As recently as 1898, the French dictionary Nouveau Larousse Illustré could say: “Astrology has hardly any adherents other than swindlers who play on public credulity, and even these are fast disappearing.” False hope! Two world wars and economic instability have helped to revive interest in predicting the future. Every day, over 50 million Americans consult readings in 1,200 newspapers. For that day they can find a prediction that is determined solely by the arrangement of planets on the day of their birth. There are now supposed to be 10,000 full-time astrologers in America and 175,000 working part-time.

“Astro-philosophers” claim the stars impel but do not compel. This does not, however, change the fact that astrology propounds a thinly veiled fatalism. People want to know what will happen to them more often to escape responsibility for their behavior—marred as it is with frustration and failure—than to be spurred on to great moral efforts. What will be will be, so let us make the most of it—this is the gospel of astrology.

Prophets forecasting doom and destruction have always abounded. But during the 1960s some were taken seriously and began making the news. In 1965, Ruth Montgomery’s book on seer Jeane Dixon, A Gift of Prophecy, stayed on best-seller lists for months. Mrs. Dixon is most famous for her prediction in 1956 that “a blond Democratic president will be elected in 1960 and will die in office.” Rather unspecific, but not bad as prophecies go. Edgar Cayce, who died in 1945, was another prophet who came to prominence in the 1960s. No fewer than five books were published in that decade on this sleeping prophet, who had been able to diagnose and treat all kinds of illnesses while asleep. His Association for Research ...

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