SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Master astrologer Steven Forrest believes you Sagittarians often thrive on learning things the hard way. I agree. Here are my three explanations of why this is so: (1) One of your main tasks in life is to cultivate wisdom, and you'll never accomplish that if everything comes too easily for you. (2) To maintain your mental hygiene, you need to push regularly into the unknown, where the rules for success are as yet unwritten. (3) You are sometimes susceptible to being dogmatic, which can interfere with your ability to discern simple, obvious, up-to-the-minute truths. To shock you out of your tunnel vision, your higher self needs to trick you into making interesting mistakes.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): "Slashing through undergrowth and counting poop is an expensive, time-consuming, dirty, hot, and nasty business," said Dr. Richard Ruggiero of the African Elephant Conservation Fund. Quoted by Andrew Revkin in The New York Times, he was talking about studying forest elephants that are threatened with extinction. But I immediately thought of you. It's a good metaphor for what's happening in your life. An important and beautiful aspect of your animal nature is in peril, and the only way to save it may be for you to do work that fits Ruggiero's description.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Psychotherapy obsesses on what's wrong with people and gives short shrift to what's right. The manual of the profession is a 943-page text called the DSM-IV that identifies scores of pathological states but no healthy ones. I often complain about this tragic fact and ask my readers to help me compile material for a proposed Anti-DSM-IV, a compendium of all the positive, noble, feel-good categories. One reader, Alka Bhargava, has suggested a condition that you Aquarians will be able to achieve regularly this week, calling it "Joyful Poignance," and describing it like this: "The ability to be buoyantly joyful while remaining aware of the sadness, injustices, ancient wounds, and future fears that form the challenges in an examined life."


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PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): You might enjoy Pearl Cleage's novel Some Things I Never Thought I'd Do. It's got soulful characters, a strong social consciousness, and a dramatic mix of suffering and redemption. But you don't have to read the book to carry out the advice in this week's horoscope. All you have to do is write your own personal version of "Some Things I Never Thought I'd Do"—a two-page stream-of-consciousness essay is fine—and then go out and start actually doing the things you've described therein.

Homework: Tell what techniques you've discovered about feeding honey to crocodiles. Write beautyandtruth.com

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