Horoscopes | Week of December 16-22, 2002

ARIES (March 21-April 19): To someone as distinctly self-possessed as you, it might seem strange when I suggest that perhaps you don't appreciate how peculiar this trait is to those around you. Many of us wish that we were able to act as we saw fit, though we may hold fairly clear mental images of how these actions might look. Whether it's fear of impropriety or failure or humiliation—or not fear at all, merely the stronghold of inertia—we can't help but avoid doing what we wish we could. All the while, we watch you, who can hardly keep still, let alone hold yourself back from saying and doing and releasing what you feel begs to be said and done and released. No surprise, then, that you misperceive the recent communication gaps between you and non-Aries types as being purely an issue of words. Not at all. Rather, in your unfettered haste to simply be yourself, you overlook how differently others may lead their lives, sometimes with great difficulty in areas that come naturally to you. You might even unintentionally elicit envious comparisons. So, when you go to describe a situation or feeling in your life or to offer advice or support to someone, it's not that they don't literally understand what you've said. Maybe they just cannot bridge the differences between you, resentful of or resistant to your outlook. Still, continue to say what you will, and try to do so without reacting in kind to the baffling reactions you've gotten. People need your fresh words to startle them. Be prepared for—and compassionate about—it, then follow your conversations past the tense parts, through to more comforting and beneficial conclusions.


TAURUS (April 20-May 20): I want to write certain things to you, but I hold myself back from doing so. You already know, on some level, what I want to say to you. And Taureans, practical bunch that you are, do not always respond so well to the haunting accuracy with which I sometimes read your lives. Too eerie perhaps. But let me direct you back, for a moment, to a horoscope from a couple weeks ago, in which I reported that, having recently completed good psychological work in one area, you should be expecting a new set of unresolved issues to present themselves for much-needed exploration. Well, by now, it should be abundantly clear what this latest challenge involves. At this juncture, I will refrain from going into any detail about my take on the nature of the challenge—I believe this is your job right now (and because I'm in the bratty mood to be somewhat mysterious with you). What I will tell you is this. I wouldn't let this upcoming period of psychological adventure become a cause (or an excuse) for feeling anything less than safe or secure on the physical plane. During that last period of emotional workshopping, you felt more unsettled, and rightfully so. Just because there's more work to do now, it doesn't mean that it requires the same sort of total disorienting attention. On the contrary, since you made those recent shifts in your relation to the outer world (what you do, who you do it with, how you view it), you have a more solid foundation from which to pursue other areas of your life. Such as this mysterious one of which I speak. One last hint; another look back to a past horoscope, since it is such a good time for reflection. Do you know what the voice on the loud speaker is saying now?


GEMINI (May 21-June 20): I'm sure you'll be kind enough to understand when I tell you, my brain is feeling a little bit scrambled. I am eager to provide you witty sound-bytes and concise practical advice, but I can't figure out where to begin. Never mind, of course, that I'm also thinking about all the other horoscopes I still have to write, posting them up on the Web, then cleaning the kitchen, going to the gym, buying some food, making a dentist's appointment, scouring magazine stands for suitable publications to convince to give me a horoscope-writing gig (any help here, greatly appreciated), and so on. Oh, my, enough about me. I'm supposed to be all meditatively concentrated on each detail, one at a time, to keep from getting scrambled and overwhelmed. How can I give my Gemini friends the horoscope they deserve if my mind is already on the next thing, and the thing after that? I can't stop myself from thinking about the whole picture. And, of course, therein lies the kernel of what I'm trying to get across to you, in totally self-absorbed and unfocused terms. I don't have any specific areas of your life in which to offer wise words or provide strict guidance. Instead I keep getting flashes of the phrase "the whole thing" over and over again. As I see it, this means that your most dynamic challenge right now involves synthesis and comprehensiveness. You've already mastered the one million details, but it remains to be seen how they all fit together into something coherent. (Hopefully more coherent than my rambling list of errands-to-do.) Talk it out all with a helpful confidante or two, like I have done with you, and maybe you can make some sense of it. And, oh yeah, thanks for listening.


