Hooked on Horoscopes

I have a vice that is actually more in the nature of an embarrassment, or maybe I should say a compulsion. When I mentioned it to some friends recently, my shame deepened because they didn’t see it as a vice, and thought I was just being prissy. The vice? Astrology. I read my horoscope every day. In, um, three newspapers. And, um, in whatever magazine happens to fall into my hands. Plus those I subscribe to.

“So what?” said my friends. “Other people do vodka therapy or shoplift. You read horoscopes—some vice.”

But it is a vice. And I know it. And I do it anyway.

To make matters worse, I think astrology is stupid. (Someone once said we should have our doubts about a science in which Shirley Temple and Adolf Hitler have the same sign.) I don’t even believe it, mostly. And yet I always want to know if my moon is in the seventh house and if Jupiter’s aligned with Mars. I always want to know if this is a good time for financial speculation, and if I had better invest now in those gold pearl-drop earrings. And if Capricorns are feeling grouchy, then it’s not my fault he lost his temper.

I read it even though when my horoscope says Saturn is in my third house and family troubles will follow, I know it means the other people who share my sign, not me.

Here’s why I feel it’s a vice and not just a weakness: I think astrology is at least slightly demonic, a doorway through which the devil’s imps can dance. (And yes, of course I believe in the existence of the evil one. You have to be as stupid as an intellectual to live in this world and not know there is evil, and that the evil has a source.) I strongly suspect demonic forces use astrology to affect our expectations and decision making. And this detaches us from reliance on God.

One of my friends said, “Well, God made the planets—maybe astrology reflects part of His plans.” I used to like to think that. But there is a problem: The Bible—every word of which I believe to be literally or metaphorically true—tells us to keep away from such things. In Isaiah, astrology is false; in Leviticus, it’s dangerous. In Acts, sorcerers who find God burn their scrolls. In Deuteronomy, the warning is clear: Put not your trust in those who practice divination, interpret omens, who are mediums and spiritists.

I believe this is all true and wise. So it’s funny that I once asked the late psychic Jeane Dixon to, um, do my chart. (She did, in a jolly three-page printout that asserted with striking confidence that I was “a writer” and would make my living as “a writer.” And I was so impressed by this that I forgot to notice I’d already written a book, which she’d read.)

Here’s the part that most ashames me: It’s not just that I don’t believe in astrology and yet constantly consult it, which is an intellectual embarrassment, it’s the inner voice that nags when we know we are hurting somebody, and not just ourselves. Trust in me, says the Lord, trust in me. There is a plan and it is mine, fear not.

When you turn to horoscopes and not to Him, you show you don’t trust. You betray an inappropriate anxiety. You distance yourself.

I do have trust and faith. And it makes me happy. It makes me see the humor in things, in myself and others. It gives me a feeling of deep satisfaction.

So it’s odd that I feel good because Joyce Jillson in the Daily News just told me Venus is conjunct with Mercury and love is in the air.

Actually, I can claim genetics, a family tendency.

My grandmother was a big, broad Irish peasant, a poor girl who came from a family where they sheared the lambs in the house. She was a plain and modest woman who loved her church and her faith. But she had this funny little habit of, um, reading tea leaves. And when the priests would come to call, she and her friends would run around hiding the teacups from which she was divining the future.

But she was from mystical, spirit-filled Ireland, where as a child she actually saw fairies frolic in the glen. If you saw fairies, you’d read tea leaves too.

I have no excuse. I am a rational American with a cell phone and a fax machine. And now I see my son, a bright, strong American boy with bright white teeth and thick sandy hair curling over the collar of his bright white button-down Gap shirt . . . and he has picked up an astrology magazine that somehow made its way into my house . . . and I overhear him saying to his friend John, “I’m a Gemini. Do you know your sign?”

Aaaarrgghhhh. I must stop. For the next step, I know, is, “Why shouldn’t I marry her? She’s a Libra.”

I will stop. I know I can. I am strong and have faith. All Virgos do. Aaaarrgghhhh.