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|The World of Astrology
(A Criticism of the Astrological Milieu)
by Sirman A. Celâyir
Ed. N.: Sirman Celâyir is the author of an astronomical-astrological software, 'AsterPro', and has written several articles in AMERICAN ASTROLOGY at the beginning of the 90s. An amount of interesting material, including his shareware & the complete version of this text, can be found at his website.
This study intends to help common sense. It separates "credible" astrology from superstition and outright scams that masquerade as "popular" astrology. Astrology scams do not thrive in a vacuum. My argument is that the American environment, especially the American culture, is a fertilizer for scams. Part 1 looks at this issue, offering my thoughts as food for thought, Part 2 (about mid-way) outlines a variety of scams, and Part 3 discusses concerns and points for credible astrology research.
PART I: Astrology and the American Environment
The episode of "Day One" on July 5, 1993
The connection between violence and brain patterns was the main theme of an investigative episode of "Day One" on Channel 7 on July 5, 1993. Several scientists pointed out and defended correlations of definitive brain patterns and propensity for violence. The evidence seemed strong enough to warrant further research. However, there is apparently no chance of getting funds for such a research project, because the officially accepted cause of violence, i.e., the environment - differs from this explanation.
In other words, progress in the most scientific and inquisitive culture on earth is at a stalemate because the alternate path may mean a diminished role to established individuals and organizations. This is understandable. For example, if genetic engineers discovered an assembly-line technique of flagging out violent-prone persons and molecular biologists and medical professionals found ways of correcting their abnormalities, psychology may be reduced essentially to an irrelevant profession. So unless "progress" in this form is politically correct and allows psychology to survive, it will encounter harsh resistance. However, there is room to maneuver. The role the environment plays in human behavior is not diminished and it will always be an important consideration. This is exclusively in the domain of psychology. SO THE ENVISIONED PROGRESS ASSIGNS TO PSYCHOLOGY A MORE FOCUSSED ROLE, NOT A DIMINISHED ROLE.
Violence: Mass Murderers and Serial Killers, a Proposal to the FBI
Astrologic efforts to predict a person's profession - and/or achievements in life - from this person's natal chart have not yielded satisfactory results. This may be attributed primarily to obvious inability of astrology to consider real-life circumstances, self-will, personal effort, genetic factors, and other "externalities." It is true that the natal chart of a particular person does sometimes reflect the achievements of that person in life. For example, four "well-aspected" planets in 10th house may explain and confirm why this person is the CEO of a major industrial corporation. On the other hand, astrology does not promise perpetual prominence to all persons with similar "elevated" charts. There are many other variables that contribute to the outcome, "what a person eventually becomes." Moreover, the natal chart, by definition, is a static configuration, whereas "change" is a dynamic component of life. For example, a highly successful entrepreneur (with the Sun, Saturn, Mercury in 10th house) in 1988 may be a bankrupt entrepreneur in 1990, if he or she lost his or her fortunes in pursuit of a speculative investment under a misleading Neptunian influence. The situation is totally different in two years (e.g., Donald Trump) and it is not the natal chart that changed. It may be different again two years later. This is why a "static" natal chart cannot be a "proof" for all phases of "achievement" in life.
Rather than focussing on elusive elements like "profession," natal research should concentrate on identifying acute characteristics that are less affected by "noise" elements. Top-rated athletic talent, the propensity for extreme violence... are such variables. Late in 1991, I saw a documentary on WETA about the efforts of the FBI's behavioral psychologists to arrive at a "typical characteristics" profile for mass murderers. The substance of the profiles they described was rudimentary at best. The profiles were more hypotheses than conclusions. CLEARLY, PSYCHOLOGY DOES NOT POSSESS THE TOOLS TO PINPOINT THESE TYPES OF PHENOMENA.
On December 13, 1991, I prepared a proposal for the FBI, to study mass murderers and serial killers from an astrologic perspective. The FBI was courteous and responded with a volume of information and hints, which did not include the primary data I needed. To conduct my research, I need the names of a statistically viable number of serial and mass murderers, their birth data - date, if available, time, and place of birth - and the dates and places when the crimes were committed. ("Estimated" dates may be substituted for actual dates sometimes, if the latter are not available.) I also need information about each person's background - to isolate "environmental" influences - and a brief description of the circumstances of each crime. These profiles may enable me to correlate the patterns that induce violence not only to "violence" but to specific acts of violence.
It would have taken an enormous effort for me to obtain and verify this data independently, before I could even begin the real work: erecting and analyzing literally hundreds of charts. But even if I had spent a few years on this endeavor and obtained statistically defensible results, I could not be sure that authorities would seriously review my study. (It seems that people experience a "mental block" when they hear "astrology.") I decided that a study of this scope would be feasible only if the FBI employed me as a consultant, specifically for this purpose. This was not a viable option. So on March 17, 1993, I submitted to the FBI, and other agencies, a paper about Mr. Clinton's presidency. (It is included at the end of this report.) I intended the paper as an "investment" and to get attention. I will pursue this effort later.
ASTROLOGICALLY I SEE A SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN a) MASS MURDERERS AND b) SERIAL KILLERS. There is a different set of causal variables at work. A serial killer is a person who commits murder over an extended period. In contrast, a mass murderer is a person who assaults many people all at once. By this definition, Ted Bundy would fall in group (a), whereas the person responsible for the killings in Killeen, TX in group (b). The causal variables in Ted Bundy's case are likely to be found - not necessarily all - in Mr. Bundy's natal chart. (A natal chart influences a person essentially over his or her lifetime.) The cause of the killings in Texas is more likely to be the "passing" transiting influences that can trigger in some people extreme levels of desperation, depression, acute anger . . . within a cycle of a day or two. (Although the perpetrator here may have suffered from a brain tumor, all victims of a brain tumor obviously do not commit mass murder.)
Mass murder involves random (i.e., any age, race, sex) victims, for the event is a "harsh statement" to a society that has severely alienated this person. Transiting influences alone are not sufficient to cause violence. The person who is affected by them must also possess natal potentials for violence. These potentials are kept under control until a specific transiting pattern and circumstances render them "beyond control." This delineation is confirmed by a third, a corollary, group of persons, people who have "passive" patterns in their natal chart. These individuals may feel the same level of alienation, but instead of lashing out on other people, they choose to commit suicide and simply "fade away" from society, not "pay back" the society. So it would appear that a level of violence-inducing ingredients in natal chart (e.g., Mars Square or Conjunct Sun, Saturn, Uranus, or Pluto) must be present for violence to be triggered.
Genetic engineers and molecular biologists can independently study brain scans and flow of hormones. However, here efforts to identify unique patterns and their causes may be two separate investigations. That is, even if molecular biologists and genetic engineers can identify violence-causing patterns and establish a connection to unique DNA structures, these conclusions do not answer the ultimate question about why these patterns form in the first place. Their effort ends in a "God created this person this way" type of futile admission. This is where astrology can become indispensable, for it may serve as the link. If it can be shown that the planets "bias" the chemical makeup of the body so that the bias manifests as a particular biological pattern unique to these types of people, the scientific and social implications would be enormous. THE JOINT EFFORT CAN BRING ABOUT A STRANGE MARRIAGE BETWEEN TWO SEEMINGLY UNRELATED SPECIES OF SCIENCES: ASTROLOGY AND GENETICS.
It is true that astrology does not share the acclaim enjoyed by genetic engineering and molecular biology. However, astrology is the oldest science there is, and although as complex as molecular biology, it has been maintained without any funds and entirely at grass-roots level. Many astrologers are highly educated medical doctors, professors, and other professionals. PRIVATELY THEY ALREADY KNOW THAT PLANETS INFLUENCE PEOPLE, BUT THEY REFRAIN FROM TALKING ABOUT ASTROLOGY IN PUBLIC.
Although the mechanism through which the planets influence human beings is not identified, it is likely that the flow of hormones in human body - perhaps electric impulses in the brain - is somehow affected. The planets may be functioning like inner clocks. Some influences apply in the short term, others over a period (i.e., up to 18 months), depending on the distances involved. In the short term, the affected individual may be, for example, nervous (or less nervous... stable), absent-minded (or clearheaded and focussed), violent (or "only" aggressive, merely assertive . . . defensive), romantic (or less romantic... unromantic), energetic and ambitious (or scattered... lazy), amorous (or impotent)... These are common characteristics and "moods" displayed or felt by everyone on a daily, weekly, and cyclical basis.
Based on the composition of their natal charts, some people may show these traits stronger and more frequently than others. These "oscillations" in personality are further molded by genetic factors, circumstances, environment, upbringing, and level of education. THE STABLE AND "SENSIBLE" PEOPLE GENERALLY DO NOT APPRECIATE THE FACT THAT SOME PEOPLE ARE BESTOWED WITH MORE VOLATILE "CHEMISTRY" THAT IS HARDER TO CONTROL. THE SELF-RIGHTEOUS WAY IN WHICH THEY SOMETIMES JUDGE EVEN THEIR OWN CHILDREN, "I COULD DO IT, WHY CAN'T HE/SHE?", IS FREQUENTLY AN OUT-OF-FOCUS CONDEMNATION.
The long term influences are evolutionary and process-like: pursuing a concrete goal instead of an illusion, adhering to the "right" strategy instead of relying on wishful thinking, investing rather than gambling, preparing well for a goal instead of relying on luck alone.
For example, a person whose Sun (individuality), Moon (mood, perception), Mercury (mental capacity, speech), Venus (receptivity), and/or Mars (energy, drive, ambition) is adversely influenced by Neptune - the planet of enhanced inspiration and imagination when positive, illusion, self-deception, deception, fraud, treachery, disappointment, regret, if adverse - is prone to suffer a major loss as result fraud (Sun), commit a major strategic error (Moon), suffer a treachery or pursue unrealistic goals (Mercury), fall in love with the "wrong" man/woman and seriously regret it (Venus), experience severe emotional instability (Mars). These consequences follow because the mind, perceptions, faculties, and judgment are "fuzzy" and less reliable during this period. If Mars is involved, the person is also on a short fuse, tolerance and patience thin. These are worst times for major decisions.
Albeit, if reputable genetic engineers encounter such stiff resistance, how much hope is there for astrologers to gain recognition, to participate in serious research? The answer is "none" in the foreseeable future. BUT HOPE IS LIKE A FLUID IN SEARCH OF A CONTAINER. IF ONE CONTAINER CRACKS, IT LOOKS FOR ANOTHER. Let us now consider some of the likely causes of resistance to astrology by the establishment.
The American people can choose from a rich variety of information sources. These are generally "specialized" packages of information, for example about birds, flowers... A specialized presentation makes sense for many topics. However, when applied to complex social issues, this approach renders a "TUNNEL-VISIONED" view of the subject. In these instances, although the coverage may focus on every pertinent detail, it may be still misinforming, if the review does not include a larger context. Typically, there are books about (or against) astrology, and psychics, and cults, but I know of no source that views them together from the larger perspective of the American cultural environment. This study attempts to fill this void. The "First Amendment" may be the place to start.
The First Amendment
The ideas promoted by astrology, like other beliefs, fall under the domain of the First Amendment. Although the intentions of the First Amendment are, of course, noble, it can be also a legal sanction for schemers to instigate fraudulent enterprises. IN PRACTICE, THE FIRST AMENDMENT IS AS MUCH A "FREEDOM TO PURSUE BELIEFS" AS IT IS A "FREEDOM TO MISLEAD." When the product is something as intangible and elusive as a thought, belief, or an idea, it is practically impossible to show categorically a case of abuse until after the damage is done. The authorities may conduct investigations of suspect entities, but they are generally in a straight-jacket. There is seldom a satisfactory recourse for the abused after the fact.
The freedoms granted by the First Amendment are much too precious to be left loosely in the hands of potential schemers, irresponsible TV programmers (e.g., violence), and commercial interests. As things are now, a significant component of economic activity in USA is generated by a game of "HUSTLERS AND SUCKERS." The late-night air waves are full of dubious remedies and quick "get rich" formulae. (If the contributions of these types of "not really productive" activities to our GNP were taken away, how much better, if any, our GNP would be compared those of the Germany and Japan?) Preventive measures, such as a meticulous certification program for psychics, open debates and discussions about "beliefs," including promotions by Robert Tilton and others, and lectures on pertinent topics - for example about the status of research on male pattern baldness, a favorite focus of ads late at night - may reduce the potential for abuse considerably. This is not regulation. It is public education. Education and information flow in this form should not be delegated to the whims of TV producers. It is the responsibility of the Government.
Public education is one area in which the US Government can learn much from other industrialized countries. For example, the TV in capitalist and democratic Germany is not left in the hands of the private sector, not because Germany does not believe in "Freedom of Information." On the contrary, the German Government views the potential value of information on TV, AND THE RIGHTS OF ITS CITIZENS, as too important to be left to the discretion of people who are motivated only by profit. The variety is not as rich as in USA, but it is much more substantive, informative, and enriching. The movies are generally about the "Sturm und Drang" of human situations. They refrain from depicting mindless scenes of "how mercilessly one human being can treat another." The German TV also does not observe the obscene habit of periodically interrupting the news, interviews, and programs to sell bathroom tissues. The commercials are shown at the beginning and at the end. There are no phony public service slogans like "Channel 7 and Toyota, on your side for education" that treat the audience as if they are idiots. Shows such as our overrated "Where is Carmen Sandiego?" may be shown on German TV as a comedy or a documentary about "how things should not be taught..." SURELY WE CAN EMBRACE SOME OF THESE MEASURES IN THIS COUNTRY.
