ARIES (March 21-April 19): The National Science Foundation estimates that we each think at least 12,000 thoughts per day. The vast majority of them, however, are reruns of impressions that have passed through our minds many times before. But I am pleased to report that in the coming weeks, you Aries folks are primed to be far less repetitive than normal. You have the potential to churn out a profusion of original ideas, fresh perceptions, novel fantasies, and pertinent questions. Take full advantage of this opportunity. Brainstorm like a genius.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): I enjoy getting spam emails with outrageous declarations that are at odds with common sense. "Eating salads makes you sick" is one of my favorites, along with "Water is worse for you than vodka" and "Smoking is healthier than exercising." Why do I love reading these laughable claims? Well, they remind me that every day I am barraged by nonsense and delusion from the news media, the Internet, politicians, celebrities, and a host of fanatics. "Smoking is healthier than exercising" is just a more extreme and obvious lie than many others that are better disguised. The moral of the story for you in the coming week: Be alert for exaggerations that clue you in to what's going on discreetly below the surface. Watch carefully for glitches in the Matrix.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Every one of us, including me, has blind spots about the arts of intimacy and collaboration. Every one of us suffers from unconscious habits that interfere with our ability to get and give the love we want. What are your bind spots and unconscious habits, Gemini. Ha! Trick question! They wouldn't be blind spots and unconscious habits if you already knew about them. That's the bad news. The good news is that in the next six weeks you can catch glimpses of these blocks, and make a good start toward reducing their power to distort your relationships.
CANCER (June 21-July 22): Now and then, it is in fact possible to fix malfunctioning machines by giving them a few swift kicks or authoritative whacks. This strategy is called "percussive maintenance." In the coming days, you might be inclined to use it a lot. That's probably OK. I suspect it'll work even better than it usually does. There will be problems, though, if you adopt a similar approach as you try to correct glitches that are more psychological, interpersonal, and spiritual in nature. For those, I recommend sensitivity and finesse.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): What feelings or subjects have you been wanting to talk about, but have not yet been able to? Are there messages you are aching to convey to certain people, but can't summon the courage to be as candid as you need to be? Can you think of any secrets you've been keeping for reasons that used to be good but aren't good any more? The time has come to relieve at least some of that tension, Leo. I suggest you smash your excuses, break down barriers, and let the revelations flow. If you do, you will unleash unforeseen blessings.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): In 1662, Dutch painter Rembrandt finished The Oath of Claudius Civilis. It was 5.5 metres by 5.5 metres, the largest painting he ever made. For a short time, it hung on a wall in Amsterdam's Town Hall. But local burgomasters soon decided it was offensive, and returned it to the artist to be reworked. Rembrandt ultimately chopped off three-fourths of the original. What's left is now hanging in a Stockholm museum, and the rest has been lost. Art critic Svetlana Alpers wishes the entire painting still existed, but nevertheless raves about the remaining portion, calling it "a magnificent fragment." I urge you to think like Alpers. It's time to celebrate your own magnificent fragments.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): You now have a special talent for connecting things that have never been connected. You also have a magic touch at uniting things that should be united but can't manage to do so under their own power. In fact, I'm inclined to believe that in the next three weeks you will be unusually lucky and adept at forging links, brokering truces, building bridges, and getting opposites to attract. I won't be surprised if you're able to compare apples and oranges in ways that make good sense and calm everyone down.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): In 1989, Amy Tan birthed her first novel, The Joy Luck Club. Her next, The Kitchen God's Wife, came out in 1991. Both were bestsellers. Within a few years, the student study guide publisher CliffsNotes did with them what it has done with many masterpieces of world literature: produced condensed summaries for use by students too lazy to read all of the originals. "In spite of my initial shock," Tan said, "I admit that I am perversely honoured to be in CliffsNotes." It was a sign of success to get the same treatment as superstar authors like Shakespeare and James Joyce. The CliffsNotes approach is currently an operative metaphor in your life, Scorpio. Try to find it in your heart to be honoured, even if it's perversely so. For the most part, trimming and shortening and compressing will be beneficial.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): With both symbolic and practical actions, Sagittarius-born Pope Francis has tried to reframe the message of the Catholic Church. He's having public showers installed for the homeless in Vatican City. He has made moves to dismantle the Church's bigotry toward gays. He regularly criticizes growing economic inequality, and keeps reminding politicians that there can be no peace and justice unless they take care of poor and marginalized people. He even invited iconic punk poet Patti Smith to perform at the Vatican Christmas Concert. You now have extra power to exert this kind of initiative in your own sphere, Sagittarius. Be proactive as you push for constructive transformations that will benefit all.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): The limpet is an aquatic snail. When it's scared, it escapes at a rate approaching two inches per hour. If you get flustered in the coming week, Capricorn, I suggest you flee at a speed no faster than the limpet's. I'm making a little joke here. The truth is, if you do get into a situation that provokes anxiety, I don't think you should leave the scene at all. Why? There are two possibilities. First, you may be under the influence of mistaken ideas or habitual responses that are causing you to be nervous about something there's no need to be nervous about. Or second, if you are indeed in an authentic bind, you really do need to deal with it, not run away.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Science-fiction novelist Philip K. Dick has been one of my favorite authors since I discovered his work years ago. I love how he reconfigured my mind with his metaphysical riffs about politics and his prophetic questions about what's real and what's not. Recently I discovered he once lived in a house that's a few blocks from where I now live. While he was there, he wrote two of his best books. I went to the place and found it was unoccupied. That night I slept in a sleeping bag on the back porch, hoping to soak up inspiration. It worked! Afterwards, I had amazing creative breakthroughs for days. I recommend a comparable ritual for you, Aquarius. Go in quest of greatness that you want to rub off on you.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Do you enjoy telling people what to do? Are you always scheming to increase your influence over everyone whose life you touch? If you are a typical Pisces, the answer to those questions is no. The kind of power you are interested in is power over yourself. You mostly want to be the boss of you. Right now is a favourable time to intensify your efforts to succeed in this glorious cause. I suggest you make aggressive plans to increase your control over your own destiny.
Homework: What gifts do you want for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Yule, and the winter solstice? Write to Buddha Claus at email@example.com.