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Asthoughtsturntowhat2016hasinstoreforus,Sophie

Morristalkstothepeopleattheheartofthehoroscope
business
HopefulasIamoffindingaroomfullofcrystalballs,smokeandmirrors,avisittoa
classrunbytheLondonSchoolofAstrology(LSA)yieldsnothingofthesort.
Altogether29studentssitinthebowelsoftheQuakerFriendsHouseopposite
EustonStation,agoodattendanceforarainyThursdayeveninginDecember.There
are25womenandfourmenallbutahandfullookover40sittinginrowsatlong
tables,studyingtheastrologicalchartatthefrontoftheroom,andnotacrystalor
cloakinsight.
ThechartisGordonBrowns.Thatstosayitsbeenestablishedbasedonthetime,
dateandlocationoftheformerPrimeMinistersbirth.Anastrologersfirstjobisto
drawupaclientschartfeaturingtheplanetsandsignsofthezodiac,whichtheir
readingswillbebasedon.
If,explainstheteacherFrankClifford,referringtothepositionoftheplanetson
thecircularillustration,GordonBrownhadconsultedanastrologerwhenmaking
hisdealwithTonyBlairabouthandingovertheleadership,wecouldhavetoldhim
hedbewaitingforaverylongtime.
Cliffordisinhisearlyfortiesbutlooksadecadeyounger.Heswearingbluejeans,a
blacktshirtandtrainers.Hislongsilverchainandgoateeareborderlinenewagey,
buthismostremarkablecharacteristicishisenthusiasmforastrology,whichhes
beeninvolvedwithsincehewasateenager.
NowheadofoneoftwoschoolsintheUKstillofferingweeklyfacetofacerather
thancorrespondenceorintensiveresidentialcoursesionthesubject,healsowrites
booksandactsasamediaastrologerforanumberofpublications.Cliffordhas

around100studentsstudyingfoundationyearsordiplomas(threeyears)inastrology,
costingfrom690ayearforthreetermsofeveningclasses.TheAdvisoryPanelon
AstrologicalEducation(APAE)lists14accreditedmemberschoolsbutnotalloffer
regularclasses.
AlongwiththeLSA,theFacultyofAstrologicalStudiesistheonlyschoolalso
runningphysicaldiplomacourses.Itcurrentlyhasaround500studentsacrossallits
courses,whopayupwardsof285permoduletocompletetheeightdiploma
modules.SharonKnightischairoftheAssociationofProfessionalAstrologers
International(APAI).Shetellsmeshehasaround120vettedastrologers,whohave
completedthesetypesofdiplomas,onherbooks.
Whybothertotrain,whenanyonecandeclaretheyareanastrologerandstartselling
theirservices?Therearefraudulentpractitionersinallwalksoflife,butwith
astrologytheresnolegalbartoreach,onlyanethicalone.Talkingbeforetheclass,
Cliffordsharesaclassicastrologyhorrorstory.HemetawomaninCaliforniawhom
hedescribesasanemergencyclient.Shedseenavedicastrologer(Indianastrology,
therearemanykinds)whohadtoldhershewoulddieorlosealimbinanaccident
betweentwospecificdatesafewdaysapart.Ifsheweretobuycertaintalismansfrom
theastrologerhimhowever,hecouldworktoreducetheeffectsofthecoming
trauma.Icantimagineanyoneoverheredoingthat,saysClifford.Itsaboutthe
powerinvestedintheguru.Wespokeabouthergivingherpowerovertoothers.I
emailedherthedayafterthepredictionandshedidendupbuyingthesethingsthe
vedicastrologerhadrecommendedbecauseshewasscared.Thatmademefeelsick,
whatanawfulthingtobesubjectedto.
Astrologyisneverreallyaboutadvice,itsaboutconsultationordialogue.Idlike
peopletolearnalittlebitbeforetheygetsocritical.Itsnotabeliefsystem,itsnota
cult,itsnotareligion.Itsawayoflookingattheworld,itsalanguage.
GordonBrown,asfarasweknow,didnotconsultanastrologeratthetimeofthat
nowfolkloricGranitaPact,noristhereevidenceheeverhas.Wedbesurprisedto
learnthatthisunshowypoliticianlookedtotheheavensforinsightsandapproval,
buthewouldntbethefirst.JohnMajorwasreportedtohaveconsultedanastrologer