There is a paradox about how the American Government deals with tangible and intangible sources of damage. A few bad cans of tuna or an epidemic that affects a dozen people immediately alert all resources of the Government. The response could not be better. In contrast, if the source is something that affects the mind and soul, people are left almost entirely to their own means. A regulation that attempts to curb information abuse is inherently in conflict with the First Amendment. So the problem is largely ignored here. Other governments are obviously also aware of potential for abuse and the conflict between regulation and freedom. It would appear that, like the German TV, they have found a better balance. They deal with potential abuse indirectly through substantive and informative programming that is essentially public education. THE ASSUMPTION IS THAT EDUCATED AND INFORMED PEOPLE ARE LESS LIKELY TO BECOME VICTIMS OF THIS TYPE OF ABUSE AND "BRAIN WASHING" AND LESS LIKELY TO VICTIMIZE OTHERS BY THESE MEANS. Our approach is not much more than a hope that abuse will go away if laws are idealistic in intention, poetic in wording, and large in numbers. By this measure we are the most "civilized" country on earth. However, according to many factual yardsticks, we are the least civilized country, except Laos, Iraq, and a few others. The law agencies are no longer impartial referees that discourage abuse and protect people. Their role is reduced to "picking up the pieces." One can argue that the First Amendment is not fully functioning as intended, because it is in part mere poetry. MANY DEEP- ROOTED PROBLEMS IN USA MAY BE DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY A CONSEQUENCE OF A "MALFUNCTIONING" FIRST AMENDMENT, ESPECIALLY ON PRIVATE TV NETWORKS.
The Private TV Networks
I suggest that the private TV networks in USA do not follow "Freedom of Speech." They are allowed to define it in practice, motivated by a single thought: "popular," as in "profit." It is assumed that an activity that yields higher profits is ultimately always good for America, as would be concluded from a cost-benefit study that only highlights the benefits. When benefits are visible and costs elusive, it may seem adequate to address - and then dismiss - the costs by unending debates that veil procrastination. These costs exist and because they are elusive they work like an unidentified virus, eroding the social fabric. "If only the economy would improve," we pray, as if this is the magical potion that will cure all the ills. The problems implied here have nothing to do with the economy. They concern the American mind, soul, psyche, and system. They are ultimately about "IS AMERICA STILL AN 'IDEALISTIC' NATION OF 'INDIVIDUALISTIC' AND HARD-WORKING PEOPLE, OR IS IT BECOMING INCREASINGLY A LAND OF GREEDY AND 'ECCENTRIC' INDIVIDUALS IN PURSUIT OF FADS AND QUICK RICHES?"
This is not an academic inquiry. For example, except for rare situations involving a national emergency, the information on private TV networks consists entirely of "infomercials." The environment is so lavish that hosts of some (one-hour) talk shows earn $100 million in a year. These "lottery-like" remunerations introduce an artificial scale of how apparently the society values "work." The networks may argue that this is capitalism at work, risks are involved, that therefore the "successful" shows deserve the pay. Not so. A TV show is not like a manufacturing plant that provides jobs and livelihood for a town. Ultimately, the society can care less if, for example, "Roseanne" survives another season. This matters only to the networks. Yet, the entire population is forced to tolerate conditions of "information flow" that is unique only to the United States. A built-in escape clause supposedly offers a choice to the public: "you can switch the dial and watch something else." By this reasoning we can also allow drug dealers at street corners and say "people can pass by without purchasing."
If the term "role-model" has any meaning at all, these enormous pay scales must also influence people's expectations of what they are worth and how they should go about achieving it. SERIOUS EDUCATION AND "HARD WORK" MAY BE SEEN INCREASINGLY AS IRRELEVANT OR "LAST-RESORT" MOTIVATIONS. Inducements to "hustle," rather than "earn", a living may be also a consequence. These "side effects" are already taking place. The late night audience is bombarded by situation commercials promising "get rich" formulae. We cannot trust the recognizable faces, "the extended family," on the networks to debate the viability and social ramifications of these conditions when they are the direct beneficiaries of the system. There are no meaningful debates.
Since education has a role in curbing "info-abuse," we should send teams of specialists to public schools in other industrialized countries - to attend classes - and see what we can learn. Their findings and impressions about the quality of classroom work in different subjects, the structure of the education system, the quality of teachers, how they are trained... should be reported as seriously as we report an event of war. The headline news, "we are number 15 in math," once every two years does not fully describe the real differences. The problem is evaded. We may find out how German and French youths in all public schools obtain an education of uniform quality, free, and in every subject more advanced than the pupils attending the best and most expensive private schools here. The specialists can bring back videos of classroom ambiance, sample test questions in history, geography, languages, math... that 10 to 16-year old youths are expected to master in other countries. The networks should show this material uninterrupted to all leaders, educators, parents, teachers, and students so that we get a truer picture of our relative standing. The results may cause severe depression initially, but a "shock treatment" may be what we need to awaken from our stupor. ("A PROBLEM EVADED NOW IS A CRISIS INVITED LATER," says Dr. Kissinger.)
These results may induce our legal experts redefine and amend the intentions of various laws so that they "favor" desired goals. These efforts may set a new national direction. Many of our school districts may be eliminated entirely and arrangements may be made with local colleges and universities to assume their responsibilities. The emphasis here is to educate, not to "baby-sit," not to entertain. Education and "learning" do not need noisy applause and a rock band in the background (e.g., Carmen Sandiego) to be "fun." They are a duty and national service, at least as important as military service. Our scientists, technicians, and specialists are generally still better than their counterparts in other countries. However, eventually, as funds continue to diminish, a small percentage of brilliant people are no substitute for a well-educated "entire" population. Sooner or later we must become less frivolous and perhaps even less idealistic in our views of freedom so that we waste it less in practice. Or, we will pay a price, FOR AS MAN MAKES HIS DESTINY NATIONS TOO DESIGN THEIR DESTINY.
Speaking of diminishing funds, our true national debt is $25 to $30 trillion, not $4.3 trillion. (If and when the budget deficit is eliminated, the true base will be more like $7 trillion.) Like mortgage payments for a home valued at $150,000, we will have to pay several times the original $7 trillion. However, unlike a home buyer who can hope for the appreciated value of his or her home to equal the payments in 20 years, our national payments to interest and debt reduction are more like an annual bonfire at which we burn billions of Dollar bills for nothing. The burned amount must be subtracted year after year, perhaps for 40 to 60 years, from the needs of inner cities, education, health, environment, social security, defense... WE MUST BE ESPECIALLY CAREFUL THAT WE DO NOT SQUANDER WHAT RESOURCES WE HAVE LEFT.
Let us now evaluate how the First Amendment may be "trickling down" on the American cultural environment.
The American Environment
How and why do popular astrology and supernatural beliefs thrive in the West, especially in the USA? Americans are strong promoters of the thesis "man makes his destiny," where "destiny" places considerable emphasis on money, power, and life's comforts. Based on this criterion, every life is obviously not a success story. Some people feel left behind by the system. They are alienated, because by definition they see themselves as failures. Moreover, the structured work-oriented daily life in the USA may contribute to a setting in which many persons find themselves alone and lonely. This applies especially to traditional families in which men are employed and women raise children and take care of household chores. These families, especially the women, experience a critical turning point in their lives when their children, one-by-one, reach college age and leave home. A more permanent separation follows when the children start their own lives. The lively home of the past is suddenly transformed into a mausoleum full of silence. Because of the "continental" size of the USA, high mobility rates, and individualistic and an independent outlook on life, the impact of these occasions is probably more severe on Americans than on people in most other societies.
Alienation, loneliness, boredom, monotony of routines can have "robotizing" influence on people. These personal situations are exacerbated in recent years by a perception of deeper, built-in or passing, problems in the system, where open wounds fester without real remedies, the leadership apparently immobilized by "gridlock." Discomforting thoughts that the democratic process - elections - can only change the representatives, but not this environment or system may add frustration, pessimism, and a sense of hopelessness. The high and rising rates of divorce, crime, homelessness, and alcohol and drug addiction in the USA may be studied from different perspectives, but collectively they represent the other side of the "American Dream." People who feel left behind and bored are motivated to find ways of passing time. Traditional solutions seem no longer satisfactory for all. Many people are attracted to astrology. THE ASTROLOGY THEY EMBRACE UNKNOWINGLY IS POPULAR ASTROLOGY, A CONCOCTION OF SUPERSTITION AND SCAMS BUNDLED WITH PLANETS AND SOLD AS ASTROLOGY. Let us now examine the "environment" and see how this can happen.
Americans are generally optimistic and active searchers. This is good. What is not so good is their willingness to accept "formula" answers to complex questions, like the snake-oil remedies of the past that supposedly cured everything. THIS "NAIVE" INSISTENCE THAT THERE BE QUICK SOLUTION TO PROBLEMS IS THE PRIMARY REASON WHY SO MANY AMERICANS ARE "TAKEN FOR A RIDE" BY SCHEMERS FROM ALMOST ALL SECTORS, INCLUDING ASTROLOGERS, PSYCHICS, THE TV NETWORKS, THE COSMETIC INDUSTRY... "Take this pill and be slimmer by 40 pounds, use this cream and become 10 years younger, add a hairdo and become beautiful, call a psychic and improve your love-life, call another and get a wonderful new job, vote for Mr. X and solve the country's problems, send $1,000 to Robert Tilton and reserve your seat in the heavens..." is essentially how life is "sold" in America. Conditioned by such sales pitch, PEOPLE HAVE TURNED PSYCHICS AND ASTROLOGERS INTO CRYSTAL BALL GAZERS, BY DEMANDING ANSWERS TO INQUIRIES WHICH NO HUMAN CAN ANSWER.
For example, a woman calls a psychic and asks: "I am planning to get married on October 1, is this a good date for my marriage?" The caller already presumes that this - "a good date?" - is a viable question, there is an answer to it, and this psychic knows the answer. THIS IS A LOT OF PRESUMPTION. To survive, even an honest practitioner will be eventually forced to play the expected role. This is how demand can create supply. But if the demand is "absurd," the supply cannot be anything but also absurd. Unlike an exchange involving tangible commodities one can see and touch, here "supply" comes only in appearance. No one and nothing can prove or disprove that the answer the caller receives is more meaningful than one based on a flip of a coin, something the practitioner may do in the background before answering. After all, people can freely declare themselves as "psychic." And, people can also advertise as "astrologer" simply by learning the "language" of astrology or by purchasing an astrology software.
An astrologer can examine the charts of both partners and decide if "the day of wedding" is positive or adverse for one or both. But the patterns on the day of wedding apply only to that particular date. They say nothing about the status of the marriage 5, 10, 15... 50 years later. Furthermore, there is nothing in astrology that can "guarantee" that a wedding on a positive day for both partners will lead to a successful marriage "forever." Astrology can also not guarantee that a marriage on an adverse day will not be successful when judged 20 years later - or a failure two years after that. OBVIOUSLY THE COUPLE CANNOT TRACE THE ASTROLOGER OR PSYCHIC AFTER 30 YEARS, IN ORDER TO PRAISE OR ADMONISH HIM OR HER FOR THE PREDICTION. So many practitioners feel free to postulate predictions assertively without having any clue about the outcome.
A "credible" response to the foregoing inquiry would be something like the following. "I assume you have known this man for some time. If your common sense tells you that you have the right man, go ahead and marry him on any day in October, or November... Then give your utmost to the marriage and hope for the best. However, if you have doubts, or some things about him bother you, then take your time and discuss these matters with friends who know both of you and whose judgment you trust..." THIS ANSWER DOES NOT REQUIRE PSYCHIC POWERS. IT IS DERIVED FROM AN INTUITIVE PROCESS INVOLVING "GUT FEELING" AND COMMON SENSE. Everyone has them and they apply in every situation. A psychic or an astrologer who knows nothing about the caller or his/her circumstances can never be a substitute. Wishful thinking and claims to the contrary do not change this.
The society's "official" view of astrology, which also affects how astrology and astrologers are treated, is much more difficult to appraise. People have a natural tendency to form groups. This helps them to define a smaller and more manageable environment of like-minded individuals. The catalyst that brings these people together may be a belief, cause, life-style... and/or simply a desire to escape loneliness. If the catalyst is a belief or cause, people are generally polarized along mutually-exclusive, "for or against something," lines, where the opposing groups can be "clannish" about their interests and identity, as if a compromise with the other side threatens their survival. The "adversary" character of the American system, it is said, insures continuous debate and agitates "truth" to the surface. This may happen in a courtroom. But as the conflict between "Pro-Life" versus "Pro- Choice" groups illustrates, debates can also end in a perpetual stalemate, because real-life decisions and choices are frequently biased by opinions and views that do not necessarily follow logical reasoning or outcome of debates. This is apparently how astrology is judged by the society.
