Horoscope

ARIES (March 21–April 19): "You always learn your mystery at the price of your innocence," wrote Robertson Davies in Fifth Business. In the coming week, Aries, your assignment is to disprove this assertion. I think it will happen quite naturally; you won't have to exert yourself heroically. In fact, I predict you will demonstrate the exact opposite of Davies's assertion: As you dive deeper into the secrets of your greatest mystery, you will reclaim a lost portion of your innocence.

TAURUS (April 20–May 20): Taurus musician Willie Nelson is a premier talent. Though described as a country artist, he's really a genre unto himself. During his 50-year career, he has written and recorded many great songs, collaborated with Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, and founded Farm Aid, an organization that raises funds to support family farms. Recently, however, he suffered a disappointment. Republican state senators in Texas shot down a bill that would have named a 49-mile patch of highway after him. They had a problem with the fact that Nelson smokes pot, is an exuberant consumer of alcohol, and supports Democratic candidates. Sound familiar, Taurus? You too are in danger of being cheated out of your rightful rewards because of some minor problems. Nelson didn't protest his deprivation, but I think you should fight yours.

GEMINI (May 21–June 20): Here's your question for the week: What's the difference between deluded self-esteem that leads you to waste your time on impossible dreams and well-justified self-esteem that inspires you to seek a viable goal that's beyond your previous level of accomplishment? An example of the first is the Louisiana State University student who declared himself eligible for the National Basketball Association's draft, although he wasn't even good enough to play on his college team. An example of the second is my talented musician friend Allie, who made a demo CD in her home studio and brazenly sent it to a big record company executive, who liked it so much he signed her to a recording contract.

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CANCER (June 21–July 22): Your assignment this week, should you choose to accept it, is to outdo the Dullest Blogger in the World. From a command post at wibsite.com/wiblog/dull, this mystery figure writes entries like the following: "I was sitting on one of the chairs in my house. My hand was resting on the arm of the chair. I drummed my fingers on the arm, thereby making a barely audible sound. . . . I considered playing some music on the stereo system. I looked at some CDs for a while, but didn't put one on." And what, you may ask, is my reasoning for urging you to be more humdrum than this person who is renowned for provoking yawns? The astrological fact of the matter, Cancerian, is that you need to temporarily tone down your excitement levels—way down. Escape the entertaining melodramas for now and take a rejuvenating excursion into lazy boredom.

LEO (July 23–Aug. 22): [July 23-Aug. 22] The rules you've been playing by have worked fine for quite a while—not perfectly, but well enough. My sense is that their usefulness is almost at an end, however. Soon they will become counterproductive, no longer bringing out the best in you or the other players. I suggest, therefore, that you change the rules now, before they start undermining everyone. You know that old saw "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"? This is one time when that advice is wrong.

VIRGO (Aug. 23–Sept. 22): The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates is known as the father of medicine. Even today, the approach that he and his followers formulated remains a major influence, epitomized in the Hippocratic Oath sworn by all new doctors. His views on horoscopes might be shocking to some, however. "A physician without a knowledge of astrology," he wrote, "has no right to call himself a physician." I wish modern MDs would take that part of Hippocrates' wisdom as seriously as they do the rest; the art of healing would be more efficacious if it included an understanding of patients' astrological makeup. Now please apply this approach as you revisit the ideas that are at the foundation of what you believe, Virgo. In other words, explore the original sources of your inspiration and education. See if there are vital aspects of the wisdom contained therein that you have missed or ignored.

LIBRA (Sept. 23–Oct. 22): As a boy, the renowned Spanish matador Manolete was a sissy. He rarely played outdoors, preferring to be near his mother as he read books and painted pictures. Psychologist James Hillman explains this by suggesting that the youthful Manolete had already sensed his destiny, intuiting that one day he would be alone in the ring facing down angry half-ton bulls. His childhood behavior was a way of marshaling his strength and shielding him from the enormity of the challenges he would seek out one day. Think about how this theme might apply to your own life, Libra. Is it possible that what you have considered one of your weaknesses has actually been preparing you to express tremendous strength?

SCORPIO (Oct. 23–Nov. 21): The only secrets you have to worry about are those you're keeping from yourself. It might be helpful to know what other people are hiding, true, but the only way their covert agendas and sneaky maneuvering can hurt you is if you continue to lie to yourself. Besides, there's just one sure strategy for exposing the secrets that others are keeping: Tell yourself the naked truth about your own feelings and motivations.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22–Dec. 21): It's Feel Gratitude for Your Ex-Lovers, Old Flames, and Divorced Spouses Week. One of the best ways to celebrate is to stop thinking of your old relationships as failures. Instead, regard them as classrooms where you learned valuable lessons about intimacy. Think of them as practice sessions that helped you figure out what you really want a loving bond to be. Acknowledge the fact that even if you believe your former partners did you wrong, they were great teachers. I urge you to send them thank-you notes or at least honor their memory with silent bursts of gratitude.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22–Jan. 19): British medical researchers recently announced that contrary to conventional wisdom, brief periods of stress are healthy for us—so much so that they boost longevity and enhance our cells' ability to repair themselves. At the same time, the scientists emphasized that intense, long-term stress is still just as bad for us as we've always thought. If they're right, Capricorn, you should be the picture of vitality right now. The difficulties you've been facing lately have passed the Goldilocks test: neither too great nor too small, but just right.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20–Feb. 18): So you want to move a certain mountain from where it now stands to a place more conveniently located. Is that a worthy project? I don't know. Here's what I do know: The task can be done, but it will take longer than you think. In the early going you may have to work without the best tools and do much of the heavy lifting yourself. In order to succeed, you will also have to develop more stamina than you currently have. But all of these things would actually be very good for you.

PISCES (Feb. 19–March 20): In my travels by car, I often see bumper stickers on which parents brag about their offspring. Today I spied both "My child is an honor student at Newbury Middle School" and "My kid beat up an honor student at Newbury Middle School." A new wrinkle also appeared on a third bumper: "I'm the proud parent of a rat terrier." It led me to muse on how everyone has a parental relationship with someone or something. The vulnerable little thing they care for might be a child or pet or houseplant or plot of land, or even a machine or other inanimate object. What about you, Pisces? Whatever it is you take care of, you should concentrate harder on being a good mom or dad in the coming week. Your ward or dependent or protégé needs you more than usual.

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