Horoscopes | Week of July 28-August 3, 2008

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Very briefly now, go ahead and celebrate your past few weeks: the opportunities to test your endurance (and the occasions in which you appeared to falter with it), the impetus to keep on going for reasons that'll prove so very worthwhile later (and the periodic flicker of your flame as it ponders extinguishing itself), and the encroaching lures that remind you how it's much more natural for you to simply follow impulses when they strike (though, were you to follow 'em all the time, you'd have few palpable progress-markers to show for yourself). This is a monumental marker, Aries. Cut a couple of your shifts short, so you might have some fun and spread your infectious upbeat energy like wildfire. As long as you're enjoying yourself, those who might resist you will fade nonchalantly into the background. And in this height of blowing off some hard-earned steam, please acknowledge the reality of: You can't go on like this forever. Change is a more natural state of affairs than wrinkle-free continuance. As soon as these upcoming few weeks, you'll encounter compelling (conspicuous, even) reasons why the patterns you've only recently developed can't be maintained much longer unless something gives. Perhaps you will run out of time or resources, be pulled away by personal mini-crises or so-called family 'emergencies', find yourself at a lull in the process without clear instructions on the next step, or turn painfully bored and antsy, enough so you subconsciously search for ways to sabotage the stability. Whatever the case, you must figure out how to simultaneously (1) shift along with the shifting circumstances, so as to make space for the new variables, and (2) still stay basically on-course, though a detour or two need be adopted. Throwing in your tiles and starting again from scratch is, however, an entirely wasteful and thus unwise option.


TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Nostalgia is theoretically quite comforting, wrapping us as it does snugly within its cushions of familiarity, lovingly hugging each curve on us it knows so well, like that perfectly-worn-in sweatshirt we've been wearing around the house since seventh grade. Of course, dare we leave the house in it, we may well appear to others like somebody who, er, has been wearing the same sweatshirt for twenty years… and who's probably way overdue to shop for some new clothes. So, Taurus, while it makes total sense that sentimental yearnings for fond memories might sneak up on you during this eclipse-charged week ahead, you can't exactly put 'em on like nothing's changed and magically transport yourself back in time. Your life exists here and now, not there and then. Yet, such nostalgia gushes forth from the crevices of our mind for a good reason—we must remember, thoughts that seem to simply 'pop in' are never as random as we might assume. Why, you might ask yourself, do the emotional traces from that certain time period still hold such appeal? You'll need to understand the source-material of this undertow, if you hope to integrate those past sensations you're missing into the fabric of your current existence. Concisely put, that's because you can only go forward, never back… and thus, to legitimately recapture those glories from another time, you must find ways to incorporate bits of that idealized 'old you' into today's new-and-improved version. While you may powerfully crave the safe warmth that old worn-out sweatshirt would provide, you can also find similarly comfortable garments in more up-to-date styles… so that nobody could rightfully confuse you with some quaint kitschy relic from yesteryear.


GEMINI (May 21-June 20): According to the traditional average-TV-sitcom mold, the hilarious pitfalls we find ourselves confronting week in and week out are often resolved within a tidy half-hour or so, complete with heartwarming moral instructives the whole family can enjoy. But barring the occasional serialized-romance thread ('will Sam and Diane end up together after all?'), there's little cumulative development of self-regulating ethical guidelines that the protagonist can observe so as to avoid winding up in the same (or an eerily similar) situation. (That's why it'd probably be frustrating to befriend one of these sitcom characters in real life—they never seem to learn anything.) In your own life, however, I must assume the main player (which, of course, is you) is less superficial than that. For you, the star of the show, I expect there to be continuous strands of meaning running through the stream of absurd exchanges and crazy antics that comprise season after season of sidesplitting episodes. It all adds up to something, right, Gemini? You are becoming wiser in the ways of people, aren't you… so that, over time, you'll come to minimize the embarrassing moments and chaotic misunderstandings, simply by developing a few key rules of restraint you obey to the letter, thus minimizing the possibility that you will somehow cause the chaos or embarrassment? Skimming along from one disconnected vignette to another, without any self-integrating effort to tie 'em all together in this way or that, will leave you surfing on the mere surfaces of existence.


