and the Occult
Astrology is related to the occult in
four main ways. First, dictionaries often define astrology as an
occult art because the practice employs occult divination. Second,
astrology appears to work best when the astrologer himself is
psychically or mediumistically sensitive, what most astrologers term
"intuitive." Third, prolonged use of astrology leads to
the development of psychic abilities and the contact of spirit
guides. This was admitted by the majority of astrologers we
interviewed at the July 4-8, 1988, fiftieth anniversary Las Vegas
convention of the American Federation of Astrologers, the oldest and
most influential of U.S. astrological societies. Almost all those we
interviewed admitted they had spirit guides.1 Fourth, due to its
history and nature, astrology often becomes the introductory course
to a wider spectrum of occult practices. In spite of these
connections, astrologers often claim that astrology has nothing to
do with the occult.2 Nevertheless, many occultists today use
astrology, and many astrologers practice other occult arts.3
Historian, philosopher, and occult
authority Dr. John Warwick Montgomery points out what everyone who
has studied astrology knows: that astrology is "found virtually
everywhere occultism is to be found."4 Examples are everywhere.
Astrologer Daniel Logan admits he is involved with mediums and
spirits.5 Astrologer Marcus AlIen is involved with a spirit guide
and studies such esoteric disciplines as yoga, Zen, Tibetan
Buddhism, and the Western magical traditions.6 Astrologers have
admitted that astrology is "the key to all the occult
sciences,"7 and that "almost all occultists use
astrological timing in their work."8
Without question, astrology is the most publicly
acceptable occult practice. Perhaps no other activity today provides
an introduction to occultism so easily. For astrologers to claim
that their craft has no associations to the occult is either the
result of ignorance or deliberate deception.
Astrologers claim that their practice really
works, which convinces them of the truth of astrology. Indeed, this
is the case for all forms of divination. They seem to work enough of
the time to be credible, and thus both practitioners and clients may
become convinced of their validity. But as we saw earlier,
scientific testing absolutely undermines any legitimacy to the
astrological craft. So how can astrology work, or seem to work?
Many times in life we discover that things which
seem to be true really arenít. This is why astrology has to be
carefully evaluated, to see if it functions according to its stated
principles. Since it does not, we must look to other reasons for its
success, or seeming success. The reasons are many, but they can be
categorized under two broad headings: psychological factors and
spiritistic power. In the former, astrology only appears to work; it
really does not work. In the latter, astrology provides supernatural
information to a client. Yet even astrologyís "success"
at this point has nothing to do with the truth of astrology, only
with the power of spiritism that the astrologer has tapped into. We
will begin our evaluation of these topics with a look at some of the
psychological reasons why astrology seems to work.
Astrology seems to work because
clients want it to work. True believers in astrology do not wish
their faith in astrology to be shaken because they may have
emotional, financial, or other investments in astrology already in
place. As a result, they look for ways to confirm astrology. Even
common coincidences may become astrological
"confirmations" for such persons. Chance events may become
imbued with cosmic "meanings." Thus clients often
"read in" relevance and meaning to a chart when it is not
there. People may accept general or vague statements as applying
uniquely to them when they would apply equally to other people. In
essence, those who wish to believe in astrology tend to consciously
and unconsciously assist the astrologer to counsel them effectively.
Astrologer Richard Nolle concedes that astrologers can take
advantage of most clientsí faith in astrology: "Most people
who come to an astrologer want the astrologer to succeed in reading
their charts. They are therefore generally sympathetic and
People who believe astrology may also fall into
the trap of self-fulfilling prophecy. This takes place when seeds of
hope or despair are planted in the personís mind by the
astrologer. As a result, the client eventually "arranges"
or permits the events to be fulfilled. If the astrologerís words
are positive, as they usually are, this provides all the more
incentive to fulfill the prophecy. Given a poor self-image,
pessimism, or a fatalistic outlook on life, even the negative
prophecies of the astrologer can become positive when they are
self-fulfilling. But whether the astrologerís words are positive
or negative, in neither case is it the astrologer who has been
successful. It is the client, who has self-fulfilled the
But what do astrologers and their clients do when
the astrological information does not come true, or worse, when it
is clearly contradicted? Then they tend to remember the things that
are supportive of astrology and ignore or rationalize away the rest.
For the most part, those who desire to believe in astrology will not
listen to criticism because of the emotional tie or investment which
has developed between the person and the practice.
Astrology seems to work because it satisfies the
human need for friendship, personal security, or dependence on
others. Given various psychological needs or insecurities, astrology
can prey upon anyoneís need for certainty about the future or
control over life. Astrology warns about the future and advises
about problems that may be encountered. People also go to
astrologers so that someone else (the astrologer) or something else
(the stars) will make the important or painful decisions for them.
