Horoscopes | Week of July 14-20, 2008

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Any good pal who might urge you to 'blow off your problems' with a night on the town, a couple cocktails, and any other suggested strategies for setting the particularities of day-to-day reality aside for 'just one night'… well, for right now, this isn't the person to listen to, Aries. To be blunt, if you find yourself having such conversations in which (1) you are looking to vent how challenging it is to consistently be consistent with your responsibilities and (2) the other person encourages you to 'take a load off' or 'give yourself a break', you're actually fishing for somebody who'll tell you that, no, you don't have to work that hard. (And to be clear, you won't find that sort of coddling counsel around here.) There is no ambiguity about whether this is the time to buckle down or let up: Start buckling, brothers and sisters. (Astrology's all about timing, after all. You read this horoscope because you want to know these things.) I would never set you up for an infinite limbo of ongoing effort and exertion, so trust me when I report that this is only temporary. But even 'temporary' can seem like a long while, if we're looking for an out. So don't even tempt yourself with too much talking about it. You and I, we know the score—serious attention to your earthly duties, at least for another few weeks. After that, you can take your 'load' off.


TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Why search far and wide? Expecting the voice of wisdom to arrive in the form of an exquisitely exotic-skinned guru from a far-off land, speaking in cryptic riddles that supposedly capture the existential quandaries of life (if only you could actually understand 'em)? You've already put way too much pressure on that ridiculous need for a wham-bam, bells-and-whistles type of higher-awareness-granting event or experience… when, in fact, you're privy to just as much valuable information about your next steps from the same old familiar faces and environments you encounter every day. As I recently pointed out, the big Answers (capital 'A') can be found in the tiniest casual exchanges and the most seemingly inconsequential of moments, without any fancy terminology (or its requisite hours of study) or devout bouts of meditation (and its corresponding flickers of bright white light) required to 'make it count'. Look no further than your typical haunts and the regularly expected gang of characters. A full-moon vibe in the air will put everybody in devilishly rare form, which is also a perfect setting for folks not to watch what they say very closely. In this comfortably homey setting, amidst the cheekier-than-usual remarks and louder laughter (with maybe just a touch of controversy, all in good fun), a few choice words will find themselves uttered, perhaps by a mouth not entirely sure of what's coming out of it, and nonchalantly hit your ears with the resonance that this is exactly what you needed to hear right now. And suddenly, all at once, your mind is clear.


GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Don't be surprised if other folks criticize you for 'thinking only of yourself', even when you're not. Wait a minute… oh, I'm sorry… did I get that wrong? Let's try again. Don't be surprised if other folks thank you for 'thinking of them', even when you're not. The important point to grasp in either case, Gemini, is that they're hearing what they want to hear… which says much more about their issues and what they expect from you than it does about anything you're actually saying or doing. So to partake in trying to clarify yourself for their thick-with-projection heads is not unlike participating in a schoolyard match of dodge ball, where you run and jump around in every attempt to avoid getting hit by what they're throwing—potentially a good time, if you're into that sort of thing, but undeniably exhausting after a few rounds. You can't rely on their impressions as foundational fodder for deciding how you feel about you. With their own investments in you proving their perceptions of you true, they can't be trusted. You need to assess your own situation from the inside out… with a mind toward what will best stabilize you, rather than, say, what will suit somebody else's purposes (or whatever else they can convince you to do). Think and behave like one who always has a map in your pocket, a spare set of batteries in your backpack, and the current bank balance already accurately calculated. Then, their misunderstandings of you can't yank you off-course.


CANCER (June 21-July 22): As I begin your horoscope, I'm aware I'm about to provide you one of the most 'easier said than done' (for a Cancerian, at least) pieces of advice there is. Hear me out, okay? Here goes: If you intend to treat your ongoing challenge to practice impeccably precise communication seriously, you can't worry so much about how the other person feels. ('What? How do I not worry about how they feel?') I'm not telling you to become an unadulterated asshole, for crying out loud. But I am concerned about the mind games you may (consciously or not) play with yourself, Cancer, by considering all the possible reactions they might have to your honesty (or even starting to feel traces of them yourself, in anticipatory sympathy)—if, that is, such considerations lead you to censor your full truth or 'soften' your words, in an attempt to curtail or control the emotional fallout. Without discrediting your keen intuitiveness, I must point out: You actually don't know how your words will make them feel. And furthermore, even if you do, it is decidedly not your job to manage their emotional responses. By twisting your statements around into indirect hints or squirrelly implications, with the supposed motivation of 'sparing' them the upset, you do them a disservice in assuming they can't handle your unabridged authenticity. In demonstrating 'care', you may in fact be revealing condescension. To show 'em you really care, treat 'em like the adults they are… and give it to 'em straight.


