When Stars Collide 

What can astrology teach us?

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I've always been fascinated by astrology, but the amount I know about it can be summed up on the back of a business card. Sure, being a Cancer makes me maternal, overly sensitive, creative and crabby — but my neighbor could have told you that. What I need to know is how my Leo husband and I will survive our seven-year itch and what to do with the 4-year-old Scorpio running around my house in a Spiderman costume.

If the moon, the sun and all those planets in the sky are actually affecting my day-to-day affairs and aren't simply minding their own business, I want to know. But I don't have the patience to study hundreds of years of accumulated wisdom, so I call the Aquarian Bookstore in Carytown.

Susan Hughes has studied astrology since the mid-1980s. With an undergraduate degree in religion and psychology and a master's degree in counseling, she considers herself a psychological astrologer rather than a fortune-teller. She's also the founder of a local nonprofit, the Baby Girl Project, whose mission is to provide education for young girls in developing nations. So far the group has funded construction of 11 schools in Kenya. All the proceeds from the Aquarian Bookstore's biannual Psychic Fair, she says, go to the project, and this makes me believe that on whatever level she's operating, she's doing something very right.

Luckily my husband's mother was organized enough to have his birth certificate on file so I didn't have to pay a visit to the Department of Vital Statistics to find out the exact minute of his birth — which apparently matters a great deal in the amazingly exact art that is astrology. When Susan presents me with four natal charts representing me, my husband, the hour of our wedding day and the birth of our son, it seems as if I'm staring at topographical maps with calculus equations, geometrical designs and hieroglyphics scrawled across the peaks and valleys.
I have no idea what any of it means but Susan gives me a knowing look, says “ah,” and proceeds to tell me that my husband is supermasculine and creative with a temper that flares up and burns out quickly. She says it takes all of the water in my chart to balance him out and that we both have our Venuses in Virgo. My son, she says, will end up in a job such as real estate or perhaps farming to compensate for the lack of earth in his chart. Is this why he's always digging for worms and planting vegetable seeds? Just a month ago he told me he wanted to be an organic farmer, eating only what he grows. Fascinating!

Next, Susan points to my chart and in her soft voice says that I have a small inner battle about whether to be at home or in the world and that all that fire and water in my chart have produced a lot of steam. She suggests that I should write a newspaper column or perhaps a book. Hmmm, I think, I happen to have a very terrible first draft of just such a thing buried in my desk at home. “So, I'm going to be published?” I ask hopefully.

“Well,” she says, “you have to find the discipline to write every day, perhaps after a regular morning exercise routine.” I'm disappointed. As she goes on to tell me about my deep philosophical wisdom and my intuitive understanding of the mystical realm, I feel like having a temper tantrum on the floor. Could she just please guarantee me success and at least one month on Oprah's book club? Do I seriously have to work for it — and exercise? It's all too much. Apparently it doesn't matter if all of the planets are in perfect alignment; if I don't work for what I want, it won't happen. I know she's right, but still. Astrology is a road map — and a fairly accurate one, it seems to me — but I have to provide the feet.

The Aquarian Bookshop is at 3519 Ellwood Ave., 353-5575. www.theaquarianbookshop.com.

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