Astrology suffers from a mental block against it, primarily because it seemingly contradicts the common belief that "man makes his destiny." This is curious. Americans are also religious. The same people who faithfully accept "life after death," that God can "save" and reserve a space for them in the heavens, adamantly reject even the possibility that the same God can also influence their personality, behavior, and progress through the planets. This is all astrology says: "planets influence people." It does not compete with God or religion. Astrology is a study of the correlations between planetary patterns and "what happens to a person." The fact that the public perceives astrology as a "Science of Karma, Preordained Destiny..." is not the fault of astrology. These promotional hypes are perpetuated by schemers and uninformed people in the media.
Astrology has already interpreted - though not fully - many correlations. It cannot continue indefinitely at grass-roots level. There are enough concrete data to initiate serious research, involving people from many disciplines. The social ramifications of such a research effort are as important - and as complex - as the study of DNA structures. It is obvious that without a serious research effort astrology is a fruit ripe for picking, in any way the schemers can. A growing number of people will be at their mercy. Astrology will evolve into a powerful superstition. The emergence of "psychics" and shows like "The Psychic Friends" on TV are clues that this is already happening. IF ASTROLOGY DOES BECOME AN INSTITUTIONALIZED SUPERSTITION, IT WILL SPREAD LIKE AN EPIDEMIC, for it has tangible tools and it is much more down-to-earth, spontaneous, and entertaining than, for example, psychology. It is up to the society to decide what role astrology will play in people's lives in the future, one way or another.
Superstition is not merely an academic concern in America. As the recent news about the cult near Waco, Texas suggests, many Americans apparently have a natural tendency to join any group or cult just to be a member of something. Obviously the members are not all shepherds. It is said that there are about 1800 cults in the United States. People donate their homes, bank accounts, and themselves and their children to these groups. The founding fathers of some of these cults are foreigners who can barely speak English. Their messages are rejected even in their native countries. Yet, they flourish here.
Instead of dismissing the members of these groups as "victims of their own making," social-anthropologists should interview them and study the phenomenon of cults. The studies should evaluate questions like: 1) Is the "individualistic" and "silent strong" American often a "very lonely" American? 2) Is the level of depression and/or loneliness so acute in some people that the group serves for them as a clinic for treatment? 3) Has the "American Dream" escaped these people (or have they achieved and found it hallow) and they are now experimenting with any alternative to find a more fulfilling substitute? 4) Have the Star Trek and like shows and commercials on TV twisted susceptible minds to such an extent that many people are unable to discriminate between the real and imaginary, legitimate and fraudulent, philosophical and absurd?
Some of the fundamentalist and evangelical groups should be included in the study. While the society views some groups as "flaky," it accepts many religious organizations as wholesome American institutions, although they are more suspect by the same pragmatic standards. For example, what kind of reasoning can lead to a conviction that mailing $1,000 to Robert Tilton automatically reserves a person a spot in the heavens? (Indeed, this one-man show is one of the most profitable entities in this country.) The distinction between a "weird cult" and a "wholesome organization" is frequently not clear. It is seemingly decided only by the size of the membership and the degree of political power the group can generate. PEOPLE WHO LOOK DOWN CONDESCENDINGLY ON SOME GROUPS ARE THEMSELVES "WILLING" VICTIMS OF OTHER DUBIOUS GROUPS.
Popular astrology seeks followers among all potential candidates, but in need of a growing constituency, it caters primarily to people who feel left behind. It attracts them with a bribe they can hardly refuse: "whatever happened to you in the past, or will happen to you in the future, is caused by planets." People who are in need of a crutch are suddenly rejuvenated. "I am this way, I did so, I failed, my marriage did not work... but only because my planets forced this outcome." Such use and promotion of astrology are unfortunate, but it does provide substantial income to promoters.
Astrology allows a person to be both patient and doctor simultaneously. It can be also attractive financially. After making the initial investment, one is free to indulge in astrology in the convenience of one's home. Anyone with a computer can purchase astrology software and advertise a chart service without being an astrologer. This is a rapidly growing vocation. Astrology is a catalyst that causes immediate intimacy between total strangers: "Here is my birth date, tell me about my love-life over the next six months." Astrologers form local groups, join larger national organizations, participate in parties, trips, and conferences. For the person who felt alone and alienated just a few months ago, there is now a sense of purpose and belonging, all thanks to astrology.
This explains how astrology can become an addictive vocation for many, given the right circumstances. Once people are into astrology it is futile to attempt to persuade them that the hours spent with charts of strangers, and analyzing each moment of one's own life, could perhaps be used more productively doing something else. Unfortunately, if astrology is allowed to become an addiction, need, or escape, soon it evolves into superstition. For example, many astrologers will not sign a document, write a formal letter, purchase a major item... if the "conditions" are not favorable. They will definitely not do these things during periods - up to three weeks - when Mercury is "retrograde," which happens three or four times annually.
While delays, broken communications, and/or aggravation of some sort do seemingly coincide with "retrograde" periods, these occasions, or the Full and New Moon cycles which apparently induce behavior changes, do not always affect everyone, certainly not uniformly. Astrologers overlook the fact that life has a pattern and momentum that cannot be altered arbitrarily according to the whims of astrology. Knowing about the "suggestion" of a cycle does not necessarily insulate a person from the suggested event, even if the event can be predicted precisely - which astrology cannot do. For example, if people stopped going to work every time they suspected an accident-prone cycle, there would be total chaos. SUPERSTITION BUNDLED WITH PLANETS IS NOT ASTROLOGY. IT IS SUPERSTITION IN SEARCH OF A TANGIBLE JUSTIFICATION. If people susceptible to superstition began flipping coins - "heads an accident, tails no accident" - and an accident took place on a "heads" day, the event could mark for many the beginning of a "habit" of daily coin flipping. Many people approach astrology - and life - in this fashion.
The media should be more responsible about how it breaks the news about supernatural events. Everyone is not bestowed with equal dosage of common sense. For example, a prediction in December 1991 Parade magazine (on the inside cover page) was accompanied with the name and a photo of an astrologer who predicted something like "in 1992 more people will use credit cards." Astrology cannot postulate such detailed predictions about a national trend. Yet, this person is granted nationwide publicity. Although the prediction about the credit card lacks basis in astrology, this is irrelevant to people who are worried about their future. "If this astrologer is viable enough to be published in Parade, that's good enough for me" is the rationale by which these people function.
Joyce Jillson is even a better example. For several years, month-after-month, there appeared two-page advertisements by her in almost every astrology magazine. The ads have nothing to do with astrology. Her photos next to President and Nancy Reagan, imbedded in an assortment of news clippings, convey a simple message: "if I can help a president, imagine what I can do for you." Yeah, imagine.
A news story in October 1992 informed the public about an attractive lady in California who built an empire by passing on to hundreds of her followers messages and wisdom from a warrior - in his own voice - who died 2000 years ago. The lady was apparently also endorsed by Linda Evans (of "Dynasty" fame). This common practice, especially on TV, of using people who enjoy name recognition as endorser of "products," here no less than witch craft, about which they cannot know more than the average person is nothing but institutionalized fraud. It is assumed that the public will see through these schemes and can protect itself. Unfortunately, many people become victims- and bankrupt in the process. IT WOULD APPEAR THAT INCREASING LITERACY RATES AROUND THE WORLD ARE ACCOMPANIED BY INCREASING RELIANCE ON SUPERSTITION AND LESS RELIANCE ON COMMON SENSE.
One reads and hears occasionally about a police department in a large city that is confronted with a series of murders it suspects are committed by a serial killer. Having no clues about the identity of the murderer, it seeks the assistance of a psychic. Since the story typically is not conclusive about the actual contributions made by the psychic, the public is essentially misinformed and left with the impression that if pragmatic police departments use the services of a psychic, there must be people who can legitimately claim such powers. Consequently, some readers probably think that psychics can look at a dead victim and write down the murderer's name and address.
Combine these types of impressions with visions acquired from many science fiction books and movies, "psychic" talk shows on TV, and a case can be made that some American minds are permanently acclimated to scientific superstition. Besides people who seek quick bandage solutions to their problems, those whose minds are infiltrated by superstition are likely to be a second major target group for psychics and popular astrologers.
Common sense dictates that if there were people with genuine psychic powers, the scientific community, the government, TV channels, and other sectors would find ways of engaging them lucratively. It follows that it is very unlikely for a person with such unique powers to have to make a living by waiting for telephone calls. Moreover, while everyone experiences a premonition of sorts about events affecting their personal lives occasionally, I question the validity of claims that these persons receive such "vibes" about total strangers, and immediately when the telephone rings. Therefore, common sense would conclude that the people who advertise as psychics are not true psychics. IF SOME OF THEM STILL INSIST THEY ARE, THEY SHOULD BE TESTED METICULOUSLY BY AN OFFICIAL AGENCY AND CERTIFIED. After all, if I opened an office on Park Avenue and declared myself a psychologist, soon I would be arrested. Yet, I can perform a similar function, give similar advice, by declaring myself a psychic. In other words, I would be punished for misrepresenting a profession, but NOT for (potentially) misleading, or even damaging, people. Something is awry here.
Until the late 1980s there were only a few people who called themselves psychic. Their numbers have increased enormously in recent years. There has to be a reason for such a sudden jump. One can attribute the increase to several plausible causes, such as the thinning ozone layer. Somehow, it may have activated in some people previously dormant genes, making them psychic. Economic opportunity is another, and more likely, explanation. "I am psychic," is a clever way of bypassing a formal degree program of several years that, for example, psychologists must endure to "learn" their trade. A psychic does not need to learn anything. Either one "is" psychic or one is not. And since there are no formal tests to pass, this simple self-declaration is simultaneously a diploma, title, and profession all in one. (PERHAPS AMERICA IS TOO MUCH OF "A LAND OF OPPORTUNITY" FOR ITS OWN GOOD.) Psychics also bypass a hurdle which astrologers cannot. Unlike other beliefs, astrology ultimately relies on tangible tools. Although people generally do not scrutinize these tools, they can be scrutinized. Moreover, astrology is not practical for spontaneous situations where time is a factor. It takes time to erect and analyze charts and to apply them to individual circumstances, whereas psychics can claim to know the answer immediately. Because of these characteristics, astrology is not an ideal long-term vocation for schemers. Psychics will likely become the dominant voice.
Popular Astrology, a Macro View
People who seek to improve their lot through astrology do so at a time when they are also vulnerable and gullible. Thousands of these people are led astray by false hopes derived from ridiculous techniques that are essentially scams masquerading as astrology. There are few people outside the ranks of practicing astrologers who can scrutinize astrology competently. Money-making schemes have reached such proportions that many astrologers themselves have difficulty spotting the credible theory and techniques in a sea of "incredible" astrology. There are also no objective references and guidelines on the market. Progress in astrology is defined increasingly as "if it sells, it is good."
The "sensible" majority is at least partly to blame for the scams. While the public apparently likes to be entertained by astrology columns in newspapers and magazines, the prevailing consensus is that a more serious debate about astrology would lend credibility to this controversial subject. So astrology is "tolerated" superficially for its entertainment value. This attitude helps to create an environment in which "irrelevant" astrology is promoted as "popular" astrology. The "real" astrology that deserves serious research has no place to go but to underground, into the hands of schemers, where it flourishes as scams among many victims. The distinction between real, popular, and indefensible astrology may not be clear. I will explain them.
1. Popular or Irrelevant Astrology. Astrology Columns, Linda Goodman's "Sun Signs."
2. Indefensible Astrology. About a dozen "popular" techniques - scams - are discussed under the same heading. "Psychic" advice is included in this category.
3. Credible Astrology.
Many modern astrologers are obsessed with the idea of developing a catalog of astrologic charts for individual countries, cities, rivers, plants, minerals... (Yes, there is also a chart for the KGB.) Some astrologers (e.g., Richard Nolle of Dell Horoscope) perpetually devise and upgrade astrologic charts for the USA. The date July 4, 1776 is the most commonly used reference "birth date," but dates of other historical events are also used. The date, July 4, 1776, makes the USA a "Cancer" country.
These exercises obviously contradict common sense. Long before July 4, 1776, there was life in the USA, a continuous process during which hundreds of babies were born every day. They grew up, married, made more babies, worked, lived, and finally died. There were leaders, a government and social system, a flag; evolution and history were in the making. Yet, these ingredients of "life" before July 4, 1776 are discarded as irrelevant, and the occasion of the signing of a single document is seen as the day life began in the USA. Although astrology cannot "find" Picasso in his own chart, it can claim that it can predict and debate the destiny of a country, simply by treating an entire country as if it were a person.
So why are astrologers busy with these types of seemingly nonsensical tasks? Many do so because they do not know any better. They associate all juggling acts involving the planets as profound wisdom. Others are encouraged by book publishers who specialize in astrology. The articles that appear in astrology magazines and "research" journals are not arbitrary. They are designed to publicize selected topics as "new" discoveries and "progress" in astrology. Although the contents of many of these articles are nonsensical, this is veiled, for only supportive reviews are included - by authors who have reached fame through similar means. Fliers, announcements, and similar promotions continue to develop and fuel interest in the topic. Soon the author and the material become "HOT TOPICS." Once this introductory promotion is concluded, there appears next a book on this subject. National and local conferences follow. They are arranged to introduce the (by now) "famous" author and "the topic everybody talks about." The purpose of the conference is supposedly to share with the attendants the benefits of the wonderful new theories and techniques. In reality the authors are there to promote their respective topics and sell books.
