ARIES (March 21-April 19): “Just because everything is different doesn’t mean anything has changed,” said writer Irene Peter. That should be cautionary advice for you in 2011, Aries. From what I can tell, it will be relatively easy for you to rearrange the way things look, but trickier to transform them from the inside out. You will have to be vigilant to keep from getting swept up in the giddiness of big talk at the expense of practical action. You’ll have to push hard to make sure that seductive ideas are translated into concrete details. Can you do it? I think you can.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): In 1967, John McCain was a U.S. Navy pilot fighting in Vietnam. Shot down during a bombing mission, he was captured and jailed in the notorious Hanoi Hilton prison camp, where he was tortured. After being freed in 1973, he returned to the U.S. and eventually launched a political career. When he ran for president in 2008, his candidacy got an endorsement from an unlikely source: Tran Trong Duyet, the Vietnamese prison commander who had supervised his torture. In the coming months, Taurus, I expect you to experience a turnaround that will have comparable poetic justice. I’m not sure how it will unfold. Maybe an adversary will praise you, a person who wounded you will make amends, or a force of nature that once opposed you will come over to your side. Twenty-eleven will be a Year of Vindicating Reversals.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Can you finally escape the pain you got imprinted with during adolescence? Is it a realistic possibility that you could triumph over the conditioning you absorbed before you knew how to talk? Do you have the power to do what few of us have done, which is to get out from under the weight of the past, shed the inertia of your memories, and live brave and free in the raw truth of NOW? If there will ever in your life be a time when you can accomplish at least some of this noble quest, Gemini, it will be in 2011.
CANCER (June 21-July 22): Decades ago, the U.S. built a network of sleek expressways to make it fast and easy for cars to travel between cities. But like many of America’s impressive engineering feats, this one took little account of what the human soul might enjoy. Ugly buildings or empty spaces surround many of those roads. Visually, the difference between I-95 in Georgia and I-74 in Illinois is negligible. “The Interstate highway system has made it possible,” said Charles Kuralt, “to go from sea to shining sea without seeing anything.” You cannot afford to let this be your operative metaphor in 2011, Cancerian. Your potential for rapid, extensive progress is sizable, but it would be a mistake to barrel along with your eyes fixed on the prize in the distance as you neglect what’s happening along the way. Be both global and local; romance the details as you revel in the big picture.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Fixing people’s teeth is one of Dr. Peter Kertesz’s specialties. The British dentist has a thriving business in London. Now and then he’s also called on to practice an exotic variation: animal dentistry. Recently, he corrected the tooth problems of two tigers in a zoo. Other species he has helped include elephants, whales and pandas. In 2011, Leo, I suggest you consider branching out like Dr. Kertesz. What would be the equivalent, in your domain, of expanding the ways you use your primary skills?
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): “What can I do with this eternal longing?” That’s the first line of “Assouf,” a song by the African band Tinariwen. During the rest of the tune, the singer never offers a definitive answer to that plea, but as he tumbles and rumbles over the possibilities, the band plays a lot of righteous music. I suggest that you make Tinariwen’s cry your question of the year in 2011. It will be an excellent use of your time to meditate on how to call forth, nurture and direct your ineffable, insatiable yearning. (Hear the song: tinyurl.com/Assouf.)
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): In 2011, I believe you will have the chance to weave your fortunes together with an abundance of allies who are good for you. They will be your equals, they will share at least some of your most important values, and they will respect you for who you are. That’s excellent news, right? My only worry is that you might shy away from the demands that such invigorating collaborations will make on you. It would be less work, after all, to fall back into reliance on more prosaic relationships that don’t ask so much of you. Please don’t take the easy way out, Libra. Rise to the occasion!
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Michelangelo didn’t think of himself as primarily a painter. Sculpture was his first love. Yet in 1508 he was coaxed into painting prodigious frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. As he worked for four years, covering 12,000 square feet with sublime images, he sometimes complained and felt resentful. The project took him away from two large sculptures he would have preferred to be working on. He feared his enemies had convinced the Pope to give him this task in order to demonstrate how mediocre his painting was. But today his work at the Sistine Chapel is regarded as a masterpiece. I suspect that in 2011 you may face a version of Michelangelo’s dilemma, Scorpio: being offered a job you don’t consider your forte. It’s quite possible, however, that accepting this “diversion” will yield interesting results.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): “When I became a man I put away childish things,” said Sagittarian author C.S. Lewis, “including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” I suggest you take up that attitude yourself in 2011, Sagittarius. One of your top assignments in the coming months will be to play with greater intensity and more frequency and a heightened imagination. If you want to achieve your adult goals, you’ll be wise to re-create your childhood wisdom on a higher octave.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): “We Americans are the best informed people on Earth as to the events of the last 24 hours,” wrote historian Will Durant some decades ago. “We are not the best informed as to the events of the last 60 centuries,” he concluded. Today this describes many Westerners, not just Americans. We are adrift in the Age of the Short Attention Span — a time when the lessons of the past are becoming lost or irrelevant. But in 2011, I’ll be rooting for you to elude this curse, Capricorn. It’s crucial for you to be in close touch with both the lessons provided by the grand sweep of human civilization and by your own personal history.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): “The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority,” said author A.A. Milne. “The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking.” You will have an excellent chance to cultivate that definition of a first-rate mind in 2011, Aquarius. According to my reading of the astrological omens, life will be conspiring to strengthen your brain. You will have everything going for you if you make it your intention to sharpen your wits, use language more precisely, and see the world with greater clarity and objectivity. To get the fun started, make a list of what you could do to push your intelligence beyond its current limits.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): “Anything you’re good at contributes to happiness,” said philosopher Bertrand Russell. If I had my way, Pisces, you’d write that on a note and tape it to your bathroom mirror for the duration of 2011. I think it would raise your appreciation for the power your personal gifts have to bestow blessings on both yourself and others. And I hope it would inspire you to spend a lot of quality time finding out all you can about what you’re good at and deepening your capacity to do what you’re good at.