ARIES (March 21-April 19): Dung beetles were considered sacred and lucky by the ancient Egyptians. In fact, the seemingly lowly insect, also known as a scarab, was worshiped as a symbol of transformation and resurrection, in part because it derives its nourishment from the waste matter of other animals. Since it also pushes balls of dung to its nest, it was thought to resemble the god Ra rolling the sun through the heavens. During the coming week, Aries, the scarab will be your power animal. May it inspire you to turn crap into treasure as you're reborn from the deadness of the past.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): It took an English woman named Venida Crabtree 33 years to learn how to drive. She failed her first driving test at age 17, but never gave up trying. Last year she finally succeeded, getting her first license at the age of 50. She's your role model, Taurus. There's a good chance that like her, you will soon be able to master a task or reach a goal that you've been plugging away at forever.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): I'm here at San Francisco's Samovar Tea Lounge to meditate on your horoscope. I've decided that the beverage most likely to put me in the right mood is "Monkey-Picked Iron Goddess of Mercy" tea. That's because my analysis of your astrological omens reveals that there'll be something both steely and soft about your immediate future, both willful and delicate. "Iron Goddess of Mercy" is an apt metaphor for the influences you should seek. Furthermore, I suspect you'll need the intervention of an agile and vibrant animal energy, which is suggested by the "Monkey-Picked" aspect of the tea. Using the Samovar menu as a divinatory tool for generating even more oracular information, I've come up with three additional phrases to capture the quality of your life in the coming days: velvety nuances of roasted chestnuts and eucalyptus ; tastes that are zealously smoky yet gossamer and satiny ; and not for the sinless .
CANCER (June 21-July 22): As a Cancerian, you're sometimes prone to indulging in pathological levels of self-sufficiency. You can get into the bad habit of making it hard for people to give you emotional support, constructive feedback, and plain old ordinary gifts. That's why I hesitate to say anything that might encourage you to get into a woe-is-me, I-have-to-do-everything-myself mode of heroic martyrdom. Nevertheless, I've decided to take that risk. To achieve the breakthrough that's now available, you may have to take what Ernest Hemingway described as the path to greatness: Push yourself "far out past where you can go, out to where no one can help you."
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): This would be an excellent time for you to create your own personal religion, complete with rituals, prayers, and divinities that fit your precise needs. Feel free to borrow extensively from various spiritual traditions, of course, but make sure you give each belief or practice your own unique twist. And please include a few idiosyncratic touches that have never before been a part of any organized faith, like a holy day commemorating your first sexual experience or a sacred object obtained from a toy store or pawn shop or a rousing hymn adopted from an old Nirvana song.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): The ancient Greeks had words for love that transcend our usual notions, writes Lindsay Swope in her review of Richard Idemon's book Through the Looking Glass . Epithemia is the basic need to touch and be touched. Our closest approximation is "horniness," though epithemia is not so much a sexual feeling as a sensual one. Philia is friendship. It includes the need to admire and respect your friends as a reflection of yourselflike in high school, where you want to hang out with the cool kids because that means you're cool too. Eros isn't sexual in the way we usually think, but is more about the emotional gratification that comes from merging souls. Agape is a mature, utterly free expression of love that has no possessiveness. It means wanting the best for another person even if it doesn't advance one's self-interest. The phase you're currently in, Virgo, is providing you with opportunities to explore the frontiers of at least three of these kinds of love.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): America's finest news source, the newspaper and website known as The Onion (www.TheOnion.com), reported recently that President George W. Bush has hidden the nation's report card in his sock drawer. Having received a D in international relations, a D in economics, and an F in military history, the Commander in Chief was too embarrassed to share the evaluation with anyone. I implore you to not be like him in the coming week, Libra. It may be hard to imagine, but you will generate good luck and healthy relationships if you freely admit your mistakes and shortcomings. This is one time when power can come from revealing your vulnerabilities.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): At its best, a study of astrology illuminates your choices and leaves the choosing up to you. It helps you understand that your fate is never set in stone, but is always susceptible to the command of your free will. In that spirit, I've got a quiz for you to take. Here are four pairs of equally possible outcomes. Meditate on each pair, and decide which you'd prefer to induce in the coming week: (1) simmering happiness versus crazed longing; (2) love packed with chewy riddles versus infatuation that only temporarily frees you; (3) practical enthusiasm versus dizzying highs; (4) slow, epic bursts of subtle progress versus out-of-this-world fantasies.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): On March 11 a Malaysian snake charmer will attempt to break the world record for kissing a poisonous serpent. Shahimi Abdul Hamid has in the past managed to survive while smooching a huge cobra 21 times, but this time he hopes to go further, exceeding the previous all-time high of 30. I don't know his astrological sign, but if he's a Sagittarius he has the best chance of succeeding. You Centaurs are at the peak of your ability to mix tenderness and intimacy with high adventure.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): A reader named Christy McMunn wrote to tell me that she'll be running for president of the U.S. in 2016. She promises that she will ruthlessly express the raw, naked facts, whatever the consequences may be. Her motto: "If you cannot handle the truth, be careful of what you ask." I urge you to make that your modus operandi in the coming weeks, Capricorn. Be a greedy hunter in quest of the genuine story, the inside dope, and the piercing revelation. In preparation, strip yourself of any belief that might interfere with your receptivity to and enjoyment of the raw, naked facts.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): After taking inventory of the astrological factors coming to bear on you the past eight years, I've decided you're ready to leap to the next octave of your evolution. Therefore, I'll tell you a truth that was articulated by the powerful activist Mahatma Gandhi. It was instrumental in his success at leading millions of Indians to overthrow British oppression. I hope that his demanding, controversial advice will play a central role in shaping your destiny for the next eight years. But beware: It will only work if you're a brave rebel who relentlessly resists the conventional wisdom. Gandhi: "Every moment of your life is infinitely creative and the universe is endlessly bountiful. Just put forth a clear enough request, and everything your heart desires must come to you."
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): I've been present during the births of two children, Jasmine and Zoe. Both experiences were daunting, explosive, and ecstatic. Nothing else that has ever happened to me has rivaled the role they played in awakening my reverence for life. The gratitude and love that overflowed in me then will always remain a source of inspiration. If you choose to respond to the invitations the cosmos is now making available to you, Pisces, you will soon be visited by events that evoke comparable feelings.