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] Please study this testimony: "Born in a rancid, bat-infested cave at the base of the smoldering Sangay Volcano, I was raised by the half-bear demon princess Arcastia. At the age of four, my training as a ninja shaman began when I was left naked and alone next to a stream of burning lava with only two safety pins, a package of dental floss, and a plastic bag full of Cheerios. My mission: to find my way to my spiritual home." Now, Aries, I'd like you to compose your own version of this declaration: a playful, over-the-top myth about your origins that gives you a greater appreciation for the heroic journey you've been on.
TAURUS [April 20–May 20] Our ancestors owned slaves and denied education to girls. What were they thinking? Time magazine asked renowned historian David McCullough if there was anything we do today that our descendants will regard as equally insane and inexcusable. His reply: "How we could have spent so much time watching TV?" I'll ask you, Taurus, to apply this same exercise on a personal level. Think of some things you did when you were younger that now seem incomprehensible or ignorant. Then explore the possibility that you will look back with incredulity at some weird habit or tweaked form of self-indulgence you're pursuing today.
GEMINI [May 21–June 20] "I can't tell if I'm dealing well with life these days or if I just don't give a sh-- anymore." I stumbled upon that comment at someecards.com, and I decided to pass it along for your consideration. You might be pondering the same riddle: feeling suspicious about why you seem more relaxed and tolerant than usual. I'm here to tell you my opinion, which is that your recent equanimity is not rooted in jaded numbness. Rather, it's the result of some hard work you did on yourself during the last six months.
CANCER [June 21–July 22] What excites you, Cancerian? What mobilizes your self-discipline and inspires you to see the big picture? I encourage you to identify sources of high-octane fuel and take extraordinary measures to make them a strong presence in your life. (Here's a further nudge from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Every great and commanding movement in the annals of the world is the triumph of enthusiasm. Nothing great was ever achieved without it.")
LEO [July 23–August 22] While browsing in a bookstore, I came across a book and deck of cards that were collectively called Tarot Secrets. The subtitle of the kit was "A Fast and Easy Way to Learn a Powerful Ancient Art." I snorted derisively to read that claim, since I myself have studied Tarot intensively for years and am nowhere near mastery. Later, though, when I was back home meditating on your horoscope, I softened my attitude. The astrological omens suggest that you might be able to learn a substantial skill in a short time.
VIRGO [August 23–September 22] Writing in The New Yorker, Joanna Ravenna paraphrased German philosopher Nietzsche: "The best way to enrage people is to force them to change their mind about you." I'd like to see you mutate this theory in the coming weeks, Virgo. If possible, see if you can amuse and entertain people, not enrage them, by compelling them to change their minds about you. I realize that's a tricky proposition, but given the astrological omens, I have faith that you can pull it off.
LIBRA [September 23–October 22] In 1892, when Wrigley was just starting out as a company, its main product was baking powder. Free chewing gum was included in each package as a promotional gimmick. But soon the freebie became so popular that Wrigley rearranged its entire business. Now it's a multibillion-dollar company that sells gum in 140 different countries—and no baking powder. Maybe there's something like that on the verge of happening in your own life, Libra: What seemed like the main event could turn out to be secondary, or what seemed incidental might become a centerpiece. Is there something you are overvaluing at the cost of something you are undervaluing?
SCORPIO [October 23–November 21] People in intimate relationships are hypersensitive to negative comments from their partners. Psychologists say it takes five compliments to outweigh the effects of a single dash of derogatory criticism. I'm sure the ratio is similar even for relationships that aren't as close as lovers and spouses. With this in mind, I urge you to be extra careful not to dispense barbs. They would be especially damaging during this phase of your astrological cycle—both to you and to those at whom you direct them. Instead, Scorpio, why not dole out an abundance of compliments?
SAGITTARIUS [November 22–December 21] Researchers report that the typical man falls in love 5.4 times over the course of his life, while the average woman basks in the glow of this great mystery on 4.6 occasions. I suspect you might be close to having a .4 or .6 type of experience, Sagittarius: sort of like infatuation, but without the crazed mania. That could be a good thing. The spiritual project that relationship offers might be most viable when the two people involved are not electrifyingly interwoven. Maybe we have more slack in our quest for intimacy if we love but are not obsessed.
CAPRICORN [December 22–January 19] "I couldn't wait for success," said rich and famous comedian Jonathan Winters, "so I went ahead without it." I love that approach, and I suggest you try it. Is there any area of your life that is held captive by an image of perfection? Consider the possibility that shiny concepts of victory and progress might be distracting you from doing the work that will bring you meaning and fulfillment. If you're too busy dreaming of someday attaining the ideal mate, weight, and job, you might miss out on the imperfect but amazing opportunities that are available now.
AQUARIUS [January 20–February 18] On reddit.com, Kaushalp88 asked the question, "What is the most badass thing that you have ever done, but that other people weren't impressed by?" Here's his own story: "I was at an ice cream shop. At the exit, there was a small raised step I didn't see. I tripped over it with my ice cream cone in my right hand. The ice cream ball sprung out of the cone. I instinctively lurched my left hand forward and grabbed it, but at the same time I was already falling toward the pavement. I tucked my head into my chest and made a perfect somersault, rising to my feet and plopping the ice cream back in the cone." I suspect you will soon have comparable experiences, Aquarius. But you might have to be content with provoking awe in no one else beside yourself.
PISCES [February 19–March 20] "Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow." So says a Swedish proverb. Can we talk about this, please, Pisces? Of course there are real hazards and difficulties in life, and they deserve your ingenious problem-solving. But why devote any of your energy to becoming embroiled in hyped-up hazards and hypothetical difficulties? Now is a propitious time to cut shadows down to their proper size. It's also a perfect moment to liberate yourself from needless anxiety. I think you'll be amazed at how much more accurate your perceptions will be as a result.