By Rayni Joan

The Webster's New World Dictionary defines astrology as "a pseudoscience claiming that the moon, sun, and stars affect human affairs and can be used to foretell the future." Having hung around astrological circles for a number of years, I happen to agree with the second part of this definition. Astrology works far better with hindsight than foresight. That's because there are so many possible variations of the future that it's hit or miss trying to call it -- not to mention you're treading the dangerous waters of creating self-fulfilling prophecy and manipulation. However, sticking a fatuous label like pseudoscience onto astrology makes it obvious that Mr. Webster never had his chart done. Give a professional astrologer your date, exact time and place of birth and then listen to the reading, and your definition of astrology may very well shift to something more favorable, something like "astrology is a metaphysical system for relating astronomical cycles to human affairs."

Why astrology works remains a mystery, but I've never known a working astrologer to call what she does "science." Sure, astrology is a system of sorts. But, which particular system of astrology are we talking about? Chinese astrology? Vedic astrology, also called Jyotish, originating in ancient India? Mayan astrology? Western astrology (itself divided into many different subsystems)? So many different systems work because each tunes into a larger reality of interconnectedness. No astrologer will tell you the stars cause anything; rather the relationship is the mystical "as above, so below."

The majority of people think of astrology as the daily horoscope published in newspapers and magazines purportedly making predictions for millions of people of all ages who happen to have been born during a 30 day period in which the Sun transited a particular part of the heavens. Professional astrologers -- even some of those who write the horoscope columns -- generally refer to these broad-brush predictions as "junk astrology." Take a look at your horoscope for today. It'll probably say something like, "Treat your loved ones with respect and they'll admire you for it." If the statements are general enough, then (as my grandmother used to say about chicken soup administered for a cold) "It can't hurt." However, contacting a professional astrologer for a highly personal astrological reading goes one step further: it can help you get to know yourself a little bit better.