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Understanding Astrological Predictions

By By David Bolton

Opinions about astrological prediction are generally divided: "Mysterious! Magical!" say some; "Nonsense!" reply the others. In fact, both of these views are based on a misunderstanding of the nature of how astrology really works. In this article I will use three very simple stories to show both the true value of astrological prediction, as well as its limits.

Let's imagine that a girl named Ellen goes to a local astrologer, who, after studying Ellen's natal chart in relation to this month's planetary positions (transits), tells her that next weekend, she will meet a fine young man with whom she will begin a wonderful relationship. And that's exactly what happens. Ellen exclaims to Sue, a friend of hers: "It's like magic! Everything happened just like my astrologer predicted!" Sue, impressed by what she hears, decides to make an appointment with the same astrologer. In her session, she is told that yes, she will indeed find that new job she's been looking for, and will have it by the end of May. Sue, delighted, goes home and waits for a response from the company to which she had sent her application, yet May comes and goes, and she doesn't receive a call from them after all. "What a fool I was!" she remarks the next time she sees Ellen, "I should have known: astrology is nonsense after all!"

Which one of the two girls is correct in her opinion? Well, one might say that they both are, since after all, astrology seems to have worked for Ellen, yet not for Sue. Yet I think it would be more correct to say, on the contrary, that neither girl was correct in her conclusion, since in each case, that conclusion was based on the acceptance of a faulty idea of astrology, that idea being one which many people, both believers as well as sceptics share: namely, that astrology really does purport to be able to reliably predict that which will happen in the future.

At this point, many readers, both the believers and the sceptics, will be disagreeing with me: "Well, astrology DOES INDEED claim to predict the future, doesn't it?" you may say. And you are right in a way: many astrologers do claim that they can tell you what is awaiting you in the future. This is a claim which no true believer would ever dispute, and one that no self-respecting sceptic would fail to criticize, or even ridicule. Opinions on the subject thus would seem to be unreconcilingly polarized. The solution lies in distinguishing what many astrologers CLAIM from that which in fact astrology can really DO.

Though this may come as a surprise to the true believer (especially when reading it in an article written by an astrologer!), more than twenty-five years of experience as an astrologer has convinced me that astrology cannot make precise predictions about your future; however, astrology can indeed reveal the tendencies of your future.

"And what is the difference?" you will probably ask. Well, if an astrologer tells you that next Tuesday you will be walking down the street, and will accidentally trip and fall, breaking your left wrist as it cracks against a fire hydrant, that would be a pretty precise prediction, wouldn't it? But no astrologer I've ever known makes predictions of such a nature. More likely, an astrologer would say: "There is some danger of having an accident next Tuesday; try to be more careful than usual!" This is of course not a precise prediction, but rather a statement, based on certain astrological techniques, about an increased probability of a certain type of event occurring. This is the true strength of astrology: not to tell you what is going to happen (since that is beyond its capabilities), but rather, to inform you about the probablilites of certain types of events occurring.

Those of you who may be seeking to know just what's going to happen to you in the future might be disappointed by that last sentence, though I hope to show that in fact, it should make you all the more enthusiastic: after all, if the future were totally predetermined, and if it were possible to predict future events exactly, what would be the point? If something unpleasant were predicted for you, you'd have to be living in constant dread, and if a positive event were predicted, you might just sit back smugly and wait for it to happen, and would thus be robbed of that sudden, wonderful sudden sense of amazement that you would have felt if you hadn't known it was going to happen!

But it's time to get back to Ellen and Sue, who will be the main characters of our second story also: one which will point out very clearly the great value of predictive astrology in its true form:

Ellen, who doesn't have a boyfriend (and who thinks it's high time she find one), is planning to go out for a night on the town next Saturday. She goes out to the mall and walks into a clothing shop, run by her friend, Sue. Sue shows her a dress which she immediately likes; she tries it on, and both are delighted: "Wow!, this makes me look pretty good, doesn't it?" Ellen exclaims. "You bet it does! You look so great in that dress, you're guaranteed to find a guy this Saturday!"

