Changing signs an issue of astrological proportion

Horoscopes. They keep showing up in the newspaper despite the fact nobody ever reads them. In that way they’re like the section that gives you the water level at Blue Mesa Reservoir or the tips on how to play Bridge. Or this column.

They’ve also been in the news a lot lately after reports surfaced that everyone’s astrological sign might be wrong.

But what, exactly, is astrology? Rob Brezsny, a prominent national horoscope columnist, defines astrology as a “poetic language of the soul,” like “a Neruda poem, Kandinsky paintings, or a Nick Cave song.”

So, that should clear things up.

According to the dictionary I have here on my desk, astrology is “the study of stomach functions and digestive system disorders.” Wait. Sorry. That’s gastrology.

Astrology is the belief that your entire life is affected by the positioning of celestial bodies at the time of your birth. Everyone is born under one of the 12 familiar zodiac signs: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Sleepy, Sneezy, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Donner, Blitzen, Capricorn and Elena Kagen.

Certain people (astrologers) can supposedly use your sign to predict your future.

One of these people, featured in a recent Associated Press story, is Linda Zlotnick, who goes by the name “Moonrabbit.” And I think it’s safe to say that when you seek prudent, insightful guidance on the future course of your life, you definitely want it to come from someone named “Moonrabbit.” But that’s who the AP chose to profile for their story. I guess “Saturn-Rat” was busy that afternoon.

Anyway, Moonrabbit and her colleagues are in the midst of dealing with anxious horoscope clients, including one follower who is quoted by the AP as asking: “My zodiac sign changed. Does that mean that I’m not anymore who I used to be?” To which Moonrabbit replied: “No. You’re still horrible at grammar.”

I’m kidding about that last part of course. But that’s what I’d have told him. Which is why I’d be a terrible astrologer. My main problem with horoscopes is that they’re intentionally vague — designed to describe nearly everyone. For example: pick a date, any date. It will go something like this:

January 19th

“If today is your birthday, you are most likely a carbon-based life form who enjoys oxygen. You’re also attractive, kind and intelligent — the kind of person who appreciates the value of planetary-based forecasting and is therefore willing to enlist the help of a professional astrologer to help guide you, especially considering that we’ve now begun accepting all major credit cards.

“As for the year ahead: You are likely to get a promotion. Or you may get fired. We’ll just have to wait to see how those fourth-quarter revenue figures turn out.

“An office romance blossoms in March, so try to keep that hidden from your wife. Could you use some more money? Hope so, because a huge financial windfall awaits you in May, just so long as you agree to wire that $5,000 to Nigeria.

“Come summer, you’ll feel an itch for adventure. Then again, that could be a venereal disease. You should probably have that looked at. Speaking of doctors, the upcoming year will find you in good health. In fact, your doctor will tell you that you are in good shape for a 63-year-old, so you should probably go ahead and point out to him that you are actually 34.

“Fond memories of a former flame will fill your thoughts this autumn. Approach a potential reunion with caution, however, and remember that, legally, you are still prohibited from getting within 500 feet of her.

“You will, however, reconnect with an old family member. It will be in the form of a letter from her attorney, insisting that the sterling silverware and china you inherited from Aunt Gertrude’s estate should have been given to Cousin Becky instead, and that you have 60 days to forfeit the items before the commencement of litigation.”

So basically the whole horoscope thing seems like a big racket to me. But maybe that’s a little harsh. If so, I’m sorry. It’s just that I haven’t been myself lately.

This whole astrology change has got me thinking that I’m not anymore who I used to be.

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