TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Start phasing out desires that lead you backward. Renounce your longings to recreate outmoded pleasures from the past; disown the drive to be someone you once were or to have something you once had; talk yourself out of your fascination with feelings that keep you attached to dead-end goals; escape any addictions you might have to sensations that are irrelevant to your future.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): I don't just make up the stuff in these horoscopes; I try to convey the moods of the cosmic forces and offer suggestions about how to align yourself with them. I'll completely understand if this week's astrological mandate is too much for you. Don't feel guilty if you can't summon the chutzpah to carry it out. You would benefit from acquiring a hand puppet, preferably an old-fashioned one from a thrift store. You should wear the puppet on your hand often in the coming days. In a voice different from your normal one, you should make it talk about the crucial subtexts everyone is aware of but inclined to ignore, the unspoken mysteries that need to be named and the illusions you can no longer afford to feed.
CANCER (June 21-July 22): Slip into the furthest reaches of the inner sanctum this week. Penetrate to the heart of the core of the root. Peer down through the cracks in the surface all the way to the bottom. Dare to be curious about the unfathomable mysteries that lie beneath the obvious questions. Open the secret door that leads to the even more hidden door that will take you to the most private, fertile oasis of all.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): It's an ideal time to create your perfect day. This will also be good practice for 2003, when you'll have cosmic license to enjoy a perfect day at least once a month. To get in the mood, read Tiburana's testimony. "To begin, I'd wake up alone in a mountain inn in Slovenia. After a breakfast of hot milk and fresh bread I'd climb to the peak, stopping now and then to write in my diary and take photographs. The Vienna Philharmonic would be at the top, and together we'd perform Brahms "Requiem." I'd then be airlifted to the base of the mountain, where my true love would be waiting for me. We'd climb into a yellow '69 Corvette convertible and drive to the Adriatic coast. There we'd have a picnic of hummus, strawberries and chocolate on the beach as we watched the sunset. We'd make love, wrap ourselves in blankets and dream together all night under the stars."
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): If all you've ever wanted is to marry a cheerleader or athlete with six-pack abs and get a McMansion in the suburbs with a tank-sized SUV in your three-car garage, this will be a disappointing week for you. Nothing that happens will aid you in carrying out goals like that. If, however, you aspire to wrestle tenderly with the unripe side of your nature until it agrees to share its enigmatic treasure with the rest of you, then the immediate future will bring cathartic revelations leading to spiritual orgasms and ingenious changes in the way you live your life.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): A litter box in Des Moines, Iowa, is a portal to another dimension. So says paranormal researcher Dr. Steve Stankel, interviewed in the Weekly World News. He claims to have used the box to transport himself instantly to a strange world where flowers float in midair and music can be seen as well as heard. I doubt if you will have as dramatic an adventure in the coming week, but I do suspect that you will find extraordinary uses for seemingly ordinary things. Routine matters may erupt with exotic revelations. Normal people could lead you on curious detours. And even a pizza ad on a billboard or an oil stain in a parking lot — or a litter box — might contain a mystical omen if you stare at it in just the right way.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Your assignment is to create a symbolic shield for yourself. You're not in any physical danger, so you don't need a literal trash can lid or piece of sheet metal to hold in front of you. In the coming week you'll probably need to safeguard yourself against the metaphorical equivalent of rotten tomatoes being flung your way. Your assailants may not even be aware of how offensive their emotional garbage is or how much it could affect you. That's all the more reason to surround yourself with your own personal version of psychic protection.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): You are now being asked to embody and illustrate a theory advanced by Gabriel Garcia Marquez in his book Love in the Time of Cholera: "Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them ... life obliges them over and over to give birth to themselves." This is one of those moments when you possess the power to reincarnate without having to endure the inconvenience of dying.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): A higher, smarter form of love is calling you from the not-so-distant horizon. Unfortunately, you're not ready to pursue it. Your defenses are too strong. If you want to rendezvous with the sweet stuff, you'll have to become less protected. Fortunately, I believe that 2003 will bring you just the experiences you need to accomplish this. Take inventory of the subtle fears that have motivated you to develop such strong armor. Consider the possibility that at least some of those fears are based on faulty logic.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Last October I watched a World Series game with two psychotherapists who'd previously had little exposure to baseball. At first they were merely entertained and grossed out because virtually every player spit constantly. But as the camera's telescopic lens focused over and over on tight shots of saliva spraying from lips, the shrinks' attitude turned clinical. "These million-dollar athletes are suffering from a collective version of obsessive compulsive disorder," they concluded. I had to agree. But to be fair to the baseball players, I also noted that every close-knit assemblage of humans has some analogous pathology, and it's often unconscious. What's your group's version? It's an ideal time to question whether it's amusing and tolerable — or whether it tends to undermine your goals.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): The moment is perfect for you to wish upon a star. It's my nervous duty, however, to make sure that you choose the right star. A small miscalculation in the heavenly sphere can translate into a huge error down here on earth. I must urge you to use surgical precision in formulating your wish. Even a tiny misstatement of your longing could result in you fulfilling the wrong dream. Sorry to be so complicated. You'd think it would be child's play to know exactly what you want and ask the right deity to bless it. But it's not; few of us ever accomplish this magic. Fortunately, you've never been in a better position to pull it off. What would it mean for you to learn the difference between stupid suffering and wise suffering? Testify at