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): "Charles Baudelaire counseled readers to be drunk continually 'on wine, on poetry, or on virtue, as you wish,' " wrote Kate Taylor in The New Yorker. "But he also thought drugs were a perversion of our taste for the infinite and that great minds could furnish their own intoxicants." I'm hoping you're one of those "great minds" the French poet was talking about, Aries. According to my reading of the astrological omens, you need a large helping of the magic that lies outside of ordinary consciousness. But you're far more likely to thrive if you can find a natural way to satisfy your "taste for the infinite."
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): To hint at the potentials of the coming week, I'll appropriate the words of avant-garde music composer and author John Cage. In describing his work, he once said, "I have nothing to say/and I am saying it/and that is poetry." Here's an altered version, Taurus, created especially to suit your current astrological needs: You have nothing to do/and you are doing it/and that's your genius.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): The gods have authorized me to give you three tough but sweet oracles. Ready? (1) If you hope to be in the right place at the right time to hear the words that will set you free, you'll have to act with both more confidence and more humility. (2) To learn the clue that will heal an old rift, you'll have to really want to know what's going on beneath the official version of the truth. (3) To find the hidden beauty and inspiration in an initially awkward mess, you'll have to respond without anger to a message that feels threatening to your pride.
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CANCER (June 21-July 22): Your actions in the immediate future could have a potent impact on your long-range future. For instance, new connections you forge in the coming weeksespecially if you leave your comfort zone to make themwill be valuable if you decide to leave your current dream home and head to a new dream home next year. Here's another example: If you spend some time this August trying to fix a glitch in the way you communicate, 2005 may bring a dramatic enrichment of your sense of community and a surge of grace in your family dynamics.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): In describing his creative process, novelist Jack Kerouac said, "The first thought is the best thought." When Allen Ginsberg was asked "What's the best advice you can give a poet?" he echoed Kerouac. On the other hand, Nobel Prize-winning writer William Butler Yeats constantly revised works he had already published, even fiddling with poems that were many years old. Pierre Bonnard was so committed to editing himself that "he was once caught trying to retouch one of his own paintings hanging on a museum wall," wrote poet Linh Dinh, who concluded, "Last thought is the best thought." While there are valid arguments for both views, Leo, the astrological omens say your best bet for now is to go the way of Kerouac and Ginsberg.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Before you can move on to your next exciting challenge, you'll have to answer a few hard questions about the life you've lived since your last birthday. The object of this test is not to make you feel guilty, but to help you take inventory of your gaffes and indiscretions so you can make atonement, thereby clearing a path to the future. Have you purposely caused anyone pain? Did you tell any big lies? Did you commit any unethical acts? Have you revealed information told to you in confidence? Do you owe money or energy to anyone you have no intention of paying back? Confess everything, Virgoto the mirror. Then go set things right, or at least as right as possible.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): "If the landscape reveals one certainty," wrote Annie Dillard in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, "it is that the extravagant gesture is the very stuff of creation. After the one extravagant gesture of creation in the first place, the universe has continued to deal exclusively in extravagances, flinging intricacies and colossi down eons of emptiness, heaping profusions on profligacies with fresh vigor." In my astrological opinion, Libra, it is your duty to resonate with this particular aspect of the cosmos. For the next few weeks, you have license to overflow with floods of self-expression; you have the right to create like a god who has the pleasure and privilege of creating a new world.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): A Taoist parable tells of a poor farmer who owned a single horse. One night it ran away. The neighbors came to offer condolences. "What bad luck!" they said. "Maybe," the farmer replied. "Maybe not." A week later, the fugitive horse returned, accompanied by six wild horses. The farmer and his son corralled them. "Lucky you!" the neighbors cried. "Maybe," the farmer said. "Maybe not." Soon the son tried taming the new arrivals. A stallion threw him to the ground, breaking his leg. "Terrible luck!" the neighbors wailed. "Maybe," said the farmer. "Maybe not." The next day, soldiers visited the village. Strife had broken out between two warlords, and one had decided to conscript the local young men. Though every other son was taken, the farmer's boy was spared because of his injury. "What fantastic luck!" the neighbors said. I think this story captures the essence of your coming week pretty well, Scorpio.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): In the middle of a moonlit night last February, someone in the English town of Pembury sneaked into the yards of over a hundred homes and secretly planted an ash sapling in each one. It was hard work. The weather was bad and each tree needed a hole dug to accommodate it. Judging from your current astrological omens, Sagittarius, I believe you'll soon be the recipient of a gift like that. Other good surprises may be on tap as well, especially if you say a prayer in which you tell God or Goddess that you're ready, willing, and able to receive all manner of unexpected benevolence.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): The saliva of vampire bats appears to be effective in dissolving the blood clots that cause strokes. Ongoing research into the medical applications of snake venom suggests it may ultimately be used to fight cancer, heart attacks, and mad cow disease. And I suspect that in the coming weeks, Capricorn, you will be healed by a small dose of an experience that in large doses has felt noxious to you in the past. Keep your mind open to the possibility. Don't automatically avoid everything that seems unpleasant.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): You are more ready than you've ever been for the kind of intimacy that the poet Adrienne Rich extols: "An honorable human relationshipthat is, one in which two people have the right to use the word 'love'is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other." I'm not implying, Aquarius, that you shouldfind a relationship where you can continually break down your self-delusions and dig for the raw truth. Nor am I insisting that you should prod one of your existing relationships to leap to this higher octave. But I am saying that you have the strength and courage to try it.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Visionary educator Maria Montessori believed that self-discipline motivated by a child's own enthusiasm is far better than discipline imposed on the child by a strong-willed authority. What's the best way to develop the superior form? Kids need to understand the difference between good and evil, and even more importantly, they must not associate good with passive immobility and evil with animated activity. I believe her argument will be useful for you to meditate on in the coming weeks, Pisces. It's an ideal time to bring more order, efficiency, and discipline into your rhythm. And the best way to do that is to cultivate an irrepressible desire to perpetrate aggressive acts of generosity and goodwill.
HOMEWORKIdentify your fondest childhood memory, and re-create in the present time the feeling you had back then. Testify at beautyandtruth.com.