ARIES (March 21-April 19): “Successful representations of reality become more important than the reality they represent,” writes W. Daniel Hillis at The World Question Center (tinyurl.com/ywth3). Examples: paper money supersedes gold; a painting has more value than the landscape it depicts; the status that an achievement brings begins to overshadow the achievement. The coming days are an excellent time for you to contemplate how this phenomenon might be in play in your life, and whether it’s causing any distortions you need to correct. Start with this meditation: Is there any way in which you’ve become so focused on the map that you have neglected the territory?
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): While driving in suburbia, I saw a sign in the yard of a home whose grounds were being renovated. It was an ad for the landscaping company that was doing the work. “Mesmerize visitors with your garden,” it read. Judging from your astrological omens, Taurus, I think you’re in an excellent position to do just that. It’s your turn to enthrall and enchant people with your metaphorical “garden,” whether that’s a gourmet meal you cook, an outing you plan, a set of songs you sing, a report you prepare, or any other fine demonstration of your beauty and talents.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): “The best time for me is when I don’t have any problems that I can’t buy my way out of,” said Andy Warhol. If that formulation is true, you’re going to have a light warm breeze of a week, Gemini — a time so smooth and easy and free you may wonder if the gods made a mistake and bestowed the sublime karma of some beatific saint on you. Here’s my prediction: The only problems you’ll have will be those you can buy your way out of. And they won’t even be very expensive.
CANCER (June 21-July 22): In the film War Games, a hacker taps into a remote mainframe and begins to play a game he finds there. As it turns out, the mainframe is an artificially intelligent supercomputer that serves as hub of operations for the U.S. Air Force, and the game has real-world consequences. The hacker inadvertently triggers a cascade of events that could launch an actual global conflagration. After many scary plot turns, the danger of disaster dissipates when the supercomputer makes a momentous decision: The only way to win the game is to not play it. That approach could work well for you, my fellow Crab. The game you’re playing is nowhere near as dangerous as the one in War Games, of course, but why not play to win?
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): ButlersGuild.com named Mr. Ravi Shankar as its Butler of the Year. Serving as Head Butler of the Qasr Al Sharq hotel in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Shankar “always acts with complete integrity in everything he does.” Your simple yet arduous assignment, Leo, is to be worthy of that same description. Are you up to the challenge? Can you be morally and ethically impeccable, between now and noon on June 18, in every single thing you do and say and think? Do you have the willpower to be absolutely free of hypocrisies, deceits, and manipulations? Can you refrain from speaking derisive or careless words about anyone, while at the same time being rigorously authentic and intent on telling the deepest truths?
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): “The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” said journalist Finley Peter Dunne. In that spirit, Virgo, here are your assignments for the coming week: 1. Critique and question and agitate the parts of yourself that are complacent or addicted to convenience. 2. Give help, sympathy, and encouragement to the parts of yourself that are off-center or out-of-focus. 3. Shake up the static, habit-entranced situations you see around you. 4. Be generous and creative with those who are suffering.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): “I’ve been all over the world and have lived among every kind of culture,” wrote Dan Liebert on mcsweeneys.net, “and I can say, without any hesitation, that the most ignorant, rude, selfish, and self-centered people on Earth are babies.” I agree with him, though I’ve got to add that it’s senseless to get mad at babies for being such jerks. Their brains simply aren’t sufficiently well-developed to be any different. This line of thought can be applied to a whole range of bad behavior by people who have technically reached adulthood: They engage in ill-advised actions not out of evil intent but because they’re emotionally immature. Keep that in mind as you deal with anyone who’s doing unreasonable things. Be the composed adult who’s in charge of leading the big babies.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Danny Anderson was out feeding his horses in Prosser, Washington when a rattlesnake slithered into the barn. Anderson took a shovel and decapitated it. The dangerous creature was neutralized, right? Not quite. When Anderson reached down to pick up the severed head a few minutes later, it pulled off a nightmarish move seen only in horror films: It came back to life just long enough to bite him. Luckily, Anderson was fine after a trip to the hospital to receive anti-venom treatment. The metaphorical moral of the story, as far as you Scorpios are concerned: When your brave efforts finally eliminate a threat, don’t let down your guard or get overconfident. Be absolutely positively sure that it’s really gone.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): You really have no right to tear yourself down. Badmouthing yourself is a first-degree sin, and so is being mean to yourself or depriving yourself of the care you need to thrive. This is always true, of course, but in the coming week it’s more crucial than ever that you refrain from even the subtlest forms of self-abuse. To be anything less than an imaginative lover and nurturer toward yourself could upset the cosmic equilibrium so profoundly that everyone else would suffer, too. Therefore, you owe it to the rest of us to shower yourself with blessings.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Pumice, which is created by volcanic eruptions, is filled with holes, which means that it’s sometimes light enough to glide on the surface of a body of water. I urge you to use this floatable rock as a metaphor. Think of the heaviest burden you’re carrying — an apparently insoluble problem, a thankless responsibility, a task that seems impossible — and imagine over the next few days that it is changing into a hunk of pumice. When the transformation is complete, visualize yourself throwing it into a fast-flowing river, and then watch as it gets carried away, ultimately turning into a tiny, bobbing speck that disappears over the horizon.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): In his song “Bird on a Wire,” Leonard Cohen says, “Like a bird on a wire / Like a drunk in a midnight choir / I have tried in my way to be free.” Your assignment, Aquarius, is to wail, moan, or croon your own personal version of that song. Here’s how I suggest you proceed. First, identify specific actions you’ve taken to advance your quest for liberation. Include even the modest accomplishments and goofball attempts. Second, imagine the strategies you’ll pursue in the future to get more leeway and latitude for yourself. You might want to start by purging your mind of beliefs that place unwarranted limitations on you. Now start singing!
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): It’s an ideal time to stir up fresh insights about important people whose charms you’ve grown numb to ... to mutate your perspectives about situations you’ve become overly familiar with ... to come up with revised interpretations for past events about which new information has emerged. To get in the right frame of mind, study these novel definitions of common words, supplied by readers of The Washington Post in response to a contest. Airstrip: to pretend to take off your clothes. Algebra: lingerie worn by mermaids. Blunderbuss: to French-kiss your boss’s wife at the office Christmas party. Bumbling: butt cheek piercings. Fulcrum: a supermodel’s big meal. Flagellation: beating on your political opponent by questioning his patriotism.•
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