CANCER (June 21-July 22): A huge impact could stem from your basic act of saying no to someone who ordinarily gets most everything they want from you… if the utterance also serves as an empowering 'yes' to yourself. There's nothing wrong with prioritizing what you need ahead of what others are asking of you. What's more, you don't actually require a thorough explanation for why you might choose to say no. It's your prerogative, Cancer, to make decisions that suit you… for no other reason than sheer preference. But if you need greater incentive, how about reflecting on the quiet resentment you're liable to develop, should you keep on making overly generous gestures at the expense of taking care of your own security? Such quiet resentment is a dangerous thing to leave unattended. Its terrorizing tentacles can sneak into your subconscious, spurring you to grumble about everything you're forced to do on a daily basis (and to wonder about what you are actually getting from it)—when, far from being a powerless victim in this circumstance, you've sort of set yourself up for it. And all this, just so they might perceive you as 'such a nice guy / girl'? (If they could only hear the not-so-nice things you're silently saying to yourself, they might think otherwise.) Perhaps a certain 'no' here and there has now proven to be long overdue, if you've given 'em just about enough of your time or energy (or money!). You only have so much to go around. Shouldn't you get first dibs?


LEO (July 23-August 22): A solar eclipse in your sign, like the one occurring this Friday (Aug 1) morning, often indicates you're at a major turning point. (This is especially so if your birthday falls during the second half of this week.) The page is about to turn (if it hasn't already) to the next chapter of your life, as clearly evidenced by an acceleration of external events that are carrying you along with seemingly little effort on your part. As you ride these shifting tides, you need not fear the loss of solid ground beneath your toes. Put enough attention toward sharp observation, and you'll spy powerful signs of which direction everything is moving. And while it may seem dramatic or abrupt, this trend is merely the logical end to actions put into motion quite a while ago. (Ever heard, 'Be careful what you wish for'?) At this point, then, in light of the evolving situation that's rapidly unfolding even as you read these words, your most important judgments to make will center on this question: how to balance your independence (as required by the new terms of your changing position) with relationship commitments to others (including your spouse or romantic partner, business associate and/or closest chum). Left to their own devices, the narrative developments would undoubtedly serve to draw you and that certain someone either closer together or further apart. Where you come in, Leo, is in deciding whether to assert your interpersonal desires into that equation… thus consciously interrupting the direction it might naturally flow between you two, due to you wanting to make sure the relationship is prioritized ('yes, I want to grow closer together!') or sped toward dissolution ('no, I'm pretty much done with 'em!'). Against this transforming backdrop, it's on you to step toward or away from those interpersonal connections that'll be necessarily affected.


VIRGO (August 23-September 22): Breathe in the compassion. Breathe out the indignation. Perhaps they have no clue just how hysterical they've become… just how outlandish are their responses to rather reasonable-sized problems… or just how crazy-making is the energy that's emanating off of 'em. Perhaps they just don't get it. But is that any justification for leaving yourself in the line of fire, Virgo, when your tempered rationality is likelier to be dominated by their emotional exaggeration than to bear much persuasive power toward deescalating the fevered pitch? Who needs the extra aggravation, anyway? If (or should I say when?) the people around you start freaking the fuck out, give them plenty of space to do so. Adjust your course and, if need be, proceed several hundred feet away from the center of the mania, if that's what it'll take to sidestep their chaos. Without proper care taken to secure yourself a peaceful time-out from the eclipse-whipped froth that's got everybody foaming at the mouth, you'll be too vulnerable to the ferocious undertow. Unless you actively move to prevent it, you will keep swept up in their melodramatic 'crises' (or so they'd have us interpret the recent events)… and consequently end up stressed out, due to no compelling relevance to the situation of your own life. So avoid the lunacy altogether, if you can. One quick glance in their shifty ears (or one psychic whiff of their unstable ch'i field) will provide the necessary advance warning.


