Can a hardcore sceptic and astrologer agree? The answer is in the stars...
Jessica Adams is a leading astrologer with a successful career spanning 20 years in Australia and the UK who I, a committed sceptic, have known for more than 20 years. We often disagree, in late-night Twitter exchanges, on whether astrology is a "real" information system or a bunch of pseudoscientific hokum.
Phil: Firstly, let's define our terms... What exactly is astrology?
Jessica: Astrology is an alternative way of timekeeping. Time is human-made and no clock or calendar is 'real'. It's all a construct. Astrology is one of the best-known and most unusual constructs. It takes the view that history repeats and so the future can be predicted.
Phil: I hear a lot about the planet Mercury going "retrograde", or, from what I understand, "appearing" to go backwards. But we're not saying Mercury influences communications on the planet Earth, rather a Mercury "retrograde" event is a sign communications on Earth are going to go wrong?
Jessica: Mercury doesn't influence anything at all. No planet or asteroid does. Astrology is based on synchronicity. Things like to correlate, correspond or "happen together". When Mercury, a planet associated with the old Roman messenger of the gods, appears to move backwards, so do our messages. And our messengers. Google is the most famous example of this. In fact, Google hit its greatest crisis on Mercury retrograde.
Phil: Hmmm … "things like to correlate" isn't quite specific enough for me. I still really can't get my head around the idea there are adults in 2018, walking around with educations in their heads, actually believe this stuff. Do you really, honestly, believe or do you just like the world in which it is true?
Jessica: Astrology works. I've ended up in a universe (one among many) where the position of the planets and asteroids in zodiac signs, accurately show what is going to happen, before it happens. If you accept, as many scientists do, that we live in a multi-verse of untold parallel universes, then you also have to accept that in many of them, astrology's irrational timekeeping is successful.
Phil: A sceptic would have to agree that our magnificent universe suggests there may be infinite others, agreed. There's some common ground.You say you predicted the new Dr Who would be a woman. Could you show us that please? (I'll be betting the language is non-specific). Do you have any other proofs?
Jessica: The Dr. Who prediction is not the best example of astrology at work because there was a 50-50 chance she would be a woman. Better examples of prediction are those made months or years before they happen, to the day. I collect these regularly for my students and also for sceptics at in an ongoing series called True Predictions. When the astrology doesn't work, that's also great proof. I told The Guardian Donald Trump would not be president. It later turned out he had given us two different birth times and two totally different birth dates, the silly chump.
Strangely, although Trump's various horoscopes (he has four) don't work, the birth chart we have for the United States does. People are surprised to hear when countries have astrological charts too, but using the U.S.A. chart it was possible to forecast a major White House deal, to the benefit of the rich, over three months before it happened, within 24 hours of it happening. That was Trump's big tax cut! It's still on my website.
Phil: So, if we do accept astrology is able to predict future events, broadly, how best should we use it in our lives? For example, your prediction for Pisces this week was I'd be involved in the "book world" (I'm an author) and there would even be "microphones" involved (I'm writing a song with a mate) was eerily accurate. But what do I do with that knowledge? What's the point of knowing? Can you tell us how astrology can make life better?
Jessica: I'm really happy to hear that as a Pisces you are being so creative - it's what your sign is all about. As an example of how astrology makes life better, let's look at the global financial revolution set to unfold from Tuesday 15th May - days away now. Instead of feeling shocked by it all, you can use astrology's alternative timekeeping - based on similar cycles in history – to show you how to make it work for you!
Phil: So, final question. I was born March 17, 1965, at 1am. Care to map out some high points for my year for us to revisit in 12 months time?
Jessica: Thanks Phil! Actually I think the eventual answer will end up being a bit of both - scientific and spiritual. I've had a look at your chart too, and if you're prepared to compromise with the publishing world after Monday, November 12, you could be very happy with a new book deal, the sale of TV rights and/or a good overseas offer close to Monday, November 26!
Phil: It's interesting that a sceptical and astrological position can be so close - our only difference is I think the eventual answer will be more scientific than spiritual.
And I'm very excited by your prediction for me so I can also feel the appeal of astrology. Thanks so very much for your time, Jessica.
Jessica Adams is the author of Essential Astrology for Women (HarperCollins) and the forthcoming book, The Secret Language of the Stars. She contributes horoscope columns everywhere from Cosmopolitan Australia, to Vogue Japan.
With more than 25 years in Australian media, Phil Barker has edited NW and Woman's Day magazines, and published such titles as Vogue, GQ, Delicious, InsideOut and Donna Hay. He is a consultant creative director and communications specialist, currently writing a book on "man stuff" for publisher Allen & Unwin. He is a regular commentator on the lives and style of Australian men.
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