Heard at Denver Conference: 'What's Your Sign, Baby?'

More than 1,500 hundred astrologers have converged on Colorado's capital for the United Astrology Conference. These are auspicious times — it's written in the sky — says Shelly Ackerman, a professional astrologer who writes horoscopes for Belief.net.

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RACHEL MARTIN, host:

So we already established at the top of the show that Mike does not believe in astrology. He is a killjoy on this score.

MIKE PESCA, host:

A realist.

MARTIN: I am going to be - a realist, yeah, OK. Well, I do. I find them to be very fascinating, interesting, and I looked mine up today. According to Beliefnet, the - my horoscope is this. The sun dances his way through the airy signs of the twins, creating a celestial harmony for you. Depending upon the intensity of your recent individual struggle, the weeks ahead can surely lighten your load. Enjoy sparks of playful interaction as opportunities arise, for the month will also bring a cheer of serious issues into the light. Now in my opinion, this is a sufficient horoscope, because there is enough ambiguity that I may derive whatever message that I chose from said horoscope.

PESCA: So believing in horoscopes is like believing in, ah, Jell-O.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: No, it's not. It is different things to different people. And to Shelley Ackerman, it's a big deal. It's her life. She's a professional astrologer. She writes the very horoscope I just read to you. She writes horoscopes for Beliefnet and other publications, and she also helped organize a huge conference that's going on right now in Denver, Colorado, the United Astrology Conference, where astrologers there are talking about how the stars and planets can affect everything from the spiritual to the political. Conference organizers say these are particularly auspicious times and it is written in the sky. For one thing, Pluto - remember that used-to-be planet? - is stirring things up. Shelley joins me now on the line. Hi, Shelley.

Ms. SHELLEY ACKERMAN (Astrologer, Beliefnet): How are you?

MARTIN: We're doing well. Thanks for being here.

Ms. ACKERMAN: You are welcome.

MARTIN: So, astrologers like yourself are saying there are some rare alignments in the sky, and many of your colleagues are focusing their attention on these alignments and how they're affecting politics.

Ms. ACKERMAN: Right.

MARTIN: Make that connection for me. What alignments are happening?

Ms. ACKERMAN: Sure. First, I heard you reading that horoscope before and you said - or your colleague said that believing in horoscopes is like believing in Jell-O, and I'm inclined to agree.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. ACKERMAN: So I would like to, if it's OK with you, make the distinction between those cute little paragraphs that we all write because editors insist upon it, and what real astrology is, which is quite different.

MARTIN: Please.

Ms. ACKERMAN: Yeah. So, obviously, 12 paragraphs do not address the entire population of the world. That would be nuts to even think in those terms. But they are little teasers and little introductions to a huge and complex system that Copernicus, Kepler, Isaac Newton, Galileo, and a few other great minds in history, have been deeply involved with. The - what editors and people in pop media like is that people do turn to the horoscope page as a kind of inspirational thought for the day, just as many of us turn to the obituaries to make sure we haven't died so we go to work in the morning. You know, as a little, kind of interesting, hmm to start the day.

MARTIN: It provides a vehicle for reflection.

Ms. ACKERMAN: Exactly. That's very well put.

MARTIN: You can use that.

Ms. ACKERMAN: I may use that.

MARTIN: Yeah, you can use that.

Ms. ACKERMAN: Good, thank you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: So how is this - let's talk about what's going on at this conference. We are - I was astounded to find out that there was such a conference.

Ms. ACKERMAN: Oh, yeah.

MARTIN: So what do you guys - what's the buzz there? What are you talking about?

Ms. ACKERMAN: Well, there's huge buzz. Astrology is a vast, vast system. So, as you might imagine, at any conference, whether it's dentists or doctors or artists, or you know, market-people, that there are many, many variations on a theme. And since astrology is such a huge system, there are many, many different techniques, and there have been over 270 classes given at this thing. So the buzz is, you know, the particular alignments of the moment and what's coming up in the next four years, which have been unprecedented, really, in our lifetime.

And so, astrologers for the most part are not just trying to get the prediction right. I mean, that's kind of like a horserace or a stupid pet trick. But much more, we're humanists, and we care about people, we care about the individuals that come to us, and we look at our craft and what the heavens are doing, and we say, my goodness, this is either going to make us or break us, and let's use the information to empower people so that we don't have to blow the place up or make some mistakes.

MARTIN: We don't - we, unfortunately, don't have a whole lot of time, but I want to hear some of the predictions that are floating out there. You've singled out Election Day and the Day of Inauguration...

Ms. ACKERMAN: Right.

MARTIN: November 4th and January 20th...

Ms. ACKERMAN: Correct.

MARTIN: As astrologically significant. Why?

Ms. ACKERMAN: Well, because on Election Day, two planets are in exact opposition. If you think of astrology as celestial geometry, and you think of the planets making aspects to each other as they would in a circle, like when we learned geometry in school, when there is an exact, to the minute, opposition, that's very, very meaningful.

And it's tension-producing, and it's really talking about two sensibilities, two camps, diametrically opposed, kind of fighting it out. And there are symbols in this year's election chart - two planets change signs on Election Day, and Mercury, the planet of communication and tabulation, is at the same degree as it was in 2000, and we all remember what happened then.

MARTIN: Lots of chaos, lots of confusion. And I have a feeling that there's probably a lot more to this story, and Shelley, I'm going to ask you to talk with me a little later today and we'll put a blog posting up specifying some of those predictions. I'm afraid we have to leave it there.

Ms. ACKERMAN: Oh, OK.

MARTIN: Shelley Ackerman is a professional astrologer. She helped organize the United Astrology Conference that is taking place in Denver, Colorado. Thanks very much, Shelley.

Ms. ACKERMAN: You're welcome. Thank you.

MARTIN: Take care.

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