Stargazing for Answers

‘Don’t tell me... you’re a Leo.’
‘I know... I know... Cancer.’
‘You see Jenny – I knew he was a Virgo.’
‘Oh yeah... definite Virgo. Watch him.’

In just four attempts, she was on to me.

It was hard enough trying to impress her, and now I had to overcome her astral prejudices. Her mates shook their heads gravely communicating small feminine gestures with every Virgoan blunder I made.

‘I’m not into it that much – not like some people,’ she said lightly, secretly marking me down as a dangerously rational insurgent.

But what of this star-fated personality allotted to me from some time before the dawn of science and its obsession with common sense and facts? Within, I know, slumbers a passionate and sexy Capricorn, an occasionally gregarious Leo, a sometime courageous Airean  and a freedom loving Sagittarius. But apparently not.

And what of the celebrities with whom I share my zodiacal fate? In my case: Sean Connery, Peter Sellers, Oliver Stone, John Coltrane to name a few. I can see these, but perhaps less so Mother Theresa, Frodo Baggins and Raquel Welsh.

I wonder if people would identify with astrology so readily if it was Michael Howard or Barbara Cartland they shared a sign with. Was Hitler a Virgo tidying up  Europe with his little helpers, the panzers and Stukas? One girl I knew stayed in three weekends to avoid the professed man of her dreams – the solar system was just not conducive to nookie right then. Meanwhile he was getting off with her best mate.  I could have predicted that.

Apparently, I shouldn’t date Ariens and Aquarians and, heaven forfend, my last girlfriend was Aquarian. And yes it was turbulent – just like the book warned! But hang on, it was also mellow, affectionate, fun and loving. It’s easy to forget the good when distracted by the ‘truth’ of the bad.

And should I run screaming from the room if I meet an Aerian tomorrow? Should the possible love of my life be denied by the whim of pseudo science? For research I borrowed an astrological book from my ex, ‘my bible’ as she describes it.

Virgo: ‘Logical, meticulous and modest, Virgo’s are one of the most subtle earthly sign ruling cleverness, competence and expectation.’ Well, I have my moments. Then again I have my moments of stupidity, incompetence and pessimism.

A French researcher once placed an ad offering readers a 10-page personal horoscope if they wrote to him with details of their birthdays. The first 150 were sent an identical analysis drawn up by a professional astrologer. Ninety percent were amazed at how well it described them – as were almost all their family and friends. The real subject of the horoscope was a mass murderer. Suggestibility is the key. I remember the last time I read a medical encyclopedia. Aside from a drink problem, I discovered I had trenchfoot, yellow fever and tennis elbow.

Astrology is hesitant about making concrete promises which is very wise for its survival.
In my case, the suggestion that Virgo’s may be tall and possess extremely large foreheads would only be true if I hung around with a lot of small-headed pigmies.

Such inconvenient inconsistencies encourage astrologers to cover themselves. All manner of astral influences can justify its inaccuracies – a handy polyfilla for its rather shoddy brickwork.   
The source of all this wisdom is not so easy to find. There’s plenty about what to believe, little on why. I turned to my ex’s bible for enlightenment. It included a brief introduction for those vaguely interested in finding out why we should believe any of it.

I was surprised how compelling its basics premises could be. Certainly more plausible, scientifically, than testing the flotability of a suspected witch in a small lake or testing a womens fidelity by making her drink dust and water (courtesy Numbers 5:11, Old Testament). I was fascinated to read about gravity affecting our water-bound bodies. So simple, so obvious and  quite compelling in a nice idea, bugger-all-proof kind of way.

Then again, that flat earth concept must have seemed bloody good sense at the time too.
But strangely, none of the astral disciples I spoke with had the faintest knowledge or interest in why any of it should make sense. And instead of turning a sceptical eye to the unproven – fans prefer to listen to latter day prophets such as Mystic Meg and Russel Grant. Faith is an incredible thing and indeed listening to a word from these two surely requires it in abundance.
Astronomy has now taught us that what we thought were groups of related stars and planets  are nowhere near each other. Not only that, but we now know there’s 13 of them.

Unfortunately, Ophiuchus (whose presence should make me a Leo) crashed the party a bit late. You’d think this might be thought significant, but most star-gazers have blithely ignored it as being irrelevant.

The irony is that there may be something in it. Like most accepted ideas, which started off as heresies and half-truths, astrology may well come of age. But what truths science may later unveil are, for the moment, buried deep in the tripe served up for the gullible.

And even if there is something – is it in the hands of those that can help? Apart from the obvious charlatans and quacks – just how qualified is anyone else to interpret such nebulous matter? I’ve always suspected there’s much in the metaphysical world beyond our ken and I haven’t met the person yet whom I’d trust to give me the answers.

Perhaps it’s just a bit of a laugh which momentarily consoles or lifts its afficianados. It doesn’t ‘harm’ people in the way established religions have over thousands of years. After all, nobody’s been beheaded for being a Capricorn.

A harmless pastime maybe. But as a religion, a science or belief system? I’ll keep making my own decisions for a while yet. But I would say that, I’m a Virgo.

Women’s Health 2000