REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): It's been too long since I asked you the most important question: What do you want more than anything else? I am not, of course, talking about a shiny material object or perfect lover or anything else outside of yourself. I'm referring to the only thing in the world you can ever truly possess: your inner state. Lucid perception, for instance, or animal vigor, or the experience of feeling deeply appreciated. So let me ask you the most important question in a slightly different way: What quality of being do you want to embody more than anything else, and what are you gonna do about it?

Taurus (April 20-May 20): As you wrap up this rather tweaked phase of your cycle, I invite you to be creative in expressing your desire to never have to deal with such lame bullshit again. Perhaps you could draw inspiration from ex- supermodel Amber Smith. Speaking in TV Guide of her role in the movie Laws of Deception, she enthused, "I got to cry, scream, spit, throw things, and go crazy." If that approach sounds too hackneyed, Taurus, maybe you could re-enact the central ritual of the ancient religion of Mithraism, which is to say you'll purify yourself by bathing in bull's blood in an underground cave.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): How to get more respect: 1) Respect yourself more. 2) Do better than your best in everything you do, but don't look like you're trying too hard. 3) Take one action every day that'll earn you the right to respect yourself more. 4) Get inside the minds of those whose respect you want, and find out what they value most. 5) Make it a goal that in three years you'll be doing what you like to do at least 51 percent of the time. 6) Respect other people more.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): I've got three complaints and three proposed solutions for you this week, Cancerian. First of all, you've accumulated a bunch of big bright flashy things that you don't need. Would you consider giving them away? Secondly, you seem to have forgotten how to tell the difference between smart imperfect love and dumb imperfect love. Please try to remember. Finally, my friend, you've become too damn civilized. It's high time to growl and pant and climb and sniff and prowl and leap for joy.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): A recent Discover magazine reported on the odd case of the tiger beetle. The insect moves at such high speeds that the vision center in its brain sometimes can't keep up. As a result, it momentarily goes blind again and again. Sound like anyone you know? Like maybe yourself? The poor tiger beetle, instinctually programmed as it is, can't modify its behavior. But you can, Leo. Slow down and you'll see better.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): In January 1995, the renowned psychic Gordon Michael Scallion predicted the locations and Richter scale values of 17 earthquakes that would supposedly occur that year. Not one of them, alas, came to pass. Of the rest of his 66 prophecies, the only few that were fulfilled were no-brainers like "Herb sales will soar as more people seek alternative ... health care." Yet Scallion still pops up now and then on talk radio. I bring this up, Virgo, to inspire you to research the track records of people in whom you'll be putting your trust. Chances are most will prove more credible than Scallion, but won't you feel better when you've got concrete evidence for your faith?

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): I love Thomas Merton's notion of what makes a saint saintly. It doesn't have so much to do with being a perfectly sinless paragon of virtue, he said. The more important measure of sanctity is one's ability to see what's good and beautiful in other people. I'm bringing this before your attention, Libra, because I believe it's prime time to launch a massive hike in your levels of saintliness. Not just because it'll make God like you more, either. Your unselfish efforts should also yield a cornucopia of selfish rewards.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): At the end of the last chapter, we saw you hanging on to a scrubby bush on the lip of a cliff as the panicky townspeople waved their torches at you in hopes of sending you hurtling down toward the crocodiles snapping their hungry jaws in the swamp below. As the next chapter unfolds this week, we'll see you reliving your entire past in a series of flashbacks, arriving thereby at a surprising means of escape from your predicament. And as for the chapter after that, getting under way around Oct. 22? It begins with these words: Nobody fucks with Scorpio!

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): In the dream I had last night, I sauntered up to you and introduced myself. Regrettably, I looked like a psychotic bum -- wrinkled pajama top, ripped blue velvet bell-bottoms, an unshaven face, and a dingy bath towel wrapped around my head like a turban. Even though you've always wondered what it would be like to meet me, you couldn't believe this bedraggled derelict was Rob Brezsny. You shuddered and bolted away. Now here's my interpretation of the dream: Important leads and valuable information may come in the form of a bug-eyed guy wearing a wrinkled pajama top -- or from someone or somewhere you're just as likely to overlook.

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