Suddenly — in America and Britain — there is a dramatic upsurge in astrology. It's big business. Even witchcraft has become respectable. Why — in this age of the computer?
"SAY, BOB, did you see your boss about that great new idea you have on how to save the company money?" "Oh, no — not today, Frank! My boss seemed a bit upset. And I'm Aquarius, you know. My astrological forecast said to avoid the executive in an angry mood." Or take this conversation between two women — "Jane, I think I've decided — I want to marry George. He's perfect for me. We're both Aries. And he's just like the horoscope says — romantic, attentive, gallant, chivalrous, passionate — and everything." Unbelievable? No, it's becoming commonplace. Astrology, spiritualism and the occult have taken firm foot in sophisticated, modern nations.
Ours is the age of marijuana, "speed," LSD and other mind-scrambling drugs — of psychedelic music, bizarre art and fashions. Now we have the "mystic revolution." Many who have found little solace in conventional Christianity are now seeking spiritual enlightenment by attempting to "expand the mind," explore the unusual, or experience some psychic thrill or sensation. Reports the U.S. business daily, Wall Street Journal, a newspaper not given to sensationalism: "The practice of witchcraft is casting its spell on thousands of men and women... in the country. And Americans are turning not only to witchcraft but also to astrology, spiritualism, all kinds of psychic phenomena and even devil worship." One weekly U.S. news magazine estimates that 10 million Americans are "hard-core adherents" to astrological forecasting. Another 40 million, it reported, dabble in the subject. Said the magazine: "It appears clear that what was once regarded as an offshoot of the occult is a rapidly evolving popular creed." It was the same among the Romans shortly before the empire collapsed. "Predictive astrology, like divination and occultism generally tends to take hold in times of confusion, uncertainty and the breakdown of religious belief. Astrologers and assorted sorcerers were busy in Rome while the empire was declining and prevalent throughout Europe during the great 17th century waves of plague. Today's young stargazers claim to be responding to a similar sense of disintegration and disenchantment..." (Time, March 21, 1969)
"Biggest Revival Since Fall of Babylon"
In Canada, the story is much the same. Robert Thomas Allen writes in the October, 1969, issue of Maclean's magazine: "... Canadians are going in for what is probably the biggest revival of astrology since the fall of Babylon... "Nobody even looks at you out of the corner of an eye now if you say your moon is in Pisces. Horoscopes now appear regularly in most women's magazines, like recipes or fashions... A course in astrology packed night classes at Centennial College of Applied Arts and Technology in Toronto last fall and is scheduled again for this fall... "On top of all this," continues Allen, "there is sharply increased interest in tarot cards, numerology, teacup reading and palmistry..." But few seem to understand why this trend has developed.
"Colossal Increase" in Britain
In Britain, the new "psychic" age is perhaps more entrenched than anywhere else in the Western world. A leading London consultant in psychosomatic medicine says: "There is undoubtedly a colossal increase in interest in mysticism of all kinds... The unmistakable trend is for more professional people to pursue a search for a glimpse into the future." The respected Sunday Times in Britain estimates that over two thirds of Britain's adults read their horoscopes. Of these about a fifth — or seven million — take them seriously. Again we ask, why? Some estimate that over a third of the adult British public believes in fortune telling and nearly half in telepathy.
The five reasons for Rome's fall deduced from the writings of noted historians of the Roman world: (1) The breakdown of the family and the rapid increase of divorce. (2) The spiraling rise of taxes and extravagant spending. (3) The mounting craze for pleasure and the brutalization of sports. (4) The expanding production of armaments to fight ever-increasing threats of enemy attacks — when the real enemy was the decay of the society from within. (5) The decay of religion into myriad and confusing forms, leaving the people without a uniform guide.
"Astonishingly," reported the Times, "14 percent claim to have experienced telepathy themselves." In Britain, one study indicates that as many as 20,000 witches may be in active practice. Since 1951, when the last law against witches was erased from the law books, Britain has experienced a veritable epidemic of black magic. The nation's witches have even appeared on television. They have adopted Madison Avenue techniques to bolster their public image. As do members of any reputable organization, they hold conventions, press conferences, write books, and give lectures.
