Oh My Stars

beliefnet astrology matthew currie tiberiusI’ve been asked a few times recently as to how one can go about choosing a good, reputable astrologer. There is the usual advice, of course: ask others who have seen him/her, don’t be afraid to ask questions about the astrologer’s practice before you set up the appointment, and so on. And hey, if you’re interested, write me (the link is below)… I have testimonials!

This isn’t so much a problem in places like India, where astrology is a lot more mainstream.  There’s a long history of those in power using astrologers to their benefit. There is, of course, The Reagan’s successful use of astrology. My hero, Richard Houck, worked the Washington scene to great effect — and offered a double-your-money-back guarantee. (For all you professional astrologers out there, Houck’s “The Astrology Of Death” is the greatest, most useful astrology text you’ve never read.)

The ancient Romans were big fans of astrology too. The Roman emperor Tiberius (Nov 16, 42 BC), who had a Sun-Venus conjunction in Scorpio, went with a slightly different technique when choosing court astrologer Thrasyllus:

“Whenever he (Tiberius) sought counsel on such matters, he would make use of the top of the house and of the confidence of one freedman, quite illiterate and of great physical strength. The man always walked in front of the person whose science Tiberius had determined to test, through an unfrequented and precipitous path (for the house stood on rocks), and then, if any suspicion had arisen of imposture or of trickery, he hurled the astrologer, as he returned, into the sea beneath, that no one might live to betray the secret.

Thrasyllus accordingly was led up the same cliffs, and when he had deeply impressed his questioner by cleverly revealing his imperial destiny and future career, he was asked whether he had also thoroughly ascertained his own horoscope, and the character of that particular year and day. After surveying the positions and relative distances of the stars, he first paused, then trembled, and the longer he gazed, the more was he agitated by amazement and terror, till at last he exclaimed that a perilous and well-nigh fatal crisis impended over him.

Tiberius then embraced him and congratulated him on foreseeing his dangers and on being quite safe. Taking what he had said as an oracle, he retained him in the number of his intimate friends.”

-Tacitus, The Annals, Book VI

This underlines two important points: first, that if astrology can foresee disasters, it follows that it can help you at least try to prevent them. And secondly, it’s been my experience that astrologers have a much tougher time making sense of their own transits than they do with anyone else’s chart (I know I do, anyway)… so even if Thrasyllus was a brilliant astrologer, he was also one lucky dude that day.

So really: given the trouble Tiberius went to in order to find a good astrologer, would it really be so risky to send me an e-mail..?

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