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The Predictive Power of Astrology Date Published: by Mary Downing
Bio: Mary Downing

Mary Downing is an eclectic practical astrologer who is as a member of the AFAN SC, The NCGR Board of Directors, and served as past NCGR Exec. Secretary and publisher of the NCGR Journal, Geocosmic and Memberletter (1982-1998.)

She is a frequent contributor to many astrology publications in the US and Europe, and her essays on market timing and cycles can be found in Financial Astrology for the 90's (Llewellyn) and Essentials of Intermediate Astrology (NCGR Publications.)

Her articles cover business, cycles, employment, mundane, financial, Renaissance astro-philosophy, American historical and political timelines, and predictive horary/event/election and cosmobiology techniques


Editor's Note:
The following article is based on a response to a series of questions posed to the author by Ninos Constantinou that originally appeared on ACT Online. The editor found Mary's response to be interesting, highly relevant and refreshingly down-to-earth. It deserves a larger audience. The thread originated following a discussion about the U.S. elections and predictions of possible or probable winners and losers. It is in two sections: a question and answer section, and Mary's "Afterword."


Questions & Answers

Q: What if some astrologers predict a Bush win and others a Gore win? Will it make a difference if more predict a Bush win than Gore? You may replace each name with any other for any other occasion: I think you get the idea.

MD: You do have an attitude, don't you? There is both an astrological and a logical component to prediction. In this particular election, most astrologers couldn't predict at all or predicted a very close outcome. I predicted an absolutely crazy day, but couldn't predict a winner using any chart I had heretofore, and this is the first time I haven't been able to in 40 years.

Even my "best indicator" (the chart for a nomination going "over the top" couldn't be employed, because one (Bush) was stage-managed, and the other (Gore) had a Void-of-Course [Moon] impediment in Sagittarius, where according to Lilly "It doth work somewhat." Since the election I've been looking at alternative charts as better possible bellwethers. Right now I'm working with the Hayes and Harrison elections to try to see correspondences.

Like any other field for prediction: weather, the stock market, sales projections, etc.; there is a methodology. You study the past, observe consistencies, and project the future trends. The better job you do determining exactly what was operating yesterday will help you in projecting tomorrow. That is analysis, not astrology. Both are necessary.


Q: If one or the other candidate wins these elections will that automatically mean that x,y,z predictive techniques work better than certain others?

MD: There will always be a range of techniques that work. Some will be better and more objective than others. There are more ways to tell if the winter will be snowy than how thick the coat is on wooly caterpillars.


Q:In case an astrologer's predictions more often fail than succeed should she/he give up astrological predictive work altogether? How successful is successful? Nine correct predictions out of ten, Eight out of ten, Seven...??

MD: Define your terms, please. Economics is also a predictive science and they even hand out Nobel prizes for it. If I say the sun comes up tomorrow, I'll have a 100% prediction rate, and it's as "astrological" as anything regarding the planets and lights.

Uranus, Neptune, Pluto in 8th Harmonic combinations of at least two, have historically indicated major long-range economic changes — have I predicted? Or have I simply analyzed historic correspondence in light of known astronomic cycles? The last combo heralded the fall of Russia and was "predicted" in the 50s by Barbault as the most likely outcome. It best corresponded in US history to 1822, which saw the disintegration of the Bank of the US (read current Savings and Loan debacle) and real estate speculation — which occurred in the 80s. I see a one-to-one relationship myself. What do you see?

What is annoying you is pundits who glibly say a Bush or Gore would win, to get a little publicity. In some contests that actually is possible. I'd love to have a recipe that would have worked in this election, but I haven't found it yet. What was absolutely predictable was the chaotic nature of the day itself — which should have been a "heads-up" for anyone rushing to print.


Q:Is one "great" prediction worth more than two or more lesser ones? What I mean is if one predicts the winner of these elections does it make that prediction more valuable than any other less important one e.g. the results of the next presidential elections in France, or which team will win the NBA etc..

