Some Thoughts About Pop Astrology
Here are the first 39 astrological words that I ever published anywhere outside of my local community: “Back in the fifties when I was a little boy, I once put a quarter in a vending machine inscribed with paintings of various improbable creatures. Out came a packet describing the traits associated with my Sun Sign, Capricorn.” Those are the opening lines of the foreword to my first book, The Inner Sky, which came out back in summer 1984. The text went on from there: “the message was that I was shy and uptight, but that while no one would ever be very excited about me, I could console myself with the knowledge that I would probably get rich.”
Those were hard words to read at the tender age of ten or so! The worst part was that they sort of halfway fit me, at least back then. Famously, far worse than a lie is a half-truth – they can be far more seductive. I doubt I was the first person to be hurt by that kind of pigeon-holing pop astrology. Somehow I think it planted an aspiration in me that I would be among the last.
Bantam Books publishing The Inner Sky naturally opened a lot of doors for me. Miraculously, even though the book came out nearly forty years ago, I still believe pretty much every word I wrote in those pages. What I regret is not something I wrote, but rather what I did not write. And here it is in a nutshell: If it were not for that vending machine and its depressing message about Capricorn, I might never have become an astrologer. For all its many flaws, I cannot escape the fact that silly Sun Sign astrology gave me a start on the life I live today. I should be more grateful to it, whatever damage it might have wreaked upon my developing psyche. Even though that little packet about Capricorn was rigid in its delineation of my nascent personality and discouraging about my fate, it contained enough kernels of truth that I was intrigued.
As I suspect is also the case with many of you, the seeds of my interest in astrology had to fight their way into my life through the tangle of religious, cultural, and scientific barbed wire. For me, that was amplified by me being an academically promising little boy in the strait-jacket culture of the late 1950s. Worse, for astrology to take hold of my imagination, the smattering of wisdom in that 25-cent packet had to fight against its own pandemonium of obvious errors. Looking back, it is a miracle that astrology won.
But it did.