Hmmm... it seems that Sue (though not an astrologer) has made a prediction: she guarantees that the dress will lead to Ellen's finding a boyfriend on Saturday. Okay, we all realize that this wasn't really a prediction, and is not really a guarantee, either. Ellen realizes that just as well as we do, yet nonetheless, she forks out a handsome amount of cash and buys the beautiful dress. Is she foolish? No, of course not! Naturally she knows that the dress isn't a guarantee of romantic success, HOWEVER..... (and this is, to be sure a big HOWEVER!)...

...She knows perfectly well that if she wears that dress, it will make her look much more attractive, and this will undoubtedly increase the probability of her finding a guy. So it goes without saying that she's no fool for buying the dress; quite the opposite, if she's really serious about attracting men's attention this weekend, she'd be a fool if she DIDN'T buy the dress!

Well, Saturday hasn't arrived yet, so we don't know whether or not Ellen will meet a nice guy. If she doesn't, would she be justified in returning the dress to Sue's shop, accusing her of fraud for having guaranteed that she would meet a guy, when in the end, she didn't meet anybody? Of course not. She knew that there was a chance she wouldn't meet anybody, but she also knew that she'd be more likely to meet a guy if she had the dress.

On the other hand, if she DOES meet a nice guy who eventually becomes her boyfriend, would it be reasonable for her to go back to the dress shop, wildly happy, and start ranting and raving about how the dress is absolutely magical! It attracted just the kind of guy I was looking for! It must have some kind of lucky spell on it! Well, she may say this jokingly, but we'd have to question her sanity if she really believed it. The dress, after all, increased her odds for attracting a guy's attention, and that's what happened. A pleasant surprise, perhaps, but not necessarily magic.

Correct astrological predictions are not magic , either, but are in fact quite similar to Ellen's buying that dress. The serious astrologer, studying both his/her client's birth chart as well as the movement of the heavenly bodies on a day-to-day basis (the so-called "transits"), is able to see when it is most likely that a pleasant (or an unpleasant) event is going to occur. The astrologer then tells the client (for example): This Saturday, there is a good aspect between transit Mars and your natal Venus, as well between transit Jupiter and your natal Mars. This means that if you decide to go out for a night in the town, there is a good chance (i.e., increased probability) that you will have a romantic encounter.

Is this BOUND to happen? Of course not. Wearing that lovely dress can't guarantee it, either. But the strongly positive astrological tendencies that will be in effect next Saturday make it much more likely that she will meet someone than if she were to go out tonight (for example). Thus, if Ellen had indeed been trying to decide whether to go out tonight or to wait till next Saturday, her visit to her astrologer would have made it clear: go out Saturday, since your chances are much greater then!

Let me stress that neither the new dress, nor the positive astrological aspects on Saturday, will be able to guarantee her success. But both will increase the odds, so to speak. People who visit astrologers, or who use special astrological software to follow their transits over the course of time, do so because they have seen that astrology is indeed able to point out certain trends in their lives, even for dates that lie far in the future.

Of course, it works the same way when the astrological predictions are of a negative nature. Let's look at such an example as well:

An astrologer tells his client that there are a number of negative astrological tendencies in effect on the 23-25 of July. As a matter of fact, their nature suggests an increased probability of having an accident. He thus warns his client to drive a bit more cautiously, perhaps to avoid taking any long trips by car on those days. This does NOT mean that an accident is inevitable, only that the probability is greater (this point can't be stressed enough!).

Should the client, therefore, be living in fear and dread of next July, and maybe start making his/her own funeral arrangements? Nonsense! There's nothing to fear , since after all, during the course of a normal lifetime, we ALL experience such constellations many times: sometimes accidents do indeed occur, but normally they don't. It's just that some times are more dangerous than others, whether or not an accident does in fact materialize.

