The reason these details are fresh in my mind is that I met a woman last week who wanted to begin a romantic relationship with me. She practices astrology, and wanted to draw up my horoscope to see whether we would be compatible.
Her story is that at the moment of my birth, the sun, the moon, and the seven visible planets stood at certain points on the zodiac. The angles between them, as seen from that particular place at that particular time, are supposed to have something to do with the course of my life.
Furthermore, she explained, the angles between these particular positions and the positions of the same bodies on her horoscope predict whether we would have a happy relationship. As it worked out (to my relief), her planets and my planets were at right angles to each other, which predicted that we would have a stormy time trying to get along together.
I didn’t really need to hear about the planets. I had already decided that this wasn’t the woman for me. She not only relies on these readings from the heavens, but she also does something with pendulums—I’m not sure just what, but apparently people hang a pendulum from a tripod and set it to swinging, and how it swings is supposed to reveal something. Kind of like a ouija board, I suspect.
What is it that drives people to put trust in these things?
I had another acquaintance here in our RV park in Texas, who had a collection of pyramids. He would place one of these little pyramids on various parts of his body, and they were supposed to exert some kind of influence on his internal organs to keep them healthy.
The shape of the pyramid has some connection in his mind with the secret lore of the ancient Egyptians, and the belief that they knew of powers upon which we can draw for health.
One thing I have noticed is that people who believe these things also have a suspicion of the regular learned professions. Some people are convinced that the American Medical Association knows of cures for cancer and all sorts of other ailments which they don’t want us to know about, because they are making lots of money treating diseases and would be out of work of the truth got out.
This, of course, is nonsense. My wife died of cancer last December. I know her oncologist, and I know that he if he knew of any treatment that would have cured her, he would have used it. The idea that professionals are hiding something from us in order to keep their monopoly in the field, comes from some inner feeling of frustration.
We frequently hear that the Air Force has been hiding evidence of visitors from outer space who have come in flying saucers. We hear that the big oil companies and auto manufacturers have bought up patents on devices that would give us over a hundred miles to a gallon of gas, and they won’t put them on the market because they would make less money. We hear that President Bush knew of the attack planned on the World Trade Center, and didn’t do anything about it so that he could get us into war in Iraq, so that his buddies in the oil companies could get Iraqi oil.
And we also hear that the Christian Church has concocted doctrines and traditions to hold people in a state of dependence on the Church, and has suppressed our access to all sorts of supernatural helps that we could have. And so people turn to witchcraft, astrology, and various schools of metaphysical thought as if they were the forbidden truth.
People seem to need an explanation for their own helplessness or weakness, by blaming some powerful parties who have evil intentions, or by tracing supernatural forces that determine things that happen in their lives.
It’s a healthier approach to acknowledge that most of the things that happen to us happen because of the decisions we ourselves make, and that we have responsibility for what we decide. Our fortunes do not turn sour because powerful people who manage the establishment are trying to victimize us. “Our fate, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars but in ourselves.”
I have troubles, like everybody else. But I can trace most of them to choices I have made, not to the fact that Jupiter was passing behind the moon, or some such thing.
Reply to email@example.com