Cross Words: Stars in Their Eyes Head to Head Credible or Credulous? Astrology Is a Useful Tool, Says Nicholas Campion, President of the Astrological Association. It's Just a Game, Says Novelist Fay Weldon

Article excerpt

The astrologist

"I see astrology as a poetic language of symbols - its primary purpose to give meaning to events which otherwise seem random or chaotic, or to endow significance to people's lives in ways which other approaches often miss. It also depends so heavily on the interpretive skills of the astrologer that, even though the basic data, in terms of planetary positions, remains the same, each astrologer will have a different view of what is the right thing to say in the right circumstances.

The sceptics need to understand that not everything in life can be appreciated through reductionist science. In fact, a great deal of what people admire, and enjoy most, can't be - like poetry or falling in love or appreciating music. Scientists try and analyse such things, but they never get close to understanding the experience when they do. Astrology is one of those disciplines or approaches to life which is not amenable to analysis by science. It can only be judged according to whether it's useful or not. And opinion from people who go to astrologers is that it is useful, and that's an exact comparison with people who go to therapists, analysts, counsellors. According to scientists, psychotherapy is completely useless, but if you talk to most people who have been through psychotherapy, they have gained a little or a lot from it. It's the same with astrology.

Astrology works as a mode of enquiry. It enables people to link different areas which are not normally connected and come up with some sort of conclusion. It suggests the existence of larger patterns. One useful idea which astrology has picked up from spirituality is the idea of the mythical journey - that we're all involved in a journey, on a quest, and that's something I personally find very useful, because then I can look at my life and at what I've done so far. It's made me think fairly broadly about the causes and consequences of my actions."

The anti-astrologist

"It is a kind of Millennium fever from which there's almost no escape, so you read your horoscope while knowing it's not true. …