Public Demand Soaring
You can get an indication of how fast "stargazing" has increased by a few shocking facts. Twenty years ago, barely 10 newspapers in the United States carried daily astrological forecasts. Today, 1200 out of 1750 dailies carry the daily plot-your-life-by-the-stars column. One American magazine publisher puts out some 30 separate horoscope magazines. During 1968 it sold 8 million copies of its purse-size editions. Today, the finest bookstores in any town have racks reserved for books on astrology and the occult. There are horoscope cookbooks, books on how to diet by the stars, astrological guides to beauty and, of course, love and marriage. Other books delve much deeper into the field. According to the New York Times Book Review of August 11, 1968: "American publishers have discovered of late that there is a great deal of money to be made in convincing readers that the fault is not in themselves but in their stars. Books on parapsychology, mysticism and the subjects that seem to follow inexorably from them — yoga, ESP, clairvoyance, precognition, telepathy, astrology, witches, mediums, ghosts, Atlantis, psycho-kinesis, prophecy, and most of all, reincarnation — are flourishing." The review continues: "'The public interest has been way ahead of the publishers' response,' says LeBaron R. Barker, executive editor of Doubleday & Co. 'People in general want to read about these things. After all, there's the possibility of discovering the meaning of life. We can't get enough good books on the subject.' "
Theater and Television
The recent folk-rock musical production "Hair" is replete with astrological implications. An astrologer set the date for the Broadway premier. One of the hit songs in "Hair" is "Aquarius." According to the song the world is moving into a better age, the Age of Aquarius, because of a slight shift in the position of the sun among the stars each spring. Then there is the film "Rosemary's Baby." It is based upon a book of the same title. The plot is about a woman who believes her child was fathered by the devil. The film so far has grossed $40 million, putting it into the top 50 all-time box office hits. Astrology and related mystic phenomena are having a growing influence on television and radio as well. It is not uncommon for clairvoyants to host their own "talk shows," offering predictions to famous guests. On the radio one can hear horoscopes read and discussed by well-known astrologers. Some leading television personalities, reports TV Guide, of October 4, 1969, "will consult their favorite star-watcher before deciding when and where they will sign their contracts, what nights their shows should be aired, who their guests and co-workers should be, and what kind of shows they should do." It's interesting to note there is three prime-time network shows in the United States that deal with either a ghost, a witch or a genie. These "other world" characters are presented, of course, in a light, "harmless" vein.
Why the Interest?
But why this sudden upsurge in astrology and the occult in the Western world during this apparently enlightened 20th century? The biggest reasons are 1) a fear-ridden, uncertain age, and 2) the apparent failure of orthodox religion to give meaning and reason to today's world. The world today is fraught with danger and uncertainty. Crime, riots, protests, nuclear proliferation, inflation and pollution — this is the stuff of which our newspaper headlines are made. Meanwhile, organized religion in the eyes of many has lost meaning for a confused generation. Millions protest the "irrelevance" of traditional religious concepts and beliefs. A Gallup poll revealed in early 1967 that the majority of Americans — 57 percent — say religion is losing its influence on American life. Ten years previously, the proportion holding this view was only one-fourth as large, 14 percent. "This represents," said poll-taker George Gallup, "one of the most dramatic shifts in surveys on American life." According to a professor of Sociology at the University of Washington, "Sociologists argue that in a stable society religion provides the necessary answers to the great questions of life, death and man's fate. But when stability is upset, persons experience a sense of being lost, and, in a peculiar state of receptivity, they turn desperately about, looking for new answers. "Some are looking for new answers within the framework of organized religion. Hence such trends as 'speaking in tongues, ' 'underground masses,' or the introduction of jazz and contemporary dancing into religious services." But for the most part, the seeking of "new answers" is conducted outside the church, and has fueled the upsurge in interest in astrology and the occult. It was this way in Rome, too, at the time when the mighty empire was crumbling.
Traditional Religion Didn't Satisfy
The native pantheistic Roman religion, while pagan, had espoused certain moral principles which helped bind Roman society together and promote Roman patriotism. But it's confusing, abstract religious concepts didn't fill the spiritual void in the Roman populace. This was especially true among the rapidly multiplying freed-slave class whose ancestral roots were in the Middle East rather than the Italian peninsula. These people felt right at home with the imported eastern sun-cults and mystery religions which began to stream into the empire. Samuel Dill, in his work Roman Society in the Last Century of the Western Empire, wrote: "In the fourth century [A.D.] the ancient religion of Latium [a region in Italy associated with the origin of Rome], while revered and defended as the symbol of national greatness by the conservative patriot, supplied little nutriment for the devotional cravings of the age... "The paganism which was really living, which stirred devotion and influenced souls... came from the East — from Persia, Syria, Egypt... Foreign traders, foreign slaves, travelers, and soldiers returning from long campaigns in distant regions, were constantly introducing religious novelties which fascinated the lower class, always the most susceptible of religious excitement, and
"... the spirits of men had fled from the old religion; it still commanded their service but no longer their hearts or their belief."
