REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

For All Signs: On Aug. 11, a solar eclipse will anchor an unprecedented astrological array that some are calling a Cosmic Crucifixion. Mars in Scorpio will oppose Saturn in Taurus, creating one arm of the cross, while Sun and Moon in Leo will counter Uranus in Aquarius to form the other arm. Even now, the heavens are pregnant with this initiatory spectacle. Will such extreme synchronicity bring cathartic terror or shocking redemption -- or both?

Doom-and-gloomers expect the imminent fulfillment of Nostradamus' famous prophecy: "A great king of terror will come from the sky." In their fantasies, a renegade asteroid rips into the Earth, or NASA's plutonium-laden space probe, Cassini, explodes in a deadly rain; perhaps India and Pakistan hurl nuclear missiles at each other, or extraterrestrials launch an Independence Day-style invasion.

Then there are the dazzling visions of the boom-and-zoomers. In a twinkling, they promise, time will no longer move in just one direction. Millions of angels will swarm into view of our naked eyes, and the restrictions of gravity will be abolished. Some prophets assure us that Christ (or maybe King Arthur) will return in the flesh.

What's my view? There may indeed be a global brouhaha that rouses Clinton-Lewinsky levels of media hysteria. But the real impact of this turning point will be felt by each of us in a very personal way, framed in the story lines of our most intimate dramas.

Will your role in the Cosmic Crucifixion be excruciating or liberating -- or both? It's up to you, dear readers. I truly believe that God (or whatever passes for God in your world) will try to corrode, dismantle, or blow up anything that's getting in the way of you expressing your soul's code -- the blueprint you came to Earth to embody. Will you cooperate or not?

Aries (March 21-April 19): You were born bearing a gift -- a treasure that you alone were made to offer the world. It has been ripening all these years, sometimes with your help and sometimes against your will. Now, at last, you're ready to accept the huge responsibility it demands of you. Ahhh -- but do you even know what the gift is? Here's a hint: To give it, you must embrace your destiny as a planter of seeds. For more info, read the essay at the top of this column.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): "My God is dark," Rilke wrote, "and like a webbing made of a hundred roots, that drink in silence." Most of the time, Taurus, your God is similar -- hushed and hidden in the depths. If I'm reading the omens rightly, though, this will soon change. Your God will send bright tendrils shooting up into broad daylight, delighting you with naked revelations about the plot of your life story, which is mutating even as we speak. For more info, read the essay at the top of this column.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): Are you made to feel guilty for your changeability? Do people complain that you're so adaptable they never know which one of your personalities they're dealing with? Here's my take on that, Gemini: It's not a problem to have a host of different selves inside you -- indeed, it can be a great asset -- as long as each of those selves communicates well with all the others. I bring this up because it's prime time to propitiate these inner dialogues. Read the essay at the top of this column for more info.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): There is a special reason why you are alive, Cancerian; the world wants to draw a one-of-a-kind contribution out of you. And it is high time to stop pretending you don't know what it is. Want a hint? It has to do with: 1) becoming a connoisseur of feelings; 2) mastering the art of thinking with your heart. For more inspiration, read the essay at the top of this column.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): From the moment you were born, every event in your life has conspired to awaken you to your secret destiny. Till now, though, you've managed to partially resist this benevolent cabal; you have only a groggy sense of your unique purpose here on Earth. This is about to change, though. You'll soon feel such an overpowering longing for your dormant talents that your inner genius can't possibly stay asleep. Read the essay at the top of this column to learn more.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): For years you've been half-seduced by the popular belief that you're little more than a product of your genetic makeup and social conditioning. But now you're primed to purge that BS so you can freely entertain the more complete truth: namely, that you are an immortal soul who chose a specific genetic makeup and social conditioning in order to carry out a signature assignment given you by God Herself. What?! You're unsure about the nature of that assignment?! Hint No. 1: Meditate on how to be of service to other people without sacrificing yourself. Hint No. 2: Read the essay at the top of this column.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): You Librans are as filled with ravenous yearnings as any other sign, but you have a unique talent for portraying them as lovely and charming. How often have you used polite wit to cover up and tone down an unbearable hunger for love? I have no problem with your refinement, Libra, as long as it doesn't become a way for you to conceal your primal desires from yourself. This is especially crucial now. You desperately need to know what you want more than anything else in the world. Read the essay at the top of this column for more information.

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