ARIES (March 21-April 19): One of the most exuberant poets of the 20th century was James Broughton. "I pray every night to wake up crazier," he wrote. By that he meant he wanted to become increasingly receptive to unpredictable joy and pleasure. His knack for having a good time didn't mean he dodged the hard times, though. "Suffering can't be avoided," he told interviewer Jack Foley. "The way to happiness is to go into the darkness of yourself. That's the place the seed is nourished, takes its roots and grows up, and becomes ultimately the plant and the flower. You can only go upward by first going downward." That's the perfect prescription for you in the coming days, Aries. (For more Broughton and Foley, see The Alsop Review.)
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Your word of power this week is yua. It's a term the Yupiit people of Alaska use for the spirit that inhabits all things, both animate and inanimate. A rock, for instance, has as much yua as a caribou, spruce tree, or human being, and therefore merits the same measure of compassion. If a Yupiit goes out for a hike and spies a chunk of wood lying on a frozen river bank, she might pick it up and put it in a new position, allowing its previously hidden side to get fresh air and sun. In this way, she would bestow a blessing on the wood's yua. Try living your life like this in the coming days, Taurus: as if absolutely everything is alive, has a soul, and deserves your loving kindness. (Thanks to Earl Shorris, "The Last Word," Harper's, August 2000.)
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Goodies is your word of power this week, Geminithough it could also be your word of weakness. To ensure that it's more the former than the latter, meditate on the following three inquiries. (1) Of all the goodies you want, which are the two most important ones? (2) Do your flirtations with second-tier goodies tend to undermine your pursuit of the first-tier ones? If so, are you willing to wean yourself from those flirtations? (3) Do you have any doubts about whether you truly deserve the very best goodies? If so, what can you do to render the doubts irrelevant?
CANCER (June 21-July 22): In accordance with the astrological omens, I've assembled a host of snappy one-liners for you to wield in the coming week, Cancerian. Sooner or later, it will make sense for you to utter every one of them. (1) "It only seems kinky the first time." (2) "Even if the voices in my head aren't real, they still have some good ideas." (3) "To make your prayers come true, you have to get off your knees." (4) "I'm the good kind of bad." (5) "It's not really a party till something gets broken." (6) "Shut up and dance." (PS: I don't anticipate there'll be any messy consequences if you cultivate the attitude I'm suggesting here. But in case there are, invoke this disclaimer: "I didn't do it. You can't prove it. Nobody saw me.")
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Have you ever been burned by bad religion? This is the week you could start getting rid of the scorch marks. Have you ever been abused by an authority figure who made you feel helpless? This is the time to correct for the distortions that jerk wreaked in your psyche. Are you feeling tyrannized by a habitual response that was once quite useful but isn't appropriate anymore? This is a perfect moment to dissolve it.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Thirty-three-year-old pop star Jennifer Lopez earned $29 million in 2003. Presumably she shares some of her wealth with her mom, Guadalupe. Cynical observers might therefore regard it as a sign of divine favoritism that Guadalupe recently won a jackpot of $2.4 million while playing a slot machine at an Atlantic City casino. I suspect you may be less hasty to jump to that conclusion, though, since many of you Virgos are currently being visited (or soon will be) with an equally ridiculous amount of good luck. Don't feel guilty about your blessings in the least, please, even if they seem way beyond your fair share. Lap them up.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): For years, Salt Lake City was undisputed Jell-O champion of the world, with the highest per capita consumption. But in 1999, Des Moines, Iowa, catapulted into the lead. In response, chef Scott Blackerby staged a "Take Back the Jell-O Title" Recipe Contest at his restaurant in Salt Lake, and thousands of Utahans signed petitions that helped make Jell-O the official snack of the state. Soon the city had retaken the top spot, where it remains to this day. I hope this story serves to motivate and inspire you in the coming days, Libra. It's time for you to reclaim a lost title or crown that you once possessed and that really should belong to you again.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): On your bad days, Scorpio, you're like a swamp that serves as a weird oasis in the midst of frozen tundra. On your good days, the physical feature you correspond to most is an underground river winding in a serpentine course beneath green, fertile hills. But in the coming weeks you'll be like a place you've rarely resembled before: an unspoiled tropical beach where the warm wild ocean meets the foot of a towering mountain.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Shopping for a new mission, Sagittarius? Or perhaps a new branch of your old familiar mission? You should be. This is one of those pivotal moments when heaven comes all the way down to earth; when invisible allies from the other side of the veil make an appearance; when age-old secrets briefly show what they're really made of. To aid your quest to glimpse your best possible future, here's advice that the sorcerer Don Juan gave to his student Carlos Castañeda: "Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself, and yourself alone, one question. 'Does this path have a heart?' If it does, the path is good; if it doesn't, it is of no use."
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): In ancient Greece, Apollo was a great sun god. Ruler of music and healing, he had the power to vanquish darkness from the human soul and transform chaos into energy. Pilgrims traveled from afar to seek oracles at his main temple in Delphi. Inscribed above the entrance of the temple was the maxim "Know thyself." No other words of wisdom are more important for you to heed in the next six weeks, Capricorn. Getting to know yourself better will be the best way to rouse your own inner Apollo, thereby allowing you to tap into the fertility of your unconscious chaos and harness the beauty of your soul's darkness.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): "I didn't feel your passion in my secret garden," a celebrity judge told an aspiring diva after her less-than-perfect singing performance on the WB's Superstar USA, an American Idol parody. I'm afraid I'm going to have to borrow his words to describe your recent efforts, Aquarius. All of us occasionally fail to live up fully to our potential, and the recent past has been your time of missing the mark. Now please don't waste your energy getting mad at me for delivering this knock. Instead, channel that emotion into making sure you don't keep missing the mark. Conjure up the breakout passion that we who love you will feel in our secret gardens.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Here's one of the few universal truths I know: Everyone has a piece of the truth, even those you disagree with. According to my reading of the astrological omens, though, you are now in possession of a giant piece of the truthbigger than what you usually have and bigger than everyone else's piece. That's exactly why you should proceed cautiously. Your deep understanding and authoritative knowledge might tempt you to dismiss the tiny slivers of truth that other people are holding, and that would be a mistake.
HOMEWORK We're a little more than halfway through 2004. Write a report about how your big projects for the year are progressing. Testify at beautyandtruth.com.
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