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 21April 19): Some freaks of nature, like four-leaf clovers, are considered good luck. Others, like six-legged frogs, are omens that something is amiss. Then there are the prodigies that are a little scary because they're so bizarrely extraordinary, even if they're also signs of hope. A few years back, for example, some Native Americans believed the birth of a white buffalo in Wisconsin heralded the healing of Grandmother Earth and the unification of the races. It's quite possible, Aries, that you will soon have brushes with all three types of mutants. To increase the likelihood that you'll escape an encounter with the six-legged-frog variety, all you have to do is avoid indulging in negative thoughts about people.
TAURUS(April 20May 20): One Christmas, I went to a Buddhist retreat center to hear Hindu prayers sung by world-music pioneer Jai Uttal, who was raised in the Jewish faith. The all-embracing spirit of this event is what I urge you to cultivate in the coming days, Taurus. It's time to erase boundaries and bulldoze pigeonholes, to expand your imagination as you welcome the widest variety of influences you can summon. You're ready to get so far out of the box that you can't even see the box anymore.
GEMINI(May 21June 20): Let's add a new word to your vocabulary: veraison. It's used by grape growers to define the explosive ripening their crop undergoes about a month before the harvest. Up to this point, the grapes are small and hard and pale. Then, within a few days, they get softer and sweeter as they darken in color and grow dramatically. Even experienced viticulturists don't know when exactly veraison will occur. It happens fast and without warning. But I can pretty confidently predict that you're about to enjoy the human version of veraison, Gemini. Happy ripening season!
CANCER(June 21July 22): An intractable dispute between players and owners has caused the National Hockey League to cancel its entire season. Many longtime fans are rethinking their devotion to the sport. "The distressing thing is, my heroes are morons," Vaughn Derderian told the Detroit Free Press. "And that's a reflection on me." I bring this to your attention, Cancerian, in the hope it will prod you into taking inventory of your own heroes, teachers, and role models. Are they truly serving you? Is it possible they served you at one time but have become nostalgic artifacts of an earlier phase of your development? Could you make them work better for you if you were more analytical about their impact on you? Meditate on questions like these as you consider the possibility that you're ready to go hunting for a fresh batch of inspiring influences.
LEO(July 23Aug. 22): For over two decades, Peter Jouvenal worked as a journalist and cameraman who filmed war-battered hot spots, including Iraq in the Gulf War and Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion. Now he's retired from that gig and owns a restaurant in Kabul. He has few regrets, but one came after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. While exploring the organization's deserted safe houses, he happened upon a place where Osama bin Laden and his wife had lived. Among the items the couple left behind was one of her bras. In retrospect, Jouvenal realized he should have pocketed the exotic piece of lingerie; a tabloid newspaper would have paid him a fortune for it. But because he had spent his entire career dealing with more respectable news media, the idea didn't even occur to him at the time. Remember this tale, Leo. Don't overlook things that could prove valuable even though you wouldn't normally think they were.
VIRGO(Aug. 23Sept. 22): Shortly after the year 1000, Icelandic Vikings made two sojourns in the land that's now called North America. During the second expedition, one of the brave explorers, Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir, gave birth to a son. Snorri Thorfinnsson became the first European born in the New World. I hereby appoint Snorri to be your patron saint in the coming weeks, Virgo. May he inspire you to beget a brainchild as you acclimate yourself to living in a frontier.
LIBRA(Sept. 23Oct. 22): Russian president Vladimir Putin says global warming might be a boon for his country because people "would spend less money on fur coats and other warm things." Similarly, my meteorologist friend Kurt notes that as air pollution has grown worse, sunsets have become more spectacularly beautiful. I like to think that you will find comparable redemption from your recent crises, Libra. In fact, I will make this prediction: The metaphorical version of a toxic spill will somehow lead you to a magical elixir.
SCORPIO(Oct. 23Nov. 21): "Many of us don't change until we're in crisis mode," notes psychologist Robert Maurer, "until our mate leaves us or we lose our job. Once that moment comes we look for a big leap to get out of pain." Unfortunately, big leaps under pressure usually don't work. If you really want to change, you have to accomplish it little by little, and it's best to begin long before you're feeling miserable, scared, or backed into a corner. I mention this, Scorpio, because it's a perfect time to launch a step-by-step course correction that will ensure you won't get pinched by a predicament in April. Start modifying your behavior and adjusting your attitude while you're at the top of your game.