Cross Words: Stars in their eyes

Head to head Credible or credulous? Astrology is a useful tool, says Nicholas Campion, president of the Astrological Association. It's just a game, says novelist Fay Weldon

The astrologist

"I see astrology as a poetic language of symbols - its primary purpose to give meaning to events which otherwise seem random or chaotic, or to endow significance to people's lives in ways which other approaches often miss. It also depends so heavily on the interpretive skills of the astrologer that, even though the basic data, in terms of planetary positions, remains the same, each astrologer will have a different view of what is the right thing to say in the right circumstances.

The sceptics need to understand that not everything in life can be appreciated through reductionist science. In fact, a great deal of what people admire, and enjoy most, can't be - like poetry or falling in love or appreciating music. Scientists try and analyse such things, but they never get close to understanding the experience when they do. Astrology is one of those disciplines or approaches to life which is not amenable to analysis by science. It can only be judged according to whether it's useful or not. And opinion from people who go to astrologers is that it is useful, and that's an exact comparison with people who go to therapists, analysts, counsellors. According to scientists, psychotherapy is completely useless, but if you talk to most people who have been through psychotherapy, they have gained a little or a lot from it. It's the same with astrology.

Astrology works as a mode of enquiry. It enables people to link different areas which are not normally connected and come up with some sort of conclusion. It suggests the existence of larger patterns. One useful idea which astrology has picked up from spirituality is the idea of the mythical journey - that we're all involved in a journey, on a quest, and that's something I personally find very useful, because then I can look at my life and at what I've done so far. It's made me think fairly broadly about the causes and consequences of my actions."

The anti-astrologist

"It is a kind of Millennium fever from which there's almost no escape, so you read your horoscope while knowing it's not true. I feel it is a millennial thing. People become more gullible and believe in portents and omens and soothsayers as these three noughts approach ... You think how odd it is that twins can have such totally different temperaments. And if ordinary fraternal twins are born within 20 minutes of each other, they're completely different. I know of two kittens born within two minutes of each other that have completely different temperaments.

I was casting horoscopes when I was 11. My mother, and my grandfather, would cast horoscopes in the Twenties, when all this was very fashionable. In my family, it was just considered something you could do. But you didn't believe in them. It was party trick time ... but if strangers do it for strangers, it can be dangerous in the wrong hands.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that there's nothing in it, simply that it's not something that is either going to solve your personal problems, solve the problems of the universe, or add to your income. Therefore, let it be an entertainment, occasionally instructive, but don't rely on it or take it as gospel. Also, the fact is that even if you get two different astrologers explaining the same chart, they're going to say totally different things because it is a matter of interpretation ... If you do a chart, there are 500 different influences all warring away and it depends on the character of the astrologer to make sense of it.

You can, if you are of a certain temperament, lose your grip on reality. Otherwise-rational people can go bananas under the effect of magic prognosis, searching for the eternal self. The end result, taken to extremes, is cults and cult people who all rush out and commit suicide.

Let us regard it as entertainment, not as truth, and not enlightenment."

Interviews by Veronica Groocock

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
books
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' is based on historical events
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
filmSir Ian McKellen will play retired detective in new film
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
'Molecular Man +1+1+1' by Jonathan Borofsky at Yorkshire Sculpture park
tv
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Marketing Manager

    £36000 - £38000 per annum: Charter Selection: Charter Selection are working wi...

    Accounts Assistant, Hammersmith

    £25000 per annum: Charter Selection: Exciting sports company with a strong bra...

    Financial Accountant-IFRS-Gloucester-£300/day

    £250 - £295 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Financial Accountant - IFRS - Glouc...

    Technical Support Engineer - Central London - £30,000

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Central London...

    Day In a Page

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
    Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

    Hollywood targets Asian audiences

    The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

    Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
    Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

    Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

    Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
    10 best girls' summer dresses

    Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

    Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
    Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

    Westminster’s dark secret

    Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
    Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

    Naked censorship?

    The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
    Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil