Update - 12/02/2007

I posted this an age and a half ago as a result of my intense hatred for all things astrological and fatalistic. I resent the silly pages towards the back of women's magazines, the ACME'destiny-in-a-box' solution to having to take decisions that might affect the next few hours, the laissez-faire approach to life that is induced by a fervent belief in fate. The minute I spotted a Hate Quest I remembered this node and felt that althought it might not have been written with sufficient mire, wielding a pen dipped in wrath and tearing at my parchment with the vicious strokes of an infuriated hen-dragon, my feelings of intense disgust should emerge in the end. Here goes.

Horoscopes are a practical approach to astrology and its supposed influence on fate, that unfortunately guide the lives of many by describing one of seven common situations and blaming it on the position of a particular star on a particular date. I am curious to know, if my destiny is so heavily related to a factor as random as my birth date, why there aren't hordes of people born on the 22nd of February queuing up to take my job, to go out with my girlfriend and to snatch my chocolate ice-cream out of my hands, since they too were destined to eat it.

Prejudice of ideas does, unfortunately, lead to one modifying her behaviour in accordance with what an astrologer had to say. "Help will come from unexpected quarters this week" will make her more receptive to, and less suspicious towards the hundreds of helping hands that we normally refuse out of pride and basic mistrust. Then listen while she attributes this stroke of luck to the position of Jupiter.

How about a new approach that separates people by their role in society? This seems to be a more reliable criterion by which one can attempt mass predictions and is logistically easier to manage collective destinies. The column would read something like this:

The Unemployed
This week will see
the start of an intense
and fulfilling romance
in the workplace....

It might serve as an incentive to find a job and modify the destiny of those in need of a job rather than of all those hapless individuals who were perchance born on the same date, regardless of their needs, desires or marital status. Do marriages break when a receptive young lady is suddenly on the lookout for an intense relationship at work when her relationship with her husband happens to be undergoing a brief, probably transient, stressful period?

This week will be an
opportunity to perform
an act of kindness towards
a new acquaintance. This shall
not seem like the best course
of action but will be ultimately

I needn't go into much detail here but the rewards that patience with clients offers over the prospects of immediate cash benefit both of the involved parties. It is a pity that most lawyers I know are far too rational to bother with horoscopes and are so convinced of their status of quasi-deity that they know that they're in control of their destiny. Good for them.

Telephone Salesgirl
It might be a good idea
to remember the golden rule:
Do unto others as you'd have
them do to you. This should be
your guiding light this week.

Now that would minimise the amount of calls to convince us about the benefits of a life-insurance-policy-including-funeral-expenses that have the uncanny habit of striking half way through dinner.

We are preoccupied with belief and religion, fate and destiny, good and evil and other concepts to distraction, yet rarely pause to disentangle the barbed hooks of all that is spiritual from the confused fishing line of our rationality. So if I believe in one almighty and benevolent God who knows All and decides All, then how can I simultaneously believe in the effect of a barren ball of molten rock a million miles away? It is true that priests and rabbis and other members of the clergy have found a convenient way of going about the unexplained or inexplicable by blaming it on some god or other (others in some cases) while taking the merit for all that happens the way we wanted.

“Why did the lion eat my brother?”
“Because Aslan the Lion god decided that it was his time to be consumed”
“Why was I spared in the very same attack?”
“Because I was praying for you, oh powerful hunter.”
“Were you not praying for my brother too?”
“But Aslan the Lion god thought that he hadn’t offered sacrifices according to the ancient ritual”

And so religions evolved and converged, then bickered and diverged and in general followed the tortuous history that we all know and revere. The religion that we were fed as children, along with healthy doses of cod liver oil and the antics of the Dukes of Hazzard, served to mould us in a way that kept us mentally “healthy”, avoiding evil and seeking truth, so help me God. We grew in the knowledge that the deity we believe in and fear will guide us and will keep us from harm, accepting, on the other hand, that the harm that befalls us is God’s will and we receive it with a resigned impotence. How is it then, despite fervent prayer and adoration of artefacts that represent our very own deity, that we can give two hoots about what the clever usurpers of our predisposition to superstition decide to feed us? Is it the stars or is it God that decides?

This leads to another equally ineffable query. Are we polytheistic by nature despite our firm declarations to the contrary? Polytheism lasted much longer than monotheism has been around, with gods that stemmed from nature being around ever since man the farmer had the time to look around him and wonder about the scale of all that surrounded him. Monotheism is a much more recent concept, and was only introduced four thousand years ago. We do, however, unwittingly regress to the primeval polytheistic nature by splitting God up into tangible Saints and the other ecclesiastical nonsense that we revert to when in need of immediate succour.

Are the stars and resulting horoscopes merely an addition to this desire to hedge our bets when attempting to believe in that which we can’t see or feel? We’re not quite sure who or what is actually operating the strings in the cosmic puppet show so we’re cautious not to make unnecessary enemies. It is true that belief is, by its very nature, uncertain but querying this is regarded as heresy so we don’t dare express this. Since it happens to everyone at some point or another, the wholesale dishing out of a Saint for every occasion not only reduced the fervour of belief in a single God, but paved the way for other pagan superstitions to enter our lives, aided and abetted by residual belief in one of the oldest gods known to man, the stars in the sky.