REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): Kissinger's Law says the chance of a piece of toast dropping off a table with its jelly side down is directly proportional to the carpet's price. I'm ecstatic to report, however, that the cosmic powers-that-be have indefinitely rescinded this law in your vicinity. Murphy's Law ("If anything can go wrong, it will") has also been suspended for the foreseeable future, as well as Peter's Law ("If you're not confused, you're just not thinking clearly"). In fact, I believe 1999 is shaping up to be a year when many of the game of life's most noxious rules will be null and void for you. One axiom that will hold sway, though, is Baker's Law: "A solved problem creates two new problems, and the best prescription for happy living is not to solve any more problems than you have to."

Taurus (April 20-May 20): You're getting kind of old to be eligible for Rookie of the Year honors, Taurus. But hell, I'm not ageist. Consider the award yours. Besides, everyone matures at his or her own rate. People like you, whom some competition-junkies might call late bloomers, are in fact ripening right on time. You have my highest respect for not letting anyone badger you out of trusting your own inner clock.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): Though you might not realize it yet, you've already been rescued. Furthermore, the so-called "misfortune" that's befallen you will turn out to not be so devastating after all, and may eventually disgorge a germ of tricky good luck. Best of all, Gemini, the pain you've been coddling has just about rotted away, and is ready to be turned into compost. So what's next? I say throw a boisterous wake for the part of you that has died, and praise your higher self for its wisdom in relieving you of what you no longer needed.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): In the past 11 months, I missed getting a MacArthur "genius grant" again, had my book manuscript rejected by two major New York publishers, and still couldn't get my column published in the county where I've lived for seven years. On the other hand, I was unbowed when one of my heroes unleashed a shocking cruel streak, I cleaved to my highest principles even when suffering appalling torment, and I cultivated a more relaxed and humorous relationship with God. What about you, my fellow Crabs? How've you done since your last birthday? It's time to take inventory of all your failures and successes.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): Richard Seltzer coined the word "aclone," which would be useful for you to add to your vocabulary. It means "the feeling, akin to loneliness, that comes from being with people who always agree with you and never express original ideas." In the coming weeks, Leo, it'll be all too easy for you to become aclone, and I want you to fight it. Your lovable charisma will be so radiant that people around you will be hypnotically inclined to worship you as a flawless hero. And this would be quite unfortunate, seeing as how what you really need is a team of smart collaborators who'll question you at every turn and push you far beyond what you're capable of all by your lordly self.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): When I was 18, a so-called psychic predicted I would die when I was 23. As much as I scoffed at this careless baloney, it subliminally worried me for years. On the day I turned 24 I screamed a thousand hallelujahs in relief and triumph. Because of that negligent psychic, though, I've always been careful about how I conduct myself as a fortuneteller. I've vowed never to manipulate with melodramatic prophecies. So it's with a cautious sense of responsibility that I make the following prediction: The weeks ahead could be one of the happiest, most illuminating, sexiest, most successful times of this entire decade.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Religious experience alert! Yes, my cute little bundle of extreme emotions: It doesn't matter if you're a true believer or an unrepentant infidel -- you will soon be invited to have your dogmas torn out by the roots and replaced with a throbbing vision of cosmic whoopee. Brace yourself for the most pungent fun you've had since your last mud-wrestle with the angel. I might add that all this will be arriving just in time. You were overdue to re-examine in depth your philosophy of life, your master plan, and your repressed dreams.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Nothing feeds me, nothing moves me, nothing changes me so much as writing these horoscopes for you, Scorpio. You're my inspiration. You keep me delightfully off balance as I try to figure out what advice you need next. My determination to follow you through all your twists and turns prevents me from ever getting set in my ways or predictable in my communiques. Thank you, my dears. Now I suggest you would benefit from composing a thank-you note like the one I just wrote for the person in your life who feeds you, moves you, changes you the best.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Before I started making a decent wage from this gig as an astrology writer, I slaved away as a janitor in a rec center, scrubbed pots and pans at a cafeteria, delivered mail, posed for drawing classes, delivered newspapers, and picked apples. Through the long hours I spent doing things that had no meaning to me, I never lost track of a little scene in the back of my mind in which I saw myself engaged in deeply satisfying work. Ultimately that little scene grew into a sweeping pageant that I now inhabit. I exhort you to fire up your own version of that eternal flame, Sagittarius. You'll attract cosmic help if you do.

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