ARIES (March 21-April 19):
Picture yourself carrying freshly cut orchids through wind-swept city streets. You're on your way to offer them as a gift to someone you adore. Imagine what it feels like to hold the delicate stems in your hand. Your grip must be firm enough to keep them from falling, yet gentle enough so that you don't crush them. Now and then, a stiff breeze threatens the blooms, moving you to pull them protectively toward your chest and raise your elbows to create a windbreak. The mood I just invoked, Aries, should be the spirit you bring to every one of your important experiences in the coming week.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20):
Thou shalt embrace the big bad contradictions, baby. That's your first commandment in the coming week. The second commandment is this: Thou shalt tickle the crazy-making incongruities. Third: Thou shalt give hickeys to the mysterious ambiguities. Fourth: Thou shalt give your most intimate, seductive attention to the slippery paradoxes. Commandment number five: Thou shalt say sexy prayers of gratitude for the contradictions, incongruities, ambiguities, and paradoxes that are making you so much wiser and deeper and cuter.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20):
Every August, the temporary city of Burning Man sprouts up in the Nevada desert. A mix of festival, outdoor museum, performance-art venue, and survivalist challenge, it's populated by 25,000 freaks: the exact people who are most interesting to me. Nowhere I've ever been is more like utopia; it's my personal version of Disneyland. And yet I didn't attend this year. Instead I stayed home and threw myself into orientation week at my daughter's new school. So rather than dancing night after night till dawn under the Milky Way with slippery hordes of blissed-out, half-naked bohemians, I sat on hard chairs during long meetings with earnest parents discussing how to nurture our children's education. I wasn't motivated by a sense of sacrifice in making this decision, but simply opted for a different kind of pleasure. You'll soon have a comparable choice, Gemini.


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CANCER (June 21-July 22):
For much of his career, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Merrill was renowned for work that was well-grounded, lucidly crafted, and formal in style. But while assembling his sprawling mystical epic, The Changing Light at Sandover, he used a Ouija board to solicit the input of disembodied spirits, including several archangels and the souls of dead writers W.H. Auden and Gertrude Stein. I'd like to make him your patron saint for the coming weeks, Cancerian. Let him inspire you to push beyond what's worked so well for you before. Cash in on the risks that your success has earned you. Without sacrificing any of your sweet powers of discrimination, expose yourself to provocative voices from outside your usual sphere of influence.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22):
Happy Disinhibition Week, Leo! Here are a few of the myriad ways you might choose to observe this liberating holiday. (1) Stop denying yourself any pleasure that would be good for you to indulge. (2) Dissolve taboos that were wise safeguards when you first installed them but have now become unnecessary. (3) Rethink the reasons you regard certain realms of experience as off-limits. (4) Journey to a place you've never dreamed of visiting. (5) Extend compassion to an aspect of yourself you've always rejected or been ashamed of. (6) Open your mind to a political position or spiritual idea you've long rejected.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22):
I've been working on a do-it-yourself manual for the new "Just Drop It" school of psychotherapy. It'll be pretty short. In the introduction, I'll tell you to procure a cheap briefcase and fill it up with a hundred pounds of rocks. On page two I'll suggest that you imagine the briefcase is stuffed with emotional baggage you can't seem to let go, memories you love to hate, and annoying frustrations you never get tired of complaining about. The third page will insinuate that maybe you should actually carry this terrible burden around with you everywhere you go for an entire week. On the fourth and last page, I'll offer the simple, elegant cure: JUST DROP IT!

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22):
If I were to make a fictional movie based on your life right now, I'd include vignettes of you tracking down a stolen batch of plutonium, discovering a cache of 1850-year-old gold chalices in a remote cave, and serving as the entertainmentdirector-cum-spiritual adviser on a submarine cruising beneath the ice of the arctic basin. Those events wouldn't bear a factual resemblance to what you're going through, of course, but they'd convey a sense of the shadowy successes unfolding beneath the surface of your daily life.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21):
Years ago, my friend Eva went through hard times while living in the Sinai region of Egypt. Her Bedouin husband had turned violent. As an outsider, she got no help from the rest of the nomadic tribe. She fled into the wilderness, where she became almost feral as she struggled to survive. In desperation, she climbed Mount Sinai, where Moses had brokered the Ten Commandments. Bramble-haired, starving, dancing without rest, she chanted the names of God for three days. At last a divine dispensation descended upon her: a vivid vision of a certain house on a certain street in Dhahab, a city on the Red Sea, where she could find sanctuary. She made her way to the place and was miraculously taken in by an old couple who nursed her back to sanity. The turning point you're at, Scorpio, isn't as drastic as Eva's, but it's enough to warrant an act as dramatic as climbing Mount Sinai and chanting the names of God for three days.

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