Horoscope

ARIES (March 21-April 19): I'm not saying you're depressed, Aries, nor am I predicting you will be. But you are in an astrological phase when you're more susceptible than usual to that feeling. Having issued that warning, however, let me add that I think being depressed would actually be very good news. It would mean you're on the verge of a creative breakdown that will inevitably lead to a liberating breakthrough. To be perfectly candid, I hope you do give yourself the luxury of experiencing deflation.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): The American Journal of Psychiatry says that many people suffer from delusions of "imagined ugliness." The technical name for the condition is "body dysmorphic disorder." It's typically characterized by an obsession with a physical flaw, or even with an imagined flaw. Judging from my experience, 99 percent of the population has at least a mild version of this pathology. That's the bad news, Taurus. The good news is that you're in a perfect astrological phase to break free from its hold. You're ready to revolutionize your self-image so thoroughly that you will hereafter see yourself as a perfect specimen of idiosyncratic beauty.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): "Ninety-six percent of the cosmos puzzles astronomers. The universe is made mostly of dark matter and dark energy, which the experts can't even detect, let alone study." When I read that news story on the CNN website, I let out a whoop of celebration. Our culture's equivalents of high priests, the scientists, were flat-out admitting that the subject they know best is mostly a mystery to them. I hope that this will give you the freedom to feel at peace with the enigmas at the core of your personal life. Curiously, your courage to "dwell comfortably in the midst of profound uncertainty" (poet John Keats's phrase) will be the key to your receiving a crucial revelation about where you need to go next.

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CANCER (June 21-July 22): Researchers with too much time on their hands have calculated that William Shakespeare used 20,140 different words in his written works. More than 8 percent of those were brand-new terms that he dreamed up. Some of the best: besmirch, domineering, dwindle, frugal, gnarled, hobnob, lackluster, madcap, pander, sanctimonious, tranquil, gossip, and leapfrog. While we can't expect you to reach Shakespearean levels in the coming week, the astrological omens do suggest you will have more verbal creativity than you've had in many moons. I suggest you speak the truths your heart has never had words for. Assume that your powers of persuasion will be twice as great as usual, and invent at least 20 new words.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Your risk for getting Alzheimer's disease diminishes as you smoke more cigarettes. Air pollution keeps your skin youthful by blocking out the sunlight that would age it. Atomic fallout can help prevent dandruff. So does that mean you should puff on two packs a day, hang out in the smoggiest parts of the earth, and hope for the resumption of hydrogen bomb tests in the atmosphere? Of course not. Likewise, Leo, don't prop up your bad habits and rationalize nasty influences with ass-backward theories about why they're good for you.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): What if I suggested that you can, beyond any doubt, make your unique dream come true, but that it will take years of hard work, periods of deprivation, and bouts with frustrating confusion before you succeed? Would you rearrange your priorities in order to pursue that dream with all your ingenuity? Or would you give up on it and go looking for an easier assignment that provided you with more security? During the coming weeks, the time will be ripe to go one way or the other.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Promise me that you will never use astrology as an excuse to avoid taking responsibility for your decisions. Always keep in mind that the planets don't determine your fate. It's true, however, that analyzing their positions can help you know when and how to clarify your choices. For instance, my reading of the current omens suggests to me that if you continue to let things slide, if you keep postponing action, you'll fall under the spell of a funky malaise. If, on the other hand, you bolster your commitment to what you love, you'll not only ward off debilitation—you'll feel more robust than you have in a long time.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): According to historian Thomas Fleming, in the early part of his career George Washington was a brilliant spy. "He ran espionage rings in British-held New York and Philadelphia," says Fleming. "The man who supposedly could not tell a lie was a genius at disinformation." Later, of course, Washington became the head of the first United States government, where he conducted himself more straightforwardly. The way I see your life right now, Scorpio, you're ready to negotiate a transition analogous to the one George Washington made. Is there a situation where you have been a master of stealth and surreptitious strategy? That's exactly where you should now act with articulate candor and forthright leadership.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): This would be a good time to conduct a midnight ritual in Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas in the Andes mountains. Fate will also smile upon you if you undertake a pilgrimage of healing to Chartres cathedral in France, or circumnavigate Tibet's sacred mountain, Mount Kailash, or seek out a Siberian shaman for a week of fasting, praying, and soul retrieval. I suggest, however, that you balance these starry-eyed quests with more down-to-earth spiritual actions. For instance, you might make amends to the person you have treated most unfairly in your life.

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