REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): There's nothing like a big family gathering to make you feel like a powerless, neurotic child again. Old sibling rivalries break out; Mom and Dad effortlessly resurrect their skill at turning you invisible; and every little exchange becomes a desperate struggle to be true to yourself. I'm invoking this scenario, Aries, to prepare you for the fact that the people you grew up with will soon be swarming all over your aura -- even if you don't actually get together with them. Fortunately, the cosmos has chosen this moment to help you begin to cancel the curses that any of your loved ones may have cast on you -- even the inadvertent ones.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): I have evaluated the astrological omens to determine what tasks the cosmos is most likely to help you master in the coming weeks. Here are my conclusions: 1) learning to distinguish between your iffy hunches and your foolproof intuitions; 2) smelling the difference between refried rumors and inside dope that's fresh and hot; 3) making sure you always know whether what you're looking at is really there or is merely a projection of your own expectations.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): My alchemy teacher loves to remind me that the most effective way to cook up enlightenment is not to turn up the heat all the way in erratic bursts of enthusiasm, but rather to simmer long and slow and steady. I believe this is a potent principle for many other projects, from eliminating a bad habit to bringing more love into your life. And judging from your current astrological aspects, Gemini, this would be an excellent time to increase your mastery of the steadily simmering approach.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): Why am I just giving in and letting the full moon rock and roll my emotions? I blame it on the Cancerian part of my personal chart -- you know, the part of me that loves to go with the flow, even if the flow is a mile-high tsunami. Fortunately for me (and for you if you're in the same boat), this is one of those times when wild rides are likely to have pretty snappy endings. I predict that the delirium we're inviting into our lives will unleash a flood tide of the splashy creativity our sign is famous for.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): It'll be a good week to kiss the feet of helpers, to perform an act of kindness for someone who can't repay you, and to return to the fork in the road where you made a wrong turn awhile back. It won't be such a great time to forge an alliance with barbarians, or gorge yourself to excess, or be so open-minded that your brains fall out. Emphasize reverence and gratitude and curiosity in the coming days, Leo. Avoid casual commitments, reckless promises, and the devil's boiling cauldron.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): The biggest celebration in recorded history is still 539 days away. But there's no reason you should save all your best bacchanalian moves for New Year's Eve 1999. You see, Virgo, the cosmos is even now whipping up the most ferociously festive conditions you've experienced in many moons. From an astrological perspective, this week will provide you with all the yayas you'll need in order to party as if it were already the night the millennium ends.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): The dangers of excessive politeness are best exemplified in the medieval legend of Percivale, Arthur's purest knight. His quest for the Holy Grail leads him to the castle of a wounded king, where he sees a mysterious and beautiful bowl. He's dying to know more about this artifact, but he holds his tongue. His training as a knight has taught him that it's rude to express excessive curiosity. As a result, he doesn't ask the key question that would heal the king. The next morning, he wakes up to find the castle empty, and leaves having missed a fabulous opportunity. I'm telling you this tale, Libra, so that you might avoid the same fate. Be a well-mannered diplomat the other 51 weeks of the year, but not this one.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Have you ever read the tabloid Weekly World News? If I were a writer for that rag, I would eagerly seize upon some of your recent adventures, blow them slightly out of proportion, and concoct a slew of tall tales. "Explorer Sues Over Faulty Flying Carpet" might be the headline of my first piece about you. "Interspecies Love: The Scorpion and the Eagle" could be another. Then there'd be "Horny Bigfoot Steers Ghost Ship Into Port," "New Sex-in-the-Garden Exercise Program," "Bubble Bath Leads to Religious Conversion," and, finally, "Reformed Evil Genius Says 'Rub My Belly for Good Luck.' "

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): From what I can tell, the cosmos has decreed that your Official Metaphor for the rest of 1998 will be fire in the earth. To honor this poetic challenge, I suggest you bring your flamelike lucidity to bear on densely materialistic issues. Here are some questions to guide your work: 1) What can you truly claim as your own? 2) What do you mistakenly believe belongs to you? 3) Which possessions and attachments make you feel shiny and bright, and which smother and chill you? 4) Is there such a thing as an inner status symbol, and if so, how do you acquire it? 5) Can you infuse the dark places with your light without getting tainted by the murk and the gloom?

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