Asteroid CHIRON is the latest example of this kind of progress. Dr. Kowal discovered it in November 1977. Already in 1986, when Chiron had completed only about 20 percent if its circle in the zodiac, astrology publications began attributing to Chiron "healing" qualities. There are now at least two books on Chiron the Healer by two major publishers of astrology books - ACS/NCGR in San Diego and LLEWELLYN Publications, the latter owned by "AMERICAN ASTROLOGY." Software versions displaying wonderful graphics and selling at $395 (more or less) invariably follow these "discoveries." This is not surprising. ROBERT HAND, the head of ASTROLABE, a major producer of astrology software, is also the chairperson of NCGR. And when ASTROLABE produces a module, it compels MATRIX in Big Rapids, Michigan, another major producer, to do the same - and vice versa. When these three major "noise makers" promote the same thing at the same time, they also set a trend for all astrologers. Other publishers and software developers join the effort. Even a normally skeptical buyer is soon overcome by nagging thoughts of "IF I DON'T GET THIS, I MAY REALLY MISS SOMETHING IMPORTANT."
Everyone benefits from the spending frenzy that follows, except the people whose money is the source of the euphoria. The real crime begins after the purchase. These items are not inconsequential. They are used to influence lives. The time spent learning these new tools and applying them in practice is a colossal waste. Once learned, they become "proven" techniques, simply because everyone uses them. (I will show later how and why many favorite tools of modern astrology are nothing but absurd money schemes.) Well-meaning novice astrologers are misled into thinking that these "magical" tools equip them to advise family members, friends, and clients about major decisions in their lives. THIS IS THE ESSENCE OF PROGRESS IN ASTROLOGY, ESPECIALLY SINCE THE 1980s. I can say with confidence that if 99 percent of astrology books, tapes, and software were abolished today, astrology would gain. NO SKEPTIC HAS CAUSED MORE DAMAGE TO ASTROLOGY THAN THESE "TOOLS" BY GREEDY "FRIENDS."
Historically, while astrologers have always yearned for ways of predicting the future as an ultimate proof of "God-like" powers, in practice they keep stumbling over banal hurdles such as personal charts. Some astrologers with a mind for business have concluded that "it would not hurt" to perpetuate the myth of "I can see it all." These types of brain storms began to emerge in 1960s and 1970s, promoted by authors like Alan Leo and Noel Tyl. Book after book by these authors filled the shelves of book stores. The insightful astrology proposed by them included profound observations such as "parsley is a Gemini plant." Since parsley did not vociferously object to the classification, the designation stood as solid as "E = m c2."
Astrologic lexicons of countries, cities, rivers, organizations, corporations, plants... enabled these authors to infiltrate every facet of life. It became possible now to predict historical events for a country, to devise stock market and medical astrology... If one absurd idea starts to make sense, it does not take long for a variety of absurd ideas also to appear sensible. Popular Astrology has effectively replaced the rational "SHOW ME THAT IT DOES WORK" WITH "SINCE YOU CANNOT SHOW THAT IT DOES NOT WORK, IT MUST WORK." If one can extrapolate from past trends, it should not surprise anyone to see by year 2000 "Cancer, Scorpio... " pills advertised as quick medicine for changing one's natal potentials, "doing better" in a relationship, and looking forward to a more optimistic future.
Many modern astrologic theories and techniques came into being simply because no one took time to scrutinize their ridiculous premises. In any other field of endeavor the authors of such brain storms would have been thrown out of "their area of expertise." In astrology they are admitted to astrology's "Hall of Fame." THEY ARE FOUNDERS OF "HOW TO MAKE MONEY FROM ASTROLOGY."
The astrology conferences are the quickest way in which name astrologers can reap substantial amounts of money, and perpetuate their fame for even more money. They are a major fraud - a fact the reader should remember the next time he or she receives an invitation about an "Astrology Conference." They mean free vacations and lots of money for the organizers. For example, about 2000 persons paid up to $150 each for registration alone to attend the conference in Washington, D.C. in April 1992, organized by ACS/NCGR and American Federation of Astrologers (AFA) in Tempe, Arizona. If one adds fees paid by the vendors ($400 per table), advertising fees in the conference program ($450 per page), fees for special events, and revenues generated from sales of books, tapes, charts, software, artifacts, herbs, and minerals, one can see why the organizers really "love" these conferences. In the first three months of 1993, I received announcements for conferences scheduled for 1993 in: Jacksonville, Seattle, Minneapolis, Lansing, Virginia Beach, Del Mar (California), Santa Fe, Columbus (Ohio)... These are only a few of the conferences scheduled in 1993.
Until about mid-1970s, the AFA was a viable astrology organization. Since the emergence of ACS/NCGR - the book publisher ACS with the "nonprofit" research arm, NCGR - on the scene, the symbiosis of ACS/NCGR and AFA has reduced the latter to the level of the former. THE TRANSFORMED AFA IS NOW LIKE MANY OTHER ASTROLOGIC ENTITIES THAT PROMOTE THE MOTTO "ANY ASTROLOGY THAT SELLS IS GOOD ASTROLOGY." In 1989, the chairman, Robert Cooper, wrote me a three-page letter in which he admonished me for "having" critical views - the "stick" as in "carrot" - and invited me as "faculty" to the conference in Orlando - "carrot". I refused.
Common Sense and Popular Astrology
It is obvious that many factors external to astrology (i.e., heredity, environment, culture, upbringing, education, and circumstances) can almost totally void astrologic predictions. This is a fact that popular astrology avoids mentioning. Examples abound:
1. The quality of life and expectations of a deformed baby born to a mother who unknowingly took thalidomide during pregnancy has nothing to do with the natal patterns of the baby. The same is true of babies who inherit genetic deformities, AIDS.
2. Astrology may paint a wonderful picture and predict a long life for a natal chart showing several very positive patterns, until the astrologer is told the chart is that of a young Somali woman, dying of starvation in the Summer of 1992.
3. Six million Jews did not share the same astrologic patterns - thus, the same predicament - when they were put into gas chambers, hundreds at a time over several years.
4. Astrology, as perpetuated by popular astrologers, totally discards concepts of "freewill" and "personal effort" in practice, while occasionally acknowledging their existence for philosophical consistency. Peggy Fleming did not become a world champion ice skater because her astrologic chart promised this outcome. There are no such explicit patterns or promises in astrology. Many other charts may show similar ingredients without similar results. What made Peggy Fleming the Peggy Fleming we know is six to eight hours of practice on skates, day in and day out for almost two decades. She developed her art through single-minded dedication, by severely limiting other indulgences, by sacrifices and self-discipline, and through the ability of her parents to support her vocation in the early years. The medal goes to Peggy Fleming, not to her astrologic chart.
Often, higher order variables can severely restrict or void astrology. This would lead to a conclusion that while astrology is promoted as a universal phenomenon, in reality it is a luxury in which only persons in selected societies can indulge. Astrology can only describe potentials, tendencies, and inclinations. It can flourish only in societies in which individuals are "freer" to respond to astrologic oscillations. (For example, a Saudi woman will not attempt to rejuvenate herself by a new mate because she is tempted by a "transiting Mars conjunct her natal Venus.") It is no surprise that in modern times most of the clamor about astrology originates in the West, especially the USA. But even in the USA, most people can and do insulate themselves against astrological influences through freewill and personal effort.
What is Astrology?
Astrology is the quasi-science of planetary patterns and their effect on people. The definition of the term "quasi-science" may also be offered as a definition of astrology. The "science" part is based on the extent that astronomy is used mechanically for astrologic purposes. Although many forebears of astrology were also competent astronomers, based upon the substance of their contributions, modern astrologers cannot be designated as scientists. Astrology is not a "pure" science that can postulate neat and precise scientific laws such as E = m c2. There are many unknowns, gray areas, and much confusion in astrology. Thus, the "quasi" part provides the hint that, like economics, psychology, and social sciences, astrology is a qualitative endeavor. These sciences speak in terms of observations, expectations, and likelihoods. The best they can offer is empirical evidence. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE FOR ASTROLOGY TO POSTULATE CONCRETE AND IRREVOCABLE PREDICTIONS.
An exact astrologic chart for a person requires only three variables: the date, time, and place of birth. The chart is typically represented by a circle that is divided - like a pie - into 12 30-degree segments, called "Houses," including a horizontal and a vertical line through the center. The center of the circle represents planet Earth. This schematic diagram represents the sky around planet earth, as seen from the place of birth at the time of birth. The point of intersection of the horizontal line and the circle on the left represents the East. The intersection of the vertical line and the top of the circle is South. (This is in contrast to astronomic star maps or even road maps on which the East is generally on the right, North on top.)
The time of birth combined with the latitude of the place of birth establishes the ascendant or the rising sign, the portion of sky that was rising on the Eastern horizon at the time of birth. (Since planet Earth completes one revolution around its axis in 24 hours, a new 30-degree segment of the sky appears on the Eastern horizon every two hours.) The ascendant is jotted down next to the point representing the East. It is also called the "cusp" of the first house. (Houses are really "house affairs." For example, the 7th house is associated with affairs of marriage and business partnerships.) The remaining 11 houses are numbered counterclockwise so that the 12th house is the 30-degree segment above the first house on the left.
Once the sign and degree of the ascendant are found, the signs of the remaining houses follow in the order in which the signs appear: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. For example, if the ascendant is 29 Sagittarius 42 (i.e., 29 degrees and 42 minutes), according to the so-called Equal House system, the cusp of the 2nd house is then 29 Capricorn 42... 7th house, 29 Gemini 42 (where Gemini is the "opposite sign" of Sagittarius on the cusp of the first house)... 12th house, 29 Scorpio 42. The ascendant serves as a reference point. The house cusps go on in this neat sequence - 29 Sagittarius, 29 Capricorn... - only according to the Equal House system. Based upon personal preferences, astrologers use about a dozen house systems, such as the Placidus, Koch, Campanus, Regiomontanus... which can yield conflicting predictions. The house systems are a source of continuing controversy among astrologers.
The date and time of birth are used next to find the positions of the planets. These positions are marked on the circular chart. Astrology recognizes the following planets and planetary entities: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and Moon's Node. For example, if the Sun's position is at 21 Cancer 31, it is marked in the 7th house - where 21 Cancer 31 is larger than 29 Gemini 42, the cusp of the 7th house, and less than 29 Cancer 42, the cusp of the 8th house. The other planets are plotted similarly.
The chart now displays a complete set of astrologic finger prints for a particular person. Astrology recognizes five major angles or "aspects" between the planets. The square (90 degrees) and opposition are interpreted as conflicting and challenging, the trine (120 degrees) and sextile (60 degrees) as positive. The conjunction signifies intensity and may be positive or adverse, depending on the planets involved.
The signs, houses, and planets are associated with particular characteristics and personalities. The interpretations of personal characteristics are derived from the combination of these. For example, astrology views Aries as an "aggressive and pioneering" sign. If Mars, the planet of energy, courage, aggression, and drive, is located in Aries, then this person is really a dynamic "go-getter." If this combination occurs in 1st house, a very strong placement, then, other things being equal, this person is likely to be a pioneer or mercenary of sorts. However if Mars forms a square to Saturn in 10th house, the picture changes. This person is truly "driven," and is not likely to stop at anything to achieve his or her aims. There is also a potential for violence and cruelty in this combination, for "Mars square Saturn" denotes extreme "frustration."
It is not immediately apparent that 13 planetary entities including the ascendant and midheaven (the highest point on the chart), in 12 signs and in 12 houses, forming five aspects (or none) among themselves, yield (13*12*12*6) 11,232 combinations about a person that astrology must interpret. (And this is only part of what it must interpret for relationships and predictions.) In practice, it can only do this for some combinations and in a general way. For example, while astrology can delineate a pattern such as "Mars square Saturn," it can never be certain that it recognizes all ramifications of that pattern. Also, astrology cannot interpret a complex pattern such as "Mars square Saturn" where "Saturn is trine to Jupiter." It can only look at these patterns individually. These are some of the reasons why a personal report at best "rings a bell" but never really depicts a person as he or she really is. This inherently "teasing" quality of astrologic interpretations is also a mechanism through which the schemers can entice novice astrologers to purchase more useless books and tapes. "Here is something NEW that will tell you MORE about yourself." The so-called "AZTEC, VEDIC, MAYAN" Astrology, promoted primarily by NCGR, and other theories discussed later, are examples of this type of schemes.
Astrology and Reality
When astrology is applied to real-life situations, the severe limitations of a natal chart become even more clear. For example, consider the following scenario on the maternity floor of a large hospital. Three babies are delivered in three different rooms by three different doctors, but all at the same time. Let us call the babies baby Rich (a girl), baby Poor (a girl), and baby Ill (a boy). An astrologer standing on the sidelines is asked to prepare a chart for each baby. Since the three babies have the same birth data, all the astrologer has to do is to prepare a chart for one baby, make two copies of it, and he is finished.
The fact that the three babies share the same natal chart challenges one's credulity. This shared chart will serve as the reference chart for the babies throughout their lives. It will be used to map their evolutions, to project their relationships, to predict events affecting them. If Baby Rich is the only daughter of well-to-do parents, Baby Poor, the daughter of an unwed mother of five who is on welfare, and Baby Ill, a dwarf and the son of a middle-class couple, their shared natal chart is not concerned with these "externalities."
