REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): You've earned a truckload of extra credit during your recent ordeals, so you'll probably graduate even if you mess up this week's final exam. I don't want to take any chances though, so I'm going to give you the correct answers to four of the toughest test questions. Write them on your hand now. 1) You should never jump high in a low-ceilinged room. 2) People who don't break things first will never learn to create anything. 3) Always beware of the door with too many keys. 4) You often meet your destiny on the road you took to avoid it.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): The raccoons, possums, foxes, skunks, and deer were in love with me for a while there. They hung around my house to gorge on the persimmons drooping in scores from the tree outside my door. But now that the branches are stripped bare, they've all abandoned me. And I'm afraid you'll be next, Taurus. After all, I'm done dropping sugarplums into your lap, as I have the last seven weeks. Soon, in response to the astrological rhythms, I'll be downsizing my blessings. Will you too cast me aside like the raccoons? Or will you stick with me as together we negotiate the upcoming after-the-party's-over phase of your yearly cycle?

Gemini (May 21-June 20): Not to exaggerate or anything, but you could probably sell a capital gains tax cut to a welfare mom right now. Or talk an Exxon executive into donating a fat chunk of cash to Greenpeace. Or convince a cherry tree to sprout zucchinis. I'll even go so far as to speculate that you could wangle a steal of a deal from the very folks who almost ripped you off. In fact, Gemini, you bear so much resemblance to the Pied Piper these days that I'm personally going to be careful I don't automatically believe everything you say.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): I wish you could find a new mentor. Not a guru who'll tell you exactly what to do. Not a daddy-substitute who'll spank you when you're naughty. Not a pretentious pundit or an exploitative “expert” or a know-it-all narcissist who craves worshipers. What you really need is some graceful guidance from an older and wiser seeker whose path in life heads in the same direction as yours. Someone who can open doors you don't even know about. Someone who would derive pleasure from teaching you to avoid the same mistakes he or she made. I wish I wish I wish you would begin your search for this helper.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): I rarely recommend books, but here's one: Love and Awakening, by John Welwood. You're ripe for a revolution in the way you do the relationship thing, and this could be the instigator. Check out some of the topics Welwood illuminates: being each other's teacher; rediscovering the holy longing; being brave enough to soften yourself; mastering the art of no-fault listening; reimagining a relationship as an alliance of warriors; and learning how to wage sacred combat.

Even if you don't get the book, at least meditate on those provocative themes. And then write your own manual on why being a great lover means that your heart is always half-broken.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Metaphorically speaking, the fish will be begging to be caught this week; the flies will buzz willingly straight into the spiders' webs. In fact, all the creatures that normally play so hard to get may suddenly seem as eager to be picked as a kid at a Little League tryout. Even normally aloof cats might suspend their snooty ways and do puppy imitations.

How should you act in the face of this outrageous outbreak of availability? Be self-possessed but not too cool. Act humble, but be very clear about how much you deserve it all. Avoid gloating, but go ahead and indulge — just a little — in the greed you've had to suppress.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): The Rosetta stone is a slab of black rock inscribed with a text written in 196 B.C. Unearthed by Napoleon in 1799 during his campaign in Egypt, it eventually became the master key to decoding all Egyptian hieroglyphics. I mention this, Libra, because there's an excellent chance you'll be able to excavate your own personal Rosetta stone in the next three weeks — though you may not decipher its meaning until this fall.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): If I were an exploitative hack writer working on your biography, I'd zero in on and exaggerate the importance of all that stuff you wallowed in last September and October — you know, the espionage, the car chases, the love scandals. But since I'm me, I'm more attracted to the subtle success stories of recent months — like the steps you've taken to stop killing your brain cells and start building up antibodies to the seductive dangers that have toyed with you for years. Some people might not find you as interesting now as you were during last fall's chicken fights, but I find you more so.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Two blunt facts: 1) Even though a large minority of Sagittarians are athletically skillful, an even higher percentage are clumsy oafs. 2) Even though I've personally known many Archers who are great nurturers, traditional astrology says you're the black thumbs of the zodiac.

Two controversial prophecies: 1) In the next few weeks you will be as graceful and smooth as you've ever been, even if normally you bang your elbow on every passing door frame. 2) For perhaps the first time in your life, you will apparently have a green thumb.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): In my astrological opinion, you need a spirit animal to guide you through the deep, dark forest you'll soon be wandering through. How about a turtle? After all, speed will not be of the essence. In fact, if you proceed leisurely, you'll learn more and enjoy the trip better. And you'll certainly benefit from a totem that helps you feel like you're at home no matter where you go. So how about it? Are you confident enough to make the right choice, even though it would be so much cooler to have an eagle or wolf as your spirit guide?

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): I dreamed that in one of my past lives I was the Fool for Henry II, British king in the 12th century. If that's true, it might explain why I love to dispense crazy wisdom in my present incarnation. I also dreamed that in your past life you were a barefoot doctor in rural China. You never required your patients to pay you unless and until they were cured. If that's true, it could explain why you don't charge enough for your services today, and why you don't convey to the people who matter just exactly how much you're worth. Consider the possibility that your financial attitudes are more suited to ancient China than the modern global economy — and then start changing them.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20): “Dear Dream Doctor: I dreamed I was being born. It was rending, like the end of the world and the beginning of the world overlapping. The nurse took me and handed me into the arms of the woman who had birthed me. Shock! It was not my mother's face I beheld — but my own! Shhppooooky! What's it all mean? — Fresh-Faced.”

Dear Fresh-Faced: You're getting the chance to be born again. Not in the cartoony fundamentalist Christian sense, but like in the old myths where the heroine undergoes a symbolic death and then returns to her life so utterly transformed it's as if she's been reincarnated.

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