then penetrated to the classes of culture and privilege" (pp. 74-76, 78). Another historian of the Roman world, Jerome Carcopino, also noted the decay of traditional Roman religion. Notice how parallel, in principle, was the great confusion over religion, morality, and mysticism in Rome to conditions existing today. "One great spiritual fact dominates the history of the [Roman] empire: the advent of personal religion which followed on the conquest of Rome by the mysticism of the East. "The Roman pantheon still persisted, apparently immutable... But the spirits of men had fled from the old religion; it still commanded their service but no longer their hearts or their belief. "... with its prayers formulated in the style of legal contracts and as dry as the procedure of a lawsuit; with its lack of metaphysical curiosity and indifference to moral values... Roman religion froze the impulses of faith by its coldness... "... in the motley Rome of the second century it had wholly lost its power over the human hearts" (Daily Life in Ancient Rome, by Jerome Carcopino, pp. 121, 122). How similar to conditions today. A Senior Editor of Look magazine wrote, several years ago, in an essay on America's then-emerging moral crisis: "We are adrift without answers. We are witnessing the death of the old morality... No single authority rules our conduct... No church lays down the moral law for all..." The Roman Catholic Church has been wracked with controversy up to its highest levels of authority. The hierarchy is deeply concerned over the increasing number of priests leaving the ministry. Meanwhile, Protestantism — divided into hundreds of sects — is having its own "identity crisis." "We Protestants are tired and confused," confessed Dr. Walter D. Wagoner, director of the Boston theological Institute. He was writing in a widely circulated nondenominational magazine. He criticized the trend toward theological "faddism" exemplified by the short-lived "death of God" movement, espoused by some Protestant theologians. He complained of a widespread "spiritual malnutrition" among ministers and laymen alike. He concluded by saying that there is a growing awareness among Protestants that "we have no direction to go but up." In the midst of this pervasive religious and moral confusion, many are turning to astrology and the occult in hopes of finding the answers to the big questions in life — "Who am I?" — "Where am I going?"
Astrology: The New Religion
Astrology seemingly offers the lost individual — the unknown face in a nameless crowd — a chance for self-recognition. "In astrology," says the president of a well-known astrological organization, "the earth is at the center of the universe and the individual is the center of attention. Everybody's favorite topic is himself." Astrology seeks to provide individuals with what they have lost — a sense of personal identity and meaning. A 22 year-old Boston girl put her finger on this point when she said, "Astrology... is a very personal tying of the individual to the universe. Science led us away from God and now science [meaning astrology] will bring us back." The astrologer holds out the vision of a world ruled by forces operating with clockwork regularity. These forces supposedly guide the individual to greater heights of achievement — they — help him succeed, attain, understand. When things go wrong, one can blame the stars. When good things happen, you thank your lucky star. Astrology claims it can provide answers to your individual problems. And to answer them in a way that will give you happiness and success! Of course, not every housewife who scans the astrology column believes the forecast, but that is why she's interested in her horoscope — to get some of these answers.
The Horoscope Habit
Typically, most people who are swayed by astrology know as little about it as any numbers of religious people know about the doctrines of their churches. Few, it seems, ever ask: "Does it really work?" The average housewife merely looks in the daily astrology columns in her newspaper or in the horoscope magazine she may buy. By checking the list under her "sign" (the one she was born under) she can find out what the syndicated astrological columnist has in store for her during that day. (Women outnumber men four to one as devotees to the astrology game) It's as simple as looking up the answer to yesterday's crossword puzzle. A much smaller number are completely addicted to astrology. They have their personal horoscope cast. Casting a horoscope can be an expensive business running into the hundreds of dollars. The exact minute of birth needs to be known for a completely "accurate" horoscope, say the "experts." A staggering number of influences are "taken into account." This gives the casting of a horoscope a scientific and ritualistic flavor — all part of the psychology. As any astrologer will admit, there is no general agreement as to how these influences are to be taken into account. Two astrologers looking at the same horoscope may come up with completely different predictions about an individual's future. If misfortunes happen, it may be blamed on two factors. One, since the exact minute of birth was not known — and who knows that? — then you see, one cannot expect the horoscope to be completely accurate. But more importantly, if misfortunes come, one is simply not living "in harmony" with the stars and planets. "The stars impel," say professional astrologers, "they do not compel."
