REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): My favorite Catholic saint was Catherine of Siena. Born under the sign of Aries in 1347, she was an outrageously original leader whose power was enhanced by her unusual style. No other woman in church history, for instance, has ever asserted that Jesus gave her his foreskin to wear as a wedding ring. Yet that claim was in part responsible for her huge following, which in turn provided her with enough political clout to convince Pope Gregory XI to move the papal residence from Avignon back to Rome. I urge you to take after your foremother St. Catherine in the next few weeks, Aries. Wield your inspiring influence with all your idiosyncrasies in full bloom.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): Each year we all enjoy a precious few days in which none of the planets makes a single aspect to any other. On those special occasions, the planetary gods have a reduced power to whip your fate this way and that; your willpower has more room than usual in which to maneuver. In 1998, there are just two such holidays: Aug. 18 and Nov. 2. But I believe you Tauruses will feel as if you have many more than that. Why? Because you'll have an almost spooky dearth of karma to deal with. For the next 12 months, "Liberation" is your middle name.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): I am now under the spell of an enchantress who has bewitched me with her sublime gorgeousness. I'm sure you understand, Gemini. My reading of the astrological aspects tells me that you too must be in a lather over an acutely cute creature. Would you like to plagiarize the love note I just gave my heroine? Steal away. "I want you and me to put on shower caps and climb a hill at dusk in the January drizzle to stage a water balloon fight while singing songs from West Side Story. I want to play strip Scrabble with you in a Malaysian treehouse while tigers boink below. When summer comes, I want to dress up as teen-age hoodlums and hunt for pet grasshoppers in a dandelion meadow next to a trailer park while chanting passages from the Bhagavad Gita."

Cancer (June 21-July 22): With each passing day, your beauty is becoming less of a secret. Your gifts are increasingly irresistible, and your skills are ever more indispensable. Your lips seem incredibly kissable, and your hands radiate the power of sexual healing. Even now, old lovers who dumped you are suffering pangs of regret. Former collaborators are fantasizing about how they might win your favor again. In short, Cancerian, your mojo is turned up all the way, and people are starting to pant and drool. Sounds dreamy, except for this one potential problem: Will you promise so much to so many that you'll forget what you yourself want?

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): A few weeks ago, a woman named Karen Hartley got lost after sundown at a Utah ski resort. All night long she sang and danced to remain warm and keep her spirits up. When her rescuers found her the next morning, she was performing the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive," complete with Travolta-style disco moves. Why am I telling you this, Leo? Because while I don't think you're in danger of getting lost in an actual wilderness, I do fear for the bleak and frigid conditions that currently prevail in your eternal soul. In my opinion you need to raise the temperature in there with a friendly shock. A dusk-till-dawn marathon of wild warbling and insane shimmying might do the trick.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): A partially sucked cough drop could play an important role in launching a romantic adventure this week. Same with a painting of dogs playing poker or an anecdote about a bratwurst-eating contest: Either could catalyze a melodramatic comedy featuring tons of love; or maybe not. All I know is that an unexpected and seemingly minor tweak of fate will instigate a fun and mysterious encounter with amour very soon.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, was allergic to carrots. John Wayne, cowboy supreme, was afraid of horses. If we are to believe the reports of his leading ladies, screen hunk Harrison Ford can't kiss worth a damn. And you, Libra? Is your persona, or public image, in close alignment with your deepest inner self? Or are there flagrant discrepancies that are embarrassing to contemplate? If it's the latter, now is prime time to make corrections.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): If you're a flexible and persuasive warrior with extensive training in the communication wars, this will be a triumphant week. Your intelligence-gathering apparatus will be working like a dream. Your credibility as a spokesperson will be soaring. The gross gossipers who've opposed your interests will be in retreat. I don't know if Allah or Jehovah is on your side, but the messenger god Mercury definitely is. Call on him to cover your flanks while you knock out enemy hype with a hail of propaganda bombs. (If you're not a flexible and persuasive warrior with extensive training in the communication wars, this'll be a great week to earn your stripes.)

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