CANCER (June 21-July 22): A young woman, grief-stricken by the sudden death of her one-year-old, roamed the streets in search of someone to miraculously return her child to life. She found the Buddha, laid her child's dead body at his feet, and begged for his help. The Buddha compassionately listened, then instructed her, "To heal your affliction, go down to the city and bring me back a mustard seed from any house in which there has never been a death." Elated, she set off for the city, stopping at the first house she saw. "Sorry," she was told, "many people have died at this house." At the next house, they told her, "We have had countless deaths in our family." After visiting the third and fourth and successive houses, the woman realized she could not fulfill the Buddha's condition. When she returned empty-handed, she reported, "I am beginning to understand the lesson you are trying to teach me. Grief made my blind and I thought that only I had suffered at the hands of death." Then she asked him to become her teacher. I borrowed this story from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche for you, Cancer, not only to help you heal from any death-related pains that may be dogging you. Congratulations if you are able to truly experience the same cathartic solace in the everywhere-all-the-time-ness of death and rebirth that the woman in the story did. But my hunch is that you should also try to remember this story, next time you suffer from those inexplicable depressions or rushes of feeling, unrelated to the events of your actual life. You will have ample opportunity to experience loss firsthand (or even secondhand), without enabling your permeable emotional boundaries to allow seventh- or eighthand garbage to halt your actions. Time for endings and fresh breaks in your attitude toward this inevitable universal phenomenon, which will consequently help you stop taking on others' attitudes as well. Too much unresolved death drama will prevent you from living fully, and you have things to do and riches to collect right now.


LEO (July 23-August 22): Once upon a time, you were younger than you are now and not in quite as dandy a life situation. You were still struggling to find your way. You were seated quietly by yourself, or with one or two friends, minding your own business. Maybe you were at school or on the bus or in the park. Out of nowhere, some mean bully or grumpy ill-intentioned adult or pre-censored six-year-old barges into your consciousness and says something you don't want to hear. What is it? Are they making fun of your pants, the way the bottoms flare or the hems ride too high, like you're expecting a flood? Do you have a staring problem? Have you been caught talking or singing to yourself? Is your nose too big? Do you ears stick out? Was your hair cut too androgynously? I know that something like this happened to you because, well, it's happened to all of us at some point. The stinger of the situation, of course, is that whatever you were called out about in such a rude and hurtful way, it was probably true. Your pants, your hair, your staring problem, these were notable and maybe even strange (though it doesn't give anyone the right to hurt your feelings). This formative event (or events, if it just kept happening) led you to any number of reactive behaviors—a total 180 from whatever the source of the comment (i.e., new haircut, new nose, never talking to yourself again), mimicry and projection as you attacked other helpless dorks, a ruthless refusal to ever be publicly vulnerable again, a pledge to draw attention to your quirks first before anyone else does. None of what I'm saying goes beyond the simplest type of cause/effect psychological analysis. But I just wanted to remind you, in bringing it back to the surface, how your way of being in social groups rests on such specific events in your past. And how it can morph into something new just as easily, when you discover some less mean, less grumpy, fresh and exciting person might have an equally formative and infinitely more constructive thing to say now. Are you ready to hear it?


VIRGO (August 23-September 22): I sometimes laugh at the way I can be such a creature of habit. Like when I'm changing at the gym, for instance. I have a systematic order for removing items of clothing, stacking everything inside my locker in the exact reverse sequence from how I'll need them later, when I take them back out to get dressed. This rigid routine developed, over time and not necessarily consciously, so that I could dress more efficiently and avoid digging through all my belongings to find, for example, my socks at sock-putting-on time. It is likely in your nature to arrange your life's repeated tasks similarly, which has probably saved you oodles of potentially squandered moments and expenditures of energy—if not resulted in cases of the doldrums, when you become overly rigid in your ways. I'm positive that, during your quiet observations, you've noticed other people whose methods would benefit from applying your streamlining strategies. (Indeed, it can be maddening that others don't necessarily think your way.) Instead of keeping your mouth shut and snickering to yourself about everyone else's ineptness, I suggest that you find a compassionate tone in which to point out to the rest of us how certain of our steps can be rearranged or eliminated altogether for better, quicker, more graceful results. Granted, this is a challenging exercise, as we can all be pretty defensive when offered suggestions for self-improvement. But, Virgo, this is one way for you to provide service for the greater good. And everyone, you and those you gently correct, will feel better in the long run—they for their smoother-running tasks, and you for being fondly appreciated for your innate wisdom.


