Right of Reply: Marjorie Orr

The astrology for `The Express' newspaper responds to John Walsh's attack on divination
BEING THE butt of withering contempt, and cheap and easy jibes like those of Scorpio John Walsh, goes with the job of astrology. (Why are attacks often from Scorpios? They can't possibly all be the same, can they?)

Maybe astrology unsettles the critics' need for control. They loathe the idea that they may not be in charge of their own destiny. There is free will - a limited amount - but the astrological influences still drive things. Knowing what the influences are helps ordinary, open-minded people know where to put their energy. Emollient? Most people live lives of mild to major desperation and need some sense of order, however unexplained or trashed by the intellectual gestapo. Yes, there are times when one knows that there will be immense pressure, but telling readers that they may be driven off the edge is hardly a reasonable option.

Clairvoyant I ain't. Once I tried a crystal ball. It gave me a headache and I keep it only for photographers, who run on a predictably narrow agenda. Astrology is worked out, simply or in complex detail, on astronomical positions and mathematical calculations. It will not make literal predictions - say, that Saturn moving into Taurus in April will cause a tree to fall on your car. But it will tell you that Scorpios will feel increasingly separated from relationships that were once close.

Journalists and scientists may join the general howl, but they run against the tide of what ordinary people know to be the case. Astrology will not explain all of life or make your decisions for you. But it is a hugely successful tool for explaining personality types and it is the only system in existence at the moment which can predict influences which do, undoubtedly, affect human behaviour.