REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): "Do I want to watch the show or be the show?" Please take a moment every morning before breakfast to pose that question to yourself, Aries. Regard it as the starting point for each day's strategy. If the planets have their way, of course, you will thrust yourself into the spotlight at every chance you get -- not just because it'll be so fun to soak up all the raw attention, but because you have a rallying cry to sound, and a landmark clue that needs to be shared now.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, is in full swing. Before it ends on Jan. 17, there will come the mysterious Lailat Ul Qadr, or Night of Destiny. Prayers said then are thought to have more power than praying for a thousand months. Trouble is, no one knows exactly when it is, only that it falls on an odd-numbered day during Ramadan's last 10 days. That's why devout Muslims, not wanting to take any chances, fill every night with prayer. Now it so happens, Taurus, that your tribe will enjoy its own nondenominational version of Lailat Ul Qadr in the coming week. Your divine petitions may not equal a thousand months of prayer, but 10 weeks isn't out of the question.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): In his "News of the Weird" column, Chuck Shepherd reported on an Illinois man who had a run-in with his wife. From his hospital bed, where he was recovering from a hatchet wound she'd delivered to his neck, Thomas Deas told reporters, "I still love her. I'd have her back in a minute." All I've gotta say, Gemini, is: Don't dare act in a way that remotely resembles Deas' behavior in the coming weeks. Be forgiving, yes. Let go of your anger, most definitely. But do whatever it takes -- including changing your own mind at its deepest levels -- to cancel all future appointments with abuse.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): The ancient Greek word klimax had several meanings. My favorite: a ladder to heaven by which a dreamer's soul arrived at an erotic tryst with a divine being who imparted precious secrets. I bring this up, Cancerian, because I believe the fates will bestow the gift of a klimax on you this week. I hope you'll keep a pen and notebook by your bed so you can scribble down a record of your electrifying rendezvous right after it occurs. I swear it'll become a metaphorical talisman for you, the symbol of a new chapter in your mythic quest for intriguing love.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): The more chamomile is trodden upon, the faster it grows. The more diluted a homeopathic remedy is, the greater its potency. The deeper the U.S. Congress has plunged into irrelevant lunacy, the more hopeful I've become for a meltdown of the defunct two-party system. And finally, Leo, the more lost you feel in the next few weeks, the more wildly your wisdom will thrive.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Seeing as how 1999 will be a time when your special brand of beauty will be an exuberant source of power, I tried to get Virgo supermodel Claudia Schiffer to inaugurate the year by contributing some of her words of wisdom to this horoscope. Unfortunately, she did not make herself available. Instead, I'll have to settle for giving you a gem from my grandma's old friend Regina, whose elegant and voluptuous storytelling has always dazzled my aesthetic sense. "There's nothing more gorgeous," she told me, "than a well-hung mind." And that, my dear Virgo, is one of the distinguishing beauty marks of your tribe.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Every once in a while, it becomes more important for me to prophesy about yesterday than tomorrow. Now is such a time. I can see that your future is on hold until you go back and stage a final showdown with a troubling old dream that was supposedly dead and buried. Here, then, is not my prediction but rather my postdiction: A restless blast from the past is subtly sapping the power of your imagination. The only way to lay to rest that sweet menace is with love. You must love it so fiercely and so gently, with such uncompromising humility and devotion, that you even lose the need to have your love acknowledged.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): T.S. Eliot once mused, "Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood." I'm inclined to say the same thing about you, Scorpio. You're so smolderingly complex right now, and you've got so much scary beauty to express, that it's unlikely you can make people comprehend it all on the first try. On the other hand, your powers of enchantment are in full bloom, so people may be willing to keep listening even if they can't follow your richly textured arguments. Rave on, my friend, even if your audience is beaming you back blank stares.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Even if you're not a starving artist, you're on the verge of a coup that every starving artist dreams about. It's the arrival of an X-factor that could help you get funding or hike your ratings or attract a booster. And get this: You may only have to sell out a little bit in order to claim your prize, perhaps not at all. In fact, the deal probably won't come together unless you're at least 90 percent faithful to maintaining your integrity. So make your wares more visible, Sagittarius, but without resorting to vulgar hype or exaggerated claims. With quiet confidence, promote the simple truth about what a miracle you are.

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