whilehewasprimeministerDavidTredinnick,servingConservativeMPfor
Bosworth,hassaidastrologycouldhelpourailingNHS,anditsnosecretthat
astrologerJoanQuigleyheldasmuchswayoverformerUSpresidentRonaldReagan
asanyofhisofficialadvisoers.AccordingtoClifford,QuigleyfoundwaysforReagan
andGorbachevtocommunicate,ultimatelyendingtheColdWar.
Forapracticewithancientoriginsandadubiouspremisethattherelationship
betweentheplanetsanddetailsaboutourbirthcanprovideinsightstoourfutures
astrologygetsalotofattention.Perhapsthisisdowntoourdesire,ordesperation,to
knowtheunknowable,andourfascinationwithgurus,leaders,divinatorsanyone
whomightexplaintheinexplicable.Itisalsothankstoitspopularaccessibility
throughnewspaperandmagazinecolumns,atraditionwhichbeganinthe1930s
whenastrologerRHNaylorwrotethehoroscopeofnewbornPrincessMargaretfor
theSundayExpress.TheDailyMailslongtimeastrologerJonathanCainercallsit
theoldestprofession,(Longbeforeanyonethoughtofchargingforthat,wewere
chargingforthis,heclaims).
Tofindtheearliestwrittenexamplesofastrologyweneedtogobacktothesecond
millenniumBC,andmostcultureshavesincebeenshowntohavesomeancient
practiceofinterpretingeventsoftenpubliceventssuchastheweather,politicsor
warbyreadingsignsfromtheskyies.TheastrologersItalktoemphasisethattheir
jobisnottopredictthefuture,althoughmuchoftheirworkinvolvesforecasting,
buttoworkwithclientstoseewhathazardsandopportunitiesmayawaitthem,and
toprovideguidanceinhowbesttoapproachtheselifeevents.Thiscontemporary
strainofastrologyisknownaspsychologicalastrology.
Astrologyisnotdeterministic,saysCatCox,presidentoftheFacultyofAstrological
Studies.Ithinktheresalotofconfusionandmisunderstandingaboutthisinour
culture.
Soifwecantproveordisproveastrologybyseeingpredictionseitherplayoutorfail
tomaterialise,howcanwetestitandtrustit?Thatquestioncomesfromour
modernrationalWesternworldviewthatdeemswhatstrueisbasedondataand
scientificresults,saysCox.Astrologyisasymbolicsystem,itdoesntoperatewithin

thatWesternframeworkandourastrologersarenttryingtodemonstratethat.There
areotherwaystobeintheworld.
CliffordalertsmetoafamousquotebyAmericanfinancierJPMorgan:Millionaires
dontuseastrologers,billionairesdo.ThebankerMorganwasrumouredtohave
pulledoutofhistripaboardTheTitaniconadvicefromhisastrologer.
Doweplayastrology,muchlikeweplaytheLottery,inthehopeofseeinguntold
billionsinourfutures?RememberMysticMeg,theNationalLotterysinhouse
astrologerwhenitlaunched,withhercrystalballandspookyvoice?
Itiscuriousthatwhile97percentofusknowourstarsign(thereissome
controversyovercallingzodiacorsunsignsstarsigns,butitsthemostregular
usageintheUK),accordingtoaYouGovsurveyfromJuly2015,only20percentof
usbelievestarsignscantellussomethingaboutourselvesoranotherperson.The
surveyalsofoundthat8percentbelievehoroscopescantellussomethingaboutthe
future,and4percenthavechangedtheirbehaviourbasedonsomethingreadina
horoscope.
Cainerismindfulofthis4percent,andsubjectseverythinghewritestowhathecalls
hisWhatifIwassuicidaltestafterareaderinterpretedIfyouvegotsomething
thatsbiginyourlifegoaheadanddoittodayasasigntokillhimself,anddidso.
Asabusiness,Cainerwhohas30staffandanannualturnoverof2mand30staff
saysastrologyisrecessionproof.Theintelligentsiaorchatteringclassesgo
throughphasesoflikingordislikingastrology,hesays.Mostregularfolkjustlikeit
andnothingmuchhaseverchanged,oreverwill.
TheresacliponYouTube,some20yearsold,ofadiscussionbetweenCainerand
RichardDawkins,thescientistandpolemicatheist.
Itakescienceveryseriously,beginsDawkins,dressedinasuitandspeakingfrom
BBCTelevisionCentre.Ithinkscienceisabeautifulthing.Ithinkastronomyisvery
beautiful.Ithinktheuniverseisverybeautiful.Ithinkitisdemeaningand

