Heavens above]: You need a clear head and serious mathematical ability to be an astrologer. Sarah Lewis finds that her life is written in the stars

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The Independent Culture
Helen Labovitch is the first to agree that astrologers give astrology a bad name. Reading your stars in the popular dailies, she says, 'is superficial, to say the least. A person's sun sign - that is, whether you're a Scorpio, Capricorn or whatever, is only one part of a complex chart. No two charts are the same and each is as individual and unique as a thumbprint. Sun sign astrology is far too general.'

A consultation with Helen is the antithesis of the cursory dash through the triumvirate of health, wealth and happiness: it offers detailed, in-depth analysis. Witnessing her at work with the mathematically precise charts she prepares convinces you that she has a galaxy of knowledge and psychic ability at her fingertips. 'Astrology deals with the relationship and interaction of the planets in the zodiac at your time of birth and also in the present,' she says. She is careful not to be predictive, but recognises that the future is a source of fascination for most of us, even those who affect complete lack of interest in celestial influences. 'You can look as far into the future as you wish, but you have to be very careful and predict in such a way that it won't take away a person's choice.'

For the astrologically challenged, a birth chart couldn't be less intelligible if it were transmuted into Einstein's Theory of Relativity and translated into an obscure ancient dialect. The only vaguely familiar thing is the blank canvas of the chart itself, which resembles two protractors placed face to face to produce a perfect 360 degrees.

For the trained eye, each squiggle, symbol, number and nuance signifies relevant events and opportunities as well as personal strengths and weaknesses. 'Charts,' says Helen, 'are very revealing, as they can indicate why people repeat behavourial patterns which usually stem from childhood. Understanding why we do certain things leads to greater self-awareness, which helps us deal with life.'

The shapes of individual charts indicate the ease or otherwise of one's life. People with grand trines (the aspect between two planets 120 degrees apart) 'tend to have flowy lives where things fall into their laps'. Mine, on the other hand, is kite-shaped. Rather than life being handed to me on a plate, the planets urge and push me into action, which ensures ambition but also impulsiveness.

She works psychically 'when it flows', having realised at a young age that she was blessed with unusual gifts. She stresses, however, that she uses her powers responsibly, as some people - particularly men - feel threatened by them. But she's a firm believer in 'being aware of these things rather than shutting them away'.

A personal reading with Helen Labovitch is a riveting experience, not only because it allows you to talk about yourself for a couple of hours, but because of her incredible perception. She discusses details of your childhood, your relationship with your parents, your recent past and present with unsettling accuracy.

She pinpoints and explains clearly why events and upheavals have occured, and also puts them into perspective for the future. As for what lies ahead, she highlights times of opportunity, whether related to work or relationships, and will answer direct questions if asked.

Those thirsting for a dose of analysis and guidance would be well advised to contact Helen Labovitch. Her particular brand of interplanetary craft would render the most cynical astrophobe starstruck.

Helen Labovitch works in Harpenden, Herts. A reading lasts roughly 11 2 hours and costs pounds 30. She can be contacted on 0582 760574

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