Week of June 16, 2006

GEMINI (May 21-Jun 20): Every year the National Grocers Association stages its own version of the Oscars. Among the honors it bestows is an award for Best Bagger. It goes to the person who displays the most élan while efficiently and speedily filling grocery bags with buyers’ purchases. The social status accorded the winner may pale in comparison to, say, Hollywood’s best film actress or baseball’s most valuable player, but personally I’m just as impressed with it. In fact, I think everyone in the world should be the recipient of a prize that commemorates the one thing they do better than anyone else. It happens to be an excellent time for you to go after the unique trophy you deserve, Gemini. If no organization gives it to you, make it or buy it yourself.
CANCER (Jun 21-Jul 22): During a solar eclipse, members of some indigenous tribes in South America used to shoot burning arrows toward the heavens in the belief that they would scare away the demon that was devouring the sun. I recommend that you try this, if only in your imagination. No, there won’t be an actual eclipse happening in the literal sky in the coming week. But something like that has been going on in your psyche. It’s time to fight back with burning arrows.

LEO (Jul 23-Aug 22): According to conventional measures of success, filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan is a successful man. His movie The Sixth Sense is one of the top 25 moneymakers in history, and three of his other films have grossed more than US$200 million apiece worldwide. And yet he places a supreme value on reverie. “My life is about finding time to dream,” he has said. I urge you to make that your motto, Leo. The progress of your most practical ambitions later this year will depend on whether or not you spend the next few weeks tapping into information that’s available through fantasies, meditations, dreams, and other altered states.
VIRGO (Aug 23-Sep 22): “The chief danger in life is that you may take too many precautions,” wrote pioneer psychologist Alfred Adler. If you have inflicted that danger on yourself too often in the past, Virgo, the coming weeks will be an excellent time to make amends. According to my analysis of the astrological omens, a series of really smart risks is lining up to greet you. May you approach them with just the right blend of daring and discernment.
LIBRA (Sep 23-Oct 22): Ancient Greeks called apricot juice the nectar of the gods. For centuries, Europeans regarded apricots as aphrodisiacs and symbols of fertility. According to old English folk tales, to dream of apricots portends good fortune. In the 21st century, however, demand for the fruit is waning. Since 1994, production has diminished by almost half in California, which grows most of America’s crop. Is there one of your skills or products whose situation resembles the apricot’s, Libra? Some fine offering you were born to provide but that the culture seems to be losing its need for? If so, meditate on whether it’s time to revise your relationship with it—perhaps by reinventing or repackaging it.
SCORPIO (Oct 23-Nov 21): Most modern religions propose that we need intermediaries—priests, priestesses, rabbis, imams, monks—to get connected to the divine source. In contrast, many ancient Gnostics believed that every person could be in charge of creating his or her own link to the spirit. Indeed, anyone might contribute fresh insights and revelations to the body of ever evolving spiritual truths. The equivalent today would be if the Bible was regarded as an unfinished text to which every Christian or Jew could add new content. This is a perfect astrological moment for you to try out this perspective, Scorpio: the do-it-yourself approach to creating your own religion. You now have the power to be your own priest, priestess, rabbi, imam, or monk.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov 22-Dec 21): “If you give a person feedback you focus them for a day,” says entrepreneur George Reavis. “If you teach them how to ask for feedback you focus them for a lifetime.” I mention this, Sagittarius, because the coming weeks will be an excellent time for you to act on his advice. You have the potential to become skilled at consistently getting the exact feedback you need—the kind of constructive, respectful critique that serves as an inspiring kick in the butt.
CAPRICORN (Dec 22-Jan 19): In his biography Tallulah!: The Life and Times of a Leading Lady, Joel Lobenthal describes actress Tallulah Bankhead (1902-1968) as a reckless hedonist given to exhibitionism and affairs with hundreds of lovers. He also hints that there was a karmic payback for her excesses. It came in the form of a lengthy hysterectomy that was a last ditch attempt to save her from the ravages of an advanced case of gonorrhea, reducing her frame to a mere 70 pounds. Bankhead didn’t see it as karmic payback, however. Afterwards she told her doctor, “Don’t think this has taught me a lesson!” Your own imminent comeuppance won’t be even a tiny fraction of what Bankhead’s was, Capricorn. But I hope that after it has been offered, you will thankfully say, “This has taught me a valuable lesson!”
AQUARIUS (Jan 20-Feb 18): The group Reporters Without Borders evaluates how well the world’s nations respect freedom of the press. Finland, Iceland, and the Netherlands are the top three, while North Korea, Cuba, and Burma are at the bottom. The US is 137th (of a total 167) in terms of the press freedom that it fosters outside of its own borders, although it’s 44th in its own territory. In this spirit and in response to current astrological omens, I inventoried the freedom of expression you have carved out for yourself, Aquarius. I also appraised your skill at creating an environment in which other people feel free to express themselves to you. You’re doing great in the first category—number one in the zodiac!—but you could use some work in the second. Now is a perfect time to work harder to extend to others the spaciousness you enjoy.
PISCES (Feb 19-Mar 20): According to my analysis of the astrological omens, pleasures that appeal to the adult in you may not rouse anywhere near the excitement they usually do in the coming weeks. The best use of your time might be to leap into your second childhood. You’d probably be wise to do things like making mud pies, rolling sideways down a grassy hill, getting your face painted, feeding a farm animal, going on a scavenger hunt, climbing trees, and creating a papier-maché monster mask.
ARIES (Mar 21-Apr 19): You will have good reasons for unleashing vigorous critiques in the coming week. For best results, however, I suggest that you dress them up in fine language. Your complaints will be more likely to have a cathartic effect if you make them witty and even a bit florid. To get in the right mood, spend some time with the Random Shakespeare Insult Generator at http://snipurl.com/q1kk. Here are a few, all lifted from the work of The Bard. (1) “Thou jarring motley-minded pignut!” (2) “Thou cockered beef-witted measle!” (3) “Thou unmuzzled dismal-dreaming scut!”
TAURUS (Apr 20-May 20): “Before you can do something you must first be something,” wrote Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe. That’s advice we can all profit from. Most of us have been guilty of trying to skip steps in reaching our goals, hoping to pull off feats we have not yet developed sufficient strength of character to master. For example, there’s no way I could have been a good writer at age 19, since I had so little life experience to draw on, hadn’t learned how to cultivate my perceptiveness, and didn’t have the discipline to sit down and write every day. In the coming week, Taurus, think about whether there’s a dream you cherish but have not yet earned the right to achieve. Then decide what you’ll have to do to become more worthy.