LEO (July 23-August 22): The best 'Jedi mind trick' at your disposal this week is to practice wordless unobtrusive faith in yourself… and with enough genuine conviction, confidence will bleed from your psychic transmitters into their consciousness, making them place their complete trust in you. [Author's note: Please no emails from irate Star Wars fans, if I've misused the allusion. It was just too good a phrase to pass up.] If you ignore this self-empowering internal step in your pitch process, your 'brilliant solution' will likely seem totally nuts to everyone else. (That's because, outside the warm cushion of your mind, it does sound nuts.) But are you really off your rocker? Or are the naysayers merely suffering from an acute lack of imagination? There's no way to know for sure—except for simply trying out your 'crazy' idea. You shouldn't really need anybody else on board, in order to begin making the moves to bring your vision into reality. (And frankly, if you aren't willing to start off on this risky venture at the lone helm, then you surely don't have the faith in yourself required to lure others in, do you?) Once you get going, presumably with the silent confidence of somebody not afraid to fail on his or her quest for a major breakthrough, they will be interested in what you're doing. They will be watching, as long as you believe they will. (If you have to demand their attention or carry out fancy tricks in desperate sideshow fashion, they're likelier to tune you out.) So no matter whether they initially uttered snarky giggles at your 'solution', you'll still have their eye—and you'll have begun putting your creative renderings into the real-world 'testing' phase. Of course, if you're really not totally nuts, you also have a backup plan in mind before betting the farm on an unsure thing… right?


VIRGO (August 23-September 22): Just because your number-one priority remains 'doing the right thing' for you (see last week's episode), that doesn't necessitate blocking out any and every last bit of outside perspective, in some misguided attempt to ensure all that you do is dictated by you. (That would be rather extreme, wouldn't you say?) In fact, it's certainly possible that the most 'right' thing is something you haven't yet thought up on your own… and could be out there, perched delicately on the lips of a friend or colleague, waiting only for you to ask that person for their opinion. That's why you'll do yourself a great favor by actively seeking advice from the other members of your cohort, your workgroup, your team, your community, your gaggle of pals or, for that matter, the stranger sitting next to you at jury duty. Forgive me for stating the obvious, Virgo, but asking for others' ideas doesn't mean you have to actually follow any of 'em. But you really never know who might say something too interesting to ignore… which could be a great answer in itself or the perfect jumping-off point to trigger your own creative brainstorming process. One additional side-benefit: Requesting feedback is a surefire way of proving to others that you're not narrow-minded after all.


LIBRA (September 23-October 22): You simply must give your mind a break whenever it's not engaged with 'official business'. I feel very strongly about this, Libra… so much so that my body is filling with emotion as I imagine what it'd be like to contend with an internal chatterbox who refuses to stop talking to me about every last dimension of this or that piece of crap that, at the end of the day, either doesn't matter or will work itself out regardless of whether you listen or not. That busybody ego-brain of yours needn't be given full reign. At a certain point, running over all those details again and again like an obsessive-compulsive will block you from any progress whatsoever. Why? Because it leave no room for inspiration to enter and bless you with a fresh take on the situation. Please, oh please, chill out already. This advice is doubly applicable if you're struggling to leave your work at work, instead spending hours of your supposed 'off time' sorting through hypothetical scenarios (and the corresponding fears of failure that come along with it and threaten to paralyze you in your tracks). I mean, really: Is your employer paying you to fill your leisure hours with thoughts about your job? (If so, you've got a great deal going.) You're actually going to be less effective in your position, if you spend every waking moment torturing yourself with ideas about how to become more effective. Your best chance to achieve a new awareness on That Big Important Thing is to forget all about it… at which point, once you're fully occupied by something else, the insight will show up unannounced—and delightfully shock the shit out of you.


SCORPIO (October 23-November 21): If you find yourself struggling to accept specific frustrations, short-term turmoil, or other headache-inspiring details that you can't stop fixating on… well, Scorpio, then you're only seeing a tiny portion of the overall picture of your life. That'd be similar to judging the value of an Impressionist masterpiece based on an out-of-context 6"x6" square of squiggly blobs of colors—short-sighted, for sure. That 'walls are closing in' feeling? Consider it the very shot of motivation you've been waiting for, Scorpio. Sometimes, we must hit our limits (or what we believe them to be, based on our limited experience) before we can boldly move beyond what's oh so stiflingly familiar. Climb a few hundred feet up the mountain, however, and the possibilities you see are so much wider in number and scope that you simply couldn't get away with looking outward and claiming to have nowhere to turn. If you believe in God, now would be a good time to ask Him/Her for a sign of what else is out there or which fork-in-the-road to take. If you see life as a journey of philosophic unfolding, remind yourself that it's impossible to lose your way, as long as you continue learning fundamental truths about what does and doesn't work for you and applying 'em to your decision-making process. Whatever it requires of you, look past the hassles. The irritations might just provide the fiery impetus that sparks your quest for the next exciting chapter.


