REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): This would be an excellent time to pray to the deities of your choice for guidance in preserving your newly won helpings of love and freedom. For best results, though, avoid the body language traditionally used by Christians in their worship. The gesture of clasping one's hands together, you see, originated as an imitation of being shackled; it was thought to be the best way to express submission to the divine power. The prayers you need to make, on the other hand, need to be loud, exuberant, and unbridled. How about using this signal instead: Spread your arms out as wide as they'll go, as if you were trying to hug the sky.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): Fourteenth-century cabalists calculated the number of angels as 301,655,722. But the radiant homeless guy who begs for money in front of the post office told me today that he figures the total is 677,323,117,002. If he's right, it means that in a mere six centuries, the angel community has grown 225,000 percent. Unlike the rapid proliferation of humans, though, the swelling ranks of heavenly hosts is good news. It means, for one thing, that there are now about 112 divine messengers-cum-guardian spirits for every person on the planet. So please don't let me hear any complaints this week about how you never get any help, Taurus. Supernatural levels of support and service will be available -- if you'll only ask.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): The Nyanja tribe of Malawi has a proverb that roughly translated reads, "If you should find the residents of a place frying their eyes, fry yours also." I guess that makes sense in some cases, especially if the eye-fryers have the power to make you so happy and rich that you don't mind being as blind as they are. But I'd like to offer you a healthier alternative that will be just as effective for your needs this week, and far less costly. It's this Moroccan proverb: "If you find the residents of a place worshipping a donkey, bring the beast some grass."

Cancer (June 21-July 22): When Henri Matisse's painting Le Bateau was first shown at New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1961, it was mistakenly hung upside down for a month-and-a-half. I have reason to believe that a beautiful part of your own world is similarly inverted right now. Are you perceptive enough to spot the transposition? Are you brave enough to admit it and shrewd enough to correct it? Or is it so painful to deal with this small mistake that you'll allow it to mushroom into a gaping, long-term error?

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): In a Florida radio promotion, a woman won a red Ford pickup by smooching it for almost three days straight. In another contest, a Maryland man scored a new motorboat by puckering up against its sleek prow for 59 hours. And now I'm offering you the chance, through the power of your kiss, to acquire a secret about how to become more passionately committed without compromising your freedom. All you have to do is press your lips to the paper that this horoscope is printed on for exactly 88 seconds. This will fulfill the requirements of the magic spell I have cast, and bring you a dream, vision, or insight that will reveal the secret I promised.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): You're on a mission that reminds me of the amputee who climbed Mount Everest last May. Tom Whittaker was the first person with one leg to conquer the world's tallest peak. He'd tried and failed twice before, and a bout with pulmonary edema almost defeated him the third time. Like Whittaker, you're attempting a feat that would be difficult even if you weren't working under a handicap. And yet it's quite likely that your handicap will motivate you with a ferocity you couldn't summon if you were merely "normal."

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): According to reliable sources, you can get a member of the cast of Friends to come to your bash if you pay him or her $50,000. Arnold Schwarzenegger will appear for double that amount and skier Picabo Street for $30,000, while ancient rock star Boy George demands 20 grand. You may not be as famous as those luminaries, Libra, but in your own sphere your social clout is peaking. Maybe it's time, therefore, for you to charge a fee for showing up at parties. At least, please, collect all the perks your grace and expertise deserve.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): James Clerk Maxwell (1831-79) was a Scorpio physicist who formulated a theory of electromagnetic waves 20 years before they were discovered. How did he come up with his innovative ideas? Often by engaging in pretend conversations with his dog, Tobi. I'm going to recommend his method to you, Scorpio. Revolutionary new notions about how to shape your career are beginning to swirl up from your subconscious mind, but they're so surprising and controversial you may need to talk them over with imaginary friends who have no stubborn expectations about where your future lies.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): According to my reading of the astrological vibes, you will laugh more this week than you have in many moons. Contradictions that in the past may have made you grind your teeth will now detonate your giggle reflex. Awkward moments that you might take too seriously at any other time will seem like entertaining slapstick. Life in your vicinity is just going to be a lot funnier than usual. This could seem inconvenient, I suppose. What if you're convulsed with guffaws at a moment when you want to show how serious you can be? My advice is to avoid all situations that would require you to be sober and dignified. Give yourself the luxury of surrendering to the divine heehaw as much as possible.

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