should repent for the times we've tried to keep people in the closet or forced them to be different from who they really are. Given your astrological aspects, Taurus, expiation is more crucial for you than any other sign of the zodiac, and you're also most likely to succeed at it. So if you're even the tiniest bit homophobic, please seek the forgiveness of gays and lesbians; if you've censored or inhibited the free expression of your parents or children, make amends; and if you've manipulated your lover or spouse into acting like your ideal, vow never to do it again.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): Love Jesus or else burn in hell! Just kidding. What I really want to say is this: Love everybody (including Jesus) or I'll be really mad at you! And I mean love everybody twice as hard as you ever have before. The stars demand it! Your mental health depends upon it! Especially boost your love for the people you supposedly already love but don't treat so well because you take them for granted. Make them perky gifts. Kiss them as if you were kissing God. And bless them with the same sparkle and sass you did when you were first trying to get them to love you.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): After suffering a serious illness before her second birthday, Helen Keller became deaf, dumb, and blind. With the miraculous help of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, she learned to speak and read Braille. Eventually she became a famous writer, lecturer, and humanitarian. I bring this up, Cancerian, because you now resemble Helen right before she met Anne. On the one hand, you're oblivious to the world's beauty; you're almost inexhaustible in your capacity to shut out the intimate presence of God; and your relentless drive to rely on old formulas has made you resistant to learning anything new. On the other hand, you're on the threshold of a spectacular opening. Any minute now, you'll be offered the chance to glimpse vistas you never dreamed existed.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): On Oct. 13, 1492, a Dutch sailor suggested a tiny trick that changed the course of history. It was the day the first Europeans landed in the New World. Piet DeStynie urged his captain, Christopher Columbus, to record the date of arrival as Oct. 12, not 13, because he thought the superstitious fear associated with 13 would inhibit potential investors from financing future journeys. Columbus took DeStynie's advice, and the invasion was clear to proceed. I bring this up, Leo, because I believe there'll be a similar opportunity in your drama this week. A minute adjustment might have monumental repercussions.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): I'm afraid that as long as you live you'll never enjoy a whole lot of the dumb luck garnered by naive simpletons like Forrest Gump or Chance the Gardener (from the movie Being There). You're just too damn smart, Virgo -- sometimes too much so for your own good. But having said that, I must make a semiexception for the coming week. You now have an opportunity to be as raw and basic and uncomplicated as it's possible for you to get. And if you can pull it off with a straight face, there'll be rich surprises.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Many years ago, when I was working as the night janitor at India Joze restaurant in Santa Cruz and scrawling hippie poetry about the glories of steamy mop water, I never imagined I'd one day have a gig as the Astrologer Laureate of the alternative press. And I predict that a comparably huge transformation will be available to you, Libra, if you launch the process in the next four weeks. True, it may take you 11 long years to accomplish the magic, but that'll be part of the fun.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Picture this. You're having a dream of taking a final exam. The seats are hard, the teacher is mean, and the room is cold. Then it gets worse. You realize you're stark naked; the points on both your pencils break; the test questions seem to be in Greek, or maybe even Martian. You were given an hour to finish the exam, and now you look up at the clock and realize only 15 minutes remain. It looks bad. You're starting to panic. Should you just give up and start screaming now? Or is there an outside chance that a divine intervention will drop in and provide salvation at the last minute? I say yes, there is more than an outside chance.

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