Sign-by-Sign Horoscopes for February

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This is a time of facing crippling doubts, then taking action, or more likely, action taking you. Though ruled by aggressive Mars, working on self-confidence is always a fine use of time for ARIES (March 21-April 19), and the sense of weakness you're destined to conquer is that for whatever reason, your ideas or actions are not popular. They may not be. It hardly matters; life is a spontaneous process, and the most important events will seem to develop by accident, so pay attention all the time, even (especially!) if you feel totally lost, overwhelmed or unknown. Call it Karma, but the right thing happens; you can count on it.

There are those moments when the sky opens up, gravity stops and you get to leap. This is one such moment, TAURUS (April 20-May 20), in which all your potentials are increased, the probabilities are adjusted in your favor and the sky is essentially the limit. The key to using these rare moments for their maximum benefit is to aim for the impossible, then negotiate your way there. While you're aiming, notice how you're compromising on what you want, and make adjustments. There are a great many aspects now working in your favor, particularly around what you do professionally and how much you get paid. Success is an aphrodisiac, and desire can get you there.

Some astrologers use hundreds of asteroids to cast their charts; others use eight seemingly non-existent planets called Uranians; I am partial to the strange-but-true Centaur planets. A Shaman might read sticks and bones, while some people do a fine job with Tarot cards. For GEMINI (May 21-June 20), this is a good time to remember that we are the message we receive from the gods. There is no objective reality in "reading the signs." I suggest that if you happen to pick up on any eerie forebodings this month, before you panic, tune into your sexual energy. Dark omens and the fear of death or apocalypse are usually signs of frustration. Bright omens are evidence of sexual, and therefore psychic, balance. I realize that this has been a difficult time for your sense of trust in the world, and trust is necessary for passion. It will come.

Investigative journalist Karl Grossman once remarked that America doesn't have a culture, it has an economy. And in that economy, the real value of things is often deeply obscured hype and obsession over fashion value or alleged cash worth. For CANCER (June 21-July 22), this is a good time to make some serious adjustments in your personal values; it seems that much of what in the past you've considered luxuries now turn out to be a necessities, and much of what you considered necessities actually were of little consequence to your well-being. I suggest, as well, that you go on a hunt for any extra responsibilities that someone may have persuaded you were a service to humanity but are really just a waste of time. Now is a great moment for wiggling out of things.

I don't blame you for being on edge, LEO (July 23-Aug. 22). You are surely in a moment in which you must reckon your life against forces that seem so much larger than yourself, and in which the changes happening both around you and within you seem inevitable and out of control. But who says they are? These are powerful days, and you are a powerful person. You forget so easily, I know. My astrological advice is to be suspicious of any situation, emotion or person that makes you feel inferior. It's probably a fraud. My second bit of advice is to rise to every occasion. Yes, the Titans are in town, and the Grand Masters and the Dark Wizards of the Wind. Give them a big roar.

The Course in Miracles has a whole section devoted to the idea of remembering the present. Memory, says the weird blue book, is generally perceived to be about recall of the past, yet in truth, it's the reality of NOW that we forget so easily and need to remember. For VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sep. 22), I see a kind of confrontation with awareness, the dawning of a radical sense of the quality of the moment, of each individual moment and what it reflects. Practice this and watch what happens: Vast libraries of knowledge are rediscovered in an instant of insight; masteries gained through a lifetime of struggle, then forgotten, can return to awareness, and just in the nick of time.

Risk is opportunity. Calculated risk is a way of taking chances with your eyes open, but of course, there is still always the potential for failure. Life would be quite boring otherwise. For LIBRA (Sep. 23-Oct. 22), this is the time to set your standards for joy, pleasure and using your creative power. The risk of desiring happiness is that you might not actually get to live as well as you want; the risk of using your creativity is that you don't always have control over that which you bring in to the world (children are a good example of this, but ask any artist and they'll tell you the same thing). The things we make also have the power to remake us, but that's the chance you'll have to take.

