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):Vegan Erotica is a company that sells s&m bondage gear suitable for vegans. Its whips, harnesses, collars, cuffs, and restraints are made of fake leather. So it's now possible for you to conduct puckish experiments with sexual power dynamics and yet not be responsible for harming any animals in the process. This development serves as an apt metaphor for your current astrological omens, Aries, which recommend a paradoxical blend of tenderness and force, a judicious mix of compassionate concern and playful aggressiveness, and daring attempts to pull off mischievous healings.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20):"The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change," said psychologist Carl Rogers. I suggest you make that your guiding principle in the coming weeks, Taurus. You're overdue for a purge of bad habits and a surge of fresh approaches, but that won't happen unless you can conjure up a relaxed acceptance toward those bad habitsas well as a big dose of self-forgiveness.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): In Buddhist legend, the udumbara is a rare flower that blossoms unexpectedly every few millennia. It portends the imminent arrival of a miraculous breakthrough, as it did when it appeared near a lake at the foot of the Himalayas before the birth of Buddha. Many people in Fremont, California, believe they recently saw the udumbara blooming on an oleander tree, its threadlike stalks erupting with tiny white blooms. Was it real? Alas, no scientists were on hand to confer the blessing of authentication. But that doesn't matter for my purpose, which is to let you know that you'll soon have a close brush with the equivalent of an udumbara. Be alert. Don't be so lost in your fantasies that you're blind to the fantastic omen that's right in front of you. You've got to actually see it in order to be ready for the wondrous event it foreshadows.
CANCER (June 21-July 22): Amputees sometimes experience agonizing sensations that seem to originate in the part of their bodies that has been severed. Called phantom pain, it's a very real feeling, although it does not actually come from the missing arm or leg. Those of us who have possession of all our limbs sometimes experience the psychic version of phantom pain. We suffer terribly despite the fact that the source of our suffering is long gone from our lives. The good news, Cancerian, is that now is an opportune time for you to heal your phantom psychic pain. You will receive unexpected help from the universe if you formulate a strong intention to relieve the mysterious ache.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): You can drive a car even though you have only a vague idea of how the engine works. You can swim despite the fact that you're unfamiliar with the laws of physics and the intricacies of biology that underlie your ability to pull off that feat. Please keep this in mind as you weave your way through the interesting challenges of the coming days. It won't be crucial to reach a deep understanding of what's going on. Far more important is that you trust your intuition to show you the right thing to do and say at the right time. Knowing the big picture won't be essential to mastering the ever-changing details.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): "Water that is too pure has no fish," wrote Zen teacher Ts'ai Ken T'an. Keep that advice close to your heart in the coming days, Virgo. Your clean, clear ideas will become sterile unless you mix in some quirky, unruly emotions. Your spiritual intentions may become awkwardly rigid unless you loosen them up with a bit of healthy blasphemy. So please don't push for utter perfection. Be careful not to burn away every last flaw or banish every last messy doubt. In order to know the truth, you'll have to consort with BS.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22):Would you be willing to get down on your knees in the dirt and howl out adamant prayers? Would you be crazy enough and sane enough to beg the gods, muses, and guardian angels to dissolve anything that's interfering with your ability to be your authentic self and live the life you were born to live? Until you do, you may have to tolerate being less than authentic and living only part of the life you were born to live. The good news is that it's a perfect moment to start smashing the obstructions to your happiness.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): "A person is a poet if difficulties inherent in his art provide him with ideas," said Scorpio poet Paul Valéry. "He is not a poet if they deprive him of ideas." Riffing off this definition, I nominate you to be the zodiac's honorary poet for the next three weeks. You're in prime position to capitalize spectacularly on your problems, both by generating wildly useful ideas and by drumming up fascinating opportunities for yourself. To assist you in your labors, I offer two more aphorisms from Valéry: (1) "Two dangers constantly threaten the world: order and disorder." (2) "The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up."
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Russian scientists have discovered gold deposits in the dust of decayed tree stumps. The phenomenon occurs in forests growing in ground where there is gold ore. Over the course of centuries, the trees' roots suck in minute quantities of the precious metal, eventually accumulating nuggets. According to my reading of the omens, you have the potential to carry out a comparable process in the coming yearsand right now is a perfect time to formulate a conscious intention to do so. For best results, of course, you should place yourself in regular proximity to the source of the metaphorical gold you'd love to patiently suck into your sphere.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Jackson Pollack (19121956) was a pioneer painter. Instead of using an easel, he laid his canvases on the floor. Rather than manually applying paint with a brush, he poured the liquid colors out and then used his whole body to shape his creation, crawling and walking on it. Sometimes he'd employ trowels, sticks, pieces of glass, and other objects to further manipulate the paint. He's your role model for the coming week, Capricorn. I hope he will inspire you to expand the way you carry out your specialties. Try new techniques. Involve more of yourself in the process. Be willing to get messier than you've been before.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): According to the indigenous people who lived in the Americas before Europeans arrived, the world is populated with spiritual powers that take the shape of animals and plants and natural forces. In other words, there are many forms of intelligence, not just the kind that reside in human brains. And it's possible to communicate with these other intelligences; we can tune in to their alternate modes of knowing and seeing, thereby expanding our narrow understanding of reality. To do that, however, we can't rely on spoken and written language; we have to be receptive to their nonverbal language. We also have to be humble enough to recognize how smart they are, and how much they have to offer us. I mention this, Aquarius, because it's a favorable time to learn from spiritual powers that reside in things such as hawks, horses, oak trees, and rivers. Nature is primed to tell you intriguing, unimaginable, and useful secrets.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Here are a few of the improvements I expect you to be enjoying by the end of October: a new, more practical treaty with your evil twin or nemesis; good reasons to eliminate superfluous middlemen and middlewomen who claim you can't live without them; a knack for avoiding other people's hells; the ability to adopt an enlightened version of tunnel vision and call on the power of having a one-track mind; and an enhanced grasp of the mysterious workings of money and the marketplace, which could ultimately lead to some financial magic.
Homework Make up a secret identity for yourself. What is it? How do you use it? Testify at RealAstrology.com; click on "Email Rob."