REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): This would be a fine time to stand beneath a lover's window and serenade him or her with a tear-jerking yet funny song. It's also an excellent astrological moment to surprise your paramour by pouring maple syrup into the shape of a happy face on his or her oatmeal. Finally, you couldn't choose a better week to arouse so much sacred pleasure in you-know-who that he or she will be forevermore convinced that the body is indeed a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): Some Jews regard their houses as a more sacred place of worship than the synagogue. Many pagans feel no need to confine their celebrations to any special building, but offer their prayers to the earth and sky. Several Zen Buddhists I've known have claimed they're as likely to find enlightenment while microwaving a burrito in a convenience store as when meditating on a straw mat in a monastery. In the spirit of these seekers, Taurus, I exhort you to look for divine inspiration in both the strangest and most familiar places this week -- anywhere other than where it's "supposed" to be.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): What's good about you has almost stopped interfering with what's great about you, Gemini. Your past is no longer sabotaging your future, and your work is beginning to cooperate more creatively with your love life. Everywhere you look, in fact, peace and harmony are breaking out. I believe this has to do with the fact that something like a courtship is currently unfolding in the deep, dark recesses of your psyche. Two of your subpersonalities that have rarely acknowledged each other's existence have begun an almost convivial dialogue.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): The renowned 17th-century painter Rembrandt was born under the sign of the Crab. Known as a "master of light and shade" who gave himself generously to his students, the dude was also a flaming narcissist who did no less than 64 self-portraits. In these ways he demonstrated his Cancerian roots. The point I'm hoping to imply is that, like Rembrandt, you are perfectly capable of being both a sweet nurturer of people in need and an utterly self-involved explorer of your own intriguing depths. These days especially, I expect you'll be driven in both directions simultaneously.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): "I always wanted to be somebody," comic Lily Tomlin once remarked, "but I should have been more specific." This is one of the best admonishments for members of your tribe that I've ever heard. Some version of it should be inscribed in the frontispiece of every Leo's journal. Why? Because there's only one thing standing in the way of you becoming a gorgeous gift to humanity, and that's a tendency to be so hungry for bragging rights that you neglect to define the exact nature of the accomplishments you want to brag about. This birthday season, Leo, is a perfect astrological moment to fight that tendency. Reconsecrate your passion to ripen the exact talents that make you special.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Even though I've never been a big fan of St. Paul, I've taken one of his mantras, "I die daily," and made it my own. It helps me annihilate my ridiculous self-importance. I use it to dismantle my hypocrisies and flush out my unexamined ignorance and kill off any budding delusions I might be suffering from. May I recommend this meditation to you? It ain't easy, Virgo, but once you get the hang of it, it's fun and liberating -- especially now, during the karmic cleanup phase of your yearly cycle.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): In the modern world, August is the most quiescent time of the year. Everyone's on vacation. News is slow. It's too hot to move very fast. But for our ancestors, August was the most critical month of the entire calendar. The crops had to be harvested -- or else. During "Wakes Week" in old England, many people left their normal jobs and came to the fields to assist in bringing in the grain. By my reckoning, Libra, you're at a point in your astrological cycle that's comparable to our predecessors. Laziness should be taboo. It's time to reap what you've been sowing since your last birthday.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): The good news is that due to tremendous surges in the strength of your willpower recently, you're virtually exempt from planetary influences. Fate has less hold on you than ever. You have an enormous capacity to reprogram the patterns that will shape your life for months to come. The bad news is that due to tremendous surges in the strength of your willpower recently, you're virtually exempt from planetary influences. Fate has less hold on you than ever. You have a tough and imposing responsibility to reprogram the patterns that will shape your life for months to come.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): You know what a halo is, but you may not have heard of a mandorla, which is a full-body halo. In Buddhist and Christian art, this almond-shaped aureole of light sometimes appears around an especially saintly or godlike character. I thought I'd introduce you to the term, Sagittarius, because when I've looked at you with my psychic vision lately, you yourself seem to be sporting a rich purple mandorla. Does this have something to do with a growing determination to live up to your highest ideals? Or is that sexy glow nothing more than the extra animal magnetism you've been exuding since you decided to rev up your impersonation of a fearless explorer?

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