ARIES (March 21-April 19): Is hope overrated? While it can provide consolation when life is painfully confounding, the Sufi poet Rumi suggested that it may actually get in the way of finding a cure. "When water gets caught in habitual whirlpools," he wrote, "dig a way out through the bottom to the ocean. There is a secret medicine given only to those who hurt so hard they cannot hope. The hopers would feel slighted if they knew." What if Rumi was right, Aries? Speaking on behalf of the astrological omens, I advise you to let hopelessness be your guide in the coming week.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20):Some astrologers theorize that there's an undiscovered planet called Vulcan, whose orbit is inside that of Mercury. Because it's so close to the sun's obliterating blaze, scientists haven't detected it. In ancient Roman mythology, Vulcan was the god of metalworking. From his forge beneath the earth, he made tools for himself and the other gods. His creations were renowned for both their usefulness and their beauty. The astrologers who propose the existence of the planet Vulcan say it's the ruler of Taurus. I bring this to your attention because it so happens that you're poised to channel its influence with maximum strength in the coming weeks. Try this meditation: Visualize wielding controlled fire to forge beautiful and useful things for yourself and your powerful allies.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Each year the science magazine Annals of Improbable Research awards "Ig Nobel Prizes" to imaginative eccentrics. A prize in chemistry was once given to researchers who discovered that romantic infatuation is biochemically indistinguishable from obsessive-compulsive disorder; other prizes have gone to the "Stalin World" amusement park, software that can detect a cat walking on a computer keyboard, and a report on "Courtship Behavior of Ostriches Towards Humans Under Farming Conditions." If it were up to me, Gemini, I'd give you an Ig Nobel Prize for what you're about to do, which will fulfill one of the main criteria for winning: pulling off an entertaining feat that first makes people laugh, then makes them think.


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CANCER (June 21-July 22): Do you have a lucky number? Many people do. Some decide on theirs by choosing a number that figured prominently in one of their life's turning points. Others arrive at it by adding the digits of their birth date or by taking the numerological value of their name. So-called master numbers like 22, 33, and 55 are favorites, too. Personally, I have two special numbers: 23 zillion and 3.1415926, the value of pi. I hope this whets your imagination, Cancerian. Your fortunes are in the process of changing, and it would be a good time to pick a new lucky number. If I were you, I'd also seek out a new power animal, initiation name, and talismanic symbol.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): The most dangerous frame of mind for you to inhabit in the next six weeks—the state of awareness that would be most harmful to your long-term interests—would be utter certainty. You simply cannot afford to be a know-it-all expert who's fixated on a set of seemingly foolproof theories. On the other hand, Leo, if you're willing to question everything you think you know, robust health and emotional wealth will surely be yours. Here's a ritual to set the mood: Put angel food cake and devil's food cake on a plate, then take five bites of each while intoning the affirmation "I am hungry for the kaleidoscopic, chameleon-like, unimaginable truth."

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): My Aquarian and Sagittarian friends are the best laughers I know. By that I mean that they laugh longer and more frequently than most. They also tend to chortle at ironies that others take way too seriously. Best of all, their laughs are works of art: sudden, explosive, wild, and uncanny. I mention this, Virgo, because I believe you're entering a phase when you'll have the potential to mutate into an Aquarian- or Sagittarian-style laugher. Please take full advantage of this hilarious opportunity. Explore the untapped depths of your sense of humor. Give your laughter the chance to grow dramatically in its power to heal both you and everyone who is sprayed with the saliva flung out during your paroxysms of primal amusement.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Last year The Boston Globe ran 901 corrections of previously published information. In other words, it averaged 17.3 acknowledged mistakes per week. The Chicago Tribune's total was 658, or 12.7 errors per week. Even though your blooper rate will be higher than usual in the coming days, it won't come anywhere near theirs. There'll be no excuse for berating yourself or succumbing to massive outbreaks of guilt, then, will there? Even at your most flub-prone, you'll still be more perfect than two well-respected newspapers. To minimize flak from insensitive critics, you borrow the Globe's or Tribune's approach. You can get away with a lot if "I confess" or "I'm sorry" is always on the tip of your tongue.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Arunothai Sriaran is Thailand's new "Miss Drunk." She won the title in a contest after gulping down too much wine and navigating her way through an obstacle course while wearing a heavy silk dress and golden headgear. In the insouciant spirit of this wicked fun, and in accordance with your current astrological omens, I hereby name you "Ms. (or Mr.) Drunk on Life." Your carefree and mischievously benevolent reign will last for either three weeks or until you stop learning new tricks about the art of being intelligently wild, whichever comes last.

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