REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): Here's the latest bit of wisdom from my 6-year-old daughter Zoe: "Life never brings you anything that's either all good or all bad." I not only agree with her, I regard her words as a central spiritual truth. As a corollary, I would add this: If anyone or anything seems to be either all good or all bad, you can be sure you're not seeing the whole picture. Ironically, an unheard-of exception to this law will probably occur this week. You're about to encounter strokes of fate that'll come breathtakingly close to being all good.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): Nothing you're doing these days will inspire the representatives of the Jerry Springer show to seek you out as a guest anytime soon. Perversions, aberrations, and sticky spectacles are not your forte right now. However, you are on the verge of a respectable breakthrough that could earn you a thank-you note from an appreciative underdog, or a feeler from a talent scout, or several special mentions in the gossip grapevine. Will that be enough juicy feedback for you? Given your astrological aspects, probably not. Consider convening a pep rally designed to psych up your confidence to record levels. Invite only your most rabid fans and admirers.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): The French writer Voltaire was fond of saying the prayer, "Oh God (if there is one), please save my soul (if I have one)." If copping his ironic minimalism is the best you Geminis can do in the next few weeks, so be it. It'll be better than nothing. But I hope you can manage a more elaborate and personal and tangible communion with the Divine Intelligence. It is, after all, one of the most favorable times in many moons for you to speak -- and listen -- to powers beyond your understanding.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): Darryl, a Cancerian from Nashville, wrote to tell me that his New Year's resolution is "to get out of my own way." I can't think of a better all-purpose vow for the entire Crab tribe. Next to Pisceans, you folks are the zodiac's champions at being your own worst enemy. Fortunately, 1998 will present you with some of the best-ever astrological aspects for breaking free from the choke holds of your inner demons. And the next few weeks could very well bring a karma-rattling showdown between you and them.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): If you are currently manacled to an iron cross in a dungeon, your body shrouded with saran wrap while a rough-looking character in a leather mask flagellates you with a cane and reads you this horoscope, please give the safe words immediately. It's way past time to end your ordeal. I suppose there may have been some value in your martyrdom for a while, but you're now overdue for more life-affirming encounters, like getting a hot-oil massage from a gentle nurturer. If you're not exactly in the predicament I described, but feel as if you're approximating it psychologically, I suggest that you too flee without delay.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): At $2 billion per unit, the Air Force's B-2 stealth bomber is a prodigious high-tech creation -- except of course for its ill-conceived thermoplastic skin, which falls apart in the rain. I bring this up, Virgo, as an example of what to avoid as you put the finishing touches on your own masterpiece. Make damn sure that its beauty and originality are matched by its functionality. Don't send it out into the world until you've double-checked for and corrected any flaws that would defeat its purpose.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): It won't be a good week to decorate your thigh with a sloppy tattoo of the devil pushing a lawn mower, or to wolf down greasy burgers alone in a dirty bathtub while fantasizing about making love to an inaccessible idol. It will, however, be a propitious moment to add a shot of refined beauty to your personal appearance or to share fresh grapes in a sparkling Jacuzzi with a very available and genuine soul.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Knowing how much you scorn cuteness and sentimentality, I hesitate to speak bluntly about what you need most in the next couple of weeks. Nevertheless, I'm here to tell you the truth, not to worry about how you deal with the truth. Therefore, here it is: Nothing would be better for your mental and physical health than to curl into a fetal position and wrap yourself up in a warm fuzzy pink blanky -- metaphorically as well as actually. To keep the tormented, roguish side of your personality happy, maybe you could find a warm fuzzy pink blanky that's decorated with pictures of cobras and pythons.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): According to ritualist Sobonfu Some and therapist Julia Weller, 1998 is a "Nature" year in the Dagara cosmology of West Central Africa. "What masks have been imposed upon us by our loved ones and culture?" is a good question to ask yourself in the next 12 months, they say, along with "What masks have we ourselves chosen?" If they're right and this is a favorable time for everyone to remove their disguises and reveal the curious beauty that lies beneath, it's doubly auspicious for you, Sagittarius. My reading of the astrological aspects suggests that this'll be a year when you could and should drop hundreds of pretenses.

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