REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): Peter Brook, a stage and film director who's managed to win both critical and popular success, was born on the first day of spring in 1925. In his recent book, Threads of Time: Recollections, he describes the pivotal issue he's struggled with all of his adult life: "when to cling to a conviction and when to see through it and let go." Maybe this hasn't been your focus before, Aries, and maybe it won't be later, but it should be for the next couple of weeks. As invigorating as your idealism can be, the moment is ripe to decide whether or not it's serving you well now.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): Too bad the National Hollerin' Contest at Spivey's Corner, N.C., isn't this week, because you'd have an excellent chance of winning. It's one of those times in your astrological cycle when you're likely to be weaving back and forth across the fine line between agony and ecstasy -- and everyone knows it's exactly that state of mind that produces the most ardent and poignant hollers. Singing the blues will be another activity at which you'll excel this week, Taurus. I can't imagine anyone being able to resist you as you wail your tales of how good it hurts.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): I ask that wherever you are you stand up and bow your head. Now tickle your ribs with your right hand. Take your left hand and pat yourself tenderly on the head. Now close one eye, lift your left leg, spin clockwise, and chant this prayer: "Dear Goddess, please make it immoral, illegal, irrelevant, unpatriotic, and totally tasteless for me to be in love with anyone or anything that's no good for me. Forevermore. Amen. Oh, and one other thing. Please don't wait more than two weeks to send me someone or something that gives me goose bumps and hot flashes for all of the right reasons. Amen and awomen."

Cancer (June 21-July 22): Many Cancerians I've known, including myself, have never really felt at home in the world. Besieged by a constant onslaught of restless emotions, we always imagine that the sweet spot we long for is located elsewhere or elsewhen. Well I've got news for you, my fellow Crabs: Home is right here; home is right now. Come in from your eternal exile and take a stand exactly where you are. Love the ones you're with, not the fantasies that tempt you to think that life is better someplace far away.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): In her song "#1 Crush," Shirley Manson of the band Garbage croons, "I would sell my soul for something pure and true." This strong and talented Leo woman is saying, in other words, that she's willing to despoil her integrity in order to dwell in the presence of integrity. I fear that many of you Leos will soon be tempted to engage in this kind of melodramatic self-sabotage. The fact is that you can find something pure and true, but only by being an absolutely righteous and honorable powerhouse yourself.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Bust your beautiful butt to secure and stabilize the unexpected gains you've made recently. If your body has been mysteriously healthy (as I expect it has), figure out what you've been doing right, and then do it even harder. If surprising blessings have been falling in front of you (as I trust they have), analyze how your attitude has subtly improved to attract those gifts. And if revelations about the nature of your genius have been making themselves available (as I believe they have), take steps to help them bloom.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): This is how spells are broken: by taking a spontaneous pilgrimage to a place no one else but you regards as holy; by spinning in circles until you fall down dizzy; by calling up a long-lost friend who always specialized in irritating and inspiring you; by giving away a small treasure to a person who's poor or miserable; and by going outside at night and spitting in the direction of the heavenly body that's responsible for the star-crossed fate you want to escape.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Picasso believed that artists are the politicians of the future. Including myself in that category, I propose two improvements to take effect by Dec. 24, 2012. First, in addition to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, every citizen shall have the right to affordable weekly consultations with a good shrink. Secondly, I'd like to enforce ex-Poet Laureate Joseph Brodsky's suggestion that "[poetry] books should be brought to the doorstep like electricity: They should be considered utilities, and their cost should be appropriately minimal." To be honest, I hope you Scorpios don't wait 14 years for the new laws to kick in. In fact, there's no better way to prepare for the coming weeks' whirlwinds than to pack your schedule with psychotherapy and poems.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Which paradise will it be, Sagittarius? You'll most likely slip into one kind or another during the next few weeks, and where you end up may well depend on how specifically you visualize what you want. Will your Shangri-La of choice be a place where the rivers run with cold beer, money grows on trees, and there's a bronze statue of you in every park? Or would you prefer a realm where you feel the breath of God in your own lungs and most everyone sees and responds to your idiosyncratic beauty? Create a crisp, radiant picture in your mind today.

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