Sometimes Astrology Is The Best Therapy Of All

Destiny Times Six
Destiny Times Six
By Katherine de Jersey
Paperback, 311 pages
American Federation of Astrologers

Read An Excerpt

On my shelf — nestled, fittingly yet absurdly, next to Don DeLillo's Libra — is a book titled Destiny Times Six: An Astrologer's Casebook by Katherine de Jersey. De Jersey was an astrologist, and for more than 30 years she received an impressive roster of clients. Everyone from Grace Kelly to Sonny and Cher went to her to learn the nuances of their natal charts.

The discreet Ms. de Jersey doesn't name names in Destiny Times Six, but the case histories she presents are so deliciously melodramatic that it doesn't matter. I stayed awake reading because I just had to know: What would become of Edward, the sensitive Pisces locked in an asylum for the murder of his psychiatrist? And the client calling herself "Jane Austen," a pragmatic Aries in love with her older — and married — Scorpio boss?

I discovered the book when I began studying astrology, an interest that is itself a guilty pleasure. Confessing to any level of belief in astrology invites a sort of half-scorn, half-pity; your status as a rational human being is now immediately and forever suspect.

So I kept my mouth shut and took in de Jersey's sage lessons. She teaches that the old axioms about sun-sign characteristics — that Cancers are moody and Virgos are perfectionists — are incomplete at best, misleading at worst. No fewer than 1,750 planetary aspects factor into a personality, each of them connecting or separating in such intricate patterns that natal charts are as unique as fingerprints.

I couldn't help but apply the author's techniques within my own relationships, and found sly ways to learn someone's date, place and time of birth. I reveled in learning why I had weirdly intense chemistry with a passing acquaintance (my Venus atop his Mars), why a certain relative is so cheap (Saturn in Taurus), and how my husband's mild jealous streak is tempered by a proud Aries sun (although my own sun, in Aquarius, would never tolerate blatant jealousy, anyway).

Karen Abbott

Karen Abbott is the author of American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee. Gilbert King hide caption

itoggle caption Gilbert King

After reading the chapter about a promiscuous gentleman with Sagittarius rising, I turned a critical eye to my own chart. Every new interpretation yielded a surprising, if not always pleasant, revelation. The planet Uranus conjuncts my ascendant (an aspect I happen to share with Monica Lewinsky and Conan O'Brien). This implies obstinacy and impulsiveness. And I'll likely spend the rest of my life grappling with my Saturn opposition Mars — the aspect I can thank for my relentless and brutal self-criticism.

In between the soapy antics of de Jersey's cases, I discovered that astrology was my ideal form of therapy. It's comforting to find reasons — even reasons I'm still embarrassed to discuss — why we connect with certain people naturally, and with others not at all. I keep my friends' and family's birthdays on my calendar, not only to remember to send them cards, but also to study their charts and celebrate all the ways we intersect.

My Guilty Pleasure is edited and produced by Ellen Silva.

Excerpt: 'Destiny Times Six: An Astrologer's Casebook'

Destiny Times Six
Destiny Times Six
By Katherine de Jersey
Paperback, 311 pages
American Federation of Astrologers

The storm hadn't been predicted. When our plane took off from Los Angeles International Airport , the pilot said cheerfully, "It looks like a fine day for flying. Clear and cold in Chicago. We have a tail wind so we should get in before our scheduled arrival time of 4 P.M."

Which sounded great, except I didn't believe it. I had a wicked inclination to tell the stewardess I was willing to bet the pilot any reasonable sum that by the time we reached Chicago it would be snowing. Last night, just before I'd fallen asleep, I had checked Chicago weather conditions astrologically. Neptune, which is liquid and causes rain, fog, and snow, was adversely aspected to the planet Saturn, which indicates cold. There would be a full moon and weather changes invariably occur either on the full or new moon. In my opinion, it was going to snow — hard.

However I decided to fly anyway. I was tired. I hadn't seen my husband for two weeks. I wanted to get home and get a good night's sleep in my own bed. I'd been on a lecture tour around the Middle and Far West, talking about astrology, and there had been too many late night receptions and early morning flights.

