Taurus (April 20-May 20): "Can we twist God's arm to guarantee our own good fortune?" asks Catholic priest Sean Olaoire. Ninety-nine percent of the time, Taurus, my reply would be as follows: "Of course not, and anyone who thinks the answer's yes is a greedy, deluded egotist." However, I believe that during the next 12 months, there will be certain times when I'll be willing to reverse my opinion for you. Let me suggest, though, that if you do decide to lobby the Lord in behalf of your selfish desires, then they should be identical to the selfish desires of at least two (and preferably more than four) other people you care for.
Gemini (May 21-June 20): In retrospect, I conclude that your slogan for 1997 must have been something like "We're not Number 1, but we're right up there!" And who am I to tell you that's not good enough? Maybe second or third best is a realistic goal for you. And besides, you're the only one who truly knows how hard to push yourself. Having said all that, however, I must tell you this. If you are quite comfortable with the modest success you've garnered, or if you would be queasy about confronting tougher competition, you should probably boycott my column in 1998. I plan to be exhorting you to heights of accomplishment you've never dared to dream of, let alone ask for before.
Cancer (June 21-July 22): I'm secretly harboring a fantasy that sometime in 1998 you'll be able to slip away to a cottage in the Italian countryside for a few weeks and do nothing but read and take long walks and build fires in the fireplace. If you're not nursing the same fantasy, tell me: That way we can get on the same wavelength, which'll be crucial if we're going to combine our forces to translate your dream into reality. Please describe your vision of a relaxing getaway, and send it to "Escape in '98," PO Box 150247, San Rafael, CA 94915. Or e-mail me via the Web at www.realastrology.com/.
Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): According to research by a condom company, the average North American has sex 148 times a year and does it for 24.8 minutes per session. If that's true, you Leos living in the United States and Canada can expect to boink at least 200 times in 1998. Astrological indicators suggest it'll be one of the most amorous years on record for your tribe. Since your typical frolic is also likely to exceed half an hour, that means you'll probably make love for over a hundred hours in the next 12 months. Kudos!
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): I've got the perfect epigram to guide you through 1998. It's a quote from the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Memorize it. Write it in lipstick on your bathroom mirror. Most importantly, inscribe it in your heart so that it may become a beacon for those gorgeous creatures who're worthy of hearing it cross your lips -- or of whispering it in your ear. Here's your magic formula: "I want to do with you what spring does to the cherry trees."
Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Being on one's knees is usually considered to be an act of submission. But my 6-year-old daughter Zoe and her friend Katherine have mutated the posture into a boisterous sport. Using their Rollerblade pads as cushions, they gleefully scoot across the floor on their knees, holding their feet up behind them. And what does this have to do with you, Libra? Well, I believe their example could help you meet the challenges that'll face you in 1998. Let it inspire you to take situations that would normally make you feel humble or weak or embarrassed, and turn them into sources of exuberance and power.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): My Scorpio mom visited me recently. Since she's been a respectable conservative all her adult life, I was surprised when she greeted me wearing a sweat shirt bearing the slogan "Create Havoc." I asked if she'd converted to hedonistic anarchy, or was plotting to overthrow the government. "Nope," she replied. "I'm just ready to tinker with some of my own personal taboos." I interpret this to be a synchronicity that confirms my reading of the astrological omens for your tribe in 1998. In February, Jupiter will begin its leisurely yearlong cruise through your House of Liberating Love. During that time, I imagine you won't need to remain anywhere near so fanatically faithful to your tired old traditions. You'll be inspired to create all the best kind of havoc.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): In her book When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, Buddhist nun Pema Chodron quotes a Chinese sage. "Truth," he said, "is like a dog yearning over a bowl of burning oil. He can't leave it, because it is too desirable, and he can't lick it, because it is too hot." I bring this up, Sagittarius, because I believe 1998 will be a year when seeking the truth will bring you more rewards than questing for beauty, love, justice, or anything else. Not only that: There will be many times when that oil the Chinese sage referred to will merely be warm, not boiling.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): The word "amateur" has a negative connotation these days, but let's remember that it comes from the Latin word for "lover." Let's also note that the dictionary's primary definition of the term is as follows: "a person who engages in a study, sport, or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefit or professional reasons." I mention this, Capricorn, because I'd be very happy if you brought more of the amateur spirit into every area of your life in 1998. More curiosity and frisky experimentation, please, and less know-it-all expertise! More fun and games and fewer Machiavellian plots!
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): If you've been aligned with your astrological destiny in 1997, you have experienced a growing inability to hear yourself tell the same old stories over and over again. If you're attuned to your cosmic purpose in 1998, you will shut your mouth every time you feel the urge to reanimate the past. And that will set the stage for you to begin living out adventures that will provide fodder for fresh new stories for years to come.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20): Let's see if we can drum up a few metaphors to suggest what 1998 will bring for you Pisceans. Here are a few good possibilities: 1) You'll be like what happens when the cap is suddenly removed from a can of soda that's been shaken up. 2) You'll be like a wrongfully jailed prisoner who makes a daring escape and tracks down the evidence that'll exonerate you. 3) You'll be like a dragon that wakes from a long accidental nap to find that thieves are about to make off with the treasure you were supposed to be guarding.