ARIES (March 21-April 19): Happy Valentine Daze, Aries! After meditating about what advice would be most useful for your love life during the rest of 2008, I decided on this observation from 17th-century philosopher Sir Francis Bacon: “There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.” In other words, you should raise your appreciation for interesting idiosyncrasies and cute “flaws” and odd proportions. They are not inconvenient imperfections that mar the beauty you need in your life. They are the very essence of it.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Happy Valentine Daze, Taurus! After extensive meditation about what advice would be most useful for your love life in the coming months, I decided on this observation from the Dutch priest and writer Henri Nouwen: “Your body needs to be held and to hold, to be touched and to touch. None of these needs is to be despised, denied, or repressed. But you have to keep searching for your body’s deeper need, the need for genuine love. Every time you are able to go beyond the body’s superficial desires for love, you are bringing your body home and moving toward integration and unity.”
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Happy Valentine Daze, Gemini! During my search for the spark that would be most likely to energize your love life, I found this dose of truth from novelist Tom Robbins: “We waste time looking for the perfect lover, instead of creating the perfect love.” I hope that quote inspires you to shed any tendency you might have to wait for the ideal romantic situation to find its way to you. Instead, establish a habit of visualizing in precise detail the kind of love you want to give and receive. Then work on patiently materializing it.
CANCER (June 21-July 22): Here’s my Valentine message for you, Cancerian: The sea inside of you is not just at high tide, it’s at the highest tide possible — like what happens when the moon is full at the same time that it’s at its closest approach to Earth. To intensify the drama, the sea inside of you is stormy, with torrential rains pouring down from the heaven inside of you as winds bluster and lightning cracks. There are even water spouts rising up now and then. Yet from my perspective, it’s all gorgeous and majestic, a marvelous spectacle worthy of celebration. And since I’m confident no harm will come to you during this elemental interlude, I advise you to just enjoy the ride.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Scholar Suzanne Juhasz says that Emily Dickinson’s eroticism “inflects and charges” most of her poems. “Erotic desire — sensuous, nuanced, flagrant, extreme, outlandish, and profound — is her way of interacting with the world.” From an astrological perspective, it would make perfect sense if you experimented with a similar predilection in the coming days, Leo. During the superheated grace period you’ll be enjoying, interesting things are likely to happen if you basically make love to the whole world. The urge to merge shouldn’t just be the icing on the cake. It should be the icing, the cake, the plate it’s on, your eating of the cake, your feeding of the cake to others, and all the stories you tell about your encounter with the cake. Happy Valentine Daze, Leo!
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): “The Eskimos had 52 names for snow because it was important to them,” wrote novelist Margaret Atwood. “There ought to be as many for love.” Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to coin at least nine of those 52 new names between now and January 1, 2009. Of course that means you will have to discover or create nine alternate states of love that have previously been unnamed. And to do that, you’ll have to put aside your habitual expectations and standard definitions of what constitutes love so that you can explore an amazing array of nuances, including varieties you never imagined existed. Start now, Virgo. Happy Valentine’s Daze!
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Happy Valentine Daze, Libra! After strenuous meditation about what advice would be most likely to energize your love life, I decided on this edgy wisdom from writer Charles Caleb Colton: “If you cannot inspire a woman with love of you, fill her above the brim with love of herself; all that runs over will be yours.” (Substitute “man” for “woman” and “him” for “her” if that makes the message work best for you.)
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Happy Valentine Daze, Scorpio! After extensive meditation about what advice would be most useful for your love life in the coming months, I decided on this gentle rant from the South African poet Shabbir Banoobhai: “Love is a mystery. And the reason why it is a mystery and should remain a mystery is that knowledge of it would give us mastery over it — would enable us to manipulate it — and love, truth, God, cannot be manipulated. Hence the Prophet exclaimed, ‘My Lord, increase my bewilderment in Thee.’”
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): After meditating on how to energize your love life this Valentine season, I decided to encourage you to bring the spirits of sampling and the mash-up into your relationship life. Sampling is what happens when a musician openly lifts a riff out of an existing song and inserts it into his or her own composition. In a mash-up, a producer takes parts from two different songs to assemble a new song that has elements of both originals but is an entirely new creation. I encourage you to apply these approaches to your collaborations with intimate allies. For example, “sample” a close friend’s favorite catchphrases or clothes, and use them as your own. Or tell that person a story from his or her own past, but recount it as if it happened to you. The two of you could also write a journal entry together, taking turns spinning out each new line. You might even switch roles for a day, trying out what it actually feels like to be the other person.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Happy Valentine Daze, Capricorn! The astrological omens suggest that you should liberate your wild heart from its hiding place, maybe even experiment with extravagant expressions of love. To get yourself worked up into a proper state of fertile agitation, read aloud from Pablo Neruda’s book 100 Love Sonnets (translated by Stephen Tapscott), starting with “Love Sonnet XI”: “I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair. Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets. Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps ... `I` hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails, I want to eat your skin like a whole almond ... I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes. And I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight, hunting for you, for your hot heart, like a puma in the barrens ... ”
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Happy Valentine Daze, Aquarius! Want to make your love life better? Then purify your motivations for seeking love. For at least three weeks, be impossibly honest and noble and righteous in your dealings with intimate allies. You might even consider approaching romance with the same reverence a monk summons in his spiritual quest for divine communion. Fast, pray, meditate, dance holy dances, wander into the wilderness and cry out for a vision — all in the name of deepening your capacity for the transformative power of human relationships.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Happy Valentine Daze, Pisces! Here are the words of wisdom I think will be most useful as you shape the future of collaboration and togetherness. They come to you courtesy of writer Marnie Reed Crowell. “To keep a fire burning brightly,” she says, “Keep the two logs together, near enough to keep each other warm and far enough apart — about a finger’s breadth — for breathing room. Good fire, good marriage, same rule.” Even if you’re not married and don’t plan to be anytime soon, this is an excellent guideline for any intimate connection you want to see thrive in 2008. Cultivate spacious closeness. •