cheapeningtogetfunfromthiskindofthing.
CuttoCainerinastudioinLeeds,wherehesseatedagainstabackdropoftiedye
sarongsdecoratedinsunsandstars,andwearingawaistcoatpatternedwithsimilar
emblems.Onatableinfrontofhimaremodelplanets,anoveltycandle,andahuge
book.Heconfirmstomehetookhisownpropsalongthatday.
Thebookturnsouttobeadictionary,whichheopenstolookupthedefinitionof
science.Idontreallyknowquitewherewestandonscience,hesays.Thepoint
is,scienceisawordasfarIunderstanditwithquiteabroaddefinition.
Thisisthesameargumentthathasdoggedastrologythroughthe20thcenturyand
uptothepresentday.Really,itsthesameargumentthathascountereditsveracity
sincethescientificrevolutionoremergenceofmodernscience,whichcanbedated
backtoanywherebetweenthe16thcenturyastronomyofCopernicusandNewtons
lawsofmotionsandgravity,publishedtowardstheendofthe17thcentury.Severalof
theastrologersItalktopointoutthattheirkindusedtobereveredaspriestswere,as
ifthisprovidescredence.Theypoint,too,tothesignificanceofastrologyinthestory
ofthethreewisemenwhotravelledtovisitthebabyinfantJesus.
Those,likeDawkins,whobelieveinrationalWesternthoughtjustcannotgettheir
headsaroundthefactthatmusingsbasedonthemovementoftheplanetsareprinted
alongsidenewsstories,andintendedaslifeadvice.Eventhosewhosubscribetoother
beliefsystems,suchasChristianity,IslamandJudaism,peoplewhoaretotallyfine
withtheideaofamanwalkingonwaterandreturningfromthedead,eventhese
peoplefinditabitfarfetchedthathereweallare,in2016,planningoutthedayor
themonthaheadbasedonafewesotericsentencespeggedtoourdateofbirth.
SincethatBBCclipwasfilmedintheearly1990s,Cainerhasmovedon.My
VictorianandEdwardianpredecessorswereverykeentodeclarethatastrologywas
somekindofascience,hesays.Ofcourseitisntanditcantbe,anditsludicrous
andpreposterousthatanyoneeverclaimedthatastrologywasscientific.Butitis
basedonmeasurableaccurateastronomicalinformation,andyoucantdenythat.

ThephysicistandtelevisionpresenterProfessorBrianCoxhasalsospokenout
againstastrology,describingitasrubbish,whileDawkinsonceaskedinthe
IndependentonSunday,Ifastrologerscannotbesuedbyindividualsmisadvised,say,
intotakingdisastrousbusinessdecisions,whyatleastaretheynotprosecutedfor
falserepresentationundertheTradeDescriptionsActanddrivenoutofbusiness?
Why,actually,areprofessionalastrologersnotjailedforfraud?
DawkinsisonememberofwhatCainerenthusiasticallydescribesasanunholy
allianceofatheists,scepticsandhumanistswho,hesays,aremakingupforlost
timebyexertingtheirwrathequallyonreligionsandonanypeoplewhoclaimto
havesomesortofarelationshipandanunderstandingofthemindofthedivine..
Ithinktheygetsoworkedupaboutitbecauseitsalmostlikethelidhascomeoutof
abottleofrepressionwhichhasbeeninplaceforcenturies.Intellectuals,free
thinkers,intelligentindividualsaroundtheworldhavehadyearsofhavingtobite
theirtongueswhilethemostunutterablecrapisrecitedasifitsindisputabletruth.So
nowtheyregettingabitslaphappy.
Unfortunately,knockingestablishedreligionisnotfashionableorpopularatthe
moment,soheressomethingyoucantakeapopatyoucantakeapopatthose
stupidignoramuseswhoaremoronicenoughtobelievethatthemovementsofsome
tinyitemsofrockandice,thousandsormillionsofmilesawayfromtheeEarth,
couldhaveanyrelationshipwitheventsonplanetEarth.Itspreposterous.Its
unprovenanditsmorethanunproven,itsunprovable.
CainerhasbeenwiththeMailsincetheearly1990sexceptforabriefsojournoverat
theMirror.ShelleyvonStrunckelshoroscopesappearintheEveningStandardand
TheSundayTimes.Shesaystheyfeedourhungerforinnerpeace.Shewasthefirst
astrologertohaveacolumninabroadsheetpaper,TheSundayTimes,whenAndrew
Neilhiredherin1992.TodayCatherineTennantwritesinTheDailyTelegraph,and
themidmarketandredtoptabloidpapersrunhoroscopes,asdoagoodnumberof
thewomensweekliesandmonthlies,butTheIndependentonSundaydroppedits
horoscope,whichwasaspoofanyway,sometimeago,asdidTheObserver.