MD: (Only in the marketing of your latest book.) I think a "great" prediction would be calling a market bottom, or spotting a corporate merger ahead of time. Sometimes I'm absolutely sure what is going on and I "wager". Other times I'm not sure, and I don't. Really I'm lucky that I don't have to do it every day, like professional un-astrologically-aided portfolio managers, because I really wouldn't like the stress. I'm not a gambler, I'm an "investor" — requires confidence.


Q:Can we/I put our predictions' money where our mouths are....*every time* we make a prediction?! How safe and confident do we feel when we dare utter our final astro-verdict?

MD: See answer to #3 above. We (and everybody else) predict all the time. If you're talking personal astrology, you and I know very well the likelihood of something happening. If you simply ask your client what is going on in his or her life, and work with them — based on the time line — you will aid THEM in "predicting" the ultimate conclusion of a given course of events. That's how you and they mutually do it!


Q: Do thousands of years of astrological predictive work still produce no clear and measurable results?

MD: This isn't a question, it's a statement. When did you stop beating your wife? We predict (in a real sense, not a publicity performance) very nicely all the time.


Q:Is there a way of measuring astrological predictive success vs. failure?

MD: Not if you don't define your terms.


Q:How valid is a prediction? Does the validity of a prediction depend solely on the technique used? Does it depend on the authority, name or fame of the astrologer? Does it depend on the nature of the prediction?

MD: We're back to "if the Sun comes up tomorrow." That's valid. It's valid to say wearing a thong bikini on an Alaskan beach in February will encourage frostbite. Authority/name/and fame are in the eye of the beholder, and of course the nature of the prediction qualifies its validity.

Compare: A. The sun comes up tomorrow. B. You will be reincarnated as a frog.


Q:Should predictions be methodically and "officially" registered and recognized by some astrological body? If the answer is yes then I suspect that this recognition might lead to a wider social or academic recognition in the future.
Define "predictions."

MD: What about "Jack, you trip over your own feet on Mercury stations. I count a broken clavicle, two auto accidents, one dropped free-weight on toe, and last year a slipped disk, even. God knows how many trips, falls, spills and scrapes. Watch out next Feb. 4th, will ya? For heaven's sake, pick some other time for your skiing holiday."

Do I have to register every single time? Geez. Do I have to have Jack send me his cast? He never listens. (What's a mother to do?)


Q:Is there a way for us to work out how successful were our astrological forefathers with their predictions compared to us moderns? This process of comparing should yield a quantitative result on the level of success or failure of the predictive power of astrology. It would also show how and when did astrology make definite progress in the area of specific prediction. Define "predictions!"

MD: And a final note: There is a definite risk whenever we "dare" say what we think will happen in the future. This risk is ethical, social and personal. How do we deal with that? Who is to judge whether we succeed or fail? Can this sort of work be measured quantitatively and qualitatively? Can we hope to come to the point where we can all talk the same astrological language?

And my final note: either planetary position means something or it doesn't. If it means something in the internal man, it means something in the external. If it meant something at birth, it means something in the "now."

If you insist that only natal charts offer insight and the current matrix is irrelevant except to those born within it, you can deny prediction.

That is, unfortunately, illogical.

Mary's "Afterword"

We are sermonized, with certain regularity, on the evils of prediction. Whilst washing out the publicity-grabbing behavior (of the very few); they cast out good, practical nuts-and-bolts astro-advice with the bathwater. This is really a specious argument. The truth is -none of us can predict so accurately as to be dangerous; and all of us are capable of analyzing past trends and projecting without the aid of astrology altogether. Though it certainly helps.

We witnessed this election one unfortunate public prediction based on the more probable death-in-office of one candidate, and an assortment of others more cautious but more confident than subsequent events warranted. At least one well-known astrologer publicly admitted he couldn't fathom it at all. Good for him!

Railing against public prediction that may be either inept or too good actually bamboozles the public and alarms the psychological-oriented members of our profession, who (amazingly) seem to think we predictive types can actually do it that well! Mother Mary does not know all, in fact knows relatively little her clients don't tell her - except current planetary placement relative to natal chart; which as we all know can play out in many ways. But not necessarily in all ways, just some ways. It is that "some", that relatively limited range of possibility, that makes prediction worthwhile.