Psychology and Astrology
Astrologers tell people what they want to hear. Here is how a simple astrological forecast might work. You were born at a certain time of the year. At the moment of birth a map supposedly was formed of you in the heavens. The secret of success is to discover this pattern. And how simple it all is! The astrology books will tell you, "The pattern of the stars and planets guides your life. Plan your life in harmony with the stars and you are in harmony with yourself." The work is done for you. All you have to know is the date of your birth. Look it up under your horoscope and see what you are like, your talents, personality, sex life, your future. For example, here is a descriptive summary of characteristics as they appeared in a monthly magazine under the section about personality. (Each description was actually about a page long)
ARIES (March 22-April 20): You have an impressive personality. You are an individualist — unique, strong-willed, forceful. TAURUS (April 21-May 21): You are the salt of the earth. Dependable, determined, responsible, mature, you are the sort of person whom everyone admires. GEMINI (May 22-June 21): You have an agile mind. You absorb all that comes your way... your friends find you a wonderful companion. CANCER (June 22-July 23): Cancer be-stows upon its natives the most loving, giving, sympathetic personality. Yours is really the open heart, and the open hand. The expression, "a friend in need is a friend indeed," describes you perfectly. LEO (July 24-Aug. 23): Generous, magnetic, dynamic, vital, you possess an unforgettable personality. VIRGO (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): You have a highly developed intellect, a strong critical sense, and probably a considerable amount of artistic and literary taste and talent. LIBRA (Sept. 24-Oct. 23): Your personality is so pleasant and amiable, your kind nature so appealing, that you can be described as a truly winning person. You can literally "charm the birds off the trees." SCORPIO (Oct. 24-Nov. 22): Power and determination are the keynotes of your personality. dominant, forceful, even ruthless at times, you make your mark upon people, and upon life! SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): Your personality is characterized by imagination, practicality, and most of all, independence. You are a veritable ray of sunshine, cheerful, optimistic, good humored. CAPRICORN (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): You possess, in large measure, the important qualities: strength, dignity, honesty, reliability. AQUARIUS (Jan. 21-Feb. 19): You are, in the true sense of the word, a humanitarian... you are concerned with mankind as a whole... you are dedicated to truth, to the progress of the world... you have great depth of character. PISCES (Feb. 20-Mar. 21): In a sense, you are the summation of all that has come before you. In your nature are blended the qualities of the other signs, matured, and brought into final evolution.
Sounds wonderful doesn't it? For example, if you are "Aries" you supposedly have a wonderful personality! But Leo also has a terrific personality; so does Libra; so does Scorpio; so does Sagittarius. In fact, if the entire character analysis of all the signs were published, you would see that practically ALL of them had great personality traits. And if you are Pisces, then you have ALL the characteristics of ALL the preceding eleven signs. Now, that's convenient! Astrologers know human nature. They understand that we see in ourselves whatever we want to see. Are we intellectual? Well, yes... there was this book we once read. How about persuasive? Of course, did we ever wow them at that last club meeting. Are we reliable? Yes. Humanitarian? Of course; Dependable? Certainly.
Are Predictions Accurate?
But then what about worldwide predictions of astrologers? For example, statements predicting who will run for president; when an earthquake will come; will so-and-so die. Without going into ramifications, we simply let an astrologer answer: "It is true that there have been many inaccurate predictions made by astrologers... how then, in view of these facts, can astrology be justified? It can be justified in the same way as other theories which are practicable, but not infallible." (Astrology for Everyday Living, pp. 9, 10) Many inaccurate predictions? Not infallible? Then there is no concrete foundation, is there? Just to set the record straight, here are a few astrological faux pas. Great crowds of Hindu holy men sat up half the night waiting for the end of the world on the night of February 5, 1962. It obviously didn't come. British astrologers didn't fare too well in 1939. They all predicted there would be no war. According to astrologers, Walter Reuther was supposed to be a candidate for the presidency in 1964. One looks in vain for his name on the list of American presidential candidates. The one keynote to astrological predictions is that they are UNPREDICTABLE! Besides, the average housewife, student or even businessman who secretly scrutinizes the smudgy type of his newspaper horoscope cares little for such magnanimous predictions. He or she is interested in, "What does this horoscope tell me about MY life, my future, my business." Then, of course, there are the mere dabblers in astrology, who are interested in it only so far as it makes cocktail conversation.
Trying to Justify Astrology
Amazingly, a few astrologers have actually claimed that the Bible, of all books, sanctions astrology. Let the Book speak for itself: "There shall not be found among you any... that use divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an ABOMINATION unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God does drive them out from before you." (Deuteronomy 18:10-14) No astrology here!
Where to Find the Answers
There is a way for you to find personal success. There is a purpose and meaning to human life. You can find happiness and personal success. There are also solutions to the big problems that threaten the very extinction of human life — in this generation! Those answers are not found in astrology or the occult! The Romans found that out! If you are earnestly interested in WHY you were born and where you are going — you can find the answers. There is a purpose for your life. The answers to financial, marriage, health, business problems are available, but not in astrology. There is a reason why only the very few — men or women — are successful in life. The laws of success have been too often overlooked in the pursuit of success. No human ever need be a failure. But very few have ever discovered the reason for failure and how to achieve fulfillment in life. The ancient Romans are proof of what can happen to a whole society that fails to discover the principles of lasting success.
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