Astrology for the Independently Wealthy

Back when we were all tenant farmers or indentured servants, there was probably not much point in reading horoscopes. To be accurate, they would have had to say things like “Taurus: Be careful, my bullish friend, because, thanks to the baleful influence of Saturn, you run a high risk of contracting diphtheria after being chased by cossacks and spending twelve hours unconscious in a ditch,” or “Scorpio: Consumption will make you look extra radiant this month, as Venus aligns with Jupiter. It might be a good time to seduce that landowner next door and produce his illegitimate child.”

Nowadays our lives are less nasty, brutish, and short, so we can enjoy the comforting nonsense — or do I mean, eerie prescience? — of astrology. And boy do we ever! We can get daily jibberjabber from hundreds of sites. For example:

Leo, today you could feel the need to work on your finances – pay bills, make deposits, and plan a budget for next month – but your heart won’t be in it. Your mind is probably on more interesting projects. If you try to force it, you’ll be unable to concentrate, so it could be a waste of time. It won’t hurt if you wait a few days. You should be in a more practical space by then.

Good advice! What does it have to do with being born in August? Oh well, who cares. The more highbrow among us can also get helpful hints from Susan Miller, the Hairpin’s Galactic Rabbit, or the Rumpus’s Madame Clairevoyant:

Cancer: This week, the world’s going to press in around you, maybe, like there’s not always enough room to breathe, like there’s not enough room for the love and generosity that you want. Try to push back, this week; try to work on making space. You can make the world more open and you can make the air easier to breathe and you can build space to breathe, space to move, space to live so well. Spend your days in museums, spend your days in libraries, spend your days wandering all dreamy and safe and free.

If I only had a trust fund, Mme Clairevoyant, I would, I totally would. What about you? Do you ever take financial — or other kinds — of advice from the stars? Are there any horoscopes you trust?

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10 Comments / Post A Comment

angryocean (#4,367)

Please don’t give things like astrology this kind of attention. I know you tried to walk the line between endorsing it and mocking it but you left it open to interpretation so as not to offend anyone. Astrology is absolute nonsense and superstition.

There’s a legitimate conversation to be had about the folly of people using things like horoscopes to make financial or other life decisions, and you totally dropped the ball on that here. Don’t post thoughtful articles about debt and money and making rational choices and then turn around and tacitly endorse astrology. It’s disappointing.

@angryocean oh chill OUT, please. Nobody is endorsing astrology, Ester made it pretty clear with the hole “comforting nonsense” as well as t-i-c “eerie prescience” that this is for people interested in it. As someone who likes astrology and doesn’t use it to determine my Roth contributions, your condescending and patronizing tone seems a little too “Heavens! The conservative and rational Billfold is endorsing such Houdou Witchery as astrology! FOR SHAME!”

I mean, if you write something about the “follow of using things like horoscopes to make financial decisions”, I would read the heck out of it, but come on. Calm down.

ETA: One of the tags says “this is not financial advice”, for the record.

samburger (#5,489)

@angryocean DON’T WORRY I am writing an article about using gel electrophoresis to accurately time the stock market. You will get your hard science yet, dear reader!!!

angryocean (#4,367)

@Carmen Aiken@facebook @samburger The number of people in the US who believe in astrology is close to half, and it’s been getting worse. The most recent National Science Foundation survey on Science and Engineering Indicators found that “in 2012, slightly more than half of Americans said that astrology was “not at all scientific,” whereas nearly two-thirds gave this response in 2010. The comparable percentage has not been this low since 1983.” Report here: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind14/index.cfm/chapter-7/c7h.htm

I’m aware of the criticisms of the methodology and I think this counters them pretty well:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/02/18/did-people-confuse-astronomy-with-astrology-in-the-nsf-study/

My point is that you can use all the caps lock you want to minimize my concerns, but people really believe this stuff, and it’s fake and toxic and dangerous. It’s irresponsible to condone it. Ester tries to walk the tongue-in-check oh-ho-ho we’re talking about silly stuff but then opens the door to “are there any horoscopes you trust?” I’ll round down because the audience of this site is probably more educated than the general populous, so let’s roughly estimate that a quarter of the readers here believe in astrology.

It’s not funny when people’s lives are ruined by blinding following fakery masquerading as science. This site is concerned with people wasting their money, getting conned, and not making good, rational decisions, which is pretty much the definition of astrology.

samburger (#5,489)

@angryocean Sorry, I didn’t mean to minimize your concerns. I totally see where you’re coming from. It’s dangerous to entertain ways of knowing that aren’t Science, just like it’s dangerous to allow homosexuals to bring their perverted sex acts into the holy institution of marriage/my laboratory/god hates the Galactic Rabbit/I bet you celebrate Columbus Day.

@angryocean I appreciate your concern from understanding why people appreciate hard information. I guess I just have to wonder about how many lives are being “ruined” here? And I would venture to say that there are quite a few more people’s lives being ruined by “savvy financial advice” and really garbage for-fee financial advisers or awful things on the internet talking about penny stocks or bankruptcy attorneys encouraging that or on and on and on and all of that is done in the name of “really great financial advice.” You’re right, this is the Billfold. I want Awl media to keep publishing stuff like this. And you keep saying “believe in astrology” like it is some thing that is going to force me to do things. I can enjoy and find a cold reading a nice, fun reinforcing habit loop and not send all my money to a spiritual adviser in Lagos.

Maybe instead of trying to battle horoscopes (and or palm reading, tarot, whatever floats your boat) because *those* are the cause of people stuck in awful games of financial decision making, we could talk about the gutted financial and consumer literacy programs in this country/at the state level? And how that might be more productive than yelling about how astrology will ruin us all? It just seems like this is hitting some sort of nerve…

Yes and if it is hitting a specific nerve I would personally LOVE to read that essay.

Madame Clairvoyant, The Rabbit, those are my two new faves mostly because they are so pretty and, frankly, they give the same nice advice I can send to my friends. I also really like Jessica Lanyadoo’s Weekly advice (you can also find it in the San Francisco Bay Guardian where I first read it.)

Susan Miller kinda drives me nuts though. I mean that website! If you like the kooky Free Will, I’d also recommend Marty Windahls Tarotscopes. Those aren’t bad either, and you can listen to a playlist inspired by them.

Fig. 1 (#632)

I don’t “believe” in horoscopes either, but I use the more specific, inspirational ones as a sort of impetus for getting things done. “Wednesday is an excellent day for your career – schedule meetings and presentations” translates into “Oh, right, I’m going to email that person I met last week and do X project after work so I can eventually get a better job.” I like the impersonality of it, the idea that there are all these other Geminis out there scheduling meetings in solidarity. Kooky charts: helping you get that 1 Thing done daily.

honey cowl (#1,510)

Free Will Astrology is the only astrology!

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