The religious objection to astrology has always been based on free-will. If the stars decree, do we have choice? If we know the trend, we may actually have more freedom than if we are reacting to unexpected stimuli. If we anticipate an event of a certain flavor, we may actually avoid negative consequences or equally seize an opportunity otherwise ignored. As Shakespeare said "There is a tide in the affairs of men, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune." Just another "tide table" - which of course is a real-world prediction based on lunar activity, astrological to the core.

I'm sure our sermonizers fear some benighted astrologer will predict the awfuls: you're going to get cancer; your husband will leave you; your children will become drug addicts, etc. That's damning the knife for a stabbing. Would you equally damn it for surgery? What makes anyone think someone so insensitive would be better pronouncing on my psyche than my future?

If I encourage a person to get a thorough physical, learn computers or watch their children a little more carefully (without planting ideas, and due to my perceived trends) is it laudable or lamentable? That requires some finesse. Wielding knives may require a responsible party, but it doesn't mean we should all be reduced to tearing turkey with our teeth. Advising anybody about anything, through any means- requires wisdom as much as knowledge.

This is the basis for the anti-prediction sermon. Transits, progressions, directions; all the tools of prediction; are not sufficiently specific indicators (to say nothing of the ethics involved) for absolutely flawless detailed prognostication. Like everything else - like the doctor making a diagnosis, the market analyst or the weatherman; we approximate. We really don't know that George will lose his job on Tuesday next, but we can assess the probabilities; and perhaps bring George to face the eventuality as well.

Let's say George has Saturn transiting his Ascendant. He could move, get married, get divorced, change jobs. In short, he'll do (or have done to him) something that separates him from one element in his environment at approximately that time. All things being equal, Saturn normally gives us a choice in the matter. So why not ask George what's up? If George tells us he just had a row with his boss, we can give him the address of Acme Resume Service. George himself has made the prediction, and we - with our knowledge of timing and trends - have assisted.

In the Q & A session above, I tell Jack to beware the Mercury station in early Feb. I will now pose the reader an ethical question. What is the "good" of my not telling Jack to watch his feet next February 4? Is it better for me to withhold my logical deduction, based on significant past input, that this individual (a triple Gemini) becomes King Klutz on Mercury Retro stations?

"Well, obviously not", you say. "Mercury Retro stations aren't necessarily accident events, but evidently you've researched this individual enough that you spotted a trend."

Real prediction applies to everything.

Aha! That, my friends, is prediction. It's logical inference based on astrological markers. Real prediction applies to everything. If I'm down to two slices of bread, I predict I need to go shopping. If the market regularly tanks prior to solar eclipses, I may restrain my buying impulses until bottom fishing is indicated. How much is logical and how much astrological? Only the timeline and natal charts are astrological. The rest, the basic analysis, is logical inference drawn from experience.

"But" you say,"what about horary?" Horary supposes a dynamic based of sequential aspects starting from given positions. It doesn't use natal charts at all (although the horary can be treated as a set of transits.) Horary practitioners have instant feedback, something natal astrologers never experience. One learns rather quickly both what works and what doesn't; and whether one has an aptitude. If one doesn't one won't develop much of a practice, I assure you, and the marketplace will protect the public from future inept ministrations.

Horary is perhaps the most circumscribed of all astrologic practices. Its rules have rules, including ones when not to use it. It also requires careful interaction with the client, who actually has to define the meanings of the planets for the astrologer. No rulership book will tell you if George's Rolex is: a) a 2nd house possession, b) a 5th house decoration, or c) an 11th house symbol of power. Quite honestly, not everyone can do it well. Caveat emptor, just like getting your hair done.

But - horary is invaluable training for any astrologer. No other discipline rubs ones nose in the constantly shifting patterns now and tomorrow. We live in that dynamic framework. The planets form patterns, mark cycles, go in-out, round and round, up and down. The Sun really will indeed come up tomorrow - if you live below 60 degrees North Latitude.

Bottom line: there is much, much - much - more to astrology than psychological application. It has been fashionable this century to ignore that fact, but perhaps not wise, and certainly profligate. That's my counter sermon, and thank you.


© Copyright: Matrix Software





Other articles by Mary Downing

Downing, MaryWill the Real Birth Chart of the U.S.A. Please Stand Up?



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