Horoscopes | Week of July 16-22, 2012

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Career advancement vs. relationship presence. Personal ascension vs. interpersonal responsibility. Free-wheeling independence vs. institutional protocol. I cannot list every last potential 'versus' that you Aries might be up against, in light of your ruler Mars presently brawling with the Uranus-Pluto square. As such, you wouldn't be so crazy to be feeling as if one commitment or interest is facing a radical friction with another, with no easy answer for which to favor or how to balance both. Tense astrological moments like these, challenging though they may be, are incredibly decisive in setting a precedent for which direction you ultimately choose to channel your future energies. Without confronting one burgeoning development or devolution pitted so starkly against another, you might never be forced to clearly make such a choice… and instead might meander through ambivalent mediocrity indefinitely, never feeling pressure to strongly advocate for this or that. So now that we've affirmed your present sense of being caught in a certain crossfire is indeed real, what next? Show up to the battlefield, and decide how hard you want to fight—and for what.


TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Even if everything's supposed to be functioning normally, Taurus, don't count out the unseen hand of some magical mischief-maker who has a different idea about what's 'supposed' to happen. You could bang your head against the wall trying to get this ordinarily-straightforward process to yield the results you've come to expect, checking all the wires and making the necessary backup-support calls, and still not figure out the problem… if there actually is one. Alternately, you could take an 'I'm-above-it-all' tone and issue contentious explanations about how this should work, even though the reality in front of your face is showing evidence to the contrary. Or you could simply obey the signs you're seeing (which, at least for the moment, sure seem to read: 'Wrong Way—Do Not Enter')… and simply re-aim your attention toward some other item that isn't malfunctioning quite so conspicuously. The hardest part for a pragmatist like you to accept: You might never discover the reason things aren't functioning to your liking right now, and therefore there's nothing to fix.


GEMINI (May 21-June 20): A lot of folks will be freaking out this week, Gemini, due to some heavy-duty astrological wackness… and you, believe it or not, are one of the least likely signs to suffer this effect. Of course, angst can also be quite contagious, especially if you've only recently begun to pull out of your own serious case of the freak-outs and are still extra-susceptible to re-infection. Therefore, just as you might take supplements to boost your immune-system upon learning a nasty cold is going around the office, you should similarly fortify yourself against mood-contamination with double-doses of buoyant good humor, one of the best neutralizers of others' bad juju. Anyone else's reactive lashings-out ought not to be met eye for eye, but rather with a liberal offering of loving-kindness (even while you're chuckling to yourself about how friggin' crazy they are acting). Serve as the 'Angry-Person Whisperer', with a breezy (though never disrespectful) attitude that gives 'em just enough room to vent their steam before you deftly switch the topic to one likelier to inspire smiles. Because you'll ride that fine line between (1) helping someone lighten up and (2) leaving 'em with the impression you're laughing at them, there is the possibility of further pissing 'em off. If your heart's in the right place yet they get angrier anyway, please don't take it on; just walk it off.


CANCER (June 21-July 22): Don't take the surface happenings at face value, Cancer, should you find yourself an unwitting participant in some conflict that makes you madder than your rational mind sees as reasonable. In fact, you might even want to pay extra-close attention to other people's squabbles too, in order to observe which outrageous stances or argumentative strategies cause your emotions to flare. The strained vibe out there these days is not something you're imagining; it is both real and hard not to be affected by, especially for a watery individual like you. You must not accept full responsibility for managing how it plays out with everybody around you. You cannot protect anyone else from their self-stirred turmoil, nor expect to open their eyes to whichever more expansive viewpoint might actually calm them down. The best things to concentrate on are (1) protecting yourself from being overpowered by tyrants and loudmouths and (2) dodging any falling shrapnel headed toward you due to collateral explosions you can't do anything to stop. Study which of your buttons are getting pressed: Once you know what'll rouse a reaction, you can adequately prepare yourself to beat back that reaction and free yourself from the emotional hook.


