astrology; bad omens for soothsayers

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Astrologers have had a terrible year. Comparing their predictions made at the beginning of 1995 with the true record of the year makes one wonder whether the stars are being fair with us. The joys and medical breakthroughs promised to us did not materialise, but neither did most of the cataclysms. There was no vaccine against Aids, nor, as far as we can tell, the general respite in sexually transmitted diseases that ought to have coincided with Pluto leaving Scorpio to enter Sagittarius in the autumn.

Pluto was not the only one to lose his way. Appearances in the Middle East of both the Antichrist and the Virgin Mary were predicted by Lebanese astrologers, with one of them also forecasting that a virus from outer space would infect the world, and a new disease would strike the ears and eyes.

Also on the medical front, the Portuguese astrologer, Maria Graciette, predicted breakthroughs in the fields of skin disease, sore throats and influenza. Well, there was a flu epidemic. Perhaps she just got the signs a little confused.

Brazilian and French astrologers appeared agreed that Aids would be conquered towards the end of 1995, though the Lebanese parapsychologist Samir Tomb said the vaccine would be found in India in late spring or summer. He also predicted another Chernobyl disaster in a former Soviet republic, and that a meteorite would hit an uninhabited region of the earth.

On a more personal front, there was general agreement that 1995 would be a year of great happiness for Princess Di. The Cairo visionary Samiha Hagga expected her to find joy at the side of a "stubborn, strong-willed, brown-haired Frenchman", while French astrologers put their money on a remarriage, either in Brazil or France. She did visit Argentina, of course, and that's quite close to Brazil.

The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers would fade into obscurity, we were told, as would exercise bikes and hunting. Sadly, they are all still with us.

We have not, however, noticed a great deal of cosmetic psychology, gourmet pickles, part-time vegetarianism, treadmills or Prozac for dogs, all of which were tipped by the American Forecaster Almanac. The book How to Massage Your Dog did, however, sell out in the United States, so canine Prozac can hardly be far behind.

Hurricanes and quakes would hit the United States, said Maria Graciette, which seemed a fair bet. A flood disaster would hit Italy, according to others, which also seemed quite likely at the time. There had, after all, been 126 floods in Italy between 1976 and 1993. Last year, however, was a quiet one for such disasters.

The one prediction we have been able to identify that did undeniably come true was that of French astrologers Madame Indira and Catherine Tranquilli, who forecast that Yasser Arafat's wife would give birth to a baby, with whom daddy would be completely besotted.

Since Mrs Arafat's pregnancy had already been announced in December 1994, this prediction was not too remarkable. Though they did say, correctly as it turned out, that the child would be a girl.

Many astrologers predicted natural disasters connected with water, but none mentioned Yorkshire by name, nor did they blame privatisation.

The only one, as far as we can tell, to have predicted peace in Yugoslavia was Madame Hadaya, though her forecast of peace for all in 1995 and an end to all wars did turn out, like most of her colleagues' predictions, to be a little over-optimistic.

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