TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Welcome to the last phase of your annual astrological cycle, Taurus. Happy closing time! If you were a hippopotamus, right about now I'd give you a slew of those friendly birds that pluck parasites out of your hide. If you were a bull, I'd wave red flags in front of you until you got bored with those false alarms forevermore. If you were a lamb, I'd wrap you in a wolf's disguise so you would scare off any rough beasts slouching toward your manger. And if you were a person who was too polite to ask the monkey to get the hell off your back, I'd tickle the pest until it did.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Nineteenth century historian Thomas Carlyle once crafted a lyrical assessment of the Gemini magician and adventurer known as Count Alessandro di Cagliostro. As you approach a climactic outpouring of your own personal brand of wild complexity, I felt that Carlyle's description of Cagliostro might well be applied to you: "healer of diseases, abolisher of wrinkles, friend of the poor and impotent, swindler, spirit summoner, gold cook, thaumaturgic moralist, king of liars." Even if you don't fit every one of those descriptions, my paradox-loving friend, I predict that you will be a mixed blessing in the coming days: maniacally useful and disturbingly catalytic; pungently inspirational and sweetly disruptive; helpfully infuriating and scarily fun.
CANCER (June 21-July 22): Warning: This horoscope contains strong language, mature situations and some nudity. Proceed at your own risk. Sometimes, Cancerian, you've got to be a bit of an asshole in order to avoid getting burned by the ass-souls. Now is such a time. Can you pull it off? Will you become a not-quite-evil genius in order to help the cause of emotional intelligence in its showdown with sterile cleverness? I think so. And if you do, I expect you to reap an unexpected reward: fresh access to so much primal desire that your lovemaking will become supercharged with tender fierceness.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Dissolve grudges. Take long siestas. Laugh at a subject you always treat seriously. Break a mirror for good luck. Kiss the eyelids of a friend after climbing a tree together. Celebrate your weaknesses. Wear velvet gloves. Stage a slow-motion water balloon fight. Play a bagpipe as badly as possible. Utter a greedy prayer when you hear distant thunder or rattling pots. Wash behind your ears. Genuflect to the greatest mystery you know. Pretend you have a singing gig at a European cabaret. Make up a fresh bedtime story for someone you love. Wear your shoes on the wrong feet. Be a control freak in a situation where you're usually a slave. See how far you can spit a mouthful of beer. Don't take anything personally. VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Everywhere you look you see people in love with their problems and addicted to their pain. And yet you don't seem to be enticed by this deadly fashion. What's your secret? It could have to do with your increasingly relaxed approach to obsession. Maybe you're finally grasping the concept that there's a right way and a wrong way to be a wild person. As a happy result, the puzzle that in past years might have shattered you into fragments seems to be solving itself. Congratulations on beginning to master the fine art of graceful extremism.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Happy Unbirthday, Libra! As we celebrate this season halfway between your last and next birthdays, I'd love to give you presents you can really use in the coming months, such as a magic decoder ring, a skeleton key, bridge-building lessons, your own telecommunications satellite, and a toothbrush with built-in miniature cell phone, cassette recorder, and bullhorn. Unfortunately I'll have to settle for a simpler and cheaper gift: a brand new poetic license, good until September, 2001. With it you should be able to communicate and be understood much better than ever before.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): There's no way, if Jesus were alive today, that he'd be a right-wing defender of property and riches. The dude owned nothing himself and was a passionate advocate for the poor and underprivileged. "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle," he allegedly said, "than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." Having said that, I'm betting that he would agree with me about this: Once every decade or so the planets align in such a way that the pursuit of material wealth and spiritual wealth dovetail perfectly. That time, dear Scorpio, is now — for you and you alone.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Many gurus imply that spiritual enlightenment is like a possession you can acquire. It takes hard work, they assert, but one fine day you finally do capture it, free and clear. You break through to the lucid state of cosmic consciousness, and forever after it's your to keep. You're permanently illuminated. You never backslide into the dull ignominy of normal human awareness. To which I say: bullshit. The fact is, the nature of perfection is always mutating. What constitutes enlightenment today will be different tomorrow. If you want to befriend the Divine Wow, you must not only be willing to change ceaselessly — you have to love to change ceaselessly. Lucky you, Sagittarius: The cosmos is now conspiring to help you live by this truth.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): I'm not here to judge your dogged climb to the top of the best-stressed list. I won't stand in your way if you insist on depriving yourself of sleep, neglecting your friends and wolfing down your breakfast half-chewed as you speed toward work. While that's not my personal model of success, I understand that for some of you it's kind of fun, as well as a way to escape the dangers of civilization's sanitized comforts. But hear me out on this idea, Capricorn. Just as on some occasions the best battle tactic is a strategic retreat, I believe your ambitions would be best served now by hanging out and wasting time. Light a candle tonight to the patron saint of couch potatoes, St. Dawdle.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): The chemist Friedrich August Kekulé virtually founded modern organic chemistry with the help of an event that happened while he was asleep. Waking from a dream of a snake swallowing its own tail, he intuited the structure of the benzene ring, the central mystery of his scientific quest. Elias Howe had a similar nocturnal breakthrough. He dreamed of being chased by bad guys carrying spears with holes in the end. This inspired him to invent the sewing-machine needle. There's a good chance that many of you Aquarians will follow in these two men's footsteps in the coming week. If I were you, I'd closely monitor all the fleeting images floating through my mind's eye, day and night.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): In the wake of the war in Bosnia a few years ago, Western governments showered the beleaguered people with free consumer goods. According to a report in Earth Island Journal, however, the provisions were at best irrelevant. The U.S. sent thousands of bottles of mouthwash. Norway contributed anti-leprosy medication and Britain supplied weight-reduction pills. Let this serve as a symbol of the kind of generosity you should be wary of in the coming week, Pisces. Make it clear to all potential helpers and gift-givers exactly what offerings you want — and don't want. Make up a secret identity for yourself, please, complete with a new name and astrological sign. Tell all at