ARIES (March 21-April 19) Like Bob Dylan in his 1962 song "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," you've done a lot of rough and tumble living lately. You've "stumbled on the side of 12 misty mountains." You've "stepped in the middle of seven sad forests." You've "been out in front of a dozen dead oceans." Maybe most wrenching of all, you've "seen a highway of diamonds with nobody on it." The good news is that the hard rain will end soon. In these last days of the downpour, I suggest you trigger a catharsis for yourself. Consider doing something like what Dylan did: "I'll think it and speak it and breathe it / And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it."
TAURUS (April 20-May 20) Mythologist Michael Meade says that the essential nature of every human soul is gifted, noble and wounded. I agree. Cynics who exaggerate how messed up we all are, ignoring our beauty, are just as unrealistic as naive optimists. But because the cynics have a disproportionately potent influence on the zeitgeist, they make it harder for us to evaluate our problems with a wise and balanced perspective. Many of us feel cursed by the apparent incurability of our wounds, while others, rebelling against the curse, underestimate how wounded they are. Mead says: "Those who think they are not wounded in ways that need conscious attention and careful healing are usually the most wounded of all." Your task in the next few weeks is to make a realistic appraisal of your wounds.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20) Metallica's frontman James Hetfield brashly bragged to Revolver magazine that he was proud his music was used to torture prisoners at the U.S. military's detention camp in Guantanamo Bay. I urge you to make a more careful and measured assessment of the influences that you personally put out into the world. It's time to find out how closely your intentions match your actual impact - and to correct any discrepancies. How are people affected by the vibes you exude and the products you offer and the words you utter and the actions you undertake?
CANCER (June 21-July 22) "In the absence of clearly defined goals," said Cancerian writer Robert Heinlein, "we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it." If this description is even a partial match for the life you're living, now is an excellent time to address the problem. You have far more power than usual to identify and define worthy goals - both the short-term and long-term variety. If you take advantage of this opportunity, you will find a better use for the energy that's currently locked up in your enslavement to daily trivia.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22) As I was mulling over your astrological omens, I came across a short poem that aptly embodies the meaning of this moment for you. It's by Richard Wright, and goes like this: "Coming from the woods / A bull has a lilac sprig / Dangling from a horn." Here's one way to interpret this symbolic scene: Primal power is emerging into a clearing from out of the deep darkness. It is bringing with it a touch of lithe and blithe beauty - a happy accident.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) As I see it, you have one potential enemy in the coming weeks: a manic longing for perfection. It's OK to feel that longing as a mild ache. But if you allow it to grow into a burning obsession, you will probably undo yourself at every turn. You may even sabotage some of the good work you've done. My recommendation, then, is to give yourself the luxury of welcoming partial success, limited results and useful mistakes. Paradoxically, cultivating that approach will give you the best chance at getting lots of things done. Here's your motto for the week, courtesy of Theodore Roosevelt: "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22) When I was 9 years old, one of my favorite jokes went like this: "What's worse than biting into an apple and finding a worm? Give up? Biting into an apple and finding half a worm." According to my reading of the astrological omens, that's a good piece of information for you to keep in mind right now. If and when a serpent offers you an apple, I hope you will sink your teeth into it with cautious nibbles. I'm not saying you shouldn't bite, just that you should proceed warily.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21) Normally we think of a garbage dump as a spot where we go to get rid of trash and worn-out stuff we no longer need. It emits a stench that wafts a great distance, and it's a not a place where you wear your finery. But there is a dump in northern Idaho that diverges slightly from that description. It has the usual acres of rubbish, but also features a bonus area that the locals call "The Mall." This is where people dispose of junk that might not actually be junk. It has no use for them any more, but they recognize that others might find value in it. It was at the Mall where my friend Peter found a perfectly good chainsaw that had a minor glitch he easily fixed. I suspect that life may be like that dump for you in the coming week: a wasteland with perks.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21) According to Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges, time "is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire." I believe he meant for that statement to be true for all of us. Luckily for you, though, you'll soon be getting a temporary exemption. For a while, you'll be more like the tiger than the one the tiger devours; you will have more in common with the fire than with the one consumed by the fire. In other words, you will have more power than usual to outwit the tyrannies of time. Are you ready to take advantage? You're primed to claim more slack, more wiggle room, more permission.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) San Francisco band Smash-Up Derby approaches their music-making with a spirit that might be useful for you to emulate in the coming week. Each of their songs is a blend of two famous tunes. Typically the instrumentalists play a rock song while the singers do a pop hit with a similar chord progression. Imagine hearing the guitars, bass and drums play Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" while the lead vocalist croons Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." The crucial part of their ongoing experiment is that it works. The sound coming from the stage isn't a confusing assault. You could pull off a challenge like that: combining disparate elements with raucous grace.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18) Last August I wrote you a horoscope that spoke of opportunities you'd have to upgrade your close relationships. I said you'd be tested in ways that would push you to get more ingenious and tenacious about collaborating with people you cared about. Hoping to inspire you, I cited two people I know who have successfully re-imagined and reinvented their marriage for many years. In response, one reader complained. "Yuck!" his e-mail began. "I thought I was getting a horoscope but instead I got a sentimental self-help blurb in the style of Reader's Digest." I took his words to heart. As you enter a new phase when you could do a lot to build your intimacy skills, I'll try something more poetic: Succulent discipline and luminous persistence equals incandescent kismet.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20) If I had to come up with a title for the next phase of your astrological cycle, it might be "Gathering Up." The way I see it, you should focus on collecting any resources that are missing from your reserves. You should hone skills that are still too weak to get you where you want to go, and you should attract the committed support of allies who can help you carry out your dreams and schemes. Don't be shy about assembling the necessities. Experiment with being slightly voracious.