The real differences are underlined better twenty years later. At age four Baby Rich showed interest for the piano in her home. She has been taking piano lessons since then and is now a concert pianist. Baby Poor's life has not fared well. She is on welfare and pregnant by one the three men she has been dating. Baby Ill has been cranky since his childhood. He has no friends and is living with his parents.
The natal chart, to the extent that astrologers can interpret it without knowing the external circumstances, will reflect identical potentials and opportunities for these three adults, despite the decisive differences in their circumstances. This is not all. Astrologic predictions about them, at any age, will also project the same opportunities, using the same vocabulary.
The differences between these three adults with the same natal chart lead to a more important issue, SOMETHING POLITICIANS AND LEADERS SHOULD CONSIDER SERIOUSLY WHEN ESTABLISHING PRIORITIES. Without such consideration, and other things remaining the same, compare the tremendous luck of a baby born to a Kennedy family and one born to a family on welfare living in the Bronx. There may be no guarantees in life, but who could reject such a wonderful and prepaid insurance, right from the start?
The question about the many unknowns and gray areas in astrology should be addressed. If six top-rated astrologers were invited to an official examination and asked to jot down the profession and some obvious characteristics of the person depicted on a chart that shows no name or date, there would be no agreement on these points. Conversely, if the same six astrologers were asked to jot down independently the patterns that "made" Picasso the great artist he was, there would be no agreement about these patterns. This is true especially if they were also asked to reconcile their results to patterns on Rembrandt's chart. There would be a series of educated guesses, some astrologers agreeing with one another about some patterns, but there would no categorical "this is it" response.
This brings up a most frustrating problem in astrology. A natal chart may display some characteristics that explain, for example, why a person eventually becomes a high government official. However, it can never provide a specific promise that a chart with these patterns will necessarily lead to a specific profession or talent in adult life. It cannot, because individual circumstances, self-will, and personal effort also contribute to how the adult person is molded.
Astrology does not have a monopoly on superficial personal profiles. A documentary on WETA about the efforts of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit to arrive at a "typical characteristics" profile for mass murderers showed results that were rudimentary. The main difference between psychology and astrology in practice is in that psychology is a recognized profession and is therefore subject to scrutiny. On the other hand, one wonders if psychologists are more competent in explaining human motivations. The profound recitals of Freud and Jung become academic gymnastics, if psychologists cannot explain real-life situations, such as the ingredients that induce people like Dr. Lecter and Mr. Dahmer to murder people and eat their flesh. (For instance, is this a permanent genetic or psychological disturbance, or a case of astrologic mutation where inner clocks - planets - alter the flow of hormones so that they trigger "primitive" impulses sometimes?) Compare the obvious explanations of problems offered by a Dr. Ruth or Dr. Joyce Brothers on TV to the perceptive and eloquent depictions of human situations by Henry Miller, Norman Mailer, or Truman Capote.
If the comparison does not favor Dr. Ruth and Dr. Brothers, the TV networks - not psychology or psychologists - are the culprits. In their attempt to cater to large masses spontaneously, the networks have substituted (Dollar- driven) "popular," that is frequently mediocre, for (quality-driven) "superior." Albeit, THE SOCIETY UNKNOWINGLY MAY HAVE ASSIGNED TO PSYCHOLOGISTS A LEVEL OF CREDENCE THAT IS FAR BEYOND THE MEANS OF THEIR REAL TOOLS. The fact that many psychologists purchase astrology software may be seen as a silent admission by the more open-minded members of this profession that they are in dire need of real tools.
Although this brief paragraph about economics does not seemingly fit this general discussion, I feel I must include it. Like sociology and psychology, economics is also a quasi-science and it is also involved in "predictions." (And I have a degree in it.) Ever since the Nobel Committee decided to grant a prize for economics, I could not help but wonder why the committee chose to elevate a quasi-science to the level of an exact science. While many economic theories are accompanied by complicated mathematics, economics looks like a science more on paper and in text books than it is in reality. Perhaps there is also hope for sociologists, psychologists, and even "astrologists."
PART II: Indefensible "Popular" Techniques
There are no rules or regulations governing the popular practice of astrology. It is self-regulated. As it happens, the potential for abuse is inherently built-in. The increasing popularity of personal computers since the late 1970s has opened a lucrative market for developers of astrology software and publishers of astrology books. Many "psychic shows" on TV have joined the effort. The abuse is no longer potential; it is a fact. There is no FDA or "Consumer Reports" that protects people from these "mind-altering" commercial products. The only defense people have is their own common sense, and this is subjected to a continuous bombardment of commercials and endorsements about nonsensical and farfetched claims. The following is an overview of dubious and indefensible techniques that are marketed as viable astrology. People who order astrology reports or consult psychics and astrologers may receive advice derived from one or more of these techniques.
1. ASTROLOGY SOFTWARE. Astrology software is marketed like any other product. The more features it offers, the more desirable - and expensive - it becomes. Since the designers of the software cannot improve the accuracy of astrologic techniques, they concentrate their effort on developing high-resolution output for Super VGA monitors and 1500 dpi - dots per inch-type-set-quality printers. Their effort is not wasted. Many users of these software purchase expensive equipment specifically to accommodate the output potential, as if the quality of the monitor or printer transforms astrology into an exact science.
As with most other software, the people who use astrology software have not the slightest clue about the internal operations the software performs to generate a desired output. They presume that any operation that can produce such magnificent charts must be defensible and precise. All astrology software offer the techniques of Traditional Astrology. However, almost all of them also offer many additional features, in the form of haphazardly drafted techniques. The output they generate are still meticulous, but the theories from which these output are derived are appalling. Let us review some of them.
2. "VOODOO" Astrology, SUPERSTITION. "What DATE should I Choose for my WEDDING?" is the type of question that is asked frequently by well-meaning but innocent callers who wish to make astrology a part of their lives and major decisions. Many business-minded astrologers and psychics promote their craft as a "supernatural science of karma" to gullible clients, for the deception creates and perpetuates a demand for their services. (The "Psychic" shows on TV are an excellent example of this practice.) This type of intentional abuse or incompetent misuse of astrology is not a new phenomenon. It is a modern version of "fate" seen by a "medicine man" in patterns of bones scattered on the ground. The practitioners of Chinese and Hindu astrology - see below - rely on infinitely more complex and elusive patterns - which are meaningful only to them - to promote the myth of their powers, especially in the West. A popular pastime in the Mid-East is to foretell the events in a person's (near) future from the patterns formed by coffee grounds left in the (small) cup this person has used to drink coffee. (After the cup is emptied, it is turned over on the plate on which the cup is served and left a few minutes to cool and for the patterns to solidify.) Superstition comes in many forms. I attended the first meeting of the Washington, D.C. chapter of NCGR. It was the occasion on which the local chapter was to be formally established - supposedly by "best" astrologers in USA, who advise people about their lives. The members, many among them well-educated professional people, waited for more than an hour, erecting about a dozen charts meanwhile, to predetermine the exact moment for putting signatures on the document. This was the first and last meeting I attended.
Returning to the question about the wedding, the progress and outcome of a marriage depends ultimately on the personalities of the partners and the effort they put into their marriage. Whether the couple married on October 1 or October 23 five, ten, twenty years earlier is irrelevant. Real-life (non-astrologic) circumstances are much more important, e.g., she intentionally became pregnant to "force" him to marry her, when he was not sure they were right for one another. Where astrology may help is in situations such as, if a person met another under a deceptive Neptunian influence (e.g., Neptune square natal Venus or Moon) and fell in love, only to (possibly) regret the affair later. "Possibly," because astrology cannot postulate concrete and irrevocable predictions. It can only point out tendencies. For example, Neptune does not "force" a person to cheat on his or her spouse.
3. PUBLISHERS of astrology books impatiently await the discovery of large rocks floating in the sky. If they are large enough to qualify as an asteroid, they are attributed a few arbitrary characteristics (e.g., CHIRON THE HEALER) and sold to the public. A typical scene -probably bogus - is as follows. Question: "I have been suffering from acute such and such for several months. Doctors are unable to help. Can you?" Answer: "Chiron will be on the cusp of your sixth house of health in March 1993. You should expect a healing process to begin on or about that date." Soon readers are conditioned enough to request interpretations for Chiron and other asteroids in their charts. Popular astrology is happy to oblige.
4. "STOCK MARKET, Investment, Las Vegas Schemes." Astrology is ideally suited as an investment scheme. Astrologic investment (software) modules appeared on the scene about six years ago, promoted by a "foremost" name in astrology. These schemes are not so much promoted among astrologers - presumably because astrologers know better - unless they want to make money using these schemes. The victims are people who are perpetually in search of quick "get rich" formulae. Some of these modules are based upon "forced" correlations between planetary positions and price of and dividends paid by individual stocks. (This is similar to some econometric studies in 1960s, where there were attempts to seek relationships between unrelated variables. These attempts were later humorously called as "A Study of Rainfall in Texas versus Height of Pygmies in Africa." If one insists, any two variables may be correlated. The variables do not care.) Other schemes perform such "analyses" by attributing to individual stocks artificial birth dates - as described for countries - presumably the date on which the stock was issued, i.e., printed.
These exercises are contrary to the most basic assumption of astrology. Astrology is based on the hypothesis that planets generate forces that are received by people on Earth. These forces presumably affect the flow of hormones in human body, inducing people to behave in certain ways. Astrology attempts to predict these behavioral patterns. In contrast, a stock is merely a name printed on a piece of paper. It makes no sense at all to suggest that printed words on paper, in documents and books, "oscillate" with planets.
This type of promotion of astrology is very lucrative for the promoters and it is a rapidly growing money scheme. For example, one astrologic investment group in Chicago offers three-day seminars at $4000, the advertisement highlighting the $195 one would "save" by attending all three days. Other people view astrology as a gimmick by which they can predict the outcome of sport events. They run periodically thousands of charts for football, baseball, basketball... players, teams, managers, always hoping that some day they can "beat the system." These people possess quick and sharp minds otherwise. Nevertheless they are at the mercy of their greed, which the promoters exploit.
5. Linda Goodman's "SUN SIGNS" is a most imaginative marketing scheme astrology has ever devised. It is essentially a book about "PARTY ASTROLOGY." Its premise is derived from two simple principles: 1) "a great majority of people do not know their astrologic chart," and 2) "most people know their Sun-sign." The book is an inspiration that indulges the second principle in an expanded form: "since these people are also uninformed about astrology, it should not be difficult to convince them that a well-written and entertaining book titled 'Sun Signs' is the only astrology they need to understand themselves and their relationships."
The book is party astrology, because it hopes to popularize astrology and sell itself by suggesting that astrology can be a mild aphrodisiac, to imply and test intimacy, for common people in everyday situations. It is true that people will be informed about the characteristics ascribed to their Sun-signs, but that would be it. Astrology involves a minimum of 12 planets for a person, (12 by 12) 144 combinations forming 5 aspects, or a minimum of 720 "planet" variables in a relationship. ("Correct" astrology also looks at "his 12 planets in her 12 houses," and vice versa, inter- house effects.) Either astrology is accepted, or it is not. If it is accepted, then there has to be an agreement that an entire relationship cannot be meaningfully reduced only to the interaction of natal Sun-signs, except in fiction or in a pub.
6. The "MID-TIME/SPACE" is one of the latest indefensible relationship techniques. A software version of it (by ASTROLABE) has existed for about six years. The technique is presently rejuvenated by a new book by ACS/NCGR. The absurdity of this approach is illustrated by the following example. I was born in Istanbul on July 15, 1942, my companion in Cumberland, MD on August 16, 1961. Accordingly, we are supposed to "analyze" our future prospects with planets erected for February x, 1952 (mid-time), and at a location in the Atlantic ocean (mid-space). There might be some use to this technique. It may depict the character of a baby whale born in these waters on that date.
7. "PROGRESSIONS," promoted by the late Alan Leo, a member of astrology's Hall of Fame, is a popular predictive technique in astrology. It is a branch of astrology and is promoted as "primary, secondary, tertiary" progressions, with "direct and converse" options, and "solar-arc directions." The premise of progressions is utter nonsense. It assumes that each day after birth represents a year of life. So if a client is curious of events awaiting him or her at age 40, the planets on day 40 after birth are used. Why the adherents of this technique use hypothetical (i.e., day 40 does not represent age 40) planets instead of real planets at age 40 is not explained. "It works," they say.
Progressions illustrates how effectively the schemers have eroded people's natural resistance to absurdity, claims that contradict the theorem "IF THE PREMISE OF SOMETHING IS NONSENSE, NOTHING SENSIBLE CAN BE DERIVED FROM IT." One must "turn off" common sense when indulging in many techniques of modern astrology. (Traditional Astrology is not threatened by common sense, for there is "clinical" evidence to planetary influences. They plead for research.) If common sense is removed as a filter, astrology becomes in effect a waste basket for all types of concoctions. It has.
