Sunday, June 21, 2009

Down in dim woods the diamond delves -- again

Is there really such a person as Shelley von Strunckel? Well, there must be, because there's her photograph at the top of her "In The Stars" astrology page in the Style section of the London Sunday Times. And, my goodness, she looks both starry-eyed and wise. I better see what she has to say about Virgos:
Few things are more disheartening than seeing things you've worked hard to make happen fall apart. Tempting as it is to try to breathe new life into these -- and there could be several such situations -- if they're floundering, let them. In distancing yourself, you'll get a clearer perspective on their potential. However, with the Sun brilliantly aspecting both Neptune and the expansive Jupiter during the week, unexpected developments and sudden and glorious offers could completely alter the landscape of your personal, romantic or working life. Once you have these to think about, you'll be relieved you wasted no time on those pursuits that, with every passing day, are becoming less interesting.
Ah, yes, now that makes a lot of sense, and I'm sure it applies just to me, especially the part about a sudden and glorious offer that will alter my romantic life. I'm waiting, I'm waiting.

A few years ago, I compared here the advice offered in four separate astrology columns, all on the same day, all mutually contradictory. It is hard to resist the idea that this stuff is made up out of whole cloth, perhaps even by a computer that randomly juggles pat phrases. And yet, I'm confident Ms. von Strunkel is a wealthy lady. "The most common of all follies," wrote that old curmudgeon H. L. Mencken, "is to believe passionately in the palpably not true."

Now, here is my own stellar advice for the coming days, which I offer entirely free of charge:
Tossing and turning? Can't sleep? Get up before the Sun and step outside. Brilliant Jupiter dominates the southern sky, blazing majestically. The Milky Way streams overhead -- there is no Moon to shed obscuring light. In the southwest the gorgeous center of the galaxy slips below the horizon, the Teapot of Sagittarius pouring its steaming contents onto the Earth. Now wait. Turn toward the east. The sky brightens, and -- voila! -- Venus and Mars rise together into the dawn. Put aside your cares and woes, lie back in a lawn chair, and enjoy the spectacle of a sunrise. Ask your sweetie to join you and -- who knows? --something sudden and glorious may happen in your romantic life.
There. Now wasn't that fun. And it didn't matter when you were born (although where you are will make a difference).

Polls show that half of Americans are open to astrological influences in their lives. I could never quite grasp why folks find astrology so compelling when the real sky is so full of wonder. The science writer Isaac Asimov had an explanation: "Inspect every piece of pseudoscience and you will find a security blanket, a thumb to suck, a skirt to hold,"