When I was 11 years old, a classmate passed a quiz around at lunch. It asked you to list your favorite hobbies, books, music, ice cream flavor, etc. I flew through the list extolling my love of mint chip and Alexander Dumas until I reached question 24: What’s your sign? I had no idea what “sign” it was referring to, so I asked my tablemates.
They looked at me like I had three heads. Because like most young teenage girls, they were obsessed with their horoscopes and the Zodiac. How could I not know my sign? They were published every month in Bop! and Tiger Beat. (Incidentally, I didn’t know what those were either.)
The next day, determined to learn all about astrology as a mechanism for fitting in with my peers, I asked my Father if I could see his newspaper. When I told him that I wanted to read my horoscope, he came unhinged. I’m pretty sure he told me that horoscopes were tools of the devil, or something to that effect.
His reaction to my 24-hour-old hobby was especially odd, since at that point in my life, my Father wasn’t particularly religious. And I remember thinking how incredibly strange it was that he used such Salem-esque language. But he was so serious about his latest prohibition, that I avoided horoscopes thereafter.
I’ve find it interesting that in a world of facts and science, where genes are sequenced and satellites launched into orbit, there are people who still believe that the stars and planets have the power to navigate their lives. I don’t think astrology is devilish, I just think that it’s supernatural snake oil. And for a long time, I wondered what educated, intelligent, forward-thinking person woke up every morning believing that the path of their life was predestined by a flaming rock thousands of light years away?
I suppose I once imagined that the people who gave creedence to astrology were the same people who bought things from 3:00AM infomercials and lost all their money betting the numbers on the back of Chinese food fortunes. That is, until I learned that one of my very best friends not only reads her horoscope, but has all the star charts and books necessary to chart her own horoscope. My mind was effectively blown.
For her benefit, and the survival of our friendship, I have seriously toned down how vocal I am about my skepticism (this post not withstanding). I even read my horoscope on rare occasions. However, I like to read it the next day so that I can find out about all the things that didn’t happen. (It’s especially entertaining when it talks about Gemini’s torrid love life, because the last time I had a love life, Rumsefeld was the SecDef and Kim Kardashian was just Paris Hilton’s brunette friend.) Sometimes, I’ll read one that is eerily accurate, but I just chalk that up to the law of large numbers and a healthy dose of the Barnum Effect.
Clearly, my friend isn’t the only person who indulges in this pasttime/belief since they publish horoscopes in the back of every fashion magazine and in every newspaper in America. So do you read your horoscope? Regularly? Sporadically? And if so, is it simply entertainment or do you really buy in?