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 chain.
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 with that.”
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 sun.
The more electional work (the art of choosing the right date for a business or personal event) I do with clients, the more I am convinced that it can be useful. I feel there are other factors that are also important, such as the state of mind of the individual for whom the event is being planned. But the more tools we can use, the smoother our progress can be!