REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): Check to see how many of the following symptoms you're suffering from: 1) decreased attention span; 2) impaired ability to be objective; 3) loss of inhibition in expressing impulses; 4) obsessive feelings appearing out of nowhere; 5) altered sense of time; 6) sudden recall of overwhelming emotions from forgotten events.

Now let's evaluate your condition. If you have one or none of the symptoms: Stop reading. This horoscope isn't for you. Two symptoms: Try hard to acquire at least one more symptom. Three or more: You're right on schedule for the wham-bam, thank-you-ma'am religious experience the planets have lined up for you.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): There's a company in Vermont that will, for $9.95, beam your personal prayer toward heaven with a 20-million-watt microwave radio transmitter. (They seem to be working on the theory that God's kingdom lies somewhere in outer space.) If you're looking for a last-minute holiday gift, you could do worse. (Order from Lindsay Scientific, PO Box 2010-293, 150 Dorset St., South Burlington, VT 05407.) I would not recommend that you buy this service for yourself, however. You won't need it, not this week and not for most of 1996. That's because you're already going to have the hottest hot line to God you've had in over a decade.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): This is a perfect time to turn your other cheek. May I suggest that you go so far as to give your best enemies a Christmas or Hanukkah present? Think of all they've taught you this year, all the inner resources they've compelled you to cultivate. Without the messy complications forced on you by these nemeses, you'd be far less interesting than you are today. Want a gift suggestion? How about Luak Coffee? It's an exotic coffee made from beans that are eaten and excreted by the luak, a bobcatlike creature from Indonesia. (Order at 404/231-5465.)

Cancer (June 21-July 22): I invited David Duchovny, Ellen DeGeneres, Patrick Stewart, Tori Amos, Quentin Tarantino, Susan Sarandon, and my mom to my pre-Christmas party, but only my mom showed up. I can't say I was surprised. We Cancerians are not exactly Mr. or Ms. Popularity right now. In fact, we're probably at the low ebb of our animal magnetism. I must confess that even my mom wasn't all that friendly to me. But I'm not taking it personally, and neither should you. Instead, we should get cracking and take advantage of the strengths that are waxing for us. For instance, we happen to have an incredible talent for cleaning out our closets right now. And for scrubbing the floors. And for washing our own brains.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): I was leafing through the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book and saw the perfect gift for you: your name painted in giant letters on the side of a United Airlines jet for a year. Obviously I can't buy it for every one of you. (It costs $100,000.) But I would be willing to do the next best thing: write your name on an index card in Magic Marker and tape it to my bike for a month. (If you're interested, send your request to Box 150247, San Rafael, CA 94915.) Of course, you could always buy yourself that name-on-the-plane gift from Neiman Marcus. Maybe that seems impossible now, but if you do your astrological homework in 1996 — lobby hard for the job of your dreams — you might be able to afford it by 1998.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): If I had to come up with a perfectly symbolic gift for you this holiday season, it would be a year's supply of olestra. You've heard of it, right? It's the newly invented, zero-calorie fat substitute which looks and tastes and cooks just like fat, but doesn't turn into little wads of cellulite in your gorgeous body. The reason I think it's such an appropriate gift is that it reminds me of what 1996 will be like for you: replete with rich, sinful pleasures, but with almost none of the hell to pay later.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): You could teach a stone to talk this week. For that matter, you could probably coax a secret from the dead or a kiss from a coldhearted bitch. The way I see it, your ability to conjure minor miracles out of voiceless and inert things has rarely been greater than it is now. I wouldn't be surprised if you were somehow able to wheedle a gift out of a miser or praise from a cynic or a thrilling dose of spiritual ferment from the midst of the holiday's phony sentiment.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): How good are you at getting things done? I mean not just looking busy and strong but actually cranking out top results; not merely manipulating other people into viewing you as effective, but actually accomplishing what you know in your heart needs to be accomplished. These matters should have been vividly illuminated during Jupiter's yearlong cruise through your house of discipline, which will be ending with a crisp flourish in early January. In these last few weeks of your tutelage, burn the following fun facts into your memory: Sometimes you work so hard you actually sabotage your work; sometimes you're so ferociously passionate that you undermine your power to get what you desire.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Are you already such a mature, worldly person that you compare all your feelings and perceptions to experiences you've had in the past? I hope not. I hope you're ready to do the clean-slate, tabla-rasa, blank-check kind of thing. You know, the babe-in-the-wilderness, bumpkin-in-the-big-city, virgin-in-the-manger kind of thing. For the foreseeable future, innocence is not a mark of naivetŽ and weakness. It's a powerful asset, a heroic virtue that'll allow you to see things you never knew existed.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Amazing. Unbelievable. Somehow, the sad story manages to twist and tweak itself at the last turn of the plot — just in time to produce an almost happy ending. At the very moment you're preparing to count up your losses, a wild card shows up to reverse the meaning of a series of exhausting events. What's the nature of that wild card? Maybe the missing evidence finally trickles in. Maybe you suddenly realize how valuable your problem really is. And perhaps — just perhaps — a divine intervention arrives, instantaneously dissolving a mental block that's been causing stupendous misinterpretation.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): When I read about the scientists who managed to germinate a 1,288-year-old lotus seed, I flashed on you. I thought of you, too, when I heard about the 14th-century craftsman who planted oak trees near the building he constructed, with the expectation that hundreds of years later they might be harvested to replace worn-out beams in the building. The reason these scenarios remind me of you? I feel that you too should be sending a message to your future. Do your 21st-century self a favor and launch a plan that'll mature into a wildly useful asset by 2005.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20): Have you ever watched the moon with so much unwavering concentration that you actually saw it creep through the sky? Have you ever staked out a rosebud and caught the exact moment it first burst open into bloom? If you have, you might be sensitive enough to detect the slow-motion explosion — the graceful awakening — that'll sneak up on you sometime in the next 10 days. You're about to escape a dream you've been lost in for years.

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