8. Traditional astrology is based on the theory that people live on planet earth and receive some sort of energy from the planets. It takes a "Geocentric" view of planets. A recent trend promotes also the "HELIOCENTRIC" theory. A proponent of this approach, a "famous" name in astrology, justifies the new insight as follows: "Helio not only offered another way of considering myself, but it also placed my previous geocentric experience into perspective." Modern astrology is overwhelmed by this type of "READS PROFOUND, SAYS NOTHING" fuzziness that veils hallucination. If people lived on the Sun, and wished to promote astrology, Helio would be the plausible theory to use. Otherwise, it is another "theory" of selling more useless books and software.
9. There are many novice astrologers who are deeply disturbed about some patterns in their charts. They feel these patterns "doom" their prospects forever. They spend hours after hours examining these patterns to find some redeeming qualities about them. There are now new schemes that alleviate this type of concern, both in natal and relationship charts. On the natal front, a technique called "LOCAL SPACE" uses the azimuth coordinate of planetary positions to erect entirely new natal charts for the same person, depending on the address of the person. Thus, Local Space maintains, person XYZ, who lives a problem-prone existence at his present address on the left side of Main Street, facing south, may improve his or her lot by moving - this is not an exaggeration - a few blocks south to the right side of the street. This is not all, Local Space also recommends the desirable routes leading to shopping centers, schools; the position of the sofa in the living room... The sad truth is that there are astrologers who spread city maps across their kitchen table and spend days trying to figure out the "right" route to a Safeway store.
10. A technique called "HARMONICS" uses a different mechanism to get similar results for relationships. Harmonics has its origins in Hindu astrology. Since people in the West are automatically enthralled with ideas and movements that originate in the East, this technique is popular in software and among astrologers. According to its promoters, this "teaching" supposedly "magnifies the potential of the natal chart in marriage situations." Charts are "arc-transformed" to bring pairs of planets into magnification, "as if (note this!) they are in a conjunction." This transformation is encouraged for all possible combinations of planets.
In other words, as if two natal charts do not generate enough "real" patterns, planets in both charts are manipulated until all of the "as if" (i.e., nonexisting) patterns are also taken into account. One feels sorry for a John and Jane who rely on advice derived from these types of techniques, for the advice is not about them. Their charts have been altered. As an analogy, imagine a prescription for Patient-1 that is based on test results for Patient-2. This type of arbitrary "transformation" of charts is frequently the real "mystique" of HINDU Astrology.
11. I CHING. The problem with I Ching, the Chinese Astrology, is the complexity of patterns. They are the most ponderous in astrology. I Ching relies entirely on the date and time of birth. No other date is used. Therefore, it promotes a "set" view of karma. That is, given the date and time of birth, the entire future is set. Since people are not generally aware of "what I Ching does," it can be promoted in the West as a source of wisdom.
Based upon inputs for date and time, I Ching develops dozens of "HEXAGRAMS" that apply to particular hours, days, weeks, months, years, and phases in the future. There are hexagrams that respond to particular inquiries. Although I Ching is described as astrology, there are no references to planets. All interpretations associated with these hexagrams must be accepted by faith and trust. The complexity of the hexagrams also makes their interpretation fuzzy. Depending on where the mood and imagination roam at a particular time, many patterns can be interpreted (i.e., biased) in a multiplicity of ways. They have certain "meanings" in the short-term, other interpretations in the long-term. In either case, they read like riddles. In view of the practical bent of the Western mind, there is a real possibility that the interpretations can be "twisted" to fit any outcome or bias. Although I Ching stresses the importance of freewill in modifying the forces of karma, this seems more like a built-in escape clause to address a discrepancy between the prediction and real outcome.
12. Trans Neptunian Astrology, TNA, is a proof of how resourceful astrology can be. The purpose of TNA is to attribute influences to nonexisting planets. In other words, some astrologers suggest that there are planets "out there" that are yet to be discovered. When confronted by unexpected experiences that cannot be explained from a chart containing the known planets, rather than admitting that they do not know, these astrologers place an invented planet in a house corresponding to the experience. This way the event is explained and the unknown planet is "CHARACTERIZED" before it is discovered. TNA modules are profitable.
13. CARTOGRAPHY Maps. Cartography maps, as a technique of astrologic prediction, emerged on the scene in mid-1980s, as computers became popular in many households. Cartography maps induce people to feel they are getting good astrology and their "money's worth" of their expensive equipment - by observing wonderful maps on their screens.
Cartography maps are world maps with "funny" curved lines on them. The lines represent the positions of transiting planets, as seen from different parts of the world at a particular time. They run in a general "top to bottom" direction. The maps support the theory that a major event at a particular spot on earth happens because the planets are aligned uniquely over that region. It promotes the "blame the planets" superstition. The most famous example of these world maps appeared on the eve of the "Desert Storm." All astrology magazines published a map of the Iraq War, showing a "Mars line" over Iraq.
This one map had such an impact on the astrologic community that the developer of the technique, JIM LEWIS, was recognized as the astrologer of the year at a major astrology conference in Washington, D.C. in April 1992. The community was not disturbed by the fact that an article by Jim Lewis, "What's Ahead for the World in 1991," on pages 6-13 of "American Astrology Digest, 1991," that appeared on the market in September 1990, after Iraq invaded Kuwait, did NOT mention a word about Iraq, Kuwait, or a war in the region. IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE WAR THE SAME MAGAZINE PUBLISHED A SECOND ARTICLE BY JIM LEWIS IN WHICH HE CORRECTLY "PREDICTED" THE WAR. (It appeared on pages 42-49 of the February 1991 issue of the "American Astrology: "Special Report, the Mid-East Crisis.") It is not surprising that "AMERICAN ASTROLOGY" would want to protect JIM LEWIS. It is the publisher of the "BOOK OF MAPS" by JIM LEWIS.) The map of the "Iraq War" conveys the message that since Mars line was passing over Iraq at the time when the war started, it was Mars, alone or with other planets, which caused the war.
Cartography does not make sense even from a "mechanical" standpoint. Since the line also passes over other regions, there should have been an earthquake in central USSR, a sea war in the Indian ocean, a revolution in Madagascar. Cartography reduces people and nations to mere puppets who fight wars not for their own interests, but to entertain God(s). Here, 25 nations became involved in a war not to drive Mr. Hussein out of Kuwait, but to entertain the planet of war: Mars. It was not President Bush who ordered the US forces to attack. It was Mars.
Cartography stresses the significance of ZONES in personal charts. The ads cater to novice astrologers with the following line: "... so far 810 people have happily reported meeting love mates in their Venus zones." This claim is as meaningless as the map of the Iraq War: 1) WHAT percent are 810 of ALL people who reported one way or another? 2) How many people with UNfavorable Venus zones ALSO reported meeting love mates? 3) How many people WITH favorable Venus zones did NOT meet love mates? 4) HOW did authors conclude that it was the Venus zones and not a favorable "environment" that caused this happy turn of events? In reality, if a person is bestowed with the looks of a Warren Beatty or Kim Basinger, or has the personality of a Madonna, and lives in an environment that facilitates mating, then the probability of meeting a love mate should be very high. Compare this to the prospects, DESPITE the Venus zone, of a person who suffers from severe acne and lives in an Amish village. Cartography maps are a hoax.
Time of Birth
The time of birth is a "taken for granted" input in astrology, although all computations depend on it. The general view is seemingly a "since I cannot be really sure of the accuracy of the time I am using, I will assume it is precise." Even in 20th century USA all clocks are not correct nor synchronized. All births are not recorded at an exact procedural moment. Nurses and midwives do not follow a golden rule when they record time. The recording of a precise time-of-birth is not a high priority function in a delivery room. Astrologers should consider themselves fortunate if the time of birth is correct within 15 minutes.
Astrologers use a technique called "RECTIFICATION" to use a first-time major event in a client's life (e.g., first marriage) to modify the recorded time so that, it is, they suggest, precise within a second. They do not mention that the time derived in this manner never agrees with time(s) derived from other first-time major events. Many novice astrologers who insist on having an exact chart pay a substantial fee for this service.
The artificial time concepts such as daylight saving time (DST), War Time (WT), Double Summer Time (DDST), are seen by astrologers as the greatest obstacle in astrology. The dates and times of time changes, from regular time to daylight saving time and back to regular time, are recorded for most parts of the USA. The data about DST, WT, or DDST are not available, or where available, not reliable for other countries. Therefore, in these instances, UNLESS the customer specifically provides this information, the chart provided by a service MAY NOT BE THIS PERSON'S CHART - a fact chart services seldom mention.
A source that outlines time changes, including the effective dates for Daylight Saving Time (DST), in countries around the world is obviously a potential gold mine. ACS/NCGR has published an "ATLAS" showing this information. It contains more than 400 pages of neatly tabulated time data, going back for decades, for more than 100 countries. I decided to check the data for Turkey, my native country. I obtained the response on a letterhead from the Ministry of Inner Resources in Ankara. As I had suspected, the data in the Atlas pertaining to Turkey is entirely wrong. The data about many other countries is probably also invented. I reported these findings to AMERICAN ASTROLOGY. The editors refused to publish it, even after I offered to pay for it.
The time of birth is an important input. If there is doubt about whether or not a given time in a foreign country is subject to DST, instead of relying on dubious sources, such as the Atlas, the astrologer should consult the native, AND IF DOUBT PERSISTS, ERECT TWO CHARTS, ONE ASSUMING DST AND THE OTHER WITHOUT DST. The native may be able to decide from the report the time that provides the more accurate delineation of his/her characteristics. This is the only defensible approach to this confusing problem. In many instances, the two charts, which reflect an hour of time difference, will not be drastically different. But even they are different, this does not present an insurmountable problem. Astrology frequently relies on Solar charts, derived from Date of Birth without neither Time nor Place, to postulate delineations. I use the Solar chart of an adult person to obtain clues about this person's "state of mind," to estimate the nature of events he/she may instigate under the influence of Transits; for example, "Mr. Bush and the Iraq War," outlined in my book. The ascendant-based Natal chart seems the more appropriate basis for discerning events, derived from Transits, that find the native on the receiving end; for example "Mr. Bush and the 1992 Elections," which is included here.
Daily Astrology Columns
The generalized astrology columns one reads in newspapers and magazines should be viewed as entertainment. The authors obviously cannot know the birth information of all the readers. So the predictions are prepared to talk to all persons who have their Sun, for example, in Cancer: "what is happening to the sign of Cancer?". The predictions also apply to the Ascendant. Thus, a Cancer Sun sign with Capricorn ascendant is expected to read the text for both signs.
The predictions for the Sun-sign are based on the so-called SOLAR chart representation. For example, if one reads something like "romance on the rise," the author is emphasizing the effect of the planetary activity on that sign in the 5th House of romance, creative work, children, and speculation. This type of prediction may be offered to persons with Cancer on the ascendant, when, for example, transiting Pluto in Scorpio, and in the 5th house (i.e., counting from the Ascendant: 1.Cancer, 2.Leo, 3.Virgo, 4.Libra, and 5.Scorpio), is conjunct to transiting Venus. Since the 5th house is also the house that affects children, romance is singled out as the criteria that would appeal more to most readers. Due to limited space the author had to make a choice.
These generalized predictions may be off significantly for two additional reasons: 1) the type of event predicted - for example, for "Sun in Cancer" - depends on the rising sign. This decides the house (i.e., the type of event) in which the event takes place. Since there are 12 possibilities for the rising sign, the predicted event applies at best to (1/12) 8.5 percent of all persons who have the Sun in Cancer. 2) Sometimes predictions are based upon an important aspect formed by a transiting planet to the entire Sun-sign. These "event-triggering" aspects apply within about plus or minus two degrees - of the total of 30 degrees allocated to each sign. (The "+/-2 degrees" is called "ORB of Influence.") Therefore, even if the prediction is conceptually valid, it may not be valid in practice. For example, an event that applies only to people who have their Sun at 15 to 17 degrees of Cancer is frequently generalized to all Cancer natives. In reality, people who have their Sun at 0 to 15 degrees of Cancer have already experienced this event, while people whose Sun is at 17 to 30 degrees of Cancer will experience it in the future. If the prediction is based on a distant planet, such as Pluto or Neptune, "future" may mean several years. Thus, the prediction that supposedly applies to the entire Sun-sign, in essence excludes about 28 of every 30 (93 percent) Cancer natives. REASONS (1) AND (2) COMBINED WITH THE "ROMANCE VERSUS CHILDREN" TYPE OF CHOICE BY THE AUTHOR RENDER "IRRELEVANT" THE DAILY, WEEKLY, MONTHLY PREDICTIONS IN NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES.
The duration of astrologic influences depends on the planets involved, for it is the speed with which a particular planet moves around the zodiac that decides the duration. Exact Lunar influences generally last a few hours, influences by the Sun, Mercury, Venus for one or two days, Mars usually up to four days, Jupiter nine days, Saturn 20-30 days, Uranus 38-50 days, and Neptune and Pluto for up to three or four months. There are also the "background" influences, the duration of which are directly related to the time it takes for a particular planet to traverse a sign. For example, a romantic cycle of about a month may be predicted when Venus enters the 5th house.
Conclusion for the public
Astrologic scams - nor the limitations of astrology - do not invalidate astrology as a legitimate phenomenon. I attempted to separate credible astrology from scams that masquerade as astrology. (If the separation is not clear enough, read the study again and periodically.) Increasing numbers of people are turning to astrology to seek solutions to problems affecting them. These people should not be left at the mercy of popular astrologers. On a personal level, "common sense" is the best deterrent against abuse. However, common sense does not function in a vacuum. People must be informed about what astrology is and what it is not, despite the claims. There are no quick fixes to major problems in life. The claims made by astrologers and psychics should always be taken with a "grain of salt."
