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): I saw my Aries friend Alexis yesterday. "You're even more festive than the last time I saw you," I told her. She had on red silk pants, a burgundy cashmere sweater, a silver scarf, black snakeskin boots, and a beaded black tunic. I noticed several new piercings and a Hindu-style red dot on her forehead just above her eyes. She also happened to be carrying her snake, which was wrapped around her arm. "The older I get, the freer I am to hide nothing about how I really feel," she replied. "It's not even rebellion any moreit's generosity. I have this sense that the world needs me to express my most extravagant self." I nominate Alexis to be your patron saint in 2004, Aries.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): How have you measured your progress over the years, Taurus? Report cards, diplomas, certificates, and plaques? Pay raises, V.I.P. friends, new titles, and nicer cars? Or have your benchmarks of success been subtler, like rising levels of self-love, a growing capacity for intimacy, more robust health, and friendships with people who bring out the best in you? Whatever signs you have relied on, I ask you to set them aside in 2004. Empty your mind completely, so that you will be fully receptive to fresh intuitions about how to evaluate your ongoing evolution.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): My orphan friend Elektra has no idea when she was born and therefore doesn't know what sign she is. While there are drawbacks to this, it has advantages, too. She celebrates her birthday once every month, for instance. She also reads all 12 of my horoscopes each week and heeds only the ones she likes. I suggest you adopt her approach in 2004, Gemini. To do so would make perfect astrological sense. This week you could act like an assertive, single-minded Aries. Next week you might want to be an organized and disciplined Capricorn. By mid January you could thrive on playing the part of a willful, mysterious Scorpio. All the world will be your stage in 2004. You should relish the host of roles available to you.
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CANCER (June 21-July 22): Cancerian actress Pamela Anderson has become a Sunday school teacher who reads the Bible to kids. While some might wonder if the former Playboy centerfold has reformed and others might call her a hypocrite, she told the BBC there's no incongruity between her sexy image and her faith in God. I urge you to be inspired by Anderson's example in 2004, my fellow Crabs. You have the possibility of playing two different roles that many people imagine are incompatible. Who cares what they think? You can definitely go both ways without being either a contradiction or a fake.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Three weeks in a row, a Leo woman in Romania watched a TV horoscope show that assured her she would soon receive a windfall. No free money ever arrived, though, so she lodged a protest with a local consumer protection agency. Officials there in turn advised the horoscope show's programmers to issue a disclaimer stating that their predictions may not be 100 percent accurate. I suppose I should make a similar announcement here, even though I'm pretty sure the prophecy I'm about to make will be fulfilled. If you vow to work smarter (not harder) and shed illusory hopes that free money might come your way unexpectedly, you will get richer quicker in 2004.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): One of your most wonderful qualities is your aptitude for helping people. It's also the part of your nature that is most likely to be abused by charming narcissists and charismatic manipulators. But in 2004, you will have a knack for freeing yourself from these oppressors. You'll be able to spot potential new ones from a mile away, and you'll know how to break the hold that the old ones have on you. Take this pledge now: "I will serve only the smart, effective people who also serve me."
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): I invite you to meditate on death not as the end of your actual physical life, but as a metaphor for killing off beliefs and habits that are outworn burdens. Once you've come to understand that this kind of death is an ally you'd be wise to have by your side all the time, you'll be able to enjoy the rest of this horoscope. Seriously, Libra. Don't read on until you are convinced that the "good death" I described is an asset you want. Ready? Your assignment in the first two-thirds of 2004 is to die at least once every month. If you do it rightthat is to say, with grace and flairyou will be blessed with a glorious rebirth by next October.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Scorpio actress Chloë Sevigny has a unique relationship with the Ten Commandments. Judging from the fact that she's a Catholic who goes to mass, she seems to regard them as important. On the other hand, she told a Rolling Stone reporter, "I interpret the Ten Commandments pretty loosely. Actually, I interpret them in any way that helps me." Sevigny's approach won't work for you in 2004, Scorpio. If you want to align yourself harmoniously with cosmic forces, you should either take your moral code very seriously or abandon it altogether and find a new one you can totally commit to.