REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): I suppose you could dress up as a vampire or ghost or devil this Halloween. That might be spooky in an enervated, Hallmark-card kind of way. But if you'd really like to scare the living crap out of yourself -- and thereby harvest a cathartic purification -- I recommend a more visceral approach to invoking fear. To do that, select an image from a terrifying nightmare, and use that as inspiration for your costume. But wait! Don't stop there. Add a comical touch. For instance, say you're going to dress up as a dream you had of a half-crocodile, half-hippopotamus monster with the face of your boss. Finish off your look with a diaper, or a bubble-blowing pipe, or a striped stovepipe hat like that worn by the Dr. Seuss character Cat in the Hat.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): Don't rule out rubber dresses, strap-on sex toys, or a trip to the relationship counselor this Halloween season. Be willing to experiment with togetherness, whether that means washing each other's hair while listening to Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, or writing poems on each other's bodies with felt-tip markers while singing "Amazing Grace." May I also suggest that the two of you go to the costume ball as Ho-Ho, the two-headed hooker?

Gemini (May 21-June 20): It's the time of year when you have the most power to change yourself. Let's use color therapy to take advantage of this. First of all, avoid using yellow in your Halloween costume. Yellow boosts mental agility, and your brain is already so mercurial that it can barely keep up with itself. Stay away from blue, too. Blue stimulates free association, and you're such a master of free association that you sometimes become a featureless mush. Violet, on the other hand, would be fabulous; it'll calm and deepen you. Try greens, too; they'll influence your intellect in the direction of grounded fertility and away from sterile abstractions. Can you think of a disguise that employs these two colors? How about a king or queen wearing royal purple and flashing wads of good old American dollars?

Cancer (June 21-July 22): The rest of the world may feel a sense of smoldering gloom as the days grow shorter and nights longer, but many of you Cancerians have either already contracted a case of spring fever, or will any minute now. Halloween should serve as your perfect excuse to celebrate the licentious urges that this delightful affliction is unleashing. You guys might consider dressing up as Don Juan or the horny goat-god Pan. You gals could take your inspiration from the Bacchae women, Mae West, or a Hindu slut goddess.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): I think you should disguise yourself as a root this Halloween. You know, the subterranean part of a plant that sucks up nourishment from the soil and provides anchorage and support. A giant beet costume would be very hip, or maybe you could have lots of turnips and parsnips and onions hanging all over you. Another way to fulfill the assignment is by going as a different kind of root: as one of your ancestors, for instance, or as the person you were 15 years ago, or as whatever symbolizes the essential core of your life.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Be hard to impress but easy to love this week, Virgo. Be a peaceful warrior who gobbles up challenges, not a sensible clock-watcher making endless lists of things to do. And if you have the slightest resistance to what I just suggested, use the anything-goes Halloween spirit to nudge you ever the edge. Go to costume parties disguised as a pushy Aries, or a live-for-today rock star, or a greedy SOB with too much power: whatever it takes to snap you out of your tendency to ask for too little.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Why do you Librans have a reputation as the most passive-aggressive of all the signs? Probably because many of you, in your maniacal drive to foster harmony, suppress your dark side so relentlessly that it has to pop out in subtle, backhanded forms. Halloween offers you a ripe opportunity to address this problem, however. By dressing up and dramatizing your less attractive qualities, you could perform an act of magic that'll reduce your subconscious need to cover them up with a polite veneer. May I suggest, then, that you costume yourself as one (or even all!) of the Seven Deadly Sins this spook season? Choose from pride, covetousness, lust, envy, gluttony, anger, or sloth.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Let's consider the word "hallelujah." It's derived from a Hebrew term meaning "praise the Lord," and is used to express great joy, triumph, and gratitude. All the astrological aspects tell me you'll have abundant reason to utter this exclamation in the next few weeks. To aid and abet the cosmic benevolence that's now conspiring in your behalf, I suggest you choose a Halloween costume that encourages you to shout, "Hallelujah!" You could be a midwife, perhaps, or a brilliant inventor or successful explorer or championship athlete.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Whenever I meditate on what your destiny will be during Halloween week, I keep getting psychic visions of you playing chess with the devil. (Though once I saw you and him engaged in a fiery game of nude volleyball.) What's it mean? My educated guess is that there's a major confrontation brewing secretly in your subconscious depths. And what should you do about it? Here's one suggestion: Get a friend to coordinate his Halloween costume with you. He'll go as the devil, and will always have a chessboard and pieces ready to set up; you can be the quixotic but embattled knight eager to test your mettle -- again and again and again, if necessary.

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