(Aug. 23-Sept. 22):
In 1786, Jacques Balmat and Michel Paccard were the first explorers to reach the top of 15,781-foot Mont Blanc on the French-Italian border. They were hailed as heroes. One observer wrote that the ascent was "an astounding achievement of courage and determination, one of the greatest in the annals of mountaineering. It was accomplished by men who were not only on unexplored ground but on a route that all the guides believed impossible." And yet today, 228 years later, the climb is considered relatively easy for anyone who's reasonably prepared. In a typical year, 20,000 people make it to the summit. Why am I bringing this to your attention? Because I suspect that you are beginning to master a skill that will initially require you to be like Balmat and Paccard, but will eventually be almost routine.
ARIES (March 21-April 19): In the 2000 film Cast Away, Tom Hanks plays an American FedEx executive who is stranded alone on a remote Pacific island after he survives a plane crash. A few items from the plane wash up on shore, including a volleyball. He draws a face on it and names it Wilson, creating a companion who becomes his confidant for the next four years. I'd love to see you enlist an ally like Wilson in the coming week, Aries. There are some deep, messy, beautiful mysteries you need to talk about. At least for now, the only listener capable of drawing them out of you in the proper spirit might be a compassionate inanimate object that won't judge you or interrupt you.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): As far as I know, there has been only one battleship in history that was named after a poet. A hundred years ago, the Italian navy manufactured a dreadnought with triple-gun turrets and called it Dante Alighieri, after the medieval genius who wrote the Divine Comedy. Other than that, most warships have been more likely to receive names like Invincible, Vengeance, Hercules or Colossus. But it would be fine if you drew some inspiration from the battleship Dante Alighieri in the coming weeks. I think you will benefit from bringing a lyrical spirit and soulful passion to your expression of the warrior archetype.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): If you go to a 7-Eleven convenience store and order a Double Big Gulp drink, you must be prepared to absorb 40 teaspoons of sugar. But what will be an even greater challenge to your body is the sheer amount of fluid you will have to digest: 50 ounces. The fact is, your stomach can't easily accommodate more than 32 ounces at a time. It's true that if you sip the Double Big Gulp very slowly — like for a period of three and a half hours — the strain on your system will be less. But after the first half hour, as the beverage warms up, its taste will decline steeply. Everything I've just said should serve as a useful metaphor for you in the coming week. Even if you are very sure that the stuff you want to introduce into your life is healthier for you than a Double Big Gulp, don't get more of it than you can comfortably hold.
CANCER (June 21-July 22): If you surrender to the passive part of your personality, you will be whipped around by mood swings in the coming days. You will hem and haw, snivel and procrastinate, communicate ineptly, and be confused about what you really feel. If, on the other hand, you animate the proactive side of your personality, you are likely to correct sloppy arrangements that have kept you off balance. You will heal rifts and come up with bright ideas about how to get the help you need. It's also quite possible you will strike a blow for justice and equality and finally get the fair share you were cheated out of in the past.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): In his 1982 martial arts film Dragon Lord, Jackie Chan experimented with more complex stunts than he had tried in his previous films. The choreography was elaborate and intricate. In one famous sequence, he had to do 2,900 takes of a single fight sequence to get the footage he wanted. That's the kind of focused attention and commitment to detail I recommend to you in the coming weeks, Leo — especially if you are learning new tricks and attempting novel approaches.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Those who invoke the old metaphor about the caterpillar that transforms into the butterfly often omit an important detail: the graceful winged creature is helpless and weak when it first wriggles free of its chrysalis. For a while it's not ready to take up its full destiny. As you get ready for your own metamorphosis, Libra, keep that in mind. Have plans to lay low and be self-protective in the days following your emergence into your new form. Don't try to do loop-the-loops right away.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): According to my analysis of the astrological omens, you Scorpios are currently the sign of the zodiac that is least likely to be clumsy, vulgar, awkward or prone to dumb mistakes. On the other hand, you are the most likely to derisively accuse others of being clumsy, vulgar, awkward or prone to dumb mistakes. I recommend that you resist that temptation, however. In the coming week, it is in your selfish interests to be especially tactful and diplomatic. Forgive and quietly adjust for everyone's mistakes. Don't call undue attention to them or make them worse. Continue to build your likeability and fine-tune your support system.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): You have cosmic permission to be bigger than life and wilder than sin. You have a poetic license to be more wise than clever. And you should feel free to laugh longer than might seem polite and make no apologies as you spill drinks while telling your brash stories. This phase of your astrological cycle does not require you to rein yourself in or tone yourself down or be a well-behaved model citizen. In fact, I think it will be best for everyone concerned if you experiment with benevolent mischief and unpredictable healing and ingenious gambles.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): For over 2,000 years, Chinese astronomers have understood the science of eclipses. And yet as late as the 1800s, sailors in the Chinese navy shot cannonballs in the direction of lunar eclipses, hoping to chase away the dragons they imagined were devouring the moon. I have a theory that there's a similar discrepancy in your psyche, Capricorn. A fearful part of you has an irrational fantasy that a wiser part of you knows is a delusion. So how can we arrange for the wiser part to gain ascendancy? There's an urgent need for you to stop wasting time and energy by indulging in that mistaken perspective.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Squirrels don't have a perfect memory of where they bury their nuts. They mean to go back and dig them all up later, but they lose track of many. Sometimes trees sprout from those forgotten nuts. It's conceivable that on occasion a squirrel may climb a tree it planted years earlier. I see this as a useful metaphor for you to meditate on in the coming weeks. You are on the verge of encountering grown-up versions of seeds you sowed once upon a time and then forgot about.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): On a German TV show, martial artist Jackie Chan performed a tough trick. While holding a raw egg in his right hand, he used that hand to smash through three separate sets of four concrete blocks. When he was finished, the egg was still intact. I see your next task as having some resemblances to that feat, Pisces. You must remain relaxed, protective and even tender as you destroy an obstruction that has been holding you back. Can you maintain this dual perspective long enough to complete the job? I think you can.