REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): You're at the heart of the learning season. And what better way to celebrate this pregnant moment than to develop a 20-year plan for your future education? Brainstorm a list of the five subjects you'd love to become adept in, the five skills you'd passionately stretch yourself to become proficient at, and the five pearls of wisdom that, if you ever truly embodied them, would make your entire life a masterpiece.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): Columnist Rick Ackerman recently bitched about the economy's twisted values. Just before the stock of Donald Trump's company plummeted, Ackerman reported, the tycoon got a huge raise on his already-inflated salary. In another example, Disney blessed Michael Ovitz with a $60 million severance package after the crappy job he'd done. “Something is dreadfully wrong with a system from which such huge rewards can be extracted by people who have produced nothing of discernible value,” Ackerman mourned. I agree, but I bet the percentage of Taureans guilty of this sin is disproportionately small. You people are famous for giving great value — and this week you'll prove that in spades.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): After analyzing your astrological aspects at length, I can't help but overflow with advice like “Play it by ear,” “Make it up as you go along,” “Depart from the prepared text,” and “Wing it, baby.” I'm reminded, in fact, of the story of Kim Rowe, a woman who blipped through the news awhile back. She ended up having to deliver her own baby at home (successfully, I should add) when her husband couldn't get there fast enough to drive her to the hospital. Like her, you may soon have to pull off improvisational feats you assumed were beyond your capacity.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): When I meditate on your week, I'm reminded of a funny thing that happened to me last Christmas. I'd gone to a New Age ritual in a stately church. As I was grooving on the priestess' introductory prayers, my friend Carla slipped into the pew next to me. To my horror, she'd brought her terrier puppy with her; it was in one of those small traveling cages. Midway into the service, Carla left on some unspecified mission, leaving me holding her baby. Within a minute, the dog pooped, and there I was at the epicenter of an odor that quickly radiated throughout the church, easily dominating the more sacred odor of the burning incense. What could I do as everyone in the place turned to stare at me? I smiled and beamed love vibes in every direction.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): You say you'd love to experiment with wolfing down greasy fast food in seedy roadside diners, racing down two-lane rural highways in customized muscle cars, and having kinky sex in woodsy campgrounds littered with crushed beer cans? Then this'll be a very successful week for you. The stars are practically begging you to flirt with your most on-the-edge fantasies. If on the other hand you're attached to wearing uncomfortable clothes and sitting in sterile environments slaving away over niggling details, this won't be such a triumphant week. The cosmos isn't likely to cooperate with boring, numbing, or puny wishes.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): The San Francisco 49ers' top draft choice this year was Virgo quarterback Jim Druckenmiller. The dude's an indestructible bulldozer. He can bench-press 350 pounds, drag a weighted bobsled that takes eight huskies to pull, and toss 20 sandbags over a high wall in one sitting. So much for the stereotype of Virgos as finicky, breakable creatures. Given the current astrological aspects, I'd venture to say that you must be feeling pretty Druckenmiller-esque yourself these days — at least from a psychological perspective. Let me suggest, though, that you resist temptations to indulge in flashy shows of brawn. Save your soul power for subtle strength-building activities that'll ensure you won't regress into a finicky, breakable creature for years to come.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): I don't know how to break this to you, Libra … but YOU ARE GOD. Don't worry, it's only for a couple of weeks or so. That probably won't be long enough to turn you into a megalomaniacal cult leader. I recommend, however, that you remove all jewelry, tight clothes, and constricted expectations, as your brief reign may cause an uncontrollably rapid expansion of your possibilities. In case anyone asks why you're acting like such a big shot, tell 'em your astrologer said you're entitled to extra service, special treatment, and surprising bonuses — not to mention free lunches, free rides, and free love.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Having a Taurus friend is like eating good bread and butter. The experience is satisfying, if not exotically tasty; you can enjoy it every day. Having a Scorpio friend, on the other hand, is like dining on an anchovy and pepperoni pizza with jalapenos. The flavor's fascinating, but maybe not something to indulge in regularly. This is not a criticism of your social skills, Scorpio. You are what you are, and it would be a sin to pretend otherwise. I just wanted to remind you that even though you're in a phase when forging new alliances will be easier than usual, some of the interesting people you encounter may not have the stomach for your spicy flavors.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Happy Unbirthday, Sagittarius! It's that iffy but juicy time halfway between your last and next birthdays. Here are some of the metaphorical presents I'd love to give you (but I can't possibly give them to every one of you, so please bestow them on yourself): a portable bridge, a set of monkey wrenches for opening valves and links that have rusted shut, and a skeleton key for all the locked doors that could lead to exciting shortcuts in the months ahead. Oh, and please try to buy yourself an upgrade in your communications technology and an introduction to a VIP who can help you skip a few steps.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): No one who loves silk seems to mind that one of the world's most luxurious fabrics comes from the cocoon of a lowly worm. In the same way, I think every sane person will respect the state of grace that emerges from the grubbing and groping you'll have to do in the next couple of weeks. I know it sounds strange, but I suspect that the more you have to crawl on your belly in the dirt now, the more exquisite your new understanding will be by the solstice.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Speaking on behalf of all non- Aquarians, I'd like to express our appreciation for the experiments you've been performing on yourself. Please don't be discouraged just because the results thus far have been inconclusive and you feel a trifle overexposed. We feel confident that sooner or later you'll come up with discoveries that'll have bottom-line value to us all. We'd also like to apologize for those shortsighted scaredy-cats among us who're accusing you of being foolhardy and irresponsible.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20): One of my earliest memories is of drawing a diagram of the solar system with crayons when I was 4 years old. Even back then I was laying the foundation for a career in astrology. What about you, Pisces? Have you followed through on the passions that erupted so innocently oh so long ago? Have you turned a fondness for throwing water balloons, for example, into an adult ability to moisten parched landscapes and psyches? Have you converted a passion for building treehouses into a talent for designing grown-up sanctuaries? If not, don't spend more than five minutes bemoaning the reasons why. Instead, get to work making plans to prove that it's never too late to have a happy childhood.

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