REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): Here's the hypothetical situation, Aries. As prophesied in the Book of Revelations, 1 million Chinese are marching toward Israel to seize the Negev region and turn it into a theme park based on characters and stories ripped off from Disney, DreamWorks, and Time Warner. You are in charge of the U.S. troops massed in defense of the trademarks and profits of the entertainment conglomerates. What inner resources do you call on to marshal the supreme efforts of your forces and lead them to victory against the Beast, thereby averting Armageddon? (By the way, these same resources will be invaluable in your life this week. Your tribe faces a showdown that is just as crucial for your collective future.)

Taurus (April 20-May 20): Due to the cosmic version of a clerical error, you have been granted more than your share of slack this week. Don't worry, the cosmos isn't like a bank. You will not be forced to pay it back later. Therefore, why not fulfill a lifelong dream to race stock cars or make out in the cereal aisle at the store or run with scissors in your hand or have Hershey's bars for breakfast or learn the Tunisian Tickle Fish Dance or ask God for a little favor or embody the spirit Heraclitus spoke of when he mused, "Fire rests by changing"?

Gemini (May 21-June 20): You're not the hardest worker in the zodiac, and this week you'll prove why you don't have to be: Being the smartest worker means you quickly penetrate to the heart of the job and do exactly what's necessary to master it. No false starts for you. No wasted effort or reliance on incomplete data or messy trial-and-error, either. As a result, you can take cool shortcuts that would leave others gasping for their mommies.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): My left brain pontificates, "You're not performing your duties in a manner consistent with the task of becoming a more efficient and useful social unit." But my right brain screams, "Explode the goddamn mold! Bust out of your straitjacket and jam it in the jaws of the neurotic guard dogs! Moon the wrongfully privileged!" Meanwhile, my north brain coos, "Please carry out your duties in a manner consistent with the task of quietly dismantling the goddarn mold."

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): Let's say you have a vision of a better life for those you love. Maybe you think you know exactly what they need to do in order to quit their self-defeating behavior and turn into the powerhouses they have the potential to be. My advice is not to nag and cajole them with your brilliant advice. Instead, work behind the scenes to make it easy and natural for them to arrive at your conclusions on their own. Redesign the world around them until every conversation, every event, every omen is luring them toward their shining destiny.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): "Expel the mangy sheep from the fold, lest the whole flock perish," proclaimed the medieval Christian philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas. But then he also said women were defective and misbegotten, heretics should be killed, and all vultures were lesbians that conceived new little vultures after being inseminated by the wind. So I wouldn't put too much stock in anything he said. As a matter of fact, I recommend you do the opposite of the advice contained in his quote. The only way the whole flock will prosper is if the mangy sheep is welcomed and cared for.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): One day maybe I'll write the book I've been threatening to unleash on the world for years: A Feminist Man's Guide to Picking Up Women. Then I'll have to create the prequel, An Uppity Woman's Guide to Scoping Out Men Who Aren't Scared of Strong Women. And the sequel, Gender Benders Don't Need Any More Cute Self-Help Books Written by Heterosexists. Sorry none of these tomes are ready yet. As you Libras plunge into the thick of the season of reckless romance, you could use all the unstereotyped perspectives on love you can get. Here's one to tide you over: If you sell your soul for love, make sure you get a receipt.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Psychologist James Hillman says images have an uncanny power to hurt or heal. In the spirit of the latter, I offer you a dream I had: You're a mad scientist, in purple frock coat and orange pants, who has just run out of your laboratory clutching test tubes full of bubbling green liquids. You seem exasperated. You turn your face up and yell in the direction of heaven, though your words sound like gibberish. In response, the giant hand of God reaches down from the clouds to offer you a boon. The fingernails on the divine hand are painted cherry red and there's a blue band-aid partially covering a boo-boo on the wrist. And the gift? It's a miniature pink Ferris wheel with six yellow canaries riding in the cars.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): If you're offended by vulgar metaphors, stop reading now. This horoscope contains graphic testimony from a Sagittarius reader. "Years ago," says Janet from Austin, "a therapist told me that eventually I would hear a Big Pop. It would come, he said, when I got my head out of my ass. Now, finally, I think I'm close to fulfilling my shrink's prediction. Why? Because I realize how my beloved Jupiterian expansiveness has hurt me. I see that I'm a great problem-solver for everyone else except myself. ... Tell me I'm ready, Dr. Brezsny. Tell me the Big Pop is imminent." (Dear Janet: It is, for a majority of your tribe.)

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