ARIES [March 21–April 19] In the film Fight Club, the character played by Brad Pitt storms into a convenience store with a gun, then herds the clerk out back and threatens to execute him. While the poor man quivers in terror, Pitt asks him questions about himself, extracting the confession that he had once wanted to be a veterinarian but had dropped out of school. After a few minutes, Pitt frees the clerk without harming him, but says that unless he takes steps to return to veterinary school in the next six weeks, he will hunt him down and kill him. In my opinion, that's an overly extreme way to motivate someone to do what's good for him. I wish I could come up with a less shocking approach to coax you into resuming the quest for your deferred dreams, Aries. Can you think of anything?

TAURUS [April 20–May 20] Financial columnist Bill Fleckstein says that by its very nature, capitalism continually cycles through periods of boom and bust; you can't have one without the other. The American economy is in trouble because for many years the federal government suppressed the down times in an effort to create a state of perpetual boom. The backlogged busts are now kicking in all at once. I bring this to your attention, Taurus, in the hope that you won't make a comparable mistake in your own sphere. Some tightly wound part of your life needs to unravel for a while. I advise you to consider going on a brief hiatus or sabbatical.

GEMINI [May 21–June 20] Even if you have no plans to get married, I suggest you enter the Toilet Paper Wedding Dress Contest, in which rival designers compete to create beautiful bridal gowns using bathroom tissue. You just might win, thereby earning the cash prize. Why do I say that? Because according to my reading of the omens, you now have a special skill at conjuring up cheap elegance in service to your urge to merge. You have an unusual knack for turning things of little apparent worth into valuable aids to intimacy.

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CANCER [June 21–July 22] In recent years, there has been a rash of climbers shedding all their clothes on Mount Everest. A sherpa by the name of Lakpa Tharke claims the world's record for high-altitude nudity, having stood sky-clad for three minutes at the 29,035-foot summit. Some Nepali authorities are seeking a ban on such displays, believing that it defiles the revered mountain. "How would Westerners feel about people stripping in church?" they ask. Without meaning any disrespect to them, I urge you, Cancerian, to make "in the buff on the holy mountaintop" your power metaphor of the week. Blend sacredness and nakedness in any way that appeals to your imagination, especially if it's in high places or makes you high.

LEO [July 23–August 22] The feats you're pulling off may not appear spectacular to a casual observer, but in my view, they are some of the most interesting accomplishments you've enjoyed in a while. Here's a brief description of some of your subtly glorious breakthroughs: 1) You've made yourself less susceptible to being manipulated by guilt or pushed around by bullies or fooled by phonies. 2) You're getting smarter about how you treat the people and things you love. 3) You're at the peak of your ability to discern the difference between rash risks motivated by fear and smart gambles driven by authentic intuition.

VIRGO [August 23–September 22] Using a stopwatch, a sports statistician once figured out that the average baseball game has about nine minutes of action. The proceedings may last three hours from beginning to end, but the ball is actually in play just 5 percent of the time. What happens during the remaining 95 percent? Mostly a lot of standing around. I believe it'll be that kind of week for you, Virgo. The good news is that when the flurries of activity do erupt, they'll be packed with drama and intrigue that you can really use.

LIBRA [September 23–October 22] "I slept with faith and found a corpse in my arms on awakening," wrote occult philosopher Aleister Crowley in his flowery neo-Victorian style. "I drank and danced all night with doubt and found her a virgin in the morning." I think that formulation will serve you well in the coming days, Libra. There's little to be gained from clinging compulsively to your hopes and fantasies about what's true. Just the opposite: Momentous strength will rise up in you if you question everything you hold dear or assume to be fact.

SCORPIO [October 23–November 21] In her book Waiting for God, French mystic and political activist Simone Weil (1909–1943) wrote a passage that I'd love for you to keep in mind during the coming weeks: "When an apprentice gets hurt, or complains of being tired, the workmen have this fine expression: 'It is the trade entering his body.' Each time that we have some pain to go through, we can say to ourselves quite truly that it is the order and beauty of the world that are entering our body." I encourage you, Scorpio, to adopt this redemptive attitude about the suffering that you've been experiencing.

SAGITTARIUS [November 22–December 21] In his memoir, radio talk-show host Michael Krasny notes that he is "the inverse of writer Saul Bellow, who said that he was a bird and not an ornithologist." Even if you're usually more like Krasny, Sagittarius, I suggest that you be like Bellow in the coming weeks. In my astrological opinion, you need to be an embodiment of wild nature, not an observer and appreciator of wild nature. It's time for you to be a geyser, not an architect who critiques fountains; a bonfire, not a candle-gazer; a horse, not a gambler who bets on the ponies.

CAPRICORN [December 22–January 19] A new Hawaiian island is in the process of creating itself. Called Loihi, it's an active volcano that still lies beneath the sea. As it vents lava in the millennia to come, it will eventually accumulate enough mass to rise above water level and make itself available for trees to grow on and animals to nest in and humans to dance on. In the coming days, Capricorn, I invite you to regard this as an important symbol. Think about what part of your life has a metaphorical resemblance to the threshold that Loihi will be approaching about 10,000 years from now: emerging out of the depths and breaking above the surface.

AQUARIUS [January 20–February 18] Between eight and nine one morning, I made a 30-mile round trip from San Francisco to Marin County, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge twice in the process. In that brief time, I drove through five different micro-climates, some of them twice: 1) dense, blinding fog; 2) heavily overcast skies but no fog; 3) totally bright and sunny; 4) wispy fog with sun pouring down through it, creating a blend of gray and gold; and 5) partially sunny, with rolling bubbles of fog visible in the distance. Judging from your current astrological omens, Aquarius, I'm guessing that what I experienced is an apt metaphor for what your life will be like in the coming days: a quick-shifting kaleidoscope of vivid moods and rich textures. Celebrate each scene, knowing that it will soon give way to a new one.

PISCES [February 19–March 20] Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson told The Washington Post the following fun facts: "There are more molecules of water in a cup of water than cups of water in all the world's oceans. This means that some molecules in every cup of water you drink passed through the kidneys of Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Abe Lincoln, or any other historical person of your choosing." Your assignment this week, Pisces, is to choose three heroes you'd most like to be influenced and inspired by. Every time you drink water, be conscious of the fact that some of it was once inside the bodies of those exceptional people. Say a prayer that their mojo will become available to you.

HOMEWORK Is there a place in your life where you're skilled at bending but not breaking? Brag about it by going to RealAstrology.com and clicking on "E-mail Rob."

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