REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): Happy Holy Daze! If I could give you just one holiday gift, it might be the champagne recently salvaged from the Joenkoeping, a schooner sunk by a U-boat in 1916. Though it had lain on the floor of the Baltic Sea all these years, the fizzy stuff reportedly tasted superb. I'd love for you to have a bottle of your own, Aries, to symbolize the wondrous resurrections in store for you in 1999. I believe lost pleasures and broken dreams will return to you in full working order — perhaps even better than they were originally.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): The Neiman-Marcus catalog has a fabulous present I'd love to give you this holiday season. It's a maze, literally. Artist Adrian Fisher comes to a location of your choice and constructs a full-size labyrinth using hedges, stones, iron gates, and any other materials at hand. With this as your practice field, Taurus, I'm sure you could garner the patience and mental agility necessary to meet all the psychological mazes that'll challenge you in 1999.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): Happy Holy Daze, Gemini! If I could give you just one holiday gift, it might be the book by Erwin S. Strauss called How to Start Your Own Country. It provides you with all you need to know about creating an empire organized around your personal values, which I believe you'll soon be ready to attempt. And why am I so confident that your future will be magisterial? Because my reading of 1999's planetary zeitgeist tells me you'll be able to handle maximum levels of both freedom and responsibility.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): The omens suggest that in 1999 you may finally materialize a dream you've nourished in your imagination for years. Crucial to this success will be your ability to summon more ambition than ever before. I'm not talking about the grubby orgy of self-promotion that normally passes for ambition in our culture, however. I mean soaring aspiration that seeks the best not just for yourself but for everyone. To aid your work, Cancerian, buy yourself this holiday present: a big, shiny, silver trophy depicting a robust human figure with arms upraised in triumph. Place it where you'll see it regularly, so it can impress upon your subconscious mind your looming greatness.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): Happy Holy Daze, Leo! If I could buy you just one holiday gift, it might be a Martian meteorite or a fossilized dinosaur egg or the finger bone of St. Christopher, patron saint of travelers. Any of these gifts could help put you in the right mood to embrace the exotic, primordial, far-flung challenges that 1999 will offer. But I also want to encourage you never to take yourself too seriously in the coming months. I'm tempted, therefore, to give you something like a photo of the Dalai Lama playfully messing with Desmond Tutu's cap at a gathering of Nobel Peace Prize winners. That, or the funny bone of St. Vitus, patron saint of dancers and comedians.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): I'd love to pump up your skill as a warrior in 1999. That doesn't mean I hope you get in lots of fights and try to push people around. Rather, my goal is for you to harness your anger more constructively and to act forcefully even in the face of your fear. I also want you to use your intuition more daringly, Virgo, as you master the arts of strategy and good timing. To egg yourself on in these noble quests, I suggest you buy yourself a symbolic holiday gift that incites your impeccable ferocity — a horned Viking helmet, perhaps, or a dragon-shaped blow gun from Borneo. Or how about a leather biker vest or a Xena the Warrior Princess action figure?

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): I'm quite confident you'll be putting your jumbled romantic karma behind you in 1999, Libra. You'll douse lingering attractions to the big teases who've frustrated you for so long. Unrequited love will either become very requited, or you'll get bored with the chase. And even if you stay with your current consort, your life together will transform so much it'll be as if you're in a brand-new relationship. To launch this glorious adventure, I suggest you perform the following solstice ritual. Buy yourself a photo album in which you mount one picture apiece of each of your ex-lovers. Next, kiss their glossy faces and say a grateful prayer of goodbye to them all. Finally, build a blazing yuletide fire in your hearth or down at the beach, and throw in your “Old Flame Memorial.”

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Telling a Scorpio to make intensive use of the metaphor of composting is like advising an aspiring author to read lots of good books and to write every day. In either case, it guarantees a steady march toward mastery. So imagine how thrilled I am when I tell you in 1999 every act of recycling will carry three times its usual power to bring you closer to the heart of your destiny. If I could give you just one holiday gift, in fact, it would be a compost bin. Not only would this create nutrient-rich fertilizer for your garden; it would also serve as a talisman for the motif you should live by during the coming months.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Happy Holy Daze, Sagittarius! If I were going to give you a holiday gift, it might be a Cracker Jack box with a vial of love potion inside. Not that you'll need any artificial help in stimulating romantic adventures in 1999: You yourself will be a riveting aphrodisiac. For best results, however, it would be wise to cultivate a Cracker Jack-like spirit in all things amorous, which is to say frisky and antic and full of surprises.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): I'd love for you to ratchet up your levels of domestic bliss in 1999, but without rousing any sappy energies that might encourage you to fall into a complacent rut. That's why I exhort you to buy yourself holiday gifts that bring an edgy spirit of fun into your home. Some suggestions: a backward wall clock in which the hands run counterclockwise; the party game Twister, which requires participants to crawl all over each other; prayer flags strung from window to tree, each bearing an outrageous wish written by you; an altar piled high with objects both sacred and playful; matching silk kimonos.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): You Aquarians are rarely control freaks. If anything, you tend to be the opposite. You seem to feel a perverse comfort when chaotic fun is lurking. In 1999, though, I don't think you can get away with indulging these inclinations as often as you have in the past. In fact, I'll be lobbying hard for you to become more of a well-organized mastermind. I suggest you buy yourself a marionette show or radio-controlled toy bulldozer this holiday season. Either will give you good practice in manipulating your environment with more command.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20): I would never give you a holiday gift like an electronic hand-sized bowling game, a tree ornament shaped like the Titanic, or a Detroit Red Wings 1998 commemorative puck. But lots of other people might be tempted to give you junk like that — not only now, but all through the coming year. The best way to avoid this ignominious fate is to become very specific and aggressive about what you really want. To do that, of course, you are going to have to become much better acquainted with what you really want. (Hint: How about a tool that'll give you more precise power to do your favorite work


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