Horoscopes | Week of August 8-14, 2011

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Please consider that any heightened irritability might be stemming from an internal source, rather than rushing to a conclusion which implicates an important professional or community contact as the guilty party. Even if they genuinely did something that doesn't thrill you, Aries, you might be more pissed off about it this week than you would be had it happened at a different moment. If you react too flippantly, this outside figure—someone who may hold significant sway over your present trajectory—could really give you something to be upset about. Just as you're likelier than usual to experience frustration, so too are they presently less likely to grant you the benefit of the doubt. (We're all under this same Mars-Uranus-Pluto effect, after all.) Before you'll even get the chance to think about what's actually happening, one thing will lead to another… and the snowball will be rolling down the hill, perhaps flattening you into a pancake along the way. So if the scenario I outlined doesn't give you reason to pause, should an edgy mood flare up and you're looking for somebody to pin it on, then I don't know what else to tell you. I did my part.


TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Emotions loom large as you attempt to string your thoughts into coherent sentences, Taurus, so don't be fooled into believing you've got an objective take on the matter, whichever 'matter' it may be. This is not such a terrible circumstance, if you use it to inwardly explore the various dimensions of your response to what's going on in your life… though it becomes much more troublesome, should you find yourself trying to justify to anybody else why they should accept your truth as the universal gospel. Be particularly careful not to insist you know what's best for somebody else's emotional well-being, just because your (unsolicited?) advice would work if you were in their shoes. (Pssst: You're not.) If you'd like to avoid being called out for too fundamentalist a tone, then please make sure to pose all your suggestions in first-person terms of how you'd handle something. Better yet, rather than offering too much distinct feedback, you'll create far less waves by being a generally supportive shoulder, ear, or helping hand… not necessarily a mouth.


GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Now, I'm not decisively implying you're a gossip. But if you were, Gemini, I'd advise you to steer clear of the loose-lips syndrome during the week ahead… not only because you might say too much to the wrong person, but because you could disappoint yourself upon later reflection, once you realize you've dropped an utterance that violates a belief or ethic you like to hold yourself to. In other news: To claim what's deservedly yours, out of a convoluted situation in which certain other parties may contest who should get what, will likely require a fighting spirit. If you're indeed on the merciful side of this battle (and of course I presume you are), you mustn't back down—despite any dastardly threats the other side would lob at you. They will try to win by keeping you excessively focused on how you're indebted to them or otherwise inextricably stuck in this muddy arrangement. As long as you feel ashamed of yourself for past missteps or transgressions, they've got you where they want you. But once you're willing to proudly speak out from the humane perspective of needing to independently survive, the past loses much of its power over you… and you have a much better chance to triumph.


CANCER (June 21-July 22): Whether or not you intend to stir the pot, you have an unfortunately high potential to serve as a lightning-rod for controversy, while Mars in your 1st tangles with Uranus and Pluto. In some cases, bad vibes could be directed toward you without your having done anything to warrant it… and should that occur, Cancer, I recommend you skedaddle yourself right out of that situation without further provoking the other party, who is obviously not thinking straight and eager for you to give 'em more 'reason' (as if there were one to begin with) to fuck with you further. Protecting one's self sometimes means knowing when to ditch out instead of brawling over so-called honor. In other cases, however, you may actually be more culpable than you fully realize in eliciting the prickly reaction. If you're being in any way underhanded (even if your sneakiness is supposedly for their 'benefit'), you'll set off their something-smells-fishy detector. Of course, if you're simply occupying yourself with that which most interests you and a certain someone is displeased or acting bitchily in an attempt to draw your attention to them… well, in that case, you might have to sharply put them off in order to retain control over where to put your energy. They may deserve to be told to shove it—and far be it for you to shirk that interpersonal duty.


LEO (July 23-August 22): Though with both ruling-luminary the Sun and blessed-lady Venus in your sign, Leo, everything ordinarily should be coming up roses, there are unfortunately other astro-items on this week's list that threaten to turn 'smooth sailing' into 'rocky waters'. Item One is Mercury's current retrograde, which has fallen back into Leo and into an extra-befuddling Neptune opposition. While I'm not usually a Merc-retro doomsdayer, this one leaves me extra cause for concern—especially for you, who could too easily miss the subtle interpersonal cues and accidentally steamroll over an important person in your life, offending them by not accurately seeing their point-of-view. Item Two is a bunch of Mars business in your solar 12th, a combination that could leave you indirectly sabotaging a work project and/or your own bodily well-being, by wishfully pretending there won't be consequences to your undercover actions. I understand this horoscope could sound somewhat scary, so I want to close by returning to Venus's influence: She will gladly protect you from trouble if you say little, tread lightly, and abide by the physical law of reasonable limits.


VIRGO (August 23-September 22): Yep, you're still in the blindspot zone, Virgo, just like we discussed last week, courtesy of Mercury being retrograde, opposed Neptune and in your 12th... a triple-dose affliction to the planet that usually saves your butt by bestowing your trademark rational understandings. Unless you're communicating with spirits, composing lyrical verse, interpreting your vivid dream from the other night, or drilling positive mantras into your psyche through repetition, you haven't much present use for your mind. That's okay, though: This too shall pass, and, in the meantime, relax your head. Special warnings go out if you're in the process of fighting on behalf of what's best for the team… without fully noticing how your idea of 'what's best for the team' eerily resembles what's also best for you. Too fiercely advocating for any group endeavor to go a certain direction will surely expose you to questions about your biases or motivations. Since we've already covered the fact that you aren't in the most objectively rational state-of-mind, perhaps it's best to just admit up front it's a wholly subjective preference—and head off any potential (and justifiable) criticisms before they're lobbed at you.


