REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): According to my astrological calculations, you're in a phase when you'll benefit from reviewing your past. Armed with that info, I probed my crystal ball on your behalf. First I saw the aftermath of a trauma you suffered in elementary school. Your sobs just about broke my heart. Next, I glimpsed you in the throes of a noxious sexual encounter you had as a teen-ager. Following that, I witnessed a humiliation you endured at the hands of an authority figure when you were a young adult. After all that, I suspect, you must now be very ripe for a cleansing of your oldest wounds — also known as an exorcism. Without further ado, let's get the ritual under way: IN THE NAME OF JESUS, ISIS, BUDDHA, AND SOPHIA, BEGONE FOUL DEMONS!

Taurus (April 20-May 20): If I were writing this horoscope simply to please my own tastes, I might say something like “Take the risk of telling a lie in order to express a higher truth.” But that's an irresponsible thing to tell a mass audience. I mean, you might use it in the right spirit if you're a well-educated spiritual seeker who's familiar with the mythology of the trickster. But what if you're a con man hustling senior citizens? Therefore, I'm going to leave you with a more cautious formulation. Be a highly adaptable idealist who tries to give people the best of what they want, but not the worst.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): It would be a kick to create a screenplay about a character based on you. I couldn't make up stuff that was more entertaining than your recent exploits. I laughed till I cried, then cried till I hiccuped as I watched you play the game of love after all the rules changed. I felt the adrenalin pounding through me as you leaped off the high dive into a barrel of chilly water. Now I'm on the edge of my seat as I await the outcome of your career tug-of-war. Don't stop now, Gemini. If you keep churning out all those stranger-than-fiction truths, I'll have enough material to write a melodrama fit for the big screen.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): Who says all us Cancerians are home-loving sentimentalists with a craving for security and conventional wisdom? One glaring exception was our fellow tribe member Helen Keller. True, her life was a heartwarming story of the triumph of the human spirit. But she was anything but a paragon of traditional family values. In fact, she was a radical socialist who advocated revolution and fought for women's rights when it was considered weird to do so. I exhort you to make Helen your role model this week, Cancer. Tap the vein of far-out, free-thinking rebelliousness that lies beneath your respectable exterior.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): Legislators in some states have floated an insane proposal for dealing with their poor and hungry citizens. “Give welfare recipients one-way out-of-state bus fares,” the idiots say. I bring this up, Leo, because I'm a little worried that you might resort to a similar approach with your own problems in the next couple of weeks. I don't know how well the “just go away” angle will work for the state legislators in the long run, but I'm absolutely certain it's the wrong wrinkle for you right now.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): In 1999, Canada will create the territory of Nunavut, giving back control of a huge part of the far north to the Inuit people who've lived there for millennia. A recent story in National Geographic discusses the struggle of the Inuit to emerge from the white man's domination. In one photo, a woman carries the bloody head of a caribou, whose brains and antler tips will become the centerpiece of a great feast. “We used to be ashamed of what we ate,” Pauloosie Muckpa declares. “But now we're not. Today we are not ashamed of who we are.” It's essential that you, too, Virgo, stop apologizing for your idiosyncrasies. Three weeks from now, I want you to be able to say with supreme conviction, “I am not ashamed of who I am.”

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): “God has abandoned me! Nobody likes me! I am an utter failure!” I suggest you surrender to your temptation to howl these laments, Libra. In fact, I want to give you license to wallow in the deepest, skankiest pits of self-pity this week. In case you're worried that'll make you seem unattractive, let me assure you that I will still love you no matter how much you wail and flounder. But even more than that, I'll continue to treat you as if you were richly deserving of my most profound affection and appreciation. I trust that maybe in time my unflagging respect will teach you to grant yourself the same slack I do.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Sometimes two plus two does not equal four. For instance, if you combine 2 gallons of water with 2 gallons of ethyl alcohol, you get a mixture that's only 3.8 gallons. As an opposite example, if you're a Scorpio and it's the month of March 1998, you're likely to be able to perform tricks comparable to the one Jesus pulled off when he fed a big crowd with just a few loaves and fishes.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): I dreamed that you dreamed you were at a seance. You were calling forth the spirits of people in your life who died before you learned what you needed to say to them. This is, I believe, a favorable dream. It means that it's a propitious time to have imaginary conversations with those who lost their lives before you resolved your relationships with them. I also think it means you should welcome back into your world parts of yourself that you killed off prematurely.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Watch carefully this week to see if the look goes out of the eyes of you-know-who. I'm afraid that you-know-who's devotion to your relationship is flagging. If I'm right, you must not slip into panic mode, nor should you beg or pander or play easy-to-get. Merely relax and locate that place in your heart where you can provide for yourself all the juice that you-know-who has been giving. Nothing else can guarantee that the look will return to you-know-who's gaze.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): I've ghostwritten a message for you to give to people who're turning you upside-down and inside-out. Feel free to add to or edit it. Here it is. “I'm sure you must be a diabolical angel, my friend, because only a diabolical angel could touch me in all the right and wrong places at the same time. Only a brilliant master of beautiful confusion could disorient me so sweetly. Because of you, I can't possibly go on living according to any of the rules that have carried me this far, and I love it. I mean, I fear it. I mean, I love and fear it. Which is ripping good practice for life itself, isn't it? So damn you and thank you very much, cruel buddy.”

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20): I'd like to heap more birthday gifts on the pile I fantasized about last week. You deserve it, you gorgeous hunk of lyrical sagacity! I hereby pledge to do all I can to make sure you get the following blessings in the next 12 months: 1) massive shrinkage, if not outright eradication, of all your scapegoat and martyr programs; 2) tips on what specific kind of badness will give your goodness more clout; 3) a stunning increase in your ability to know the difference between your lucid hunches and the hallucinations churned up by the fearful side of your imagination; 4) a mental image of the Buddha on a tricycle for those brittle times when you're taking yourself too seriously.

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