Would such thinking, however, justify throwing all caution aside, and laughing at the ridiculous prediction the astrolger made? No, definitely not. Consider our final story...

In this everyday tale, the predictor is not an astrologer, but a soothsayer of an even more common sort: the TV weatherman. And that which he predicts isn't the presence of certain actual planetary positions with their corresponding astrological indications, but something much more obvious to the average person: icy roads this weekend!

John Doe watches the weather report, and hears that there will be some heavy rain tonight, after which the temperatures are going to drop drastically. By tomorrow morning, all the roads will be covered with ice. People are warned to drive slowly and carefully, since there are going to be a lot more accidents than usual. John knows he has to drive to work tomorrow morning. Should he panic, be in despair, start writing his last Will and Testament? If he acts like this, his family will no doubt think he's gone crazy! Sure, he knows driving will be dangerous, how could it not be with so much ice on the streets? But he also knows that if he is careful, there's no need for him to have an accident. If he does, he does; after all, it can happen to anybody. But he'll be careful, so he probably won't. Nonetheless, he listens to the weather report carefully, for he knows that the better he understands the situation outside, the easier it will be to keep from having an accident.

This is exactly the way it is with the astrological danger signals. If an astrologer tells you that the constellations are not favorable, and that (for example), there may be a danger of having an accident, this merely means that there are some factors present which increase the probability of having an accident. Astrologically, these factors will be certain aspects (angles) between the planets during a certain time and those of your birth chart; just as in our example with the weatherman, the danger factor was ice on the roads. With both the weatherman as well as the astrologer, you would be well advised to heed their advice; yet in both cases, it would be foolish to go crazy worrying, or to assume that you have just been handed a death sentence.

Now, let's look at a somewhat opposite situation to clarify even further. Suppose it's July, and there of course isn't any ice at all on the road. Does this mean that you will definitely NOT have an accident? Of course not! For any number of reasons (lots of traffic, aggressive driving on the part of others, drinking while driving, etc.) you could have an accident even on ice-free roads. But that doesn't mean that the weatherman's ice warning in February was useless, for all he was saying is that there is a factor present (ice) which make it more likely that you'll have an accident.

And it's the same with astrology: the fact that tense aspects will be present at a certain time does not mean that nothing unpleasant will happen at other times; nor does it mean that nothing good cannot happen during the difficult period. All the astrologer is saying is that there are some times that are more likely to be unpleasant or bad, and that at other times, it will be much more probable that things will go well, and that your life will be more pleasant and fortunate.

This is the true value of predictive astrology: showing you the probabilities so that you may take full advantage of the fortunate times, and also to warn you about the negative tendencies, so that you may have better chance of avoiding mishaps, overcoming negative thoughts, making the best out of unpleasant situations, etc.

When understood in this way, it should seem perfectly natural to follow the astrological tendencies through the use of serious astrology. (Here I must stress that I am not referring to newspaper astrology, that is in no way serious, as it does not take into account the individual's personal birth chart, on which all true astrology is based.) You may want to consult a reputable astrologer, who will no doubt be able to give you indications as to when the best and worst times are most likely to occur. Another way for you view the tendencies of your future with perhaps even greater precision and ease is by using OMNICYCLES, our new astrological software that we designed to show you at a glance the combined astrological tendencies for any period of time you desire: a couple of hours, one or more days, weeks, months, or entire years.

Using astrology to find out when to expect the ups and downs will not only give you concrete advantages in many situations, but above all, it can help you achieve a greater understanding of the intimate relationship which exists between our lives and the cosmic forces which are continually shaping them.

David Bolton is an astrologer who specializes in the area of predictions. He is co-creator of the Omnicycles astrology program, that creates easy-to-read personal transit graphs that show the future tendencies for many areas of an individual's life. You can get a free demo (that is fully functional in many respects) from his site:
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