By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
ARIES (March 21-April 19):
To drive home the point I want to make this week, I have gathered a compendium of bumper-sticker slogans about what makes people decelerate. "I Brake for Leprechauns" is my favorite, but I also like the following: "I Brake for Hallucinations," "I Brake for Whales," "I Brake for Overturned Payroll Trucks," "I Brake for Tailgaters," and "I Brake for Mel Gibson." I hope these inspire you, Aries, to come up with your own personal version. Why? Because you can't afford to keep barreling onward with heedless abandon. All the good stuff in the week ahead will come to you when you're slowing down or stopping.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20):
On your behalf, I invoke the inspiration of all shedding things. Your tree of power shall be the eucalyptus, whose bark peels away to reveal a fresh layer beneath. Your magical symbol will be the molting snake. You will have a secret bond with the silverfish, an insect that bursts through its exoskeleton as it grows a new and bigger one. As you prepare for your season of casting off the old skin, Taurus, I exhort you to learn from these role models; I urge you to realize that the shedding process is natural, and that any discomfort you feel as you lose your old surface will be followed by a brisk sense of renewed elasticity.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20):
In the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church branded cats "ambassadors of the devil" and called for their mass extermination. The virtual disappearance of felines from Europe was an important factor in propagating the Black Death, which killed 25 million people between 1347 and 1352. The disease was spread by fleas that lived on rats, whose populations had soared in the absence of their natural predators. Moral of the story, for you and me and all of us: Be careful whom you demonize. Of course I don't mean to imply that your creeping urge to create enemies would be anywhere near as dangerous as the example I cited. But why stir up any unnecessary karma at all?
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CANCER(June 21-July 22):
I know a woman who has decided to live without cable TV. With the money she saves, she pays for the services of the Live Orchid Club. Once a month, for about the same cost as 75 channels of psychic garbage, she is visited by a deliveryman who fills her house with blooming orchids. Each time, he takes away the previous month's batch and returns them to the central greenhouse to be spruced up by expert gardeners. I recommend that you make an equivalent trade-off in the coming week, Cancerian. What boring "pleasure" might you sacrifice so as to make room for a real thrill?
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22):
Five planets are now hanging out together in the same little cozy patch of sky. Look to the west just after sunset and you'll see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. According to astronomer Robert C. Victor, we won't witness a similar spectacle again until 2060. And what does this mass gathering of heavenly bodies bode for you? It means you should brainstorm about your career, finish up old business for good, and supercharge your social network with the sweetest discipline you can muster.
VIRGO(Aug. 23-Sept. 22):
Sacred is trendy! Among the many recent books that invoke the concept are Sacred Flowers, The Sacred Art of Hunting, Sacred Hoops (about basketball), Sacred Monsters, Sacred Hunger, Sacred Landscapes, and Sacred Sexuality. It's fine with me, really. I'd like to sacralize the whole damn world. But a recent class offered at a New Age expo, "The Sacred Art of Publicity," tested even my capacity to find holy meaning in the mundane realm. What's next? Sacred shopping? Sacred TV-watching? I suppose even these might be possible. In fact, if anyone can make them so, you can, Virgo. You have a hot line to God these days, so why not milk it for all it's worth? I dare you to pull off the sacred microwaving of a frozen dinner and the sacred eating of it in the car on the way to a class in sacred investing.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22):
Is there any sense in which you might be able to live forever? Last week I asked you to purge your fixed notions about the subject and let your imagination run wild. So have you had any epiphanies about the eternal nature of your soul? Any dreams of being alive in a different body 800 years from now? Keep prying your mind open even wider, Libra. Meditate on the fact that although most everything you've heard about reincarnation is a fairy tale, the mystery schools teach a far more profound and subtle version of the theory. And take a glance at a book called The Physics of Immortality, by physicist Frank J. Tipler, who mathematically proves that everyone who has ever lived will be resurrected from the dead.
SCORPIO(Oct. 23-Nov. 21):
A cosmic extravaganza is unfolding in the night sky. Gaze west after sunset and you'll see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn bunched closely together. What does this rare gathering symbolize for you? It means you have a chance to intensify and refine all your uniquely Scorpionic powers. I suggest the following: Identify where your selfish desires overlap with the needs of your collaborators; penetrate surface appearances and explore what's really going on beneath; and purge any bad, hurt, or twisted feelings that interfere with your ability to tap into the beautiful heart of your emotional power.
SAGITTARIUS(Nov. 22-Dec. 21):
I wanted to explore a nearby town on my bicycle. Consulting a map, I determined that a road named Freesia Street was a good shortcut. It would allow me to traverse several miles without having to risk riding on a busy highway. But as I pedaled along my planned route 20 minutes later, I found a detail the map hadn't revealed. For a three-block stretch, Freesia was nothing more than a footpath that included a steep, nearly impassable stairway in disrepair. Rather than trying to carry my bike down it, I retraced my route and took the long way around. Moral of the story, as far as you're concerned: Your current map is an inadequate representation of the territory. Don't put all your faith in it.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19):
Some professional athletes add a religious angle to their celebrations. After hitting a home run or scoring a touchdown, they tilt their heads up and raise their arms high, pointing skyward with both index fingers. "Thanks for the help, God," they seem to be saying. Personally, I doubt the Divine Intelligence is interested in influencing the outcome of sports events. However, I do like to fantasize that She derives pleasure from conspiring to precipitate more subtle victories like, say, the eruption of a new capacity for love and joy in a human heart. Fully expecting this to happen for you this week, Capricorn, I authorize you to perform the same triumphant gesture.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18):
What kind of people have sweet, ripe, juicy blackberries in their backyard and never eat any, letting them rot on the bush? Don't be like them, Aquarius. What kind of fool buys a lottery ticket that turns out to have the winning numbers, but stashes it in a drawer and forgets about it? Don't be like that fool. What type of wise guy acts like he's seen and done it all, thereby missing a nourishing revelation that's blooming right in front of him? Don't be like that wise guy.
PISCES(Feb. 19-March 20):
By order of cosmic law, thinking the same old thoughts and doing the same old things are hereby forbidden. You cannot afford to be bored any time soon. Monotony is such a great enemy that you may as well refer to it as the devil. To preserve your sanity, I'm taking the liberty of decreeing the coming days to be your personal holidays. April 26: Clean Up Your Room With Reverent Exuberance Day. April 27: Ask Crazy-Like-a-Fox "Stupid" Questions Day. April 28: Defy All Weak-Heart Conceptions Day. April 29: Give All or Nothing Day. April 30: Take All or Nothing Day. May 1: Festival of Sauntering Past the Edge of the Known World.
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