REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): You are at the peak of your powers to destroy and heal, O Blazing One. Your enthralling radiance lights the way for those less lucid than you, even as your sizzling ambition threatens to scorch those whose willpower cannot match yours. I myself would hesitate to gaze upon your luminous countenance unless I were in possession of all my poise and strength; I do not know whether your piercing intelligence would undo or invigorate me. Under the circumstances, I believe you should be treated like sacrosanct royalty, which means you must be given piggyback rides wherever you go.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): On the night I arrived in Santa Cruz from North Carolina many years ago, I had just $15 in my pocket, and was forced to sleep in a park. With my belly full from scraps of stale bread I'd found in a dumpster, I fell into a chilly and tormented sleep and awoke the next morning in a sopping wet sleeping bag with frost caking my hair. Yet I'd had a prophetic dream that buoyed my spirits; I'd dreamed that one day I would be the author of the most popular funky pagan tantric astrology column on the planet. And though it took awhile, the vision finally came to pass. Maybe you will listen hard, therefore, to the revelation I had about you last night, Taurus. I dreamed that in the week ahead you would catch a glimpse of a goal that would take you almost nine years to reach.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): I've got a real old-time oracle for you this week, Gemini, full of cryptic paradoxes and pregnant mysteries. It's all part of the stars' plan to weave more magic into your life. Are you ready to cooperate? As you grow tired of cavorting with ghosts, do not fear the breathtakingly disciplined freedom that offers itself. The loss of a useful sadness will usher in a hopeful contradiction. Your discovery of degraded treasure will shock you into renouncing your addiction to an outmoded anxiety, and in the wake of that radical departure you will recover what you didn't even realize you'd lost.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): One approach you could take, I suppose, would be to seize the devil by the nose with red-hot tongs and make him promise to never, ever tempt you again. But though that may be effective in the short run, it's likely to result in him seeking revenge at a later date. A better angle would be to negotiate with the devil. Tell him you'll agree to be thrown into an uproar by certain selected temptations as long as they have the potential to make you wiser, sexier, and funnier.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): I've got just one thing to say to my high school baseball coach, Mr. George Gerstle, who viciously kicked me off the team because I wouldn't cut my long hair: I love you, man. Thank you a million times. You single-handedly derailed my life as a jock, ensuring that I would have to turn to more poetic pursuits. Now, Leo, I urge you to follow my example. Identify the hidden blessings that came your way because of an old nemesis, and then express your gratitude with a ritual flourish.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Your lucky number is 1796.32. Your auspicious colors are ketchup on eggs and mustard on sable. Your enchanted talisman is a statue of Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura smoking pot. Your equivalent of Jack's magic beans are pastrami-flavored jelly beans. Your lucky phobia is epienopopontonphobia, or fear of crossing the wine-dark sea. In other words, Virgo, you've got lots of good fortune, but it's a very weird kind that's less likely to win you the lottery than a free trip to Linda Tripp's birthplace. This curious karmic bounce may not score you a wink from Mr. or Ms. Big, but it could, for instance, land you at a cool party next to VIPs whose juicy conversation is worth eavesdropping on.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Passion is coming back into fashion with a bang and a shiver. The chemicals of love are already beginning to muddle your brain and clarify your heart. Very soon your fantasies will combust in what I like to imagine will be a torment of strange delight. This will probably drive you wild enough to trick God into granting you a gushing breakthrough or two, but not so berserk that you'll try to rip the wallpaper off with your fingernails.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): A private citizen, James Swann, once paid off the entire national debt of the United States out of the goodness of his heart. It was back in 1796, when the sum was puny compared to today's $5.6 trillion. Still, I think we could approach a similar feat in 1999 if a whole gang of America's top plutocrats pitched in. Now it so happens that this is an excellent time for Scorpios of all stripes to overflow with charitable contributions, whether it be of the financial or emotional kind. Therefore, I call on Scorpios Bill Gates and Ted Turner to get the ball rolling. Pony up $50 billion between you, dudes, and we'll be almost 1 percent of the way home!

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