Aug. 23-29, 2006

Virgo (Aug. 23–Sept. 22)

This week, the first week with the sun in Virgo, deserves some celebration. That means it's time to release the party animal I know (or at least suspect) is hidden beneath your pragmatic exterior. Most of the year you're like an industrious and indefatigable ant, but right now you need to be the carefree grasshopper. After all, what's all that hard work for, unless it occasionally earns you a guilt-free vacation of sorts? You could have a blast this week, if you let yourself. Are you so set in your ways that you'd deny yourself fun (which you can well afford)?

Libra (Sept. 23–Oct. 22)

No silly whispering behind your hand this week, Libra. I know you practice discretion out of natural tact and concern for others' feelings (as well as for your own reputation), but right now anything worth saying is worth saying loudly and openly. Own your words and opinions, and stand by them (or, if you're open-minded enough, truly reconsider them) when they're challenged. Sneakiness is an undeniably ugly trait, and even though I know your prudence isn't exactly underhandedness, it's likely to be interpreted as such. Be loud and bold this week when you speak. If you think you can't do that, then please just don't say anything at all.

Scorpio (Oct. 23–Nov. 21)

Your craving for extremes makes you procrastinate. You believe you function best under tremendous pressure. You might even think that it's the only way you can perform, but that's not exactly true. Because of your habit of waiting until the last possible minute, you've probably become conditioned to working only under desperate circumstances. But you don't actually have to wait until the outside world leans on you that hard. There's a trick that someone with your astute grasp of mental manipulation can perform: choosing to believe that your circumstances have indeed become dire when they haven't (yet). It's a self-deception I suggest you learn and practice this week; if you wait until what you think is the last minute, it'll already be too late.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22–Dec. 21)

You're definitely not a sore loser. But to be fair, you haven't had much practice at it, since you win so often. Luckily, you're mostly a gracious winner, instead of gloating and lording your prowess over those less fortunate. Don't forget that decent habit this week, when your victories will (once again) far outnumber your losses. Even for someone with luck as incredible as yours, this winning streak can't last. When those you've trounced trounce you back, you'll be glad you treated them right when you were on top, because they're quite likely to return the favor once your positions are reversed.

Capricorn (Dec. 22–Jan. 19)

Getting to know you is a process of becoming familiar with one idiosyncrasy after another. There's no one around who looks more "normal" at first glance but proves to be anything but, the deeper one explores. Consequently, all of you have experienced this at some point: Someone drawn to your "ordinary" facade is scared off by your extraordinary and deep inner world. That could be the case with anyone new who's recently come into your life, if your surprise them with your weirdness after they've already formed much blander impressions of you. May I suggest flaunting your quirks this week? You might indeed freak a few people out, but better now than later.

Aquarius (Jan. 20–Feb. 18)

You've heard the adage "Keep your friends close but your enemies closer," right? Bullshit—at least this week. You need to get as far away from those you dislike or disagree with, in favor of having some truly sweet moments with those you love, moments your foes could and would spoil if given the chance. That wise saw intends to protect you by giving you insight into your enemies' plots against you, but these guys aren't clever enough to really screw you over, even if they catch you totally by surprise. So ditch them. Go hang, instead, with the people who are really worthy of your time.

Pisces (Feb. 19–March 20)

Just keep plugging away at whatever it is you're working on. Even though it may seem as if you have an interminably long road ahead of you, you're actually much closer to the finish line than you think. The only problem is you won't know how close you are until you actually cross the thing. So all you can really do for now is keep inching forward and not give up. It's totally an act of faith, and especially of self-belief. But luckily you, dreamy Pisces, because of your many acts of well-meaning self-delusion, are eminently suited for it.

Aries (March 21–April 19)

Some trees and plants require the destructive force of a fire to explode into life. Their seeds wait patiently, sometimes for decades, for the incredible heat of a massive blaze that signals that their window of opportunity has finally come. Now that the trees that have dominated their territory have been killed or stripped down, they have an opening to grab some sunlight and space for themselves. You, too, are waiting for just such a sign. To germinate prematurely would mean certain doom, as you'd starve for lack of nourishment in the shadows of those who've had years to establish themselves. What am I hinting at? Patience. That's what's required now. Wait for your moment, Aries. It's coming, but it's not here yet.

Taurus (April 20–May 20)

You're being forged. You shouldn't regard your troubles purely as curses. Yeah, they suck, but they have a silver lining, too: They make you, and your relationships, stronger. Those who suffer together also bond; they form connections of much greater intimacy and resilience than those who've only shared pleasant times in each other's company. Remember that this week, if it's not all sunshine and roses. This shit won't break you, or your relationships. It's just going to make them that much more powerful and enduring. In that way, it's not so much a curse as, ultimately, a blessing.

Gemini (May 21–June 20)

Your world is trembling this week, Gemini. All you crave is feeling something solid beneath your feet, but tremors are shaking your foundations at the moment. This could be quite alarming, I realize, but please try to stay calm. The earthquakes rocking your landscape are actually quite gentle. They're not going to knock down any buildings, disrupt any power lines, or generate any tsunamis. At most, they're likely to blow down cobwebs, unearth bits of buried treasure, and finally give you an excuse to run into the arms of those you've been wanting to share that kind of intimacy with. You've been waiting for just this kind of opening. Now use it.

Cancer (June 21–July 22)

There's a time for romance, but there's also a time for practicality. Sometimes it's nice to dance around a delicate subject, but occasionally it's better to just be blunt and lay all your cards on the table. You could easily choose either method this week, probably with similar results. But the direct and honest approach will also earn you a bit of respect, since lately you've developed a reputation for beating around the bush and taking ages just to get to your point. Speak out, Cancer. Tell it like it is. It's easier, faster, and just as effective (at least this time) as exercising pointless tact.

Leo (July 23–Aug. 22)

Let's face it—even the most evolved Leo has habits born of a powerful ego drive. And every one of us has had the experience of feeling let down—just when you most needed the intoxicating lift of a compliment or some kind of validation, you didn't get it. This usually sends younger Leos into a temporary spiral of depression or harsh self-criticism. As you get older, however, you learn to provide more and more of your own encouragement. It's still nice when you get some outside recognition for whatever you're up to, but you need it less and less. This week, when external validation continues to soar, don't let your inner strength go soft and flabby from lack of use. Popular acclaim can't last forever. You'll want those emotional muscles strong for whenever they get their next workout.

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