REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): An English insurance company, Zurich Municipal, did research to determine which astrological sign was most accident-prone. You Rams were at the very top of the list, as well as in related categories like most likely to run a red light or to pass on the right. I believe you will thoroughly confute these data in 1999, however. Though it is true you'll experience peak levels of daring and zest, I predict your adventures will unfold as if you were protected by a bubble of safety.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): One of my favorite teachers, William Irwin Thompson, says that one religion isn't enough for him. He considers esoteric Christianity his "mother" faith and Buddhism his "father" faith. I take a similar approach. My spirituality is a hybrid of Christian cabala, Goddess-worshipping paganism, and funky tantric Jungian alchemy. What's all this got to do with you? Well, 1999 will be prime time for you to aggressively design a spiritual practice that suits your special needs. Steal from any tradition that catches your fancy, build upon dream revelations and twilight visions, and make this the year you become your own priest or priestess.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): The new prime minister of Albania, Pandeli Majko, is just 30 years old. I bet he's a Gemini. Younger members of your tribe climbed to the top of their respective heaps at a record rate in 1998, and many older Twins also rose in the ranks whenever they pushed fresh, youthful ideas. I expect this trend to expand in 1999. Your opportunities to seize more power will grow as you cultivate what the Zen Buddhists call "beginner's mind." "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities," says Shunryu Suzuki-roshi in his book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, "but in the expert's there are few."

Cancer (June 21-July 22): I'm going to give your tribe a mystical name in 1999: Vajra. It's a Sanskrit word meaning both "thunderbolt" and "diamond," and a perfect term to symbolize the primal yet beautiful power you'll have abundant access to in the coming months. As you meditate on how you can live up to your new alias, remember that the diamond is not only a highly prized gem, but is also used widely as a tool in the metalworking industry as it's the hardest naturally occurring substance in the world. Now get yourself to a mirror, gaze into your ancient eyes, and murmur, "Hello, Vajra."

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): 1999 could very well be the year one of you Leos shatters the world's record for consecutive hours riding a roller coaster. I say this because I think you'll all be both adept and comfortable in activities that require you to negotiate sudden dips and steep rises with great speed. And that's not the only stellar talent you're likely to wield in the months ahead. You could also go down in history in categories like Fastest Talker, Most Changes of Mind, Biggest Leaps of Faith, and Greatest Number of Contradictions Embraced.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): In any normal year, you go through several rutting seasons. But 1999 won't be normal. I believe you'll be struck crazy with lust at least twice as often as usual. Sex won't be a luxury at these times, but a necessity on the same order as breathing. Better start preparing now: Decide what your ground rules will be. Will you get naked with every passer-by who makes a seductive offer? Are you willing to override your intuition in order to indulge your instinct? Do you promise to stay aware of the difference between the primal but impersonal bond that's fueled by raw sex and the supple intimacy that's crafted by tender intelligence?

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): What a weirdly triumphant year 1999 will be for your tribe! Here are my predictions. Libran Ralph Lauren will stage an advertising coup when he coaxes Libran Chief Justice William Rehnquist to pose with Libran Gwyneth Paltrow in an erotic magazine spread. A Taliban mullah born under the sign of Libra will receive political asylum in the U.S. and go on to replace Ken Starr as independent counsel for the last six years of the Whitewater probe. And then there's you: You, my oddly flourishing friend, will discover absolutely everything about what you don't want to be, making it perfectly clear, as you enter the new millennium, exactly what you do want to be!

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): I was talking astrology with my daughter and her friend Savannah. When Savannah found out Zoe was a bull, she wanted to know what her own animal was. (Her birthday is Nov. 7.) "You have two different animals," I said. "The scorpion and the eagle. Which would you rather be?" "If I was a scorpion," she mused, "I could sting my older sister when she's mean to me. But if I was an eagle I could go to the bathroom on her as I flew overhead. I'll be an eagle." This is an enlightened approach that might be useful for all you Scorpios. You'll need secret weapons in 1999. But why resort to a form of deterrence that keeps you groveling in the dirt when you can be equally effective while remaining high above the fray?

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