Editor’s Note: Advent is an appropriate time to deal with this topic, for horoscopes are a practice of pagan origin. The four candles on the Advent wreath represent the four millennia in which the world was in darkness, pagan practices abounded in every land, and God’s Chosen People zealously longed for the Messiah. When Christ assumed human nature His light overcame paganism, dispelling the darkness of error. How lamentable that 2,000 years after His Birth, Christendom has now succumbed to a neo-paganism. Yet, let us not lose sight of the fact that Our Lady of Fatima came to warn against (and conquer!) all the errors of Russia, which include atheism and the paganism that invariably accompanies it.
Examine Your Conscience
“Thus saith the Lord: Learn not according to the ways of the Gentiles: and be not afraid of the signs of heaven” (Jeremias 10:2).
Listed in a popular examination of conscious that I have recommended before, in the context of sins against the First Commandment, is the following consideration: Did I believe in fortune telling, horoscopes, the occult, good-luck charms, tarot cards, palmistry, Ouija boards, seances, reincarnation?
No Catholics can engage – or believe – in any of these activities listed above. In fact, the consulting of horoscopes is based on the false practice of astrology, which attributes our life’s destiny to the position of the stars on the day in which we were born. The Catholic Encyclopedia of Father John Hardon defines astrology as:
“A form of divination based on the theory that the planets and stars influence human affairs. Until Copernicus (1473-1543), much of the lore of astrology was partial basis for astronomy. Since Copernicus, astrology and astronomy separated. In astrology a horoscope is a map of the heavens at the time of birth, using the chart of the zodiac. The ‘house,’ or sign in the ascendancy at the time of one’s birth, is said to determine one’s temperament, tendencies to disease, and liability to certain fortunes or calamities.”
St. Augustine Denounces Astrology
It is well known that St. Augustine, before his conversion to the Faith, fell into the heresy of Manichaeism, which was founded in the 3rd century by a false prophet. In his quest to determine the truth, St. Augustine fell for a short time into astrology before finding the true Catholic Faith.
He was fooled by its apparent ability to predict the future. His friends Vindicianus and Nebridius tried to persuade him that the astrologers’ success was pure chance, but he was not fully convinced until another friend, Firminus, proved it to him. Firminus was also a believer in astrology, but he told Augustine a story that finally convinced them both of their error. Firminus’ father and his friend were both amateur astrologers, and they kept track of the births in their households so that they could cast the babies’ horoscopes. The friend had a slave woman who happened to give birth at the same time as Firminus’ mother.
Firminus had not yet grasped the significance of this event, but St. Augustine realized it right away. If astrology were true, then Firminus and the slave baby would have had almost identical horoscopes, and thus similar lives; but Firminus was a rich nobleman, and the slave had remained a slave. For the same reason, twins should have similar futures, but they obviously do not. These two examples convinced Augustine to abandon his belief in astrology once and for all.
The Church Condemns Astrology and Horoscopes
Father John Hardon explains in similar terms what St. Augustine realized:
“It is normally wrong to believe in astrology or to direct one’s life and conduct according to its supposed predictions. The reasons are that astrology involves contradictions, since it claims uniform influence on persons born on the same day and