REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): Despite the fact that lately your life may seem to have been directed by Blade Runner's Ridley Scott, I urge you not to surrender to the murky tides. It's absolutely crucial that you stay away from bad influences. And the best way to do that is to ferociously seek out good influences. In fact, I'd like you to start as soon as you finish reading this message. Put on your finest clothes, call up your classiest friends, and hire a limo to chauffeur you around to museums, libraries, and religious services.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): In the best-known version of the Greek myth, Persephone is dragged down to the underworld by Pluto and held hostage. But in earlier, pre-patriarchal tales, she descends there under her own power, actively exploring the land of shadows. Which of these approaches to higher (or should I say lower?) education do you prefer, Taurus: imposed against your will or initiated under your own power? You should decide pretty soon. Maybe it'll help if I tell you that according to ancient lore, the dusky realm to which Persephone journeyed is a place of hidden wealth. Indeed, according to psychologist James Hillman, it's “the giver of nourishment to the soul.”

Gemini (May 21-June 20): For those of you who are true believers in astrology (but not, sad to say, for you skeptics), this week will be a sweet dream. The planet Mercury will bestow upon you a glistening new insight into your most interesting relationship. Mars, meanwhile, will build steely reinforcements into your willpower, and Jupiter will not only expand your horizons but accessorize them with breathtaking views. Saturn will show you how to add 10 percent more organization into your life in such a way as to increase your efficiency by 40 percent. And Venus! What Venus has planned for you is unspeakably concupiscent, sybaritic, and epicurean … if you really, truly believe.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): During the shooting of the movie Mission: Impossible, Cancerian Tom Cruise did a perfect take of a difficult scene. Close examination of the footage, however, revealed the unglamorous presence of a gob of saliva on his chin. A computer genius was called in to eradicate the “imperfection” using special effects. I bring this up, my fellow Crabs, to call your attention to the probability that soon you'll be tempted to perform similar edits in your own drama. Please don't. Let that spit shine brightly — and the sweat and tears and pimples, too. Wear 'em all proudly. Be as raw as the law allows.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): If I were going to get you an early Christmas present, I'd find one of those T-shirts that says, “I put the fun in dysfunctional” or “I put the erotic in neurotic.” So many times lately, you've made the best of icky, sticky, and tricky situations. Very soon, however, you'll have to get used to a more straightforward approach to pleasure. Sweet diversions will come racing at you without their teeth bared or claws sharpened. Think you can handle the shocking ease?

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Since 1978, the medium J.Z. Knight has channeled Ramtha, a 35,000-year-old warlord from Atlantis. This ghostly dude has helped his mistress create and sell products that have swelled her wealth to epic proportions. No wonder, then, that she objected when another psychic started channeling Ramtha without asking permission. Drawing on the warrior aspects of her disembodied sugar daddy, Knight sued her rival in court, and won. That's why I'm a little worried about this week's horoscope. You see, a rough, tough wraith claiming to be Ramtha's drill sergeant just buzzed me. “Tell your Virgo readers,” he bellowed, “that it's time for them to kick some major spiritual butt!”

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): An earthy psychic once told me that my first name “Rob” is an apt description of my spiritual function. “You're here on earth to rob people of their god-awful belief that life is a bitch,” she advised me. “Your job is to steal away the habits that sap their life energy; to rip off the sorry-ass dogmas that blind them to the wondrous feats their imaginations are capable of.” I hope I can live up to this heady role in the coming weeks, Libra. You're on the verge of neutralizing the black magic you performed on yourself a few years back, and I'd like to be there to help you.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Think of all the times you've used your crafty intelligence to confuse or scare people. Contemplate your genius for peering at the deep inner workings of things, and muse on how often you've exploited this talent to make others feel weak and exposed. Now just imagine, Scorpio, if you took these superpowers of yours and applied them to spreading peace, love, and understanding everywhere you went. I believe you're ready to do just that — with a vengeance.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): The cosmos really want you to get your fill of relief and release this week. To cooperate, I suggest you throw a Dec. 31, 1999-style party, complete with cartoons scrawled on the walls, boisterous singing that inspires all the dogs in the neighborhood to yowl, and drunk friends passed out in your bathtub. There's so much to celebrate, after all: last laughs and first cries … bombastic departures and discreetly revolutionary arrivals … and the kind of poetic justice that could inspire legendary sagas a thousand years from now. Then there'll be the absolutely final gasp of a long-drawn-out ending: That alone deserves a joyous primal scream.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): In the fairy tale “The Sweet Porridge,” an old woman gives a poor girl a magic cooking pot that produces porridge on command. The crone tells the child, “To start it up, say, 'Cook, pot.' When you want no more, say, 'Stop, pot.' ” The girl takes the gift home and does as she's been told, whereupon her mother and she enjoy their first substantial meal in weeks. Next day, while the girl is out, the mother tries the alchemy she's seen her daughter perform. “Cook, pot,” she says, and it does. Unfortunately, Mom can't remember the other part of the hocus-pocus, so the porridge just keeps flowing. Only when the whole town's flooded with porridge does the girl return and gasp, “Stop, pot.” Moral of the story: Learn the magic words that'll prevent a good thing from becoming way too much of a good thing.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): These days you could probably transform Satan into a donkey with a touch of your right index finger. I wouldn't be shocked if gems and miniature roses spilled from your lips as you spoke, or you could induce a meteor shower by wrinkling your nose in the direction of the heavens. In short, Aquarius, you're so supernaturally talented it's spooky. I can't wait to see which three miracles, of all the hundreds you're now capable of, you will actually choose to perform.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20): You won't serve time in hell for the bombs you'll drop this week, but neither will you rack up any Brownie points in the Book of Judgment. So I guess your best motivation for doing what you're going to do will be for the sheer fun of it, for the righteous mischief, for the entertainment value of seeing everyone you encounter get flung up into the air by the tremors you send coursing through the earth beneath their feet.

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