REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): I heard a song on the radio the other day that had a line you should know about. "All the things that matter most," an unknown woman's voice crooned, "caught me by surprise." From my reading of your astrological omens, I think this will be a keynote for you in the coming year. Note that the singer did not say the surprises were bad; and I believe that'll be the case with you as well. Unless you're so attached to your expectations that you resist the sweetly dazzling curves fate will throw at you. In which case you may well end up feeling sad and blue.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): Native American prophet Robert Ghost Wolf speaks about two kinds of vision: hard eyes and soft eyes. The first is when you have such fixed concepts about a person or thing that you don't truly see it as it stands before you; you only see your own ideas about it. The second is when you strip away all prejudgments and view the person or thing freshly, as if God created it just a moment ago. When you use soft eyes, you're constantly amazed at how different the world is from what everyone says it is; and your capacity for being in love becomes prodigious. I'm telling you this, Taurus, because I believe you're a candidate for having the softest eyes of the year in 1998.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): Concentrate on being great in '98, Gemini! Be a first-rate heavyweight! Graduate from the frustrating stalemate and take the bait that'll lead you straight to your date with celebrated fate! No need to tolerate aggravating imitators! No excuse for gravitating toward fascinating hallucinators! Meditate on how to illuminate and fascinate all the other primates! Be an emancipated potentate in '98!

Cancer (June 21-July 22): Let's hope 1998 is the year that the people of East Timor, who've been harshly repressed by the Indonesian government, finally get a referendum on self- determination. Here's a hopeful sign: Working in their behalf is one of the world's most accomplished liberators (and a fellow Cancerian), Nelson Mandela. Let's also hope that the next 12 months inspire you to throw off the oppressive yoke of your own past -- especially the part of your history that has to do with love and sex. All the astrological indicators suggest that you're primed to dethrone the habits that have kept you repeating the same old romantic scenarios over and over again.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): There's a long tradition of people changing their names after being transformed by a thunderous epiphany. In the Bible, Saul became Paul after a blinding roadside vision inspired him to convert to a cool new cult. In the 1980s, I had a number of friends who acquired Hindu-sounding monikers after their initiation into Rajneesh's wild creed. I bring this up, Leo, because I believe the serpentine adventures you'll enjoy in 1998 may precipitate such breathtaking tweaks in your identity that you'll want to add a novel alias to your collection. Got any intuitions about what it might be? How about something smoky and smoldering and subterranean? Or what about "Snake Charmer" or "Storm Tamer" or "Fire Keeper"?

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): The phrase "from the penthouse to the outhouse" has become a favorite of sportswriters eager to spruce up their essays on teams in decline. I'd like to turn the cliche around and apply the reverse to you, Virgo. Of all the signs of the zodiac, your year ahead most deserves the description "from the outhouse to the penthouse." Not because I think you'll end up living in a gilded palace with a hundred- mile view (though you may in fact attract higher levels of material luxury), but rather because I believe the power spots you come to inhabit will be overflowing with spiritual riches.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): If you're lost and wandering in the desert, and you don't take your first drink of water until you feel thirsty, it's probably too late: Massive dehydration is already so completely under way that death is nigh. I'd like you to use this as a metaphor for your emotional state in the coming months. (And please, only as a metaphor. I do not think you're in danger of actually dying.) Be aware that you will encounter some very dry stretches in 1998, during which time you'll have to be quite imaginative in keeping your feeling nature moist. And most importantly, don't wait until you're psychically parched. Start now to figure out how you're going to be totally sure to get all the tender, wet sweetness you need.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Humphrey Bogart never actually said, "Play it again, Sam," in Casablanca. Sherlock Holmes never said, "Elementary, my dear Watson." Captain Kirk never said, "Beam me up, Scotty." And I, Rob Brezsny, have never said, "Love and lust are converging in a mysterious conspiracy to make Scorpio happy" -- until now. But boy am I saying it now. I'm singing it, I'm shouting it, I'm leaving absolutely no doubt about it. In 1998, my dears, I predict there will be an orgiastic truce in the ancient struggle between your heart and loins.

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