ARIES (March 21-April 19) "Like an ox-cart driver in monsoon season or the skipper of a grounded ship, one must sometimes go forward by going back," wrote John Barth in The Friday Book. Consider that approach. Retreat may be the strongest move you can make right now; surrender could turn out to be a masterstroke. But in order to get the most out of this strategy, you've got to keep your ego from injecting its agendas into situations. Don't act out of shame or pride; don't humble yourself excessively or be burning for revenge. Be objective, neutral, poised.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20) One of my favorite memories is gazing into my daughter's face just moments after her complicated birth. She had been through a heroic ordeal that scared the hell out of me, and yet she looked calm, beatific and amused. "She's part Buddha and part elf," I thought as I held her in my arms. I saw elegant compassion blended with wise playfulness, two states I had never before witnessed in the same person. This unexpected marvel imprinted me deeply, and has informed my work ever since. Do you have a comparable memory? A time when a key to your destiny was revealed to you? A turning point when you got a gift that has fueled your quest for years? This is not only a good time to revisit that breakthrough; it's also a ripe moment to ask life for another one.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20) The governor of Minnesota has a wife who loves to go fishing. Tim Pawlenty told radio station WCCO that his wife is smitten with the sport. She is genuinely driven to cast her bait into the lake in quest of the catch. "Now, if I could only get her to have sex with me," the governor added, suggesting that her passion for intimate union with him was not as pressing as her urge to fish. While I personally lean toward the position that eros is one of life's best gifts, many people find that the most satisfying and useful way to express their libido is through some nonsexual activity. You may want to consider that possibility, at least in the coming days.

CANCER (June 21-July 22) Normally, you're not the most direct person in the world. Nor are you the most concise. You sometimes sidestep the main issues and take the long way home to the truth. Why, then, have you apparently turned into a sleek paragon of precise communication? To what do we owe your crisp new efficiency, your knack for cutting through the crap, your commitment to saying exactly what you mean? Maybe it has to do with the alignment of the planets. Or maybe you really, really don't want to be misunderstood.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22) Resilience is a quality that allows you to rise above setbacks and find resources in unexpected places. It's a willful instinct to seek the higher ground. It's intensely practical, because it shushes the voices in your head that make negative interpretations of your experience, thereby allowing you to act courageously in your own best interests. This is Resilience Week for you. Call on your dormant reserves.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) Pregnant giraffes give birth standing up. Babies arrive in their new environment with a jolt, hitting the ground after plummeting 6 feet. Upon leaving the womb they are in danger of being preyed upon by animals like leopards and hyenas, which wouldn't dare attack their giant mothers. I'm thinking there's a resemblance between the newborn giraffes and a new project you're working on. Its initial splash into the world may be a bit rocky and fraught with dicey challenges. But I'm here to say that if you're a vigilant caretaker in the early going, it will grow to maturity.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22) My friend Joan was experiencing a cascade of annoying symptoms — poor digestion, headaches, congestion in her ear, itchy skin. None was terrible, but together they were a big distraction. After two trips to her regular acupuncturist, there was little improvement. The acupuncturist decided it was time for more drastic measures: He was going to try a dramatic treatment that was akin to pushing a reset button on a machine. Success! Joan was freed from the nagging ailments and experienced a thorough rejuvenation. I suggest you seek out the equivalent treatment: Push the reset button.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21) "The reality of love is mutilated when it is removed from all its unreality." So said Gaston Bachelard in his book The Poetics of Reverie. He meant that, especially in our intimate relationships, we need fantasy to augment the merely factual perspective. We require poetic truths to keep the rational approach honest. Without the play of the imagination, in fact, our understanding of the world is impoverished and distorted. In this spirit, I invite you to be extra-daydreamy and imaginative about love in the coming days. (P.S. Nietzsche said: "We have art in order not to perish of truth.")

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21) A teacher you will ultimately feel a strong need to learn from has recently become known to you, or will soon become known. A series of lessons you will benefit from studying throughout 2009 is already revealing its contours. I suggest you do some meditation and free-writing about these developments. Making your intuitions more conscious will prime your deep psyche for the work ahead, helping it to attract the experiences you'll require to prepare for your future educational assignments.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) "The whole history of civilization is strewn with creeds and institutions which were invaluable at first, and deadly afterwards," said essayist Walter Bagehot. I would add the following: The fortunes of many individuals have declined because of belief systems and structures that were invigorating earlier in their lives but that gradually became paralyzing or parasitical. Has that ever been true about you? More importantly, might it become true in the future? Please take inventory of your reliance on theories and attitudes and methods that made good sense once upon a time but that are now becoming irrelevant or even counterproductive.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18) "What did you do this summer?" I asked my Aquarian readers. "I didn't build a single sand castle," wrote Emma from Baltimore. "I didn't fall in love. I didn't run through a meadow. But on the other hand, I worked hard on the book I'm writing. I dramatically improved my diet. I watched less TV." I think many of you were like Emma in the past months: more successful at accomplishing practical goals than at having free-form fun. I don't think that's a problem, though; you can't do everything. But these next few weeks before the equinox will be a good time to correct the imbalance.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20) You will have a knack for seeing what has been invisible and for describing what no one else can say. You'll have a talent for perceiving the open secrets that everyone else has refused to notice and for speaking about truths that everyone has avoided articulating. I'm not sure what you've done to attain these wizardly abilities, but the cause isn't really important, is it? Get out there and use your superpowers to generate breakthroughs that will forestall and maybe even cancel sluggish breakdowns in the group processes.

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