Sept. 20-26, 2006

Libra (Sept. 23–Oct. 22)

Manatees are smarter than we previously believed. What we thought of as endearingly dumb, shortsighted, and gentle cows of the sea are actually more engaged and intelligent than we were able to see at first. Perhaps it's because we're naturally drawn toward faster animals, like leopards, hawks, and sharks. But there's virtue to be had in slow things, too. Keep that in mind this week; the best parts and people are likely to be gentle, peaceful, and unhurried, not attention-grabbing, clever, and fast. Avoid the latter and seek the former. They're just what you need.

Scorpio (Oct. 23–Nov. 21)

I love being startled. I can't tell you how many times my neighbor (without even trying) has somehow surprised me on the stairs, making my heart pound and my knees pleasantly weak. It's always good for a laugh afterward, which is really the best part. You, on the other hand, tend to detest real surprises, so you don't always react with such good humor and pleasure when they manage to sneak up on you. However, I suggest you marshal whatever ability you do have to laugh at these little surprises, because you're likely to be subject to a lot of them—if not this week, then in the weeks to come. If you don't learn to enjoy them—at least a little—you're in for a shitty time.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22–Dec. 21)

I was sitting in a friend's house, sweating through September's last summer hurrah, and wishing I could cool off. Imagine my pleasure when I literally reached out my right arm and my hand fell upon a lovely bamboo fan. I grabbed my laptop because I knew what I needed to tell you: What you need is within such easy reach it's ridiculous, only you'll never see it if you're looking for it. It'll only be there when you hold your hand out, truly without expectation, and see what drops into it. Sounds easy, right? No, it's actually way harder than you'd think. Nevertheless, I think you have a good chance of pulling it off.

Capricorn (Dec. 22–Jan. 19)

I'm working on a novel, and today I realized I had to kill one of my beloved characters. I'd known for ages, but I was too selfish or kindhearted to let him go. However, the story demanded it. You, too, have been avoiding a hard outcome you'd rather not face. I don't blame you. You're worse off; what you have to do isn't as bad as what I did, but who you have to do it to is made of flesh and blood, with a soul and emotions as real as your own, not someone you made up. But that doesn't change things. Luckily, you can choose how. I had to let my character die cruelly; it made the best story. You can afford to be kinder. Make the cut, but do it as gently as you can.

Aquarius (Jan. 20–Feb. 18)

Apparently, a very high number of rescue workers who helped after the World Trade Center fell are now suffering from a variety of respiratory illnesses. It's not altogether surprising, given the kinds of toxins they were breathing in at that time. What's shocking is that many of them are having trouble getting appropriate medical care for these problems. They should be getting top-notch expert care, free of charge. People shouldn't necessarily be rewarded for doing the right thing, but they ought to be taken care of after they've done so, not screwed over. Remember that, this week, when you're in a position to give someone the help they need and deserve.

Pisces (Feb. 19–March 20)

It's like you're hunting for that perfect gift, but you have no idea what it is. So essentially you're wandering around aimlessly and hoping the right thing will somehow hit you over the head and surprise you with its utter perfection. Surprisingly, this strategy actually works for you Fish (it's a disaster for the rest of us), but it depends on keeping your mind absolutely blank. Even a vague idea ("Maybe a book . . . ") can prevent you from noticing the exact right thing, because you'll be at least halfway searching for a book, instead of the shower curtain or shoes that would actually constitute the most apt gift. It's not often that I recommend a blank mind, but this week that's my suggestion. Avoid thinking; it'll just get in your way.

Aries (March 21–April 19)

OK, it's compromise time. You've accepted that, but you're not sure the other person has. Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do about that. All we know for sure is that if you stay where you are, nothing's going to happen. Do you really want to remain in that lame place? No, I didn't think so. So what if you can't see what the other person is up to? You've got to do what you've got to do: Act on faith and meet the person halfway. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised when she/he is already there, waiting for you.

Taurus (April 20–May 20)

"It's my way or the highway." Damn, you've always wanted to say that in earnest. Well, this week you'll get the chance. You're able to call the shots here, and all those involved will listen. You may not like the choices they make—more might select the highway than you'd imagined—but it's better you figure that out now, not later. It's about time you knew for sure where certain people stand. If they decide to walk away, that's their call, and you can deal with that later. Wooing them back with a compromise is certainly an option; starting with a compromise, however, in this case is not.

Gemini (May 21–June 20)

It's like you've got this annoying tickle in your throat, but no matter how much you cough or drink, it won't go away. I hate to compare a person to that phenomenon, but you have to admit it's kind of accurate. However, the strategies you're contemplating to get rid of the annoyance are something equivalent to surgically removing your own neck just to address the dry tickle within it. There's got to be something less drastic you can do. This week, figure out what that is, because there's no need for the kind of melodrama you'd enact otherwise.

Cancer (June 21–July 22)

We both know the problems you have with letting go. Even when you know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the only hope you have of getting what you want is by utterly releasing all desire for it, it's sometimes almost impossible to do so. You grip it, crablike, until it's dead and truly beyond your reach. Now, you ought to be incredibly busy this week with cleaning out your life from the bottom up, but please spare a moment for your soul as well. Practice release, on both counts. There's a lot of crap— inside and outside you—that you'd be better off without.

Leo (July 23–Aug. 22)

It doesn't matter if you bring a photo with you to the hairdresser. It won't matter what well-honed eloquence you wield to describe your desired new do. They won't get it right, not this week. This isn't only advice about your hair; just about anything where you rely on someone else to manifest your vision is likely to go awry at the moment. It might be best to put those projects on hold for a while, or risk them going in entirely the wrong direction. Don't chance it. You've got plenty of other things you can work on (and play at).

Virgo (Aug. 23–Sept. 22)

It's not that you're not spiritual. Most Virgos have a strong soulful streak; it's just not as obvious as it would be on a Cancer or Pisces. You don't have time to hang around in church or sit in the corner staring at a wall. You're too busy for that shit. No, you've got to get your spiritual groove on while on the go. I get that, but squeezing it in somewhere is something you've got to do. Now. Waiting in traffic, on the train, inside elevators—find a time to click off your cell phone and get in a few minutes of quiet time with your higher power. If you don't get in touch now, they might cut you off completely, and that would suck.

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