Writing horoscopes is serious business. You don't get to clown around that much, because everyone, including me, is afraid that someone will take a joke the wrong way and suddenly freak out and have a terrible life. Being a SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) is also serious business. Astrologers are terrified of you guys because you're so intense and your hair is so dark and a fleeting moment of eye contact with you can be as exhilarating than a night of sex with two people of any other signs simultaneously. However, this is to inform you that I am putting us both on a diet of Life Light for the next six months. Lighter relationships, lighter philosophical ponderings, a lighter outlook toward love and especially toward sex. Take a breath. Everything's gonna be fine.

I was playing with the Rider Tarot the other day, and pulled out the Queen of Wands and thought of you, SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 23-Dec. 21). It was partly her sunny disposition, but mostly it was the little black cat at her feet. Tarot people know this dark critter represents the struggles she's successfully come through, and the tamed dark side of her nature. In the past, people have been very mean to black cats, but I've known a few of them personally, and I've noticed that they're very friendly, outgoing creatures, claws, teeth and all. Most of the time evil is a matter of perception. The stars are with you; accept no ill omens this month. Kiss the kitty.

This is a time for taking stock, or doing what I call a "values inventory," CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) Stars this month point to a kind of final test for conventional wisdom, revenge on all the pundits who think they're so smart because they helped get the world in the great shape that it's in. I am declaring it open season on all the "common sense" and "practical information" and "good advice" that was pumped into your ears, nose and throat by assorted elders, aunts, uncles, parents, big brothers, big sisters, big bosses, petty tyrants and especially, especially teachers. Size it up against what you now know from experience to be true. Guaranteed, if you do this right, you will come up with a list of at least 10 wrong things that you didn't even know you believed that are totally screwing up your ability to think clearly.

We think we're so smart here, like we have it all figured out. Science has gotten to the bottom of reality, the IRS assigns sixth-month fetuses Social Security Numbers and televangelists and Mormons on bikes have pretty much colonized all of philosophy, psychology and sex. My dear AQUARIUS (Jan. 19-Feb. 18), you probably know better. You probably spend a lot of your time wondering how in the name of creation we are able to function splattered onto a little rock flung out at the far edge of the galaxy, in the dark, in the cold, alone most of the time, with no guaranteed food, in a totally unpredictable psychological framework, with everyone lying like banshees, swamped in emotions to boot. Thank God somebody understands; that would be you. The eclipse in your sign this month signifies the fact of your coming one step further on the road to moral leadership in these very wacky times. I urge you to assert your authority at least three times this month.

This moment has a quality of finality to it, does it not, PISCES (Feb. 19-Mar. 20)? Isn't there something momentous and important in the air? Some sense of inevitable change, though the process may be invisible right now to everything but your instincts? Something just a little trippy? With your ruling planet, the mighty Jupiter, making its final sweep through your sign these weeks, don't take anything for granted. Be especially mindful of the ideas of closure and completion, and consider just how much you have learned, and how far you have come in the past twelve years, and how prepared for life you now are. Be generous with your opinions of yourself. Give yourself some room to visualize and create and even conquer. And as for that pearl of information you've been nagging the universe to produce, that little master key to the gemstone file? Be patient. It's on its way.

THE THIRTEENTH SIGN (For the Faithful) The astrological keyword for February is "eclipse." There is an eclipse of the Leo Moon on Jan. 31, and an eclipse of the Aquarius Sun on Feb. 16. Happening every five-and-a-half months, eclipses mark distinct times in both collective history and personal history, and arrive with a sense of accelerated growth, momentum and a closely lingering atmosphere of fate. For the curious, I advise you to just watch what happens. For the bold, those people who use astrology as a conscious growth tool, then eclipses are the most powerful springboard you can work with; they are like energy gateways through which you can propel yourself like a rocket. Skeptics may say nay. I just say hey. Have a nice day!

Cut the grease, clear your karma, be more free, have more fun. Eric Francis is a professional astrologer doing private consultations. For information about private readings, contact Eric at Office phone: (914) 339-3339.