TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Let's brainstorm about what kind of relationships you want to have. I propose that you avoid half-hearted connections with people who bore you or make you feel lazy. Next, picture in imaginative detail the vigorous, nurturing alliances that you'd like to build. How do you want to feel when you're with your collaborators and sidekicks? What will be the predominant dynamic between you? What will you give each other? What will you create together? This is a perfect astrological moment to deepen and refine your desires for companionship.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Ancient legend says that a giant cobra — normally a fearsome predator — shielded Buddha with its expansive hood as he meditated in the wilderness during a terrible week-long storm. I predict that you will be offered protection or guidance by an equally unlikely power in the coming week — possibly even an influence you've always regarded as unsympathetic to your dreams. Do you dare make an alliance with an elemental force of nature?
CANCER (June 21-July 22): Martyr-complex alert! You are not obligated to act as a clearinghouse for everyone else's karma or as a dumping ground for toxic psychic wastes. Nor should you agree to be a guinea pig, scapegoat or golden calf. What the hell are you supposed to be? A well-rewarded amateur therapist, maybe. Or the valued companion of an adventurer who's at a delicate turning point. Or the hard-working beneficiary of a potent legacy. In conclusion, don't let people use you unless they let you use them.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): If you were a famous musician, what items would you demand to have placed in your dressing room before your shows? As you draw up your ideal rider, take inspiration from these stars. Mariah Carey requires flexible straws for her Cristal champagne. For Pavarotti, there must be "no distinct smells anywhere near the artist." Rock band Bush needs Jack Daniel’s whiskey and Panax Ginseng Extract, while the Red Hot Chili Peppers insist on a meditation room. Busta Rhymes has to have a bucket of KFC and 12 ribbed condoms. Now what about you, you flaming, gorgeous virtuoso?
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Your allergy to the ozone-depleting, hero-deprived, fun-cheapening irritant we call civilization will soon be at a peak. The only way you might be able to immunize yourself is to immediately listen to a Top-40 radio station on headphones while stuffing yourself with jelly-filled pastries packed with artificial ingredients. If that's too scary, you should instead prepare to retreat to your fortress. Stock up on your favorite soul food, seek out some fresh soul music and get yourself in the mood for some cut-the-bullshit, wild-at-heart, do-or-die soul-searching.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): A reader named Robin Pastorio-Newman sent me a poignant lament that's also a prayer. I offer it now as an oracle for you. Your situation isn't as extreme as hers, but there is a resemblance. Here it is. Through the twisted magic of depression, I have been missing me for a while now. I leave me messages, but I fail to return my calls. I catch a glimpse of me in passing, as if through a train window or in a crowd. How terribly alone I have been without me! I miss my wild ideas, high energy, and naive charm. And so dear goddess, I beg you to arrange for a reunion. Grant me the privilege of having my fascinating feelings and intriguing adventures again. I'm ready to return to my independent and feisty ways, to work hard and waste no time and enjoy my beauty. Pretty please?
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Congratulations on having such an ambidextrous brain, you nimble wise guys and riot grrls. Due to your ability to blend hard-headed rationality with a robust trust in uncanny mystery, you have not fallen prey to the inane strains of insanity that have been going around. Instead you have achieved a weird and glorious victory over the fearful fantasies that are passing for normalcy. Please accept the thunderous applause of my one hand clapping. The people who take everything personally and seriously may not recognize your ingenious work, but we connoisseurs of the liberated imagination do.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): This week's counsel is designed to help you take advantage of the fresh, hot prospects that are materializing right before your eyes. First we turn to one of the richest painters who ever lived, Pablo Picasso. "I am always doing that which I cannot do," he bragged, "in order that I may learn how to do it." Next let's hear what ancient Greek philosopher Socrates has to tell you about the attitude you should assume during this pregnant moment. "The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." To complete your oracle, we call on French novelist Marcel Proust. "The real voyage of discovery," he wrote, "consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Once upon a time I had a maniacal girlfriend who also served as my personal guru. Elisa's teaching techniques were an artful blend of torment and trickery. And though I could only endure a few months of studying at her wicked feet, I still treasure her rough pearls of wisdom. As she dramatically demonstrated, for instance, you can't reprogram yourself until you deprogram. And seeing as how deprogramming requires the destruction of outmoded brain circuitry, it doesn't always feel real bouncy and peppy and fluffy. What does this have to do with you? Everything. You're right in the middle of your deprogramming season, with the reprogramming phase soon to follow.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): For the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras, there was no contradiction between logic and mysticism. On one hand, his seminal work established a scientific basis for mathematics. On the other, he asserted the existence of a literal "music of the spheres," an eternal symphony created by the movements of the planets. He also believed that by discovering esoteric truths about numbers he could understand the ultimate nature of reality. I bring this up because I want to invoke one of his teachings to help you take advantage of the astrological phase you're in. Pythagoras called the number nine "Telesphoros," which means "ripener, perfecter, finisher." It is the number you should embody in the coming weeks. Visualize it often.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): The way I see it, every one of us needs regular wake-up calls. Otherwise we get hypnotized by the drone of routine and we forget what's real and true. Unfortunately, most of us passively rely on blind fate to provide the ongoing stimuli, which as a result are often more uncomfortable than they need to be. But it is quite possible to be proactive: We can learn to aggressively go out and drum up the riveting (but kinder and gentler) experiences that will rouse us from our lazy, hazy daydreams. I mention this because it's prime time, astrologically speaking, to learn more about this art. Picture yourself a year from today. What seemingly impossible dream have you accomplished, and how have you done it? Testify at