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): You know that library book you checked out in 1999 and still have in your bookcase? It's time to return it to the library, preferably along with a partial payment. Remember the unconscious way you broke up with one of your old flames? It's time to send an apology. How about that dumb thing you did to sabotage your own happiness once upon a time? Isn't it about time you forgave yourself and shed your lingering remorse? Hell has frozen over, Aries. Pigs have grown wings. Make the atonements you thought you'd never make in a thousand years.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): University students in Poland have discovered an unexpected way to boost their grades: wearing red underwear while taking tests. Ever since researchers presented evidence of the "red underwear effect," clothing stores have reported a run on scarlet-hued bras, underpants, and boxer shorts around exam times. Maybe it's merely the result of mass hysteria, but what difference does it make if it truly enhances the students' performance under pressure? I suggest you consider hopping on this trend, Taurus. What have you got to lose from regularly donning red skivvies during this, the final-exam phase of your yearly cycle?
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): If oil companies were given a green light to drill Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, they'd ultimately produce 42 million gallons of black gold every day. America's dependence on foreign oil would diminish, which might in turn reduce its inclination to use military force to ensure its supply. But there is a simpler way to accomplish the same goal. If the fuel efficiency of SUVs were boosted a mere three miles per gallon, America's daily oil consumption would decrease by 49 million gallons. I suggest you keep this scenario in mind, Gemini, as you head toward a turning point in your personal life. Rather than exploit and pollute one of your natural talents for a seemingly good cause, I suggest you seek an alternate way to accomplish that good cause. It may take a relatively minor adjustment.
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THUNDERBIRD (ALSO KNOWN AS CANCER)(June 21-July 22): In an effort to improve the image of the pit bull, New York City has officially changed the dog's name to "New Yorkies." I propose that we Crabs try a similar experiment. Isn't it time we try shedding our linguistic connection with the killer disease? How about if for the next three weeks we call our sign "Thunderbird" or "Quantum Flux" or "Vanquisher" instead of "Cancer"? Let's see if it stimulates subtle changes in the way we think about ourselves. It's the perfect time to try it. We're currently in an astrological phase when we have maximum power to transcend limitations.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Let's do a check-in, Leo. In the first eight weeks of 2004, how well have you taken advantage of the stellar wealth-building opportunities? Have you been doing the inner work necessary to increase your value? Have you unleashed your imagination in a quest to heal and supercharge your relationship with money? Have you started to lay the groundwork for the livelihood you want to be doing by March 1, 2009? It's prime time to intensify your efforts in all these tasks. PS: I suggest that you also cultivate relationships with collaborators who can help you attract resources you'll need for a long time.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Lent is the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter when devout Christians commemorate the 40 days that Christ allegedly spent resisting the devil's temptations in the wilderness. Growing up Episcopalian, I was taught to imitate Jesus every year at this time by giving up something I had a strong attachment to. My usual choice was candy. It so happens, Virgo, that even if you're not Christian, the coming weeks will be an excellent time for you to renounce three experiences that you have become a bit addicted to. Those experiences are berating yourself, denying yourself pleasure, and giving till it hurts. I urge you to give them all up between now and April 10.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): It's time for a check-in, Libra. What progress have you been making in your work on this year's major assignment? As I suggested two months ago, you should expedite the dying of the Old You, preparing the way for the birth of the New You later in 2004. So have you been taking brave steps to liberate yourself from the past? Have you opened yourself to the possibility of making radical departures from business as usual? Do you whisper the word resurrection to yourself as you fall asleep each night? If you've been carrying out this quest in even a half-assed way, the coming week will bring you a poignant gift.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Your ability to speak moving words and initiate useful changes is at a peak. So is your knack for revealing your inner beauty and attracting the help and attention you want. How will you wield these awesome powers? Like a manipulative megalomaniac bent on ruling your little corner of the world, always angling for personal gain? Or like a fascinating fount of blessings, eager to share your wealth as you hunt down inspiring adventures with relentless ingenuity?
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Northern California, the place I call home, has more spiritual workshops per capita than anywhere else on earth. On a given weekend, you can choose from yoga retreats, meditation classes, astrology intensives, and a hundred other adventures in woo-woo. Grizzled veterans of the scene have a phrase to describe the attitude of workshop leaders who are overly proud of how enlightened they arewho ooze a pretentious solemnity that belies the divine grace they're supposedly championing. The term is "stinky Zen." It's a perfect way to convey the fact that humorless self-importance can sabotage even the finest ideals. Be on the alert for this stench, Sagittariusnot only in New Age types, but in everyone else, too. I nominate you to be the earthy whistle-blower who makes sure that all the deep truths stay fun and funny.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Some British celebrities turn down the honors their government proposes to bestow on them. For example, actor Albert Finney refused to become a knight, saying it was "a disease which perpetuates snobbery." Similarly, some people reject gifts they can't use or don't want. My friend Glenda's uncle offered to give her an ostrich farm in Louisiana on the condition that she move there and oversee its operation. No thanks, she said. I advise you to be on the alert for meaningless honors and pseudo-blessings like these, Capricorn. Don't let them distract you from the real thing, which will arrive later.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): At no time in the week ahead will you be struck by lightning, squeezed by a giant python, or blindsided by an old nemesis. I do predict that an unexpected force will hit you upside your attitude, but it will be the kind that's good for you. Here are some examples of what form this intervention might take. You could be splashed with a squirt gun by a friend who wants to break down an awkwardness or formality that has undermined your closeness; you could be hit with rolled-up socks thrown by a child who has something important to tell you; or you may be hugged with surprising ferocity by a person who is suddenly sorry to have been taking you for granted.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Some astrologers believe that an unusually high percentage of babies born on February 29 grow up to be bisexual. I would go further and say that people born on that day are more likely to become bisexual, transgendered, double-jointed, ambidextrous double agents who are equally skilled at accessing both their left and right brain. Even you Pisceans who were not born on that exceptional day will be injected with a hefty dose of the February 29 spirit this week. It should be an excellent time to have your cake and eat it, too.
Homework: Unleash an outrageous boast about how you're going to pull off a certain feat that you've previously lacked the chutzpah to attempt. Testify at beautyandtruth.com