But I couldn't resist a secret feeling of triumph when, about a half hour out of Chicago, the pilot asked us to fasten our seat belts because "the weather had deteriorated." The stewardess allowed as how it was snowing. The pilot went a little further than she did, after we had circled O'Hare Airport until we were all dizzy and miserable. He said a sudden unexpected snowstorm had come out of nowhere. It seemed to be moving out and if we'd be patient another half hour they would have a runway cleared and we could land. And finally, about 6:30, we set down on a runway banked with snow.

I ran for a telephone. Since I had been scheduled to arrive in the middle of a working day, my husband and I had agreed he wouldn't try to meet me. In addition, as the weather got worse, the airline had told him there was a good chance we might have to land some place like Des Moines or Omaha. So he'd gone home to our apartment in La Grange and paced the floor and waited.

"You won't get a cab," Ralph said. "Take the airport bus into Chicago. I'll grab a train and meet you at your studio with a picnic."

My studio was in the old Italian Court Building at Michigan Avenue and Ontario. I stood down in the courtyard with my bags and yodeled for help. In summer, the Petit Gourmet restaurant put out tables where Ralph and I used to have long lunches when we were courting. Today, the winds off Lake Michigan had piled snow in waist-high drifts. My husband hurried down and together we skidded up the stairs with my luggage.

But upstairs there was warmth and wine and thick hero sandwiches. After a while, he said, "Was it a lousy trip?"

"Just great. The pilot said if we were patient, we might land in another half hour. My seatmate asked what was the alternative."

"What sex seatmate?"

"Male, naturally."

"Handsome?"

"Divine. Bald as a billiard ball. You know how I go for the baldies. A doctor. I don't know what kind. His name was Fuller."

"Henry Fuller?"

"We didn't get on a first-name basis. But I have his card in my coat pocket, if you have the energy to move. I haven't."

I'm married to Gemini, the most curious man in the world. He got to his feet and found the card. "Katie, my God. Henry Fuller. Probably the greatest brain surgeon in the country. What did you talk about?"

"Why, astrology. What else? He was fascinated." I ducked the pillow he threw at me.

We were late getting to bed on the folding bed in my studio and up early, as Ralph had to take the train out to his electronics company. We had breakfast in a small hotel around the corner and I snowplowed back to the Italian Court Building. It was bitter cold and the concrete steps up to my third-floor studio were slick with ice. I stepped carefully, mainly concerned with saving my own skin.

I didn't notice the tall blonde who was coming toward me until we collided. "If you're Katherine de Jersey, I've been waiting half an hour. Your studio is locked and nobody answers the telephone."

I said I wasn't surprised. The telephone service didn't start working until 9 A.M. and Maggie, my part-time secretary and full-time friend, was probably detained by the storm. "I wouldn't be here myself, if I hadn't been snowbound at the airport last night, coming in from California and not able to get home to La Grange."

"I know," she said. "That's why I'm here."

It didn't make sense. But then, I wasn't quite awake. Usually I don't get up so early. My first appointment isn't until ten o'clock, unless there is an emergency, and it is only a half-hour's drive from home, so I sleep while Ralph makes the morning coffee. I said, "Do you have an appointment with me?"

"Appointment? Of course not. I never heard of you until last night. I am staying with an old school friend of mine. Her husband came home and said he'd had a fascinating experience on the plane, he'd met an astrologer named Katherine de Jersey. And Louise — that's his wife — said to me, 'Grace, I think you should go to see her.' So here I am."

I felt stunned. She was an overwhelming woman. Straight and tall, hatless despite the cold, her pale blond hair long and pulled back to reveal what some people call a widow's peak, but I, as an astrologer, always recognize as a Leo peak. Of all the signs of the zodiac, the Leos are to me the easiest to spot. They so often have the snub lion nose, the regal bearing. And, of course, the distinctive catlike walk, on the balls of their feet. My visitor had the Leo nose and I was interested in watching her walk. So I said, "Come on up and get warm, anyway. My secretary will be in soon and can give you an appointment."

"I don't have time to make an appointment. I have to see you now."

I let her go up the stairs ahead of me. She moved quickly, and gracefully, as I had suspected. I knew my schedule would be tight, murderously tight, after two weeks away. It always was. And I had no intention of letting myself be overpowered by this early morning visitor, even if her friend was the wife of Dr. Fuller. I would leave her to my secretary, Maggie, who fought off fiercer dragons than this one every day for me. Luckily, she had just arrived and was busy stamping the snow off her boots.