LEO (July 23-August 22): Other people, as engaging and enjoyable as their company can be, mustn't distract you from the day-to-day, habit-transforming work nobody else can carry out for you. Other people can give you helpful advice and words of encouragement until they're blue in the face, Leo… but unless you look yourself in the mirror each morning and commit to anchoring the seemingly cut-and-dry (though no less difficult) building-blocks for desired success into your everyday existence, it's all a bunch of hot air. Use the interpersonal support, please, but don't mistake its role as being everything you need; it is merely one tool among many that are needed to jump-start your latest embrace of well-being. The grand momentous epiphanies will always out-dazzle the mundane repetitions of earnest effort toward a cumulative effect, especially in terms of providing fodder for lively conversation. But once the other folks have gone home, the ideas you discussed won't hold nearly as much enlightening power if you aren't doing something with 'em. What entertains or impresses your pals may not be what you ought to be most directly working on.


VIRGO (August 23-September 22): In the ongoing clash between (1) doing what smartly serves the stability of your functional interests and (2) doing what you'd really fucking want to do if you didn't have said interests to preserve, the uncertain variable continues to be someone else's erratic behavior. Whether it's an idiosyncratic love interest, a stop-start-stop-start professional colleague, or an inescapable institution that applies its constraints in a maddeningly inconsistent fashion, this 'other' is totally immune to your attempts to organize or control… and if you can't attain a certain peaceful acceptance of this extenuating factor, Virgo, you're flirting with a heightened potential for impatient outbursts. I hope you will thoughtfully chew on what I'm telling you before you encounter such a hot-spot, so you may recognize this bait being set—and wisely choose not to detonate your temper right in the middle of taking care of business, thusly spoiling all that you're working on and leaving a trail of personal shame for having so utterly lost it. I repeat: You cannot control this external factor. So don't let yourself get that upset about it.


LIBRA (September 23-October 22): I pity those who have underestimated you, Libra, just because you've barely moved beyond those sluggish several months and they're still mistaking your temporary limbo for a fuller lack of opinion or engagement. This time around, should they attempt to pull a lightning-fast bait-and-switch or some other such wild-card, they'll have your immediately attentive pushback to contend with… and considering how long you've been fair and tolerant about such matters, you've surely reserved some yourself unused self-assertion brownie-points for just such an occasion. Plus, you seem to have the conviction of a recently renewed optimism on your side, enabling you to better foresee a future without this level of interpersonal unpredictability… whether this certain someone ultimately improves in the 'cooperation' department, or if you must leave them behind. Life is looking so bright up ahead, it would be a shame to stunt your own advancing toward it, merely to remain reactive to somebody else's twists and twitches. If they're playing their same old shitty games with you, why don't you surprise them—and, instead of incessantly checking to see if they're okay, just go hang out with a far less high-maintenance friend until they cool off?


SCORPIO (October 23-November 21): Does recognizing the illusory condition of our shared reality make it any easier, Scorpio, to courageously swim through these dark waters toward that rusty treasure-chest on the ocean floor? We both know that, once you get there, you're liable to discover it's held shut by too many rusty chains, or contains nothing but empty soda cans and discharged missile casings, or is a total mirage you invented in order to have something to hunt for… and, conversely, it's just as likely to release a benevolent genie who's simply been waiting for you to ask for your three wishes so he can happily grant them. No outcome is set in stone. What's most important is (1) you keep yourself conscious of your current strong compulsion to dig for some below-the-surface, hard-to-describe jewel of experience and (2) you not become too attached to one or another idea of what exactly you're digging for. In the mining process, your first findings could cause superficial upset. Do not be fooled by the illusory appearances. Just keep digging: It's a vast universe, with many tricks and many treats, all of which we must confront without the fear of becoming too closely identified with them.