LIBRA (September 23-October 22): By no means do I intend to imply that you don't know how to have fun. On the contrary, you are one of the most delightful social companions in my entire circle. Yet I worry that you concern yourself too much with reasons why you should act, in refined merriment, as you do. Let's be honest with each other. Do you make such entertaining company in order to make the others feel more comfortable? To cater to their needs, so that you may later elicit what you clandestinely want from them? To prove your worthiness, your intelligence or adaptability, your deserved membership in some elite lifestyle club? Or is it to distract from your sense of vulnerability, your discomfort with feelings that are not-so-pleasant, or merely your lack of desire to reveal too many cards in your hand? Any and all of these motivations, incidentally, are perfectly acceptable and can be attributed to everyone at different social moments. If anything, your adeptness as juggling them all reflects your heightened sense of thinking before doing, or meaningful action. But sometimes the best reason of all to do what we do is simply: Just because. With its simple lack of self-consciousness and exciting spontaneity, this motivation can draw us ever closer to pure joy, love, creativity and self-expression. And sure, we can appear vulnerable, awkward, inappropriate and foolish as a result. At those moments, we approach that mysterious "higher meaning" in life, a degree of meaningfulness that transcendently trumps all social conventions, which are merely means to more means. I say this to you, again, not because you are currently doing anything wrong-merely to point out that you could be experiencing even more fun and, simultaneously, less anxiety.


SCORPIO (October 23-November 21): There's not much that I can say to you, at this point, that hasn't been said in the last several weeks. You know what's going on with you. It hasn't been pretty. But you also know that the worst of it is over. You're pulling yourself out of it. Don't forget to leave ample room for mourning and sadness. I can just imagine you, as you start to feel a little better, pushing ahead hard, trying to leave the painful recent past behind you, not even giving yourself a chance to catch your breath. You deserve some quiet private moments of feeling bad—not feeling bad for yourself (there's been enough of that) but feeling bad, in retrospect, for how badly you've felt. Appreciating yourself. Hugging yourself tightly in exhaustion and emotional release. Looking at your private life, your home, those who nurture you, all in a new and utterly thankful light. And then just let go. Let go of all the garbage of the last few months. Release the resentment that you've had to go through it, the anger with which you've distracted yourself from the fear, and the fear too. You made it. You cleared the path for a new year, new experiences, something else entirely.


SAGITTARIUS (November 22-December 21): Is there a particular person (or a few different individuals) who's been holding you back? You may or may not still be in some intimate sort of relationship with them, but, try as you might (full- or half-heartedly), you are still wrapped up in the drama of the situation. My guess is that the relationship of which I speak is something you've struggled with a while, whether directly with the other person involved or in your own head. Surely, you are wise enough to understand that you cannot move into a different kind of relationship until you've figured this one out. In fact, the harder you try to push away those issues you don't deal with now, the worse they will crop up in future situations. Incidentally, I feel like I'm giving you fairly generic advice, but sometimes the obvious is just what we need to hear. Something has to give. You can't go on this way forever, and you don't want to. I suggest experimenting with the method, as opposed to the message, of what you need to say. And it's funny because your characteristic Sagittarian directness is usually such a surefire way of getting a point across. But this one's trickier for you. If you are still trying to tell someone else how you feel, they may be misinterpreting your crisp words for some defense mechanism that they can easily explain away as meaning something other than it actually does. If it's an internal debate that's dogging you, perhaps you are trying to be too brave or tidy or casual. In order to get past this piece of unfinished business once and for all, you're going to have to try a different approach, with yourself and/or the other one(s) involved. Contrary to what might feel right, I think you should dilly-dally among the minutiae for a little while. Focus on some of the details and forget the big picture momentarily. In your rush to get to the heart of the matter, get things figured out and over with, you're missing a few pieces that seem unimportant but actually hold the key to the final resolution.


