REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): The word "school" comes from schole, the ancient Greek word for "leisure." Judging by this etymology, we might surmise that Athenian time-travelers from 300 B.C. would be perplexed by our desire to kill our free time by sunbathing or playing cards or watching TV. For them, spare moments were opportunities to expand their learning. Now it so happens, Aries, that at this particular astrological juncture, the Greek approach makes perfect sense for you. Use your idle hours to stretch, not numb, your mind.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): On July 4, 1776, English King George III made this entry in his diary: "Nothing of importance happened today." Back then, of course, there were no electronic media transmitting news of events the moment they happened. Thus, George was unaware of the hubbub erupting across the ocean in Philadelphia. Meditate on that historical scene this week, Taurus. It'll help you appreciate that though your own day-to-day rhythm may seem quite ordinary, a turning point will be transpiring out of sight. Can you guess where? (Hint: Follow the spiral.)

Gemini (May 21-June 20): With the authority granted me by Melinda, the overworked, underpaid person I thanked for making my sandwich at the Wild Oats deli today, I hereby proclaim this National Gratitude Week. And if I'm reading the astrological aspects correctly, no one's in more need of celebrating this holiday than you Geminis. Count your blessings or else, people! Or else what? Or else you won't catalyze the full potential of your blessings. That which has nurtured you now needs your nurturing. OK? OK!

Cancer (June 21-July 22): Be like the rooster this week, Cancerian. He's your power animal. Be vigilant for the metaphorical dawn that's approaching, and announce its arrival with a celebratory wake-up call. On the other hand, don't be like the rooster. He's your weakness animal. Don't imitate the way he conducts himself in a fight, which is to keep brawling long past the point when he should give up. In conclusion, my fellow Moon Children, imitate but don't imitate the rooster. Abandon your futile struggle and retreat so that you will be in the right place at the right time to herald the return of the light.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): The chorus of an old Depeche Mode song goes like this: "I don't want to start/ Any blasphemous rumors/ But I think that God's/ Got a sick sense of humor/ And when I die/ I expect to find him laughing." I have a grudging respect for this tune. I appreciate any artist who suggests there's more to the Infinite Spirit than the pinched personality described in the Bible or Koran. On the other hand, Depeche Mode's notion of the Lord is a crock too. It's as much a hostage to pop culture's knee-jerk nihilism as the right-wing bigots' "God" is to their monumental hatreds. One thing I know for sure about the Supreme Being is that She has a sublimely poetic sense of humor. And I believe you will experience it firsthand this week, Leo.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Late last year in the Baiyanghe coalfield of northwest China, workers extinguished a fire that had been burning since 1560. An unimaginable amount of coal was squandered in those 437 years. And what does that have to do with you? I believe there's been a comparable scenario in your own life, Virgo -- a long-running waste of precious energy. But if my reading of the astrological omens is correct, you're about to stop the bleeding. If and when you do, please move on swiftly to the next task: finding a way to wisely exploit all those rich reserves.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): In fairy tales, the deep, dark forest is a symbol of nature in its wild, scary state. The garden, on the other hand, is an embodiment of human control over primal forces. In between these two extremes is the grove, a small cluster of trees with little underbrush. It's here, our ancestors thought, that supernatural beings reveal themselves to pilgrims who're seeking guidance. I believe that the grove is the metaphorical equivalent of where you now find yourself, Libra. You're half-in and half-out: a perfect spot to rest and reflect and pray for an epiphany.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Experts say that in an average week on planet Earth, human beings perform 900 million sex acts. If that's true, you just know the Scorpio tribe is responsible for a disproportionately large share of the total, like maybe 100 million. This week, though, both those figures may be conservative. With the solstice pumping up the volume on everyone's libidos, all-time records are looming. I predict a global tally of 1.4 billion erotic exchanges, with you Scorpios handling a full 200 million. Will it be a decadent spectacle of reckless excess? Or a lyrical blast of soothing anarchy? Lead us toward the latter, my dear kundalini masters.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Are you familiar with the Jungian notions of animus and anima? For you women, the animus is an imaginal character that personifies all that's masculine in your own psyche. Similarly, the anima embodies a man's feminine qualities. I believe that whatever gender or sexual preference you are, Sagittarius, you're now on the verge of a mystical marriage with one of those creatures from inner space. In dreams or twilight reveries, you will reach a new stage of intimate communion with your animus or anima. Warning: This awesome but veiled rite of passage may be confusing to your relationships with actual flesh-and-blood lovers.

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