REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): Still your thoughts, mortal, and listen hard! It is I, the Love Enforcer! Drive fear out of your heart, and cease your attempts to talk yourself in circles! I have come to appraise the quality of your self-love! Not your pride, not your power, but your self-love! And beware, for I have found it lacking! Therefore, I demand that you fall down on your knees this instant and begin to worship yourself! Disobey me and I will be forced to make you face all the shocking beauty you have hidden from yourself!

Taurus (April 20-May 20): No guzzling Jack Daniel's in alleys this week, OK, Taurus? No scrawling graffiti on church walls, either, or acting out fantasies about thrilling anonymous, unprotected sex. If you want to thumb your nose at your goody-goody routine, I suggest less degraded methods. How about leaving your dirty socks out when company is coming over? Better yet, why not try some truly uplifting rebellions, like declaring your independence from “nice” people who manipulate the hell out of you? Or pursuing only those pleasures that you're absolutely sure will make you smarter?

Gemini (May 21-June 20): An old Japanese proverb says, “You can pray to the head of a sardine if you believe in it enough.” That's a little extreme for my tastes, but nevertheless carries a whiff of truth about your immediate future. In the coming days, things you can actually get your hands on will be much more worthy of your faith than wispy promises and teasing deities. If you can't smell the magic that's angling for your adoration, don't prostrate yourself before it.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): Writer Marcel Proust (1871-1922) embodied extremes that are typical of his sign, Cancer. For the last 17 years of his life he was a virtual prisoner in his cork-lined bedroom, preferring to seal himself away rather than brave the unpredictable world. But during this time he composed his novel Remembrance of Things Past, a tribute to his superheated imagination. If the dude were alive today, though, I bet even he would be eager to come out and play. Cosmic currents are now promoting Cancerian extraversion to a degree unseen for many moons. Not only that. The kind of social interaction you folks will enjoy is likely to excite your own version of Proustian creativity.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): When my friend Jill begins one of her juice fasts, she puts a chocolate cake in a prominent place in her house. She says it forces her willpower to build stronger muscles. I wonder if she learned this trick from Gandhi. To hone his mastery of celibacy, the Indian sage used to sleep in the same bed with naked, nubile women. Would you be interested in adopting this strategy for your own use in the coming week, Leo? You're so close to conquering an evil that has undermined you for a long time. Maybe if you faced it down in its most vivid form, it would leave you alone forevermore.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Didn't you used to be the master builder who never actually crossed the bridges you constructed? And weren't you the poor soul who once conspired to have thorns pierce your flesh so you could experience the excruciating ecstasy of nursing yourself back to health? I'm glad to see you're on the verge of swearing off that kinky stuff, Virgo. Now tell me how you plan to reinvest all the psychic energy that's been liberated through the loss of those bad old habits.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Study the definitions below. Three (possibly all five) will be active in your life in the next two weeks: grace (gras), n [from the Latin gratia favor, charm, thanks, from gratus pleasing, grateful; akin to old High German queran to sigh, Sanskrit grnati he praises] 1. unmerited divine gift offered out of love. 2. the influence of God operating in a person to strengthen her. 3. an act of kindness or clemency; special favor; temporary exemption. 4. suppleness of movement or bearing; elegance or beauty of form. 5. pl, cap: three beneficent sister goddesses in Greek mythology, individually named Aglaia (Brightness), Euphrosyne (Joyfulness), and Thalia (Bloom).

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): I had a vision of you, Scorpio. In a trance, I watched you make a breathtaking ascent of a sheer cliff. You used no equipment. Your feet and hands clung to the smallest nubs as you clambered up the rocky face. Just as you began to tire, you came to a nook barely big enough to curl up in. You weren't sure how much higher the peak was, and therefore couldn't decide whether you should keep struggling or else risk sleeping in the nook. Here's my interpretation of this vision: You should take a break from a task in your waking life that resembles climbing a mountain. You're close to your goal, but not so close that you can finish the job in one swoop — especially since you're already feeling a bit overextended.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Now that it's prime time for you to sniff around for new teachers, maybe you'd be curious to know what kind of people have sparked my education. I'm attracted to firebrand revolutionaries who're committed to the overthrow of consensus reality and who speak the truth no matter the consequences. I also seek out emotionally wealthy nurturers skilled at the art of relationships and who practice compassion because it's the smart thing to do. Believe it or not, Sagittarius, there are actually some geniuses who fit both those descriptions. I highly recommend them. But whatever your own taste in teachers is, I urge you to ask for exactly what you want. The cosmos is in a mood to be extra responsive to your requests for inspirational guidance.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): I hope you don't mind, but I've cast a brainy love spell that's set to be triggered in everyone who reads the first sentence in this horoscope. And since you've now done just that, you are already becoming much smarter about the way you conduct your romantic affairs. You're beginning to think more with your heart and feel more with your head. Any minute now, you'll be flooded with intuitions about how you've been unconsciously sabotaging your most invigorating passions, and what you can do to change that.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): The anesthesia is wearing off. When you come to, you might feel a stinging sensation in your wallet and a rash on your conscience, but otherwise you'll be as good as new — maybe even better if you consider how much nicer-looking your shadow is now. What you've just learned, Aquarius, is a lesson you'll never see hyped in one of those million-dollar, 30-second commercials that equate sex appeal with the acquisition of consumer goods. Sometimes, fate's way of making you into a more tantalizing companion is to take something away from you.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20): It's gonna be a sweet week, Pisces. A creme brulee kind of week. In fact there's a danger of it becoming too sweet — sort of like wolfing down creme brulee, brownies, pie, pudding, and ice cream in one sitting. I know there would be a giddy poetic justice in being able to so ferociously balance the sourness of a while back, but you don't want to indulge so gluttonously that you set up the necessity for a karmic backlash. How about if instead of concentrated sweets you go for exotic variety? Make it a hummus-risotto-sushi-dal-creme brulee kind of week.

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