CAPRICORN (December 22-January 19): I'm ready to help break you out of the stalemate. As the sun moves into your sign at the end of this week, it becomes your season—the official start of winter. While members of other signs lament the harsh seasonal elements, buckling down with their heaters and light boxes to endure the long chilly wait for spring, your temperament of reserve and internalization is more at home. The "taking stock" that I recommend for everyone this week is something you already do all the time (although, perhaps, in a less systematic, more piecemeal and dishonestly self-critical fashion). But, if you follow my advice and do a fair and thorough review of your past several months, you might notice a piece that escaped your attention until now. You are only too aware of the repeated struggle you've faced in organizing your broad, disparate goals into a sustainable routine that works positively for you on a day-to-day basis (and alleviates the chronic day-to-day reevaluations). What you are overlooking is some unusual gift you possess—a special resource, an underutilized support system, a padded bank account, a magical talisman, or a particularly liberated relationship to earthly needs—and raising self-awareness of this gift's power is the key to finding a workable daily regimen. Maybe it is more comfortable to feel guilty about what you have, to deny its existence and pretend to have to do things the way everyone else does so that you prove greater authenticity. Maybe you just don't know how to use your gift, misplaced the instruction booklet or are too busy obsessing about what you don't have to spend the time learning. I don't care which it is. The point is, you have what you have for a reason. Going around it is like taking the stairs forty flights up rather than taking the elevator, just to prove you can—and then ending up late for your appointment on the 41st floor.


AQUARIUS (January 20-February 18): As I sit here, looking over what I've written so far this week, and also at my writings over previous weeks and months, I can't believe what I'm discovering. My horoscopes keep getting longer and longer. It's pretty mind-boggling. Check out the archives and see what I mean. Providing astrological counsel on a weekly basis has been a marvelous experience for me thus far, rewarding in its humanitarian bent and disciplining in its regularity. But does longer necessary equal better? (Rhetorical question. Please do not answer.) This realization of my incredible expanding horoscopes is perfectly apt to illustrate my single piece of advice for you, Aquarian genius. Keep doing what you're doing, just do it a little more precisely. Narrow the focus. Do a better job of framing. Or ask someone to help you pare down, edit, simplify, and stop adding more commas and then more words that say the same thing. Other than that, you're doing splendidly. Okay, now I'm done.


PISCES (February 19-March 20): In this apartment I subletted one summer, there was this gaggle of ten or twelve stray cats that lived in the back alley. I started throwing pieces of bread and other food I didn't want down the three floors to them because they were cute and I like kitties. I loved how, when I opened the window and looked down, there were all these furry faces fixated on me in unison. But my roommate got mad at me for feeding the cats. She told me that I was just going to encourage them to keep coming around, begging for food. The way I saw it, though, they were already there before I started feeding them. We were only there for the summer, and they'd probably still be there after we left. In the meantime, it's not like they were scratching on our back door, trying to force their way in and take over our home. They waited politely to be indulged. I bring this story up, Pisces, because I'm glad I ignored my roommate and just fed the cats when she was out of the apartment. But also because I think there is some similar family of creatures—not necessarily cats, but perhaps ghosts or angels or something equally esoteric (this is, after all, a Pisces horoscope)—hanging around your house, waiting for your acknowledgement and a few leftover scraps from the dinner table. You may think that it is wiser to ignore them, since they are so uninvasive and you don't want to encourage them to become louder or more demanding. I disagree. If you have the extra food and it's no skin off your teeth, you feed the cats. If you're given the gift of unusual types of communications, it's for a reason, so use it. I truly believe that, in order to break through the conscious or unconscious barrier toward full transformation in your career or outer life, you must attend to this issue at home first. Hope that makes sense, but don't blame me if it doesn't; blame the cats.