LIBRA (September 23-October 22): It must feel like such a major relief to hand over control to someone you trust… leaving you with the freedom to cruise by with relatively little effort. And even if the temptation to cede the steering wheel isn't dominating enough to overpower your spark of independence, you must at least enjoy sharing the responsibility for step-taking and decision-making with others. Well, you Librans are not exactly the type to determine your preferences in a vacuum, shielded from outside perspective. You need to know what they think, if only to provide you a good starting-point in your reflections (if not as the ideal example of everything you don't want to do). But let's be clear, that doesn't make you weak in personality or too easily influenced by what other people—only someone who is prone to distinguish yourself as an individual through dialogue, an ongoing act of comparing and contrasting that helps you zero in on your truth. (This method of self-definition, incidentally, is no less legitimate than any other.) Your week ahead will provide hands-on instruction into how this all works, with plenty of relaxed opportunities to let others take the lead… while you observe how the 'following' makes you feel about whatever issue you're following their lead on. If you're peacefully content about it, then you can safely assume you do authentically share their attitude. Yet, if instead you're nervous or uncomfortable, you'll have discovered at least one area in which you two diverge—a fact you should remember for future use. When the nervousness comes over you, it's also a clue not to go along for their ride, lest they commit you to something you'll come to regret later.


SCORPIO (October 23-November 21): You've been working your butt off to get to this pivotal juncture in the process. And we all know there's no real point to working that hard unless you go all the way with it, right? It's no wonder, then, that you really really really care about what happens next… and, as a result, are likely harboring a fairly serious case of the short-tempered jitters, which flares up at any sign that things won't head in your desired direction. So go on and take your shot, Scorpio. Reach for that most treasured slot, squelching any self-doubt that might otherwise stop you in your tracks, and see how it plays out. But ultimately, alas, there are no guarantees… and if you know what's truly good for you, you're preparing for every possible outcome. Yet, as the final results are starting to trickle in, I must clue you in to the late-breaking news with the potential to change everything. Here goes: It doesn't really matter what happens. Well, of course, it does matter… insofar as the immediate ego triumph or defeat is concerned. In the end, though, you won't necessarily find greater satisfaction and self-acceptance by succeeding at what you set out to do—if, once the initial thrill wears off, you end up right back on the ladder again, fighting your way one more rung upwards. Likewise, you won't be forever deflated and dismayed, should you not emerge victorious; following the immediate sting, you'll have to gather yourself together and find renewed inspiration in some other quest. In both cases, however, the longer-lasting and further-reaching upshot rests on your emotional process of coming to grips with however it turns out… and, surprisingly, not the result itself.


SAGITTARIUS (November 22-December 21): It's not like you to be particularly subtle about what you believe to be right. So if you're beating around the bush now, Sagittarius, you must have a good reason. Maybe your attempts at diplomatic downplaying are a response to my past few weeks' horoscopes (to recap, click here, here and here), which seem to call for striking a precarious balance between respecting authority and 'getting to the bottom of it all', all while being straightforward but not too demanding. (Talk about walking a tightrope.) Perhaps you're mincing your words with the hope you can save a tentative relationship or tempting opportunity. But to call a spade the spade it is, you are holding onto a very hot potato by wishing others to intuit those unspoken truths hiding between your lines of what's 'officially' out there. At some future point, on a day when you're not feeling especially up for holding your tongue, you will let your actual feelings come ripping forth. And if they never fully understood where you were coming from before, they will surely be shocked into understanding then… but not without a corresponding sense of having been betrayed, due to you not being perfectly forthright from the get-go. The relationship, the opportunity, whatever you tried to save—little chance it'll withstand that eventual shock. As such, you might as well quit the efforts to forestall the inevitable. If the circumstances can't contain your authentic opinionated self, then why bother maintaining 'em at such a delicate equilibrium? Let 'em take you or leave you, based on what's real… but don't leave 'em in the dark.


