REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): A snail can slither slowly over the edge of a razor blade without doing itself any harm. Trained "fire walkers" are able, while in a trance, to take off their shoes and stride unfried over a bed of burning coals. You will most likely have comparable powers in the coming weeks, my friend -- especially if you believe with all your heart that you do indeed possess those powers.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): The week ahead is brought to you by Love Bomb!ª, the only metaphorical product that guarantees an explosive shift in your romantic destiny. Nothing propels you free from the psychic hold of stale passion like Love Bomb!ª This ticklish phase of your life is also brought to you by Armor Off!ª, the do-it-yourself hypnosis program that can help you shed up to 10 pounds of ugly defense mechanisms. The third proud sponsor of this turning point in your love life is Howling Laughter!ª, your No. 1 aid in melting the inhibitions brought on by self-pity.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): "Reading your column," a stranger named Eleanor wrote me via e-mail recently, "is like French-kissing Jesus." I appreciated her testimonial and immediately added it to my promotional literature. But more than that: I admired her ability to extract divinely sensual pleasure from mere words. If I'm accurately assessing your current astrological aspects, Gemini, your imagination is, like Eleanor's, operating at peak levels. No matter what your physical surroundings are this week, you should be able to live at least part-time in paradise on the strength of your dreams and fantasies alone.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): An old French law allowed for the punishment of inanimate objects that had committed crimes. So, for instance, a church bell was tried and convicted in 1685 for the offense of giving comfort and inspiration to the Huguenots, a dissident sect that had broken away from the Roman Catholic Church. For your sake, Cancerian, I'm now resurrecting the spirit of that hoary tradition. I'd like you to decide upon the material thing that best symbolizes your current mental block -- a checkbook, TV, bathroom scale, or piece of jewelry, for instance -- and then whip it soundly with a leather belt.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): Here are some suggested activities for you and your favorite love nut to attempt during this auspicious time for expanding your concept of togetherness: 1) Find a pet store owner who'll let you take photos of each other holding a snake in each of your upraised hands; 2) scream Buddhist prayers or pagan chants or Christian hymns while riding a roller coaster without holding onto the bar; 3) hike to a waterfall and make love while interpreting each other's dreams under the rainbow spray; 4) create an extemporaneous sacred shrine in a grocery store parking lot; 5) spray-paint Rumi poems on a highway overpass in the middle of the night.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): It's been quite a month for spiritual aerobics, Virgo. Here's your August score card so far. (These figures could increase, depending on your determination to push your spirit to its aerobic limit.) Number of ancient karmic debts canceled: 1. Cliches scrambled: 7. Panic button wrongly pushed: 1. Holes blasted in your tunnel vision: 15. Number of "necessities" lost that turned out not to be necessities: 2. Psychic wounds sutured and successfully medicated: 3. Pounds of waxy buildup removed from your halo: 2.5. Interesting messes that turned into invaluable teaching aids: 2. Romantic obstructions eliminated: 3.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): On a bright Saturday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, I was playing shortstop for my softball team. With two outs, the score tied, and the bases loaded in the last inning, the other team's best hitter smacked a pop fly. Though I could tell the ball was headed in my general vicinity, I quickly lost track of it as it merged with the sun. Utterly blinded, I inexplicably bolted a few steps to my left as if nudged by an invisible guide and irrationally thrust my gloved hand up over my head. A moment later, I felt the ball land squarely in the leather. The batter was out, a victim of a miracle. And what does this have to do with you, Libra? I predict that in the coming week you too will save the day with your own "impossible" catch.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): A few weeks ago I threw my first private party in 15 years. I invited friends from every phase of my life, from my time as a dishwasher-poet in North Carolina to my life as a small-town rock star in Santa Cruz to my recently completed stint as a husband and hermit. The spectacle was shockingly comforting: I got to experience my life passing before my eyes without having to endure the inconvenience of dying. I highly recommend that you undertake a comparable celebration of your own snaky history, Scorpio. As you approach yet another twist in your long and winding road, the stars say it's time to pay your respects to all the others.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): "If you could have wings would you want them?" asks Susan Stewart in her poem "Wings," which presents an apt metaphor for the beautiful problem you now face. "They would be really big," Stewart warns, "bigger than doorways." What do you think, Sagittarius? Would you still want wings "If you couldn't take them off, even if you were going to bed? And if they were heavy, or if no one else had them? And when you were walking around, people would stare at you, and they wouldn't necessarily understand that you could fly? Or if people thought they meant something they didn't really mean?" I'm betting that your answer to these questions will be yes, my friend -- no matter how burdensome your privilege may sometimes feel.

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