Christeen Skinner blinks at the screen of her computer and takes another
slurp of coffee. It’s half past seven in the morning and she’s preparing for
a crucial meeting with the chief executive of the High and Mighty fashion
Apart from the black cat dozing on her lap, the only clue to Christeen’s
occupation as a 21st century astrologer is a copy of an Ephemeris that lies
open at a page marked “Mercury March 25th”.
“The financial crisis has ensured that I’m busier than ever,” says Christeen
“People in the City need to know what is just around the corner. I can help
Christeen is one of a growing, albeit secretive, network of astrologers who
work for seemingly conservative British institutions such as high street
banks, City investment funds and retailers. Desperate to avoid financial
meltdown in the ongoing ‘credit crunch’ and to spot fashions and consumer
trends before they start, these institutions have turned to the stars to
divine the future.
“Most academics distrust astrology and regard it as mumbo-jumbo,” she says.
The thing is, it works. Nobody’s sure how it works but it does. Most of my
clients are businesspeople who are very canny. If it didn’t work for them,
then why would they use it?”
One of Christeen’s clients is Judith Levy, chief executive of the High and
Mighty retail chain.
“I’m fairly pragmatic,” says Judith. “I will only spend money on an
astrologer if the decision I have to take is very important – the kind of
decision which will cost me a lot of money if I get it wrong.
“When we launched our Kayak brand a few years ago we used astrology to
decide the launch date. Since then, it has gone from strength to strength.
It’s one of our best selling brands.”
Astrology is generally seen as just a bit of harmless fun with no predictive
power at all. After all, how can a star have any influence over our lives
when it is so distant that its light takes hundreds of millions of years
just to reach us? The answer to that is simple: it doesn’t.
For believers in heliocentric astrology, the branch of the discipline
currently in vogue with business folk and fashion designers alike, it is the
planets that appear to have an influence over us not the stars. They
maintain that each planet has a subtly different effect on our behaviour,
which varies as it sweeps through the zodiac during its journey around the
Mercury, for instance, can be generally positive apart from when it turns
retrograde’. This happens when it appears to reverse direction and travel
backwards through the zodiac. When this happens, roughly three times a year,
communication begins to break down and travel plans may go awry. It’s seen
as a celestial spanner in the works.
It’s Mercury’s potential to wreak havoc that has led many world leaders and
military figures to plan their lives and campaigns to avoid its influence.
Ronald Reagan and Boris Yeltsin would only travel and hold press conferences
when the planets, specifically Mercury, dictated.
Hitler, a keen user of astrology, notably failed to take into account
Mercury’s influence. He launched the Battle of Britain and planned operation
Sealion – the invasion of the UK – just as Mercury turned retrograde. Both
mistakes dealt serious blows to his plans for world domination.
Mars seems to have an uncanny correlation with over-achievement for those
lucky enough to be born with the planet at certain critical astrological
positions. The French statistician Michel Gauquelin discovered that the
upper echelons of numerous sports, as well as the medical profession and the
military, are stuffed full of people with Mars in these locations. For
example, Nick Faldo, OJ Simpson and Muhammad Ali were all born with Mars in
the requisite position.
And so far at least, nobody has managed to rubbish Gauquelin’s research.