LIBRA (September 23-October 22): Something's unstably astir in your career zone or another outer-world context, Libra, where either (1) a key ally or colleague is liable to surprise you with a sudden right-turn or (2) you're liable to surprise them. Because the potential for discord is heightened in this arena for all parties concerned, the best that you can do is to ready yourself for being confronted with the unexpected… so that if and when it does happen, you won't make matters worse by reacting super-unpleasantly to having your expectations dashed. Likewise, you should also imagine how the same situation might hit the other person… and, if and when they react with anger or exasperation, be ready to respond with compassion for their shock (though without necessarily backing down from the surprising move, which you must've made for some good reason). If you're not careful, though, and allow one overblown response to lead to another, domino-like, the whole thing will come to look less like a workplace or public-place fracas—and way too similar to some of the family dynamics you thought you'd moved away from. When we're triggered in that certain fashion, alas, we almost can't help but uncannily replicate that same damn familiar drama.


SCORPIO (October 23-November 21): There is no shame in turning what might have been a public announcement into something more like a tentative discussion or open brainstorming session. If you aren't quite ready to present the definitive answer, Scorpio, please don't let pride or image be a motivating factor in how you next proceed with the messaging. You will actually yield yourself a better reputation for being forthright about your present reality… as opposed to, say, faking it 'til you make, which is a strategy that certainly has its time-and-place, though this is not it. Taking this approach does not, however, excuse you from the responsibility to keep the talks focused, since you are the one driving the vision and therefore must ensure that tangential irrelevancies or nonsensical trivialities don't pull you off-track. Be prepared for a participant—perhaps someone who isn't even especially important to you and/or your premise—to possibly take offense at not getting their agenda to become the center-of-attention. While I have faith in your Scorpio self's ability to retain the proverbial microphone despite any power-grabs from the peanut gallery, I do suggest you remember that plenty of other people may be watching exactly how you do so—and could judge you accordingly.


SAGITTARIUS (November 22-December 21): I contemplated writing you a super-concise horoscope for the week, Sagittarius, since I know you like to cut to the chase. It would've read: No fighting dirty. (Okay, I admit it: I'm just too damned wordy to be satisfied with three words.) But now that I've led with the most important gist I'd like to get across to you, allow me to add a bit more clarifying detail. Mars is all jacked up this week, sparring with both Uranus and Pluto, which threatens to drive you into dramatically defensive behavior, should you feel you may be getting screwed out of what's rightfully yours. I want to affirm your desire to look out for your own interests, no matter how messy your efforts might have to get. Yet, there is a limit beyond which the shots would be fairly considered 'below the belt'—and due to the other inconvenient fact of wordsmith Mercury being simultaneously retrograde and Neptune-impaired, you might not realize how low that blow might go until it's too late. You probably don't need to hit them in the sorest possible spot, just to get 'em off your back, do you? Or maybe you do. That's your call. The threat better be extremely formidable, though, if you're going to resort to that. Be sure you know what you're doing.


CAPRICORN (December 22-January 19): Don't sell yourself out, all stoic-style, under the belief it's not worth the short-term hassle to correct another's wrongdoings at your expense. Though everything I wrote last week about interpersonal tensions and a heightened chance of talks devolving into aggression or competitiveness remains true, Capricorn, you may not have much of a choice but to engage—particularly if your self-respect is on the line. Even as you might try to bite your tongue or grin and bear it, you likely won't tolerate having your commanding capabilities questioned or being taken for a pushover. Nor should you. Perhaps they don't know who they're daring to mess with? Let's hope, however, you do know yourself pretty well… and are confident enough in what you're bringing to the table that you needn't take on a single bit of their combative projections. This calm confidence is a crucial element in your ability to fight 'em off without necessarily fighting back. In other words, as long as you hold back the terms of the clash so you're merely defending yourself—rather than shooting at them with equally sharp verbal bullets, which drags you down to their level of personal attack—you'll succeed at making them look even worse, in contrast to your clean (though no less potent) tactics.


AQUARIUS (January 20-February 18): When it comes to how you and another person are communicating with one another—or, should I say, attempting to communicate—your best strategy is actually to let them run their mouth until they get awkwardly caught in a disclosure or opinion they probably would've preferred not to mention. Rather than insert additional information into the conversational pauses, allow them to fill those spaces. (Under this astrology, they probably wouldn't actually hear what you're saying anyhow.) But when it comes to your own earthly responsibilities, physical-health duties, and/or job-related workload, Aquarius, you must fiercely combat the threat of any self-subverting obsessions diverting your attention into escapist realms (no matter how 'meaningful' you may find them)… and instead remain grounded in constructive activity. This isn't the time for shamanic journeying, vision-questing, or spiritually-minded drug trips, when you've got real-world shit to take care of. Should you find it difficult to fight these urges, do the opposite of shrinking away into the shadows: Ask your most reasonable friend(s) for a back-to-earth pep-talk.


PISCES (February 19-March 20): You gotta be you, Pisces… though it may mean you must forcefully identify yourself against robust social pressures to instead pose as somebody you're not, or to otherwise agree to go along with initiatives or trends when you in fact disagree. I can't reassure you there aren't risks involved here, since you might indeed receive some pushback from an especially overbearing ringleader. (Or is the antagonistic resistance to your freest expression-of-self coming from within… in the form of self-imposed guilt or shame for you so blatantly daring to stand out, knowing it could have a polarizing effect?) Despite the inherent risks, it's nothing less than your ability to enjoy your life—as you see fit, not how you've been indoctrinated to believe you 'should'—that's at stake. Though the initial shock of stepping out on the ledge may be unavoidable, the thrill of freedom once you're there does seem preferable to remaining inertly afraid that your true misfit nature might, one day soon, be found out.