CAPRICORN (December 22-January 19): Simplification is definitely the way to go, Capricorn. But before you jump too quickly into snipping cords, halting conversations or excusing yourself from headache-spawning interpersonal negotiations, I'd advise you to hold off until you've read the fine print on this one. That is, in order to simplify the situation, you'll first have to dive headfirst into the storm… and address all those messy little loose-ends, in order to ensure no slippery variables are remaining, lest they leak back in later on and reignite the blaze. If you really want to clean it up, it's essential to get everything out on the table… even if it requires one or both of you to make an uncomfortable admission. (Now you realize why it's one thing to claim to want a resolution—and another thing entirely, when that much-ballyhooed resolution must come through one's own awkward revelations.) Yet, until you put words to that which hangs heavy in the room as long as it goes undiscussed, you'll be stuck in exactly the same place you've been for a while now. No pain, no gain. No serious simplification's likely to occur, until all the scattered complexities are identified and given name to. Oddly, however, the minute you bravely launch into the very conversation you really don't want to have (mainly because the whole idea of it just seems like a huge pain-in-the-ass), you'll already feel the knots of interpenetrating emotion untying themselves as, for the first time in a while, you state exactly what's true for you… and let the rest go.


AQUARIUS (January 20-February 18): Flooded with fresh data about that guy or girl who's been by your side or in your thoughts, you will see him/her more closely and clearly than ever… in all their splendor and glory, with best assets lit up in neon brightness and unflattering scars just as glaringly visible. Here's that further info you've said you needed, in order to square up your inconclusive wonderings about him/her. And the only thing left to cloud your impressions of the relationship now? Your own hopes, wishes and fears… things which are typically based on whatever projections we put upon our dearly beloved, potentially mangling and mutating 'em to a point beyond recognition. So take yourself out of the mix for a moment, Aquarius, and just look at what actually exists between you two. Are you growing closer than ever, or are you on your last legs? Is there work in progress, and/or is an eventual end inevitable? I firmly believe that, recent 'bursts of super-potent emotion' aside, you can get a vividly accurate sense of where this is all headed with You-Know-Who—if you actually want to know. Of course, often we don't. Our purposeful ignorance suspends the romance in place, while too unflinching a glimpse of reality would threaten to crush the pleasure in today's fix. However, at this point, it behooves you to embrace the clarity. Don't be afraid to take in the full picture because it just might be close enough to 'pretty perfect' that it triggers your rebellious side. Maybe it's time to stop resisting the long-term vision. Likewise, don't be afraid to gape at the words if this is the final chapter, written out longhand on the wall for all to see. Maybe it's time to embrace the cyclic nature of life and bury the bones already, so, soon enough, a new sapling can sprout.


PISCES (February 19-March 20): Just when you're within millimeters of sliding into the deflating belief that it doesn't really matter what you do—that the world is full of forces so much more tremendous than anything a single person can muster, and that, in your brief-but-rich handful of decades of wanderings through its endless coterie of backdrops, you can only hope to meet a few worthy faces and touch a few lives because, after all, any other goal is too fraught with latent disappointment—I appear on the scene to talk you out of that silly line of thought. This isn't entirely dissimilar to me showing up at the 32nd-story office, just in time to seduce a suicidal acquaintance away from the ledge and back into the window since, likelier than not, the rotten mood that drew him out there will pass quicker than another full trip around the wheel of reincarnation. Only difference is: You're not about to jump to your death (I presume), merely to resign yourself to a haphazard 'hands-off' orientation that affirms the pointlessness of bothering to try. But I say that's nearly as tragic, Pisces. Emotional fluctuations (or a short attention span) are no excuse to throw in the towel. And you are lying to yourself, should you conclude that you hold very little power to effect the results you want… especially if all you're focusing on is everything that's 'stacked against you' (as you see it, that is). Everything you do—and even what you think—definitely does matter. While you may not know exactly how you're going to get from here to there, you must insist without hesitation that it's possible… and that your efforts can and will make all the difference. You weren't put here in a flesh-and-bones body on this weird and wacky planet, simply to remain powerless to do a damn thing. So even in the most furiously dead-end situation, life is challenging you to find some active step to take, one that doesn't rest solely on surrender.