Cainersstrandofastrologyisknownasstarorsunorzodiacsignforecasting.We
knowitashoroscopes.VonStrunckelandCaineracknowledgethattheirworkto
distilastrologicalreadingsintoaround50wordsandconfinedtothe12signsofthe
zodiacislimiting,butbothseetheirregularnewspapercolumnsasagatewayto
readersdeeperexplorationofastrology.
IfthenooseistighteningaroundastrologyincontemporaryWesternsociety,itis
claimingfreshbloodinotherpartsoftheworld.CatCoxandSharonKnightboth
attendedadulteducationclassesinastrologyinthe1980s,butthesenolongerexist.
InthesanitisedWestastrologyhasdeclineddramatically,claimsKnight,butin
easternEurope,Turkey,IndiaandChina,businessisbooming.CainerandVon
Strunckelscolumnsaresyndicatedaroundtheworld,withCainertranslatedinto
SpanishandJapanese,whileChineseVogueenlistedVonStrunckelforitslaunchin
2005andsheremainstheirresidentastrologer.ItsparticularlyinBritainthatthe
climatehasturnedcolder,confirmsCainer.Ithasntaffectedbusiness,butIm
gettingmoreonlinetrolling.VonStrunckelsayssheisntsubjecttoonlineabuse.
IfindmyPiscesmugatthebackofacupboard.HowcomfortingtoreadthatIam
imaginative,sympathetic,dreamy,sentimental,artisticandtemperamental
characteristicsthemugattributestoallPisceans.
ItsaverytwodimensionalpicturetosaytosomeoneyoureatypicalCancerianora
classicGemini,saysCainer.Nobodyreallyis.Everybodyisanindividualwithafull
andcomplextapestryofcharacteristicswithintheirpersonality.
Todemonstratethis,Iaskhimtoprovidesomemoredetail,andhecreatesmy
PersonalProfile,a25pagedocumentcontainingmyindividualchartandguidance
onwhatthismaymeanformeingeneral,alongwithaGuidetotheFuture2016,
whichrunsto85pagesofcommentaryonsituationsImay,ormaynot,encounter
overthecoming12months.Hecharges24.95and29.95respectivelyforthese
servicesonhiswebsite.
Foralaypersonthesechartsdontmaketheeasiestreading.Hereisoneexampleof

severalhundredIhavetoworkwithfortheyearahead:
Youwillfirststarttonoticetheeffectsofthistransitaround13thSeptember2016.
Youwillcontinuetoexperiencethisinfluenceuntil15thSeptember2016afterwhich
timeitwillrapidlydiminish.Greatsingersareforeverinsistingthat,forthesakeof
somethingtheylove,believein,orwishtohonour,,theywillclimbthehighest
mountainorswimthedeepestsea.Perhapstheyreallywouldbutitishardto
envisage.Itisalsohardtoseewhytheywouldneedto.
Inlife,wearefarmorelikelytofacesomefarlessexcitingchallenge.Couldyou
sitthroughahundredmeetings,waitatathousandbusstops,orwashamillion
dishes?Thatsthetruetestofyourcurrentfantasy.Assuming,thatitsaninspiring
one.Ifitsafearfulfantasythatyoukeepentertainingnow,theadviceisevenmore
simpleandstraightforward.Ignoreit.Itmeansnothing.
Amilliondishes?Illhavetodiscussthiswithmyhusband,becausehedoesallthe
washingup,withthehelpofadishwasher.Butif2016hasmewaitingatathousand
busstopsthatsthreeadayIllwagertheressomethingoffaboutthiswhole
business.Orelseitstimetobuyacar.
:independent

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