PART III: Applied Astrology, Research and Conclusions
I studied the natal charts of Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer... and found no categorical "this is it" patterns that account for their deeds. The following points summarize my conclusions about Applied Astrology in general.
1. The Natal Chart versus Environment and Circumstances. The natal chart is the most difficult chart to analyze, to reconcile to a person's present situation. FOR EXAMPLE, Jeffrey Dahmer's chart shows nothing that singles him as the person who murdered and ate a dozen human beings. Other people with the same or similar charts do not commit, and would not have committed, the same deeds. THEREFORE, one must conclude that people are unique NOT because their natal charts are unique - all natal charts are not unique - BUT largely because they live their lives according to a different set of circumstances. Their environment and personal history - story - are unique. These also "bias" the manner by which they interact with their "current" circumstances. There are also (higher order) cultural and national standards that further mold personal stories. FOR EXAMPLE, many Japanese of past ages committed suicide not as a result of an astrologically predictable suicidal tendency, but because of an unforgiving national honor system that left no room for "loss of face." HOW CAN ASTROLOGY "ANALYZE" SUCH A SITUATION? It cannot, because the chart has nothing to do with the suicide. HOW can astrology differentiate between three babies born at a large hospital, at the same time, WHEN one baby belongs to a rich family, the second to an unmarried mother in Bronx living on welfare, and the third is genetically deformed? These babies are born into enormously different environments, yet their natal reports will point out exactly the same potentials. Predictions about them at any age will use the same words and paragraphs, outline the same opportunities. How can this be? THE MAJORITY OF MODERN ASTROLOGERS ARE UNABLE TO MAKE SUCH DISTINCTIONS. Give them a date and an occasion, and invariably a chart emerges, whether the situation makes astrologic - or any - sense or not.
The environment and circumstances are defined by a combination of factors, consisting of chance, other people, and the person. So it must have been Mr. Dahmer's circumstances (e.g., genetic factors, upbringing, education . . . loneliness, idleness...), perhaps combined with a unique transiting pattern at the time of his first crime, that have triggered his life-style and made him the Jeffrey Dahmer we know. Once that life-style began, it continued on its own inertia. This is like the case of a person who had his leg amputated as a result of a car accident. This person may experience astrologically wonderful cycles in the future, but none of them can bring back the leg. It follows that if astrology had anything to do with "what became of Mr. Dahmer," it could have been ONLY a transiting - NOT Natal -pattern that molded his state-of-mind at the time of the first murder, a pattern that resulted in murder IN VIEW OF HIS UNIQUE BACKGROUND AND CIRCUMSTANCES. This pattern may show an inclination for violence (e.g., Mars) or desperation (e.g., Saturn) of some sort, by not the detail of eating people.
Summarizing the foregoing discussion, astrology CANNOT postulate that people with exactly the SAME or similar natal charts, REGARDLESS of their circumstances, will ALWAYS commit exactly the SAME deeds under a particular transiting pattern. Therefore, the only conclusion one can draw is that astrology, at best, can predict ONLY INCLINATIONS, NOT ACTUAL DEEDS. THIS IS WHY ASTROLOGY WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO FLAG OUT POTENTIAL JEFFREY DAHMERS. It can only "ANALYZE" such persons AFTER the fact - and expediently see a cause and effect, as if this particular outcome was INEVITABLE. These conclusions are further confirmed by the obvious truth that mere humans CANNOT identify and recognize ALL consequences of each and every astrologic pattern. (Show me an astrologer who claims he or she can list patterns that will ALWAYS and INVARIABLY lead to murder, and I'll show you a charlatan.)
2. Natal Chart, Other Complications. If astrology is used to study personality profiles, the effort should be restricted ONLY to people whom one has known well over time: oneself, family members, close friends, and unique individuals about whom there are dated biographies. This way, the dates and the circumstances may be used as a CONTEXT to the study. MOREOVER, to be relevant, the natal chart MUST be analyzed in conjunction with transiting patterns COINCIDING with unique and major events in life, even if only to make astrologic sense. There may be still NO clear CORRELATION between the patterns in this person's chart and the deed he or she commits, for the chart of ANOTHER individual may be responsible for the direction of - and events in - this person's life. FOR EXAMPLE, if a much-abused wife kills her husband, should one expect to find a pattern of potential murder in her natal chart, even if there were such categorical "murder" patterns in astrology? Would "murder" necessarily show in her transit chart? NOT LIKELY! If her own chart had anything to do with the murder, it may have been only the consequence of a general "enough-is- enough" transiting pattern. That is, even if a natal or transit chart can identify, FOR INSTANCE, a pattern for "impulsiveness," astrology can NEVER specify the TYPE of deeds this impulsive person may commit under impulse. THIS IS CRUCIAL, for there is a world of practical difference between being "impulsive," a generalization that may apply to almost everyone at some time, and murdering people under impulse. THEREFORE, the only conclusion one can reach is that NATAL PROFILES ARE DOOMED TO REMAIN FUZZY FOREVER, because the many variables which mold a person and his/her life, and their timing, are themselves "fuzzy" and indeterminate, until they happen. This leads to a COROLLARY CONCLUSION. Astrology alone - without personal history and individual circumstances - can at best provide only a silhouette of a person, never the real person. People - and their lives - are much too complicated to emerge distinctly from a circle that is derived from only three pieces of data about them: date, time, and place of birth. THIS IS SIMPLY NOT POSSIBLE.
3. Applied Astrology, a New Approach. The foregoing reasoning disqualifies the use of astrology for mass-marketing purposes - i.e., Chart Services- where the only information one has about the "client" is his or her birth data. The conclusion that the natal chart is doomed to remain fuzzy forever seems logical, whether astrologers like it or not. This also applies to the conclusion that the natal chart MUST be analyzed together with transiting patterns AND with the charts of people in one's immediate environment, as there is a continuous "OSMOSIS" between these charts. WHILE THIS IS A REVOLUTIONARY IDEA FOR APPLIED ASTROLOGY, AND THE ONLY ONE THAT MAKES SENSE, the suggestion that several natal charts, transit charts, and multiple relationship charts must be analyzed together periodically - for each important event in life -severely limits application of astrology in real life situations. The researcher would be doomed to "ANALYZING" life indefinitely, instead of "LIVING" life, and without the promise of a concrete and accurate prediction. In other words, astrology is not a pure science that can offer a formula promise, "GIVEN a, b, and c,... x and y and z will ALWAYS follow." Wishful thinking and claims to the contrary do not change this conclusion. COMMON SENSE OVERRULES THEM.
4. Relationships. The severe limitations of a natal chart also project onto Compatibility Astrology. The interaction between two static natal charts can only show a potential. If the potential is seemingly rich, it provides some comfort that during adverse cycles the couple has a cushion of protection. However, the success of the relationship ultimately depends, again, on the circumstances and, again, if astrology must be used, on transiting planets. FOR EXAMPLE, Donald Trump, the successful entrepreneur, enjoyed a wonderful marriage in 1988. In 1990 he was bankrupt and divorced. This drastic turn of events was not caused by changes in Mr. Trump's Natal or Compatibility charts -the potentials in these charts remain the same - but by the evolution of real-life variables around him: he met another woman; he overstretched his finances and investments... So if astrology must be applied to his case, the change in his CIRCUMSTANCES may be (MAYBE!) explained only by Transits, the dynamic tool of astrology that looks at "changes." This reasoning leads to a COROLLARY CONCLUSION: it is meaningless to "analyze" all phases of a relationship based on the interaction of two natal charts. The Compatibility analysis MUST focus on Transits affecting EACH partner, individually and periodically.
If Transits do affect people, where an individual is only a single entity, then it must also affect people involved in a marriage, where there are multiple entities involved. In this case, the Transit has a reverberating influence on at least three entities: the person, his or her spouse, and the relationship - the bond that serves like a joint investment. (And individually on each child, if there are children.) Obviously, if one partner experiences a "commotion" of sorts, the other partner is affected by it directly. THIS WILL HAPPEN REGARDLESS OF THE PARTNER'S OWN CYCLE, which may add to or mellow this "external" influence. The relationship too is gradually modified and molded by these cycles. If the "joint investment" reaches $0 balance or less, even a minor adversity may terminate the relationship permanently - as divorced people will testify.
5. Natal Chart and Marriage. If astrology is valid, then there are even more elusive influences in a marriage that originate from the natal chart of each partner that also manifest eventually in marriage. A person who has "SUN SQUARE SATURN SQUARE MARS" in his or her Natal chart is likely to be one with severe, cold, punishing - sometimes perhaps even cruel - traits. During adverse transit cycles this person will need his or her energy for inner stability and will not be able to give to the relationship. In time, this is an "eroding" influence, in a natal chart and in marriage. This reasoning also confirms the observation that a Compatibility report, by itself, can only provide a clue about the potentials of a marriage FACING ADVERSE TIMES, for relationships survive well during "honeymoon" cycles, with or without astrology.
A relationship may survive and flourish even with very low astrologic support, but this is not likely during extended periods when one or both partners experience (transiting) adversity. If Compatibility support, derived from two natal charts, is high, it conveys that during adverse periods this couple has a cushion against extreme outcomes. This is all! A COMPATIBILITY REPORT DERIVED FROM TWO (CONSTANT OR STATIC) NATAL CHARTS CAN SAY NOTHING ABOUT THE "CURRENT" STATUS OF A RELATIONSHIP. Nothing! It is up to the couple to use (especially) the positive transit cycles to develop mutual trust, friendship, companionship, love, and goodwill, so that when adverse times call they have an investment by which they and their marriage can survive. BUT this is exactly the formula by which relationships survive ALSO without astrology. It follows that ultimately astrology alone can NOT make or break a marriage. PEOPLE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE OUTCOME OF THEIR RELATIONSHIPS.
6. Transits and Predictions. Popular Astrology approaches predictions - derived from Transits - as a static phenomenon. In reality, the cycle one experiences today is very much affected by events from a previous period. FOR EXAMPLE, a man who lost his leg in a car accident a month ago is entirely under the agony of that experience, REGARDLESS of the quality of the present transit cycle. If the present cycle is astrologically wonderful, rather than feeling wonderful, this person may feel less agony about the amputation. Conversely, if the present cycle is adverse, it may exacerbate his agony to suicidal levels. These obvious conclusions illustrate the dynamic quality of life's patterns which popular astrology attempts to capture in a static prediction. (It is static to the extent that the prediction for this month "knows" nothing about the amputation of the last month.) So popular astrologic predictions presume a NEUTRAL and OUT-OF-CONTEXT start for everyone at the beginning of a cycle for which the prediction is postulated.
Nevertheless, Transits may be a viable area of focus for research. Although Transits involve many more variables than natal astrology, they are easier to verify, because transits are less affected by circumstances and external variables. Transits may be utilized as a guideline for "CYCLE OF OPPORTUNITIES," to pinpoint the times to act, to plan, to initiate, to exercise caution... For example, a person who is bored with his or her job, and would like to move on, may examine his or her transit chart for the immediate future. The chart may show a wonderful Venus, Mercury, or Jupiter cycle developing in 10th-House of Career, 6th-House of Jobs, and/or 3rd-House of Communications, News, and Interviews three months later. To utilize the promise of this future cycle fully, this person MUST make contacts and write job letters NOW, so that when the cycle arrives, he or she has "helped" the planets. (This is like "God helps those who help themselves,") That is, even though astrology is promoted as preordained destiny by schemers, incompetent astrologers, and superstitious followers, it is obviously true that ASTROLOGY DOES NOT OPERATE IN A VACUUM. People must take control of their lives, and not depend entirely on astrologic cycles. ALTHOUGH MANY ASTROLOGERS BELIEVE IN DESTINY AND PREORDAINED OUTCOMES, they can hardly suggest that an unemployed man in need of a job should wait for the planets to write job applications and make contacts on his behalf, and, if all else fails, offer him a position.
7. Predictions and Circumstances. Transits too MUST be analyzed in context to one's circumstances. FOR EXAMPLE, a man stranded alone on an island has many other concerns on his mind than an ominous prediction affecting his "7th House of Intimate Relations." Predictions postulated without regard to individual circumstances can be only generalizations - and frequently hallucination, which astrologers confuse with "intuition." This is how astrology is promoted. Astrologers cannot address personal circumstances of each individual in a mass-market environment. Since Popular Astrology also cannot identify potential Jeffrey Dahmers, IT FLOURISHES BY CATERING TO GULLIBLE OR SUPERSTITIOUS PEOPLE. In view of the large numbers of cults and other unusual organizations that also flourish here, it would appear that there are many such persons in this country.