SAGITTARIUS (November 22-December 21): Whereas last week I explicitly tried to dissuade you from coming off too intense or demanding, I'm somewhat-sort-of changing my tune this week. That's mainly because you're not exactly wrong for wanting to 'get to the bottom of it all'… if you feel like you've been left hanging or if you're being given an answer that doesn't quite sit right. Naturally, you'd want more info out of 'em, right? Well, Sagittarius, with enough pressure, you probably can get the additional detail your curious (and impatient) brain is lusting after. Yes, if you really want to push the timeline along, you'll likely succeed at your efforts to needle 'em for the full story or final decision. But I'd be a bad horoscope-writing friend if I didn't confirm: Are you sure that's what you want? I ask as an introduction to pointing out that, just maybe, you're currently in limbo because the story is still playing itself out… and/or the decision hasn't yet been made. You could speed up the process to suit your emotion-ridden 'need to know'—and end up with a totally different (and perhaps far less pleasing) result than if you'd simply waited for a more organic and collaborative conclusion to present itself. Or on the other hand, of course, you might get exactly what you wanted… and save some valuable time along the way. If you opt to go for it, please let me add this last piece of advice: In discussing it with them, go ahead and raise their possible concerns before they even get the chance to themselves—along with the solutions you've already thought out—so they'll know you considered their perspective too.


CAPRICORN (December 22-January 19): We often get better results with overt enthusiasm than we might by, say, carefully (and monotonously) explaining all the fact-based, substantive reasons why our desired target should come on over to our way of seeing things. Despite how we may imagine that agreement or affiliation is best achieved by logic or discursive debate, it is more often a simple case of emotional sway. And lucky for you, Capricorn, you're currently drawing upon the conversational zeal of a Mercury-Jupiter opposition… an emboldening aspect that adds drama, passion and excitement to whatever messages you're inspired to communicate to the important people in your life. Your every exchange, then, is liable to overflow with extra emphasis—whether you intend it to or not. But this obvious interest on your part is not something to be ashamed of, to downplay or try to hide. On the contrary, it's a great asset… as long as you remain aware of the ramifications for how you come across. (Examples: (1) angry = 'infuriated!'; (2) sad = 'devastated!'; (3) happy = 'thrilled beyond belief!') On the other hand, should you attempt to keep certain issues 'low-key', you'll be challenged to spin it as if you don't care that much. Why? Because you do care—and this is a week in which you can forget about being subtle. Warning: These exaggerated emotions will calm down, sooner rather than later. Before they return to their normal levels, use 'em as a most powerful tool of persuasion, so those who are 'on the fence' can see the clarity of your full conviction.


AQUARIUS (January 20-February 18): I know you like to think of yourself as a reasonable person… one who can turn his or her systems-oriented mind toward solving a problem and actually get somewhere, without having your logic befuddled by irrational emotional considerations. All of that is generally true, Aquarius—but not necessarily this week, alas. The Sun and Mercury in your 6th house (ordinarily an indicator of one diligently attending to the necessary chores at hand) are dialoguing with planets in both the 8th and 12th (much more, ahem, 'emotionally complicated' houses), exposing your calm analytic side to leakages from the psychology underlying your personality. For instance, you might be challenged to distinguish between your 'objective' observations and seeing things as you wish them to be or how you know they could be. Or you could convince yourself that a certain method is the most 'efficient' or 'makes the most sense'… when, in fact, your view may be strongly influenced by your deeper feelings about a particular person, who you hope to either emulate with honor or discredit with your own superiority. Incidentally, there's absolutely nothing wrong with these 'other' influences on your thought processes. (Plenty of folks rely on such watery wisdom all the time.) I just wanted to make you aware of it, lest you mistakenly believe you have cornered the market on the rational perspective… when you're indeed as guilty of subjective coloring as the next guy.


PISCES (February 19-March 20): I knew I was pressing my luck when I chose to fill last week's space with one more horoscope about relationship issues… and, despite my attempt to head off the reader emails (I am intuitive, after all), I still got 'em anyway. I actually really liked what one had to tell me: 'Time to chill out! Not all Pisces are in a relationship right now and some of us have not only attained inner peace but have learned how to say "no" and mean it!' Of course, she is 100% right… which is why I've chosen to share her comment and use it as a springboard for this week's horoscope. I cannot pretend relationships aren't a primary focus for Pisceans right now, with Mars and Saturn continuing to occupy your 7th. But for those of you who have put in the personal development efforts re: interpersonal boundaries and/or are content in your relationship situation, whether single or coupled off… then please do speak up and proudly claim the authority and self-satisfaction you have worked for. This is a hard-earned victory that deserves to be celebrated. Saturn isn't merely a pain in the ass, you know. As 'lord of karma', he also rewards those who bravely confront his challenges with maturity. Out of previous excesses, we mold stable foundations for future areas of strength. Once we genuinely learn our lessons the hard way (from experience), we cannot be shaken in the same way again. So for those Pisceans out there who have indeed grown into wise stewards of knowledge in the realm of interpersonal relations, I congratulate you… and urge you to more fully (and publicly) own your accomplishments in this area, that they may be an asset you can apply in situations beyond where you currently are. What you've come to know in your romantic life, for example, might have broader implications for your relationships at work, with friends or family, or in the commonplace exchanges of day-to-day life. No matter who we are or how we may evolve, there's always something more to learn about how we deal with other people.