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] "Successful representations of reality become more important than the reality they represent," writes W. Daniel Hillis at the World Question Center. Examples: Paper money supersedes gold; a painting has more value than the landscape it depicts. The coming days are an excellent time for you to contemplate how this phenomenon might be in play in your life. Start with this meditation: Is there any way in which you've become so focused on the map that you have neglected the territory?
TAURUS [April 20–May 20] While driving in suburbia, I saw a sign in the yard of a home whose grounds were being renovated. It was an ad for the landscaping company that was doing the work: "Mesmerize visitors with your garden." Judging from your astrological omens, Taurus, I think you're in an excellent position to do just that. It's your turn to enthrall and enchant people with your metaphorical "garden," whatever your particular beauty or talents may be.
GEMINI [May 21–June 20] "The best time for me is when I don't have any problems that I can't buy my way out of," said Andy Warhol. If that formulation is true, you're going to have a light-warm breeze of a week, Gemini—a time so smooth and easy and free that you may wonder if the gods have mistakenly bestowed the sublime karma of some beatific saint on you. The only problems you'll have will be those you can buy your way out of. And they won't even be very expensive.
CANCER [June 21–July 22] In the film War Games, a hacker ends up playing a game of simulated thermonuclear war with an artificially intelligent supercomputer that serves as the hub of operations for the U.S. Air Force, inadvertently triggering a cascade of events that nearly causes an actual global conflagration. After many scary plot turns, the supercomputer reaches a momentous conclusion: The only way to win the game is not to play it. That approach could work well for you, my fellow Crab. The game you're playing is nowhere near as dangerous as the one in War Games, of course, but why not play to win?LEO [July 23–August 22] ButlersGuild.com named Mr. Ravi Shankar its Butler of the Year. Serving as Head Butler of the Qasr Al Sharq hotel in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Shankar "always acts with complete integrity in everything he does." Your simple yet arduous assignment, Leo, is to be worthy of that same description. Are you up to the challenge of being morally and ethically impeccable, between now and noon on June 18, in every single thing you do and say and think?
VIRGO [August 23–September 22] "The job of a newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable," said journalist Finley Peter Dunne. In that spirit, Virgo, here are your assignments for the coming week: 1) Critique, question, and agitate the parts of yourself that are complacent or addicted to convenience. 2) Give help, sympathy, and encouragement to the parts of yourself that are off-center or out-of-focus. 3) Be generous and creative with those who are suffering.
LIBRA [September 23–October 22] "I've been all over the world and have lived among every kind of culture," wrote Dan Liebert on McSweeneys.net, "and I can say, without any hesitation, that the most ignorant, rude, selfish, and self-centered people on Earth are babies." I agree with him, though I've got to add that the reason babies are such jerks is that their brains simply aren't sufficiently well-developed for them to behave any differently. In fact, this line of thought can be applied to a whole range of bad behavior by people who have technically reached adulthood: They engage in ill-advised actions not out of evil intent, but because they're emotionally immature. Keep that in mind the next time you're dealing with anyone who's doing unreasonable things.
SCORPIO [October 23–November 21] Danny Anderson was out feeding his horses in Prosser, Washington, when a rattlesnake slithered into the barn. Anderson took a shovel and decapitated it—but when he reached down to pick up the severed head a few minutes later, it came back to life just long enough to bite him. Luckily, Anderson was fine after a trip to the hospital to receive anti-venom treatment. The metaphorical moral of the story, Scorpio: When your brave efforts finally eliminate a threat, don't get overconfident or let your guard down until you're absolutely, positively sure that it's gone.
SAGITTARIUS [November 22–December 21] Badmouthing yourself is a first-degree sin, and so is being mean to yourself or depriving yourself of the care you need to thrive. Especially in the coming week, it's more crucial than ever that you refrain from even the subtlest forms of self-abuse. To be anything less than an imaginative lover and nurturer toward yourself could upset the cosmic equilibrium so profoundly that everyone else would suffer, too. Therefore, you owe it to the rest of us to shower yourself with blessings.
CAPRICORN [December 22–January 19] Pumice, which is created by volcanic eruptions, is filled with holes, which means that it's sometimes light enough to glide on the surface of a body of water. Therefore, I urge you to think of the heaviest burden you're carrying—an apparently insoluble problem, a thankless responsibility—and imagine over the next few days that it is changing into a hunk of pumice. When the transformation is complete, visualize yourself throwing it into a fast-flowing river, and then watch as it gets carried away, ultimately turning into a tiny, bobbing speck that disappears over the horizon.