8. Superstition and Ignorance. People read about events that cannot be explained by known scientific means and turn to astrology for explanations-and for a cause, for a crutch. Astrologers and astrology can not explain these supernatural events better. INDEED, THE MAJORITY OF "EXPERT" ASTROLOGERS DO NOT (EVEN) KNOW WHEN TO USE ASTROLOGY, and when NOT. FOR EXAMPLE, many astrologers are preoccupied with the date of the NEXT BIG EARTHQUAKE IN CALIFORNIA. Earthquakes are common in Southern California NOT because planets are aligned in a particular way, BUT due to the accumulated pressure generated by "tectonic" forces. (The huge Pacific and Continental plates "rub" against one another, while they move continuously in opposite directions.) When the pressure reaches a critical level, an earthquake of some severity follows. This is a GEOLOGIC, not ASTROLOGIC, phenomenon. If planets had anything to do with earthquakes, there would be earthquakes in every region, not just in particular regions. (Obviously the planets are not all aligned continuously over California, the Philippines...) Thanks to these modern astrologers who refuse to use their common sense, astrology has become a public joke. Even the people who read their daily horoscope feel that officially they must declare themselves skeptics, to escape the severe stigma associated with astrology.
NOTE: GIVEN a major fault line, as many in California, a special ALIGNMENT of Sun, Earth, and Moon, may indeed play a role in determining WHEN earthquakes DO occur. But even this possibility has nothing to do with astrology. A fault line MUST be present. Then the gravitational effect between the Sun, Earth, and the Moon may "act" on that fault line. This is Geology interacting with Astrophysics. Astrology does NOT have the tools to study such phenomena. Astrophysics does.
9. Complex Situations and Astrology. If a family is going through hell, because their 13-year-old daughter ran away from home, and a Sydney Omarr is asked to analyze this situation, what does Mr. Omarr do? Does he look at the father's and mother's natal charts for clues about, for example, if one or both were too strict or abusive; that the girl may be gone for good? Does he study the relationship charts between the father and mother, and the relationship charts between father/daughter and mother/daughter for further clues about family unity? He certainly should look at the natal and transit charts of the daughter, to determine her state-of-mind.
The bottom-line considerations are as follows. A single natal chart entails more than 11,000 variables - 13 planetary entities in 12 signs, in 12 houses, forming one of 5 major aspects or none. This study would involve millions of variables. A police officer experienced with run-away young people may provide a more reliable prediction about the likely outcome of this situation, and do this on the spot. Even astrologers recognize this, a fact that may also explain why increasing numbers of them have declared themselves "psychic" in 1990's, when psychics became the more dominant fortune tellers. As psychics, astrologers can quickly examine the girl's chart and then claim to "see" the outcome right away. (One can argue with astrology, but it is more difficult to tangle with intangible "psychic inspiration.") ALBEIT, ONE CAN ALSO FLIP A COIN - Heads, she will return; Tails, she will not - AND BE AT LEAST 50 PERCENT CERTAIN OF THE OUTCOME OF THE SITUATION. Even the best astrologic or psychic prediction cannot improve the odds. PEOPLE SHOULD REMEMBER THIS, unless they are so naive that they believe every prediction made by every astrologer or psychic, who can FREELY advertize as such, ALWAYS COMES TRUE.
10. Abuse. "Abuse" in astrology is prompted to a large extent by WHAT people expect from astrology. This decides HOW greedy or incompetent astrologers strive to meet that expectation. Astrology CANNOT postulate irrevocable and concrete outcomes. It cannot promise a person "YOU WILL WIN THE LOTTERY." The best that the Transits can convey is something like "since Venus in your 2nd house of Money, or 5th house Speculation and Investments, or 8th house of Finances is very favorable on such and such dates, you should consider buying a lottery ticket..." But even then, one can argue that someone with better 2nd, 5th, 8th House patterns, without necessarily being aware of this fact, will win the lottery. IT FOLLOWS that neither astrologers nor the people they advise should pattern their lives according to predictions derived from astrology. Astrologic cycles may be researched and studied, but they are not concrete or reliable enough to become decisive formulae.
11. Astrology and the Prejudice Against it. There is a "bottom-line" inquiry that I have not addressed. Even if astrology is taken as a valid phenomenon, are people who use astrology more successful in life than people who do not. The answer is "PROBABLY THE OPPOSITE." It takes an enormous amount of time to erect and to decipher astrologic charts, especially at frequent intervals. This time can certainly be used more productively doing something else, pursuing a tangible goal. On the other hand, people who embrace astrology as a way of life - rather than for profit - are, more often than not, "passive" type individuals who have the tendency to see life preordained. Astrology -and not "tangible" goals - may be an ideal vocation for them, providing stimulus in their lives. OTHER PEOPLE turn to Robert Tilton, soap operas, Terminator II... and are rejuvenated by them. The society may rate these (All-American) pastimes as more wholesome and fashionable, but it can NOT show or claim that they are more sensible. It may be that astrology and astrologers have become a natural receptacle for the prejudices inherent in the majority, FOR PREJUDICE MUST HAVE TANGIBLE OUTLETS.
12. Research. Astrology is an elusive phenomenon. It may be even more complex than DNA biology. It must be studied patiently and meticulously. Transits should be the starting point, because it provides spontaneous feedback about the expected influences, and it is less affected by environment and personal circumstances. There is a need for empirical evidence - but not "dreamed evidence," like the natal results by Gauquelins from France - about the influences by planet, sign, house, and aspect. The initial pilot study should focus on family members, close friends, and people in the neighborhood who are willing to participate. Evidence such as "given a, b, c,... x, y, z follows," ALWAYS and UNIVERSALLY, will take time. Even this tiny pilot study may demand a decade or more of continuous follow-up, and it may not produce results that are uniform.
FOR EXAMPLE, "4th House Uranus opposite Natal Sun" for Sirman, who is finished with his work in astrology and is free to move about, may mean a MOVE from Washington, DC to a different location and the start of a new phase in life -which is true as of 12/27/1993. For a married Federal employee expecting a new baby the same aspect may manifest as HOME RENOVATION. For another Federal employee involved in an unhappy marriage it may mean DOMESTIC UPHEAVALS following the estrangement of - or the discovery of an extra-marital affair by - the spouse. For a farmer in Iowa, it may be the "forced" SALE of the family farm. For the man stranded alone on an island this may be a cycle of inner fears, boredom, instability, and/or hopelessness...
Astrologers will recognize a common - 4th-House "domestic and private"- denominator in these events. But to skeptical judges, even if the timing of these events can be shown to coincide with the aspect by Uranus, the seemingly disparate nature of the consequences will veil the connection to a single cause. (Sirman's move from Washington, DC, home renovation for a new baby, family problems arising from adultery, sale of a farm... are not events most people would categorize as "same" type of events.) The pragmatic skeptics will find it easier to accuse astrologers of hallucinating this correlation. One cannot blame them, especially when overzealous astrologers, hungry for fame and recognition, continuously bombard the public (and each other) with predictions of absurd cause and effect instances, like planets and earthquakes, like "Mars line and the War with Iraq..."
But even for astrologers who do recognize the 4th-House connection, there is still a higher-order inquiry they cannot answer satisfactorily. FOR EXAMPLE, suppose Sirman attributes the urge to leave Washington, DC entirely to "Uranus opposite his Sun." If Sirman is relatively happy in Washington, DC, should he dismiss the urge to move as an "artificial" inducement and remain in Washington, or should he respond to the "call" of Uranus and move? ASTROLOGY CANNOT PROVIDE ANSWERS TO SUCH EXISTENTIALIST DELIBERATIONS. Foremost, even in our "free" system, most people are not so free that they can pack and leave on a whim. Sirman is "fortunate" enough (or not) to have envisioned and structured his life so that he can respond to such calls. But the ultimate inquiries, "is the decision to move a wise choice?" or "will the move ultimately lead to a happy ending?" cannot be answered by astrology. LIFE IS A PROCESS, NOT A RACE WITH A TIMED START AND FINISH. Many decisions may feel "right" initially, "so so" six months later, utterly wrong a year later... "not so bad" two years later. The answer is also frequently biased by "WHAT ONE EXPECTS FROM LIFE" and by background and personality traits that dictate "HOW ONE APPROACHES LIFE." In retrospect, some paths (of pragmatic achievers) run on more or less predictable straight lines, others (of "searchers") on less-predictable "zigzag" courses. There are men and women (e.g., addicts) whose lives seemingly run in circles, going nowhere. The person who normally pursues a straight path would abhor the "waste" of an unplanned major detour on his/her path. (This type of conflict frequently surfaces as "communications gap" between straight-line parents and their zigzag children.) The word "destiny" may be nothing but a summary of the type of experiences one is likely to encounter, given the particular path this person is "destined" (or chooses) to pursue - e.g., a stuntman in movies is "destined" to have a more stimulating life than the average person but also to suffer more accidents.
Astrologers should not dilute their concentration with nonsensical techniques, like Progressions which assume Day=Year, Solar Return (a Snap-Shot Transit Chart), Composite Relationships versus Synastry (semantics), Cartography (blame the planets for wars, earthquakes, etc.) They should NOT use "artificial" birth dates (e.g., 7/4/1776 for the USA) and claim to "analyze" a complex country (or event) as if it were a person. Astrologers should focus on people. The techniques that are needed for research are the ones from Traditional Astrology that attracted astrologers to astrology in the first place: Natal, Compatibility (by Lois Haines Sargent), and Transit charts. The limitations of astrology outlined here are also unrelated to the TYPE of astrology used - e.g., Traditional, I Ching, Hindu, Aztec, Vedic... THEY STAND, REGARDLESS. Foremost, novice astrologers should not be misled by software. Charts plotted in color, software that require type-set quality printers, Super-VGA monitors, Windows 3.1... may impress uninformed chart customers. THEY ARE ENTIRELY IRRELEVANT, FOR ASTROLOGY DOES NOT BECOME AN EXACT SCIENCE BECAUSE SOFTWARE PLOTS CHARTS IN COLOR AND/OR RUNS IN WINDOWS. The forefathers of astrology used a stick to scribble a circle on the sand and originated Traditional Astrology. Take away the computer and computer gimmicks, modern astrology has improved neither the substance nor the originality of their work. Unless astrologers change their focus from greed - making money from astrology - to conducting serious research, they will drive this oldest "science" into oblivion and deserve every ounce of public prejudice and stigma their efforts brought to themselves, and alas also to astrology.
AsterPro (regular) Transit output is designed specifically to list daily planetary influences starting with the slowest planets and ending with the fastest Moon. This mode of presentation accommodates my interpretation of how one should view the influences collectively. I call this the CYCLES WITHIN CYCLES approach, where a series of quicker and shorter - but not necessarily less consequential - EVENT TRIGGERING INFLUENCES happen within umbrellas of PROCESS CYCLES of increasingly longer duration.
An aspect by a SLOWER planet (e.g., Pluto) in a given house marks an ERA of influence. FOR EXAMPLE, Pluto's Transit of a House may last longer than a decade. If Pluto is transiting the 7th House, it would mean a MARRIAGE of sorts - partnership, an allegiance. During this decade or longer, Pluto may form positive and adverse aspects to several Natal (and other transiting) planets. Thus, even if Pluto begins with a very positive TRINE to the Natal Sun, this does NOT mean that the whole decade will signify a wonderful marriage, et al. The progress depends also on what aspects Pluto forms later, where SATURN is... and on a day-to-day basis, where the SUN, VENUS (e.g., the FASTER planets) are - and what type of path this person follows, his or her circumstances. Thus, as in real- life, AsterPro Transits portray a DYNAMIC process, depicting the up's and down's of life, where some affairs seemingly BLOOM for a time while others experience a TESTING phase (and later vice versa), all at the same time.
Some aspects may be very complex and indeterminate. FOR EXAMPLE, "Pluto trine Natal Sun," accompanied by "Saturn square Natal Sun," designates a severe Saturn cycle under a once-in-a-life-time wonderful Pluto umbrella. Depending on one's circumstances, this may manifest in a variety of ways over the next year or so: 1) bloom in affairs affected by Pluto, ordeal in affairs tested by Saturn, 2) Saturn dominates for a year while Pluto remains behind the scenes, 3) Saturn's severity is diminished by Pluto and Pluto's effect is diminished by Saturn, 4) Saturn is subservient to Pluto and becomes a major effort leading to a major accomplishment by Pluto . . . In these types of cases, all the astrologer can guess, at first, is that "something major will be in the works." A creative native, who has options and is in control of his or her life, will use this occasion to strive to achieve something under Option-4. The average person will experience this as Options 1, 2, or 3, and may remember only the "trying times," without having any achievement to show for the experience.
Having lived through appreciably different life-styles on three continents already at age 19, I am frequently reminded of a WISDOM my mother speaks: "LIFE IS ALL THOSE THINGS THAT HAPPEN TO YOU WHEN YOU WERE PLANNING OTHER THINGS." Even the most able astrologer, who can predict the direction of most major events in his/her life, will be constantly humbled by the many nuances surrounding these events, nuances which he/she could not predict, nuances which render the original prediction almost irrelevant... Albeit, this is how I use AsterPro for my research.
13. Conclusion. If astrology is going to "prove" a valid phenomenon, it is going to be through transits, by predicting the general trend of events in personal lives, preferably before they happen. The following text contains a Transit study that illustrates, for President Clinton, how Transits may be used astrologically to "guess" what the future holds. I did not use the word "predict," for prediction implies a concrete outcome. We have already seen that astrology cannot postulate concrete and irrevocable outcomes. This is especially true for the President of the United States, because the President has an almost unlimited cushion against any type of adversity, should he find himself in an adverse cycle.
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