SAGITTARIUS (November 22-December 21): If you'd like to make some sort of publicly influential splash (rather than merely being singled out as an oddball, with no meaningful impact), I recommend enlisting at least one equally dedicated partner-in-crime… and then equitably splitting the splash-making responsibilities between the two (or more) of you, so no observer gets the impression this is just a personal axe you're grinding solo. Your very success in initiating whatever community-minded appeal has lit your fire, Sagittarius, rests largely on whether you can believably appear to be fighting for more than selfish interests—and, to be frank, the week's Uranus/Pluto-charged astrology is not working in your favor. However, what you clearly do have on your side is Jupiter in your 7th, an influence that eases your ability to connect with individuals on a one-on-one basis… which is why I encourage you to recruit one or two solid allies first, rather than trying singly to win over any whole crowd. You'll communicate far better in this intimate interpersonal setting. And then, once you've gone from lone-rider to a pair or very-small-group, you won't seem nearly as rebellious or contrarian—as long as you let your partner(s) do a healthy share of the talking.


CAPRICORN (December 22-January 19): As our official Force-To-Be-Reckoned-With, you almost can't help but be pushing ahead (as we covered last week)… even if you aren't entirely conscious of the fact that, yes, you are pushing. And god forbid these forceful pushes aren't being productively, proactively applied to some tangible project, Capricorn, then you're surely feeling the jolts and jostles within, as you spar with whatever internal demons are trying to convince you not to take responsibility for your destiny. The planetary pressures are simply too great to be successfully fought off; they must be expressed somehow. By continuing to press onward toward your most desired life-goals, you cannot help but court a certain antagonism from those who don't want you to flourish because they see it as a personally threatening case of one-upmanship (though your desire to soar probably has little or nothing to do with them). Don't try to dodge the standoff if it's coming toward you head-on. Let it occur, and you'll definitely learn a thing or two about which qualities you possess are enviable enough to spur someone else's defensiveness. However, should you hold back your assertive energies to avoid an external fracas, you're left to fight against yourself for the freedom to do as you wish… a battle it's about time to put behind you once and for all.


AQUARIUS (January 20-February 18): Obsessively gazing way far out ahead is a recipe for tripping over some hazardous crack in the sidewalk right in front of you and landing flat on your face… which, if and when it happens, totally fucks with your continuing down that path at the same pace you'd been cruising, forcing a 'sideline' or 'detour' or 'slow-down' (all of which, incidentally, are labels we use to infer we believe we know where we ought to be going, and how quickly). With each foot-plant, please watch where you're going, Aquarius… and don't let your mind wander too many steps in advance, lest it waste energy on hatching overidealized visions that perhaps are never meant to see the light of day. I apologize if that last part sounds pessimistic; my intent is actually the opposite. Should a long-view vision not become a reality, it's probably because events or encounters in your immediate environment—not miles away, but just a short stroll from here—will have revealed your attentions are needed closer to home, right now in the present. Surprise! While your superb intelligence may be insulted by such a revelation dashing its well-constructed plans, you absolutely must not succumb to doomsdayish projections about what it all means. This curveball could turn out to be quite a blessing, though it does demand you reprioritize.


PISCES (February 19-March 20): As you brandish the power of your accumulated emotion (per last week's discussion), you mustn't shy away from the potential that certain of your shakiest alliances might finally break all the way down. In other words, Pisces, once you fully and proudly stand in the position you've staked out for yourself, you may startlingly discover your back is not being covered by those peers or colleagues who would rather shun controversy and/or pretend nothing's changed than stand along with you. This could transpire, for example, if a switch in your personal-relationship status causes mutual pals to start picking sides… or if your efforts to improve your financial standing or community status stir jealousy or discomfort in others who want the same for themselves. We mustn't fault those whose weakness of character inhibits them from practicing genuine loyalty, I suppose. But neither should we simply forget they've proven themselves to be nothing more than fair-weather friends. Liking someone doesn't necessarily mean we can count on them to really be there for us.