REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): Time for your midterm exam, Aries. Study each statement below, and decide if it's true or false. 1) Sometimes it's necessary to pretend to be half-crazy so you can get away with doing what's right. 2) It's wise to love your enemies just in case your friends turn out to be jerks. 3) The definition of “happiness” in Brezsny's Dictionary of Forbidden Concepts is “cultivating interesting problems.” 4) The secret of life is to change yourself in the way you want everybody else to change. 5) It's all your mom's fault, because she made you clean your plate when you weren't hungry anymore.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): The python is not given to snacking. In fact, it can get by quite nicely on one hearty meal per year. To pull this off, it depends on an unusual anatomical feature that allows it to stretch its jaws wide enough to swallow a large animal whole. And what does this have to do with you? Well, Taurus, I believe you're on the verge of an opportunity that has a metaphorical resemblance to the python's. If my divinations are correct, you'll soon come upon a rich delicacy that, if you extend yourself to take it all in at once, could continue to nourish you for a very long time.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): SET YOUR BODY FREE! Don't think about it! JUST SET YOUR BODY FREE! Tell your mind to shut up and get the hell out of the way. Your body's in charge now, you hear, mind? No kibitzing from your smooth wit! No ideological interventions or intricate theories! Hey body, listen up! Melodious splash! Big red bounce! Honeyed laughter in perfumed gardens! Hey panther body! Gulp down milkshakes and do diamond dances in strawberry fields!

Cancer (June 21-July 22): I hope you're not forlorn, pining,
bewildered, and obsessed right now — unless of course that'll motivate you to finally break down and make all the overdue changes you've been postponing. Come to think of it, maybe being in such an unraveled state would be the best thing that could happen to you. Should I gather my team of Prayer Warriors together and ask them to petition God to lead you there? Beam me a telepathic yea or nay on this question, please.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): “I want to paint fat, pimply guys in muscle cars with as much panache as Leonardo da Vinci painted his Madonnas,” mused my friend Romney in describing her aspirations as an artist. “I want to invoke the elegance of Rembrandt,” she continued, “as I create canvases depicting toxic landfills where pagan angels play catch with burning chairs as they scavenge for Pez candy dispensers.” This is the spirit I'd like you to emulate in the coming week, Leo. Be eager to find and even create beauty everywhere you go, no matter how little you have to work with.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Of the 190 Three Stooges episodes, only five actually featured pie fights. But those five classic scenes sum up all there is to know about the mythic meaning of pie fights, as well as the needs they address and the techniques involved. I urge you to study up on the Stooges' teachings in these matters — and put them to immediate use. Nothing could be more effective in dealing with stalled negotiations, numbing mind games, and slow-motion talkathons than a righteous flurry of creamy sweets flying through the air.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Visualize your boss cramming 15 marshmallows into his mouth at one time. Picture yourself dancing in a candlelit room as you hold a writhing snake in each hand. Imagine you've dreamt of buying a vacuum cleaner for your magic carpet. Believe it or not, Libra, doing exercises like these will begin to dissolve the fixations that are suppressing the free play of your imagination. This will in turn liberate a gush of unpredictable new approaches to your most personal problems. Want some more of these health aids? Visualize yourself smashing a clock with a red hammer. Picture yourself riding atop an elephant as you have your fortune told by a blind Hindu psychic. Imagine inviting an adversary over for high tea and crumpets.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): I don't take drugs but I think they should be legalized. I'm appalled by the beliefs of Christian fundamentalists but I vigorously defend their right to have those beliefs. The songs of Celine Dion make me barf but I would never feel disdain for people who find profound meaning and emotional depth in her music. Now that you know these things about me, Scorpio, maybe you'll understand the following: Even though you scare the crap out of me every time you hurl yourself helter-skelter into the abyss to scavenge for beautiful truths, I would never ask you to be more genteel for my sake.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Years ago, I met my Sagittarius friend Pepper in Chapel Hill, N.C., where I was pounding the pavement wearing a signboard. Every noon, as I ate my lunch on a bench near a local bar, Pepper regaled me with his rants. Half philosopher, half nut case, he'd rivet me with his spiritual insights one moment, diverge into crackpot delusions the next. Funny thing was, once I saw this contradictory blend embodied in such an extreme way in Pepper, I began to notice it in everyone. They all hid it better, but like him they were a riotous mix of splendor and rot, of brilliance and ignorance. To this day, I assume everyone I meet is a Jekyll and Hyde, and that it's not always obvious which is which. And you, Sagittarius, will be living proof of my belief this week.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Thank you for attending this week's miniworkshop in karma. As you may know, “karma” is a word in the California language that can roughly be translated into English as “reaping what you've sown.” It tends to accumulate in bunches just before the midpoint of your yearly cycle, which many of you are in the thick of right now. Have you been a good little Capricorn or a bad little Capricorn since your last birthday? Here come the test results.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): The bible of the mental health community is a catalog of psychological disorders called DSM-IV. It names and describes over 250 pathological states. And is there a manual that classifies 250 states of good mental health? No. From this I conclude that most therapists wouldn't be interested in the triumphant state of clarity you Aquarians are beginning to inhabit, nor in your enhanced appreciation of beauty, nor in your increased receptivity to love. I, on the other hand, am filled with admiring curiosity as I contemplate the complexities of your excellent mood. I suspect you've got a case of pronoia: the secret belief that the whole world's conspiring to make you feel excited and fulfilled.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20): I'd prefer to live in a culture that favored two-hour siestas in the middle of the day. But since I'm stuck here in the land of the half-hour lunch break, I've had to teach myself the art of power relaxing. After much practice, I've quintupled my nap efficiency, so that I can now cram 50 minutes' worth of reinvigorating sleep into a mere 10-minute doze. I've also learned to slip into ministates of soothing meditation when I'm put on hold during phone calls to bureaucratic organizations. I highly recommend you explore these and similar skills yourself, Pisces. Somehow, you've got to steal more leisure time from the soul-numbing grind.

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