REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): Your persona is your social facade, the mask you use to represent yourself to the world. For the last couple of years, this front has not been a very accurate reflection of your inner depths. Too often, and sometimes with good cause, you've hesitated to unveil the totality of who you really are. I predict this will change in 1999, however. More and more you'll have a knack for getting your persona to express the surprising truths about your rowdy, ever-churning soul. It all starts in earnest now.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): Some evolutionary scientists claim that humans' oldest living relative is the starfish. I don't know about that, but I do know you will have a resemblance to the creature in the coming weeks. That's because you will undergo a metaphorical version of the starfish's ability to regenerate a limb after it's been cut off. Whatever you lose -- and you will lose something -- it will grow back or return to you sooner than you imagined possible.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): I bet you could land a jet on an aircraft carrier this week, Gemini. I bet you could seduce any cute flirt you wanted, break into a circus and steal a caged lion, and carve an award-winning likeness of Garth Books out of butter. For that matter, you could probably collect more socks for the homeless than anyone has ever collected, and do incredible feats of yardwork for low-income senior citizens, and figure out a brilliant way to score some free computers for the inner-city school nearest you. Whatever you set your mind to, I'm sure you'll do it.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): I remember back in 1985 when I woke up every morning asking myself, "So what DO I want to be when I grow up?" Some days I wanted to be a novelist, other days a performance artist or rock star or teacher of dream workshops. I even applied to a vocational institute to train as a plumber, and at a grad school to get a master's in psychology. As it turns out, I never really decided. Which is why I find myself 14 years later wondering, "So what DO I want to be when I grow up?" Fortunately, 1999 is the best year in a long time for us Cancerians to answer that inquiry. And this week is a propitious moment to intensify the quest.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): Is this the time Nostradamus was referring to when he wrote, "The Lion shall rip the dead lilies off the altar, fix the broken toys, spank the devil with a ping pong paddle, and retrieve the half-eaten cake of love from the back of the freezer"? After studying the cosmic configurations, I've concluded it is. I believe the prophet's vision describes your accomplishments in the early spring of 1999. It's true that in our mediapocalyptic age, there are no heroes, only celebrities. But you're the closest thing to a hero I've seen in a long time. Your heart is 90 percent free of toxic vibes, and your wise-guy morality rivals that of my sister when, as a teenager, she squirt-gunned grape Kool-Aid in the face of her abusive gym teacher.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): First I'd like you to tune in to a habit you're trying to get rid of, a parasite you'd love to flush out of your life, or a trivial fixation that distracts you from more interesting obsessions. Second, visualize an image that symbolizes this noxious thing, and imagine the smell exuding from it is a blend of burnt rubber and stale garlic. Next, picture your soon-to-be ex-vexation on a raft you gently push out to sea. Finally, watch it drift slowly to the horizon till it disappears, taking its bad odor with it. Now perform this mental exercise every morning for the next 10 days.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): It's a universal truism that in heterosexual couples living together, the woman always buys the toilet paper. In homosexual twosomes, the bottom has the same role. But though this pattern may forever rule the behavior of all the other signs of the zodiac, I'm hoping you Librans will overturn it this week. Indeed, my cosmic sources strongly suggest to do so will be a potent symbolic statement that'll detonate healing in other areas of your life suffering from imbalance. So if you're a hetero guy or a gay top, provide the damn toilet paper for a change. And then proceed to turn as many other tables, flip as many flops, and perform as many switcheroos as possible.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): According to one of my favorite stories by Jorge Luis Borges, Judas was actually a more unselfish saint than Jesus. He magnanimously volunteered to play the all-important villain's role in the resurrection psychodrama, knowing he'd get no glory, only scorn. It was a dirty job that only a supremely self-sacrificing demigod could have done. I bring this up, Scorpio, because I believe you're about to be involved in a similar scenario. The good cop can't win the fight for truth and justice without the bad cop.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): "If an infinite number of rednecks fired an infinite number of shotguns at an infinite number of road signs," reads a holy text from the Discordian Society, my favorite religious cult, "they'd eventually create all the works of Shakespeare in braille." Similarly, Sagittarius, if you throw yourself with infinite hope into an infinite number of romantic intrigues, sooner or later you will conjure up a sublime love story. You might have to reincarnate a thousand times, true, but with all eternity at your disposal, you will eventually prevail. If you'd like to speed up the process, I'll make one suggestion: Get it through your beautiful but thickly idealistic head that even a sublime love story must be rife with imperfections.

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