Other people are lonely or insecure and desire the friendship of
someone who seems to be privy to "cosmic" or
"divine" wisdom. They feel important by being associated
with someone of importance. Others are simply attracted to the
astrologer more than to astrology itself.
People want astrology to work because it fits
their lifestyle. Astrology per se is without moral values; the
impersonal heavens offer no advice on ethics or how to live oneís
life morally. Thus, any person seeking to justify selfish or sinful
behavior can find a logical reason for doing so in astrology.
Astrologers themselves seem willing to tolerate, rationalize, or
even encourage any behavior, sexuality, or morality the client deems
personally important. Their desire is to please the clientís
wishes, and it is amazing how often the "stars" agree.
Whether people convince themselves that the stars have either
"compelled" or "inclined" their wrong actions,
they feel they can dismiss their guilt, or were not fully
responsible for their behavior.
Astrology seems to work because it is
increasingly a New Age psychology. Astrologers who become good
counselors, but who attribute their success to astrology, are
wrongly accrediting astrology, not good counseling procedure, with
their success. Many astrologers encourage other astrologers to take
courses in counseling. One astrologer has confided: "Any
astrology student planning to use astrology directly with people is
advised to enroll in one or more counseling courses, to read books
on the counseling process itself, and to gain experiential
supervised practice with counseling skills."10
Some astrologers argue that it makes
sense first to understand a personís backgroundóheredity,
upbringing, marital status, interests, occupation, and so
onórather than to begin with a chart. One reason for this, as we
saw, is because the chart itself is so complex and subjective it is
extremely difficult, if not impossible, to interpret it
accurately.11 So, first gathering information on a client is
certainly helpful. Of course, this is opening the doors more to
psychological counseling than to astrological revelations. And to
attribute oneís success in psychology to astrological theory is
There are many other reasons people grant validity
to astrology. When this occult practice is called a science, it is
granted credibility by association with science. Astrology is also
universally applicable; that is, it can offer advice for virtually
any situation, and sooner or later the astrologer will hit on
something in the chart that a person feels is personally relevant.
And astrologers always have seemingly reasonable explanations for
failures. Finally, astrology may seem to work because of the
astrologerís attentiveness or seductiveness. In other words, good
astrologers are able to "read" a client through physical
or verbal clues and can feed back this information to the client as
"revelations" from the stars. Other astrologers are adept
at psychological manipulation, so that an otherwise meaningless
session can seem amazingly relevant.
But what about those times astrology
really does work, when it predicts the future or reveals secret
knowledge about the client and known only to him? If a form of
intelligence beyond the astrologer really is at work here, what is
it?12 Itís certainly not the stars.
1. Statements made by instructors in courses at
the American Federation of Astrologers Convention, Las Vegas, NV
July 4-8, 1988: cf. John Weldon, "Astrology: An Inside Look,
Part 2, News & Views, October 1988.
2. Los Angeles Times,
January 15, 1975; Charles E. O. Carter, The Principles of
Astrology. Wheaton, IL: Quest/Theosophical Publishing House,
1977, p. 14; Bernard Gittelson, Intangible Evidence, New
York: Simon & Schuster, 1987, p. 350.
3. Sepherial [sic], A Manual of Occultism,
New York: Samuel Weiser, 1978, p. 3; Doreen Valiente, An ABC of
Witchcraft Past and Present, New York: St. Martinís Press,
2973, pp. 21, 23; Dane Rudhyar, The Practice of Astrology as a
Technique in Human Understanding, New York: Penguin Books, 1975,
p. 21; Henry Weingarten, The Study of Astrology: Book 1, New
York: ASI Publishers, 1977, p. 77.
4. John Warwick Montgomery, Principalities and
Powers, Minneapolis, MN: Bethany, 1973, p. 96.
5. Daniel Logan, The Reluctant Prophet,
1980, pp. 63-66, 169-70.
6. Marcus Allen, Astrology for the New Age: An
Intuitive Approach, Sebastopol, CA: CRCS Publications, 1979, pp.
7. Sepherial, A Manual of Occultism, p. 3.
8. Weingarten, A Study of Astrology: Book 1,
9. Wim van Dam, Astrology and Homosexuality,
York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 1985, p. 83.
10. Tracy Marks, The Art of Chart
Interpretation, Sebastopol, CA: CRCS Publications, 1986, p. 143.
11. Ibid., p. 87; Robert E. Leichtman, Carl
Japiske, The Life of the Spirit, Vol. 2, Columbus, OH: Ariel,
1987, pp. 20-21.
12. John Ankerberg, John Weldon, Astrology: Do
the Heavens Rule Our Destiny?, Eugene, OR: Harvest House
Publishers, 1989, pp. 185-200.