REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): After poring through the encyclopedias of mythology and decoding the mystic clues in fairy tales and ferreting out divine oracles while channel-surfing after midnight, I have found out why we are all here. Yes, it's been a long time coming, but after studying the collected works of Carl Jung and digesting the testimonies of alien abductees and interviewing a gang of 4-year-olds at the playground, I finally realize what the meaning of life is. Unfortunately, I can't reveal it to you right now, because that would abort your own crusade to discover the meaning of life, which is at a delicate turning point. To aid your search, though, I'll give you this hint: The truth will set you free, but first it'll really piss you off.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): In your dreams this week you'll probably be in Stockholm, Sweden, accepting the Nobel Prize, after which you'll make love with the gorgeous creature who rejected you in high school. In your dreams, VIPs will no doubt arrange a parade for you, and you'll ride in a golden cupola on top of a bejeweled elephant far above the cheering crowds. In waking life, though, I'm afraid you'll have to settle for less. There you'll merely be doing a fabulous job at the tasks you usually do pretty well, and you'll be rooting out mediocrity wherever you find it.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): I guess you haven't run away to an exotic, far-flung place where my column isn't published; otherwise, you couldn't be reading this. And I also surmise that you're not too delirious, inebriated, or spaced out to understand this horoscope. But it's not too late for either possibility. And maybe you should take advantage of the current astrological openings, which are making it easy to blow your mind in a safe and effective way.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): I have a second cousin whose father abandoned the family before she was born. Now, at age 13, she's obsessed with finding him. I've volunteered my help in tracking him down, and have contracted the services of a private detective and a crack hacker. I expect success soon, as the astrological aspects for us Cancerians are favorable for smoking out secrets. If there's an ancient mystery you've had a hopeless yearning to unravel or a maddening puzzle you gave up trying to solve long ago, this is the week your luck may change.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): A generation ago, teen-age boys asked teen-age girls to “prove their love” by giving up their virginity. Today I'm asking you to prove your love by restoring your virginity — in a manner of speaking. What I mean is this: Your most intimate relationships, like everyone else's, have over time become so contaminated with familiarity and habit that it's tough to act as fresh and pure with each other as you did in the beginning. But that's exactly what I'd like you to do this week: Use all your ingenuity and willpower to treat your companions as if you'd just fallen in love with them for the first time.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Amanda Bearse, an actress on TV's Married … With Children, revealed a few years back that she's a lesbian. Recently she noted that “coming out is not a one-shot deal; you have to keep coming out again and again.” This is good advice for you right now, regardless of your sexual orientation. I can say with certainty that even if you're a hetero WASP, you have nevertheless been driven to feel shame about some part of yourself that's essential to your self-expression. And the time has arrived again — as it does at least once every year — to proclaim how proud you are of that true and beautiful part of you.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): I dreamed you had joined a mystical order, and it had come time for your initiation. You were being asked to pledge your passionate commitment to a strenuous new quest, which somehow had to do with feeding your creative spirit or building a masterpiece or having a baby. To seal and celebrate this radical departure, you were about to adopt a new nickname that would symbolize the person you wanted to become. Blue Thunder? Fierce Grace? Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove? None of the names you'd thought of were quite right. Alas, I woke from the dream before you could decide — and before you undertook your initiation. Please do what you can to approximate a happy ending to my dream this week.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): The apple begins to grow on the tree in the spring. By early summer it has reached its full size and deep scarlet hue. Outwardly, it appears to be finished growing. But it's not. If you pick it and eat it at this early stage, you won't like the taste. If you pick it and hope it will continue to ripen, you'll be disappointed. The moral of the story: To reach its potential, the apple has to remain on the tree for the full time nature has allotted. Keep this in mind as you face the temptation to harvest a growing thing before it's mature.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): This week's new vocabulary word — “kludge” — comes from hacker culture. Pronounced klooj, it has at least two shades of meaning: 1) to make something work in an unorthodox way because you don't know how to do it right; 2) to adapt a piece of equipment to do something it's not supposed to do in order to get a desired task done.

Use “kludge” three times in conversation and it'll be yours forever. Better yet, put it to work as a metaphor for how to conduct yourself in the face of this week's tricky twists and turns.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): I suggest you start practicing. Sit in front of a mirror and see if you can feel all your deepest emotions without letting any sign of them show up on your face. Pretend you're in the midst of a high-stakes game where everything depends on your ability to stay composed and yet not be too damn serious. Do whatever it takes, in fact, to step up your mastery of the art of bluffing. Why? Because in reading your tarot cards for this week, I've discovered that you'll be called upon to access the archetype of the poker player.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): On rare occasions, revolutions transpire in a flash. Take the electric light bulb. Almost no one had heard of such a thing in 1878. The next year Edison patented it, and by 1882 New York City had the world's first electric power plant. I'm predicting a breakthrough of this magnitude for your personal life. You'll catch a glimpse of it this week. You'll quietly set to work on it by March 1. By April you'll see the outlines of the grand strategy. And 5 1/2 years from now you'll bring it all to a climax.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20): The last day of the Chinese year, which this year is Feb. 18, was traditionally a time to forgive old IOUs. I say let's revive this custom, especially for you Pisceans, who're in the final dregs of your astrological cycle. For starters, you should forgive debts owed to you (both financial and emotional). But you should also get the action going in the other direction, like by convincing others to forgive your debts to them. In fact, cut out the rest of this horoscope, photocopy it, and send copies in with your next credit card bills. Dear agency to whom this praiseworthy Pisces owes money: By all that's astrologically holy and karmically correct, I order you to totally cancel his/her debt. — Sincerely, The Astrologer Laureate of North America.

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