I said, "This is — "

"Grace G.," said my visitor. "I must see Miss de Jersey immediately. She says I have to have an appointment. That's ridiculous. She's here and I'm here so why — "

I escaped to my own office and shut the door. A widow with three children, Maggie is my age but she sometimes treats me as though I didn't have good sense. Which I guess I don't — at least money sense. She studied astrology in one of my classes after her husband died. Then I had to give up teaching because of the number of private clients who began to count on me, and my increasing schedule of lecture tours. Maggie came and suggested she act as my secretary in the mornings while her children were in school. The whole arrangement had been a blessing and a delight. My only fear was that one of these days some man would realize how great she was and take her away from me.

Maggie had left the day's schedule, and it was a full one, on my desk, together with the folders containing the charts of people who were regulars. I picked up the mail she had considered important enough for me to see right away and was hurrying through it when Maggie slipped in and closed the door behind her.

"She's won. I hate to admit it. But we had a cancellation for your ten o'clock."

"I give up," I said.

Whatever she had done to herself while she was waiting, Grace G. looked trim and immaculate, hazel catlike eyes glistening, every hair in place. She sat down opposite me. For a moment neither of us said anything. Then she finally smiled, putting me at ease as deliberately as though we were in her home, she the hostess, I the guest who had arrived at a particularly difficult time.

"I'm afraid you think I'm a bully, Miss de Jersey. But as a matter of fact, it is rather urgent. That is, I'm leaving town this afternoon. And I always believe that if you want something, the way to operate is to go out and get it. Don't you agree?"

"When were you born, Mrs. G?" I asked. She had a wedding ring on her left hand, a thin circle of diamonds, and an engagement ring with this huge diamond, the kind my dentist had once described to me as "the size of a fourth molar."

"April 9. I'm not mentioning the year."

"I'm afraid I can't help you unless you do. Everything that is said in this office is confidential. I'd like to know not only the year, but the hour and place."

"What if I lie to you? Even my husband doesn't know the correct date."

"Then you will be wasting my time as well as yours."

"Can you tell when people are lying to you?"

"Usually, yes. Only it's so senseless. I have to place the planets in the exact positions in the heavens that they have occupied at the time of your birth in order to do what we call a natal chart. Ideally, I would like to have the moment which was listed on your birth certificate. But not all doctors do that. When clients aren't certain, or I'm not sure their parents remember correctly, I do what is called rectifying the chart. It means working in reverse. I take important events in a person's life, such as marriages and deaths and illnesses and work backward. It can be done but it's time consuming."

"I'm an Aries. I've always known that."

"Yes, but you have a Leo rising."

"I don't have any idea what that means." Her voice quickened, the annoyance of a hostess who has been rebuked by an impudent stranger. I should have been annoyed in turn. But I enjoyed looking at her. And I also had, tucked back in my mind, the fact that anyone who was a friend of Dr. Fuller or his wife, must be worth patience on my part.

So I explained carefully. "Aries is your sun sign, the zodiac sign the sun was in at the time of your birth. That is simple enough to find out. But it's just the beginning. In every chart, there are approximately one thousand seven hundred and fifty factors, variables, and three very strong basic elementary influences. The sun sign is usually considered first, because the sun represents the life force. But frequently people don't feel at east with the characteristics of their sun sign. Then we say they aren't true Virgos or Geminis or whatever. These people often are more influenced by the sign rising over the eastern horizon at the time of birth, what we call the rising sign, or ascendant. It always influences the appearance. That's why I know you had Leo rising. I can see it in the way you walk, your hairline, your nose, everything, even your eyes."

She pulled a package of cigarettes out of her bag and spent more time than necessary lighting one, putting it in a position in my little ashtray which pleased her. "All my life, it has amused me to collect lions. I have them as wall plaques and ornaments and jewelry. I never knew why. Whenever my husband or one of my children doesn't know what to give me, he finds some kind of a lion. Maybe there is something in astrology."

Excerpted from Destiny Times Six: An Astrologer's Casebook by Katherine de Jersey Copyright 1970 by Katherine de Jersey. Excerpted by permission of American Federation of Astrologers.

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