1/05/2016

How Are Horoscopes Still a Thing?


No, there’s no science behind an astrologer’s prediction for 2016, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be accurate

Astrology is either an ancient and valuable system of understanding the natural world and our place in it with roots in early Mesopotamia, China, Egypt and Greece, or complete rubbish, depending on whom you ask.

But newspaper and magazine horoscopes? The ones advising you to not “fight against changes” today, or to “go with the flow”, whatever that means, or to “keep things light and breezy with that new hottie today”? They get even less respect, from both skeptics and true believers. So it’s a bit surprising, then, that they remain so popular with everyone in between.

The first real newspaper horoscope column is widely credited to R.H. Naylor, a prominent British astrologer of the first half of the 20th century. Naylor was an assistant to high-society neo-shaman, Cheiro (born William Warner, a decidedly less shamanistic name), who’d read the palms of Mark Twain, Grover Cleveland, and Winston Churchill, and who was routinely tapped to do celebrity star charts. Cheiro, however, wasn’t available in August 1930 to do the horoscope for the recently born Princess Margaret, so Britain’s Sunday Express newspaper asked Naylor.

Like most astrologers of the day, Naylor used what’s called a natal star chart. Astrology posits that the natural world and we human beings in it are affected by the movements of the sun, moon and stars through the heavens, and that who we are is shaped by the exact position of these celestial bodies at the time of our birth. A natal star chart, therefore, presents the sky on the date and exact time of birth, from which the astrologer extrapolates character traits and predictions....more