REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): Picture yourself in this scene: a Jacuzzi suite with a stunning view, an expert massage artist of your favorite gender, and the music that most unlocks your mind. Now picture that scene even harder. Again. And again and again and again. Repeat as often as necessary, which will probably be several times an hour considering how mean you're being to yourself these days. I mean I can understand the frustration you feel about your recent mistakes, but why compound it by punishing yourself in so many roundabout ways? Picture this: your couch at dusk, TV off, answering machine on, a perfect drink, and a book you know will change your life.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): Members of your sign are renowned for their green thumbs. Most any Taurus could grow a 50-pound pumpkin in sandy soil above the Arctic Circle if she really put her mind to it. I'm bringing this up because these days your green thumb works on more than just plants. Almost anything or anyone you point that thing at will flourish and prosper. (P.S.: Which is why, if you're heterosexual and don't want to make a baby anytime soon, you should use extra birth control.)

Gemini (May 21-June 20): On the Amtrak in Texas, a gorgeous but rumpled woman wearing a green raincoat got on and sat next to me. Within minutes she proposed a swap: She would read my Tarot cards if I would give her the crab salad I was eating. I declined a personal reading, but told her that I wrote an astrology column and said the salad was hers if she'd do a divination for my Gemini readers.

“The fairy tale for Geminis to pay attention to right now is 'The Three Little Pigs,' ” she muttered as she lay down a card from her “Inner Child” Tarot deck. “Tell them not to build their houses out of straw or wood, because then the wolf will be at the door for sure. Build with brick, and the wolf will never even show up.”

Cancer (June 21-July 22): “During an average trip to the supermarket,” Thomas Hine writes in Worth magazine, “we're exposed to more than a thousand different brilliantly designed packages a minute, all stimuli to which we respond in a primitive, semi-conscious manner.” Most of us, he continues, are so embedded in a consumer trance that we “make no distinction between packages and their contents.” I would add that for many people, this inability to discriminate between package and contents extends far beyond the boundaries of the supermarket. Let's hope not for you, though, especially this week. You simply can't afford to get the two mixed up.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): I hope no one considers this too awfully blasphemous, but I seem to have started channeling messages from recently deceased Leo genius Jerry Garcia. Most of his words are of a spiritual nature that are beyond the scope of my little astrology column, but today when he came through he had a specific practical message he wanted me to convey to his fellow Leos. Here it is verbatim: “You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know, baby. And what I wish you wanted to know is more about how to put your gold where your love is, baby.”

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Have you ever had somebody tell you, not in these exact words, but something slightly less crude, “I'd like you much better if you were somebody else” or “Why can't you change to be more like the person I think you should be?” If so, you've probably felt pretty hurt. This week, however, and for the next few weeks, stuff like that is just not going to bother you. That's because you are more purely yourself now than you've been in 12 years — which means you're virtually immune to the mistaken opinions anyone has about the path you're on.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Forget about the garlic and crucifixes. They'll do you no good in the exorcisms ahead. The demons in question aren't the old familiar brand-name demons favored by the Catholic Church and the Hollywood film industry. These off-brand spooks are inconvenient mixtures of good and evil. Your project will be to cast out the evil parts without expelling the good.

So if not garlic and crucifixes, what tools will serve you best? How about laughter and forgiveness?

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Though many know that Scorpio painter Claude Monet is regarded as the most lyrical of the Impressionists, few realize he was also one of the most prodigious artists who ever lived. Over a career that spanned almost 70 years, he churned out an awesome total of 2,000 paintings — an average of two a month. These days I'm picturing him whenever I think of you because you, too, are lyrical and prodigious, inspired and full of stamina, sensitive and potent. By the way, Monet was also famous for his generosity, a quality which would dynamically serve your ambitions right now.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): “The winner will be the one who knows how to pick the right fights.” So said writer Jane Ciabattari while discussing an upcoming political campaign. She took the words right out of my mouth — the words that I wanted to use to describe your imminent fate. During the next few weeks, you see, you can expect about a thousand invitations to wrangle, joust, spar, and tangle. And as thrilling as it might be to invoke your boisterous warrior spirit full time, I advise you to confine its expression to a few carefully chosen duels, each of which will allow you to brandish your strengths and disguise your liabilities.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): To be honest, I have no Capricorn planets in my own chart and I'm glad. I'm having too much fun this lifetime being a weird rebel artist, and that would've never happened if, say, Mom had postponed my birth for seven days and given me a Capricorn moon. That said, I want you to know that some of my best friends are Capricorns. And I wish that one of them was with me right now, as I begin a four-day Keno, craps, blackjack, and roulette spree on a riverboat casino in Louisiana. Fact is, you goats are currently the very embodiment of a good luck charm. I know you don't often gamble, but this is the best time to try it in months — and I don'tR> just mean at games of chance.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): According to a polling firm hired by the fabulous television show TV Nation (Friday nights on Fox), 17 percent of all college grads would punch themselves in the face really hard for $50. My unofficial poll of the Aquarians I've met while on my cross-country tour suggests, however, that upward of 80 percent of you would punch yourself in the face for a mere $35. Usually I could forgive shortsighted financial thinking like this, but right now it would be an abomination. Your knack for conjuring long-term cash-flow improvements is at a peak.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20): Dear Dr. Brezsny: I'm a 72-year-old retired divorcee living on a Social Security income of $651 a month. Four days ago, a gentleman I met in church asked me to run away to Madagascar and be married in a nude ceremony surrounded by crocodiles and howler monkeys. Do you think this is wise from the standpoint of my future security? — Piscean Dreamer

Dear Piscean: I hate to tell you this, but there are no howler monkeys in Madagascar. However, many of the current astrological indicators suggest that you Pisceans are likely to be rewarded if you do something crazy for love.

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