ARIES I was at an airport bookstore. A businessman near me plucked Chuck Palahniuk's Haunted from the shelf and said, "I've heard this book makes some people actually vomit. Listen to this passage." He read it aloud. It was about a guy who eats 10 freeze-dried turkey dinners and dies when his stomach literally explodes. Moments later, the businessman collapsed and went into convulsions. I knelt down and cradled his head. A saleswoman called paramedics, and 15 minutes later he was fine. "That never happened to me before," he said. "I don't have epilepsy. It must have been a reaction to what I read." The moral: Words will have potent effects on you in the coming days. You should therefore surround yourself with good news and uplifting stories and people who dispense articulate blessings.
TAURUS I heard a guy on the radio tell the following story: He and his wife stopped to enjoy a sunset. After a few minutes, they noticed that its breathtaking beauty remained static; the scene wasn't evolving. Upon further investigation, they registered the embarrassing fact that they had actually been admiring an image on a billboard. Make sure a similar event doesn't happen to you. Avoid getting hooked on substitutes, stand-ins or simulacrums. Insist on the real thing.
GEMINI In her song "Deeper Well," Emmylou Harris says she's "looking for the water from a deeper well." Make that your assignment. And if you're feeling brave, extend your search to an even more challenging quest: what Harris refers to as searching for a "holier grail." Your biggest, brightest dream isn't as big and bright as it could be. Raise your standards.
CANCER You're most likely to be happy and healthy in the coming weeks if you treat the whole world as your classroom. Thank God, then, that you won't suffer anytime soon from sophophobia (a fear of learning) or optophobia (fear of opening one's eyes). It's my duty to inform you, however, that you could experience politicophobia (fear of politicians) or myxophobia (fear of slime). Ironically, that would be quite lucky, because it's crucial that you avoid manipulative power-brokers and mud-slinging know-it-alls who might confuse you about the educational experiences you need to pursue.
LEO "Raising kids is like making pancakes," muses Brian Copeland in his show Not a Genuine Black Man. "You always mess up the first one." A similar idea might apply to a certain project you've been working on. I'm not saying you should abandon or throw away your initial effort. On the contrary, like rookie parents whose inexperience has slightly tweaked their firstborn, you should be thorough in trying to undo your mistakes. But I also suggest that you immediately get started on the next creation in the series, being sure you've learned all you can from the consequences of your earlier ignorance.
VIRGO My old philosophy professor Norman O. Brown would periodically announce, "It's time for your irregular reminder: We're already living after the end of the world. No need to fret anymore." The implication was that the worst had already happened. We had already lost most of the cultural riches that had given humans meaning for centuries. All that was going to be taken from us had already been taken. On the bright side, that meant we were utterly free to reinvent ourselves. Living amidst emptiness, we had nowhere to go but up. Use these ideas as seeds for your meditations. You can apply them to both your personal life and the world at large.
LIBRA Novelist Jeanette Winterson told am interviewer about her mother's strongest belief: "You can be happy, or else you can be like normal people." This idea applies to you right now — more than you realize. You're at a crossroads in your relationship with happiness. You could go either way, and it's mostly up to you: Will you tame your urges for wild joy, repress your instincts to follow your lyrically crazy heart and surrender to the dull insanity of the maddening crowd? Or would you prefer the scarier, more eccentric and action-packed route that will constantly push you to enlarge your capacity to feel good?
SCORPIO Sculptor Luis Jiminez was renowned for making large pieces with political themes that incited controversy. "Vaquero" shows a Mexican cowboy riding a bucking stallion and waving a gun. It not only satirizes the pretentious statues of military leaders on horses that are often found in parks; it's also a reminder that the original cowboys of the American West were Mexicans. "It's not my job to censor myself," Jimenez said. "An artist's job is to constantly test the boundaries." Whether or not you're an artist, your next assignment is not to censor yourself as you test the boundaries.
SAGITTARIUS There are now as many people working at Wal-Mart stores as there are high-school teachers. Can anything be done to change this depressing state of affairs? Well, the time is ripe for you to cultivate your skill at sharing what you know and to cultivate your ability to inspire and energize your fellow humans. So if just 1 percent of you use this moment as a springboard to launch careers as high-school educators, Wal-Mart employees would no longer outnumber you and your heroic colleagues. And even if you decide not to go in that direction, I hope you at least think about what you have to teach the world and take steps to give your gifts more aggressively.
CAPRICORN Philosopher Robert Anton Wilson said that "the universe acts like a chess game in which the player on the other side remains invisible to us. By analyzing the moves, we can form an image of the intellect behind them." The coming weeks will be an excellent time for you to gain insights into that other chess player. You will have an extraordinary capacity for setting aside your own subjective mind-chatter and seeing the objective truth. You'll also be more skilled than usual at understanding what's going on in the shadows and darkness.
AQUARIUS It's time for you to fall in love — though not necessarily with a person. You could swoon with infatuation for a place where your heart feels free, for example. You could dive into new music that liberates you from your past, or give yourself with abandon to a fascinating task that brings out the best in you. You might lose your heart to a mind-expanding mentor, a mysterious animal or a thrilling fight for justice. It doesn't matter exactly how or what you fall in love with, as long as it incites you to break open the doors of perception.
PISCES Last week's symbol was a boot kicking with futility at a closed door that was locked in response to your kicking; it bespoke a frustrated strength that provoked even greater resistance. This week's symbol will be dramatically different: bare feet climbing a rope ladder to a dance floor on a roof where a telescope is trained on the planet Jupiter. There will still be obstacles for you to overcome, but the emphasis will be on craft and agility rather than force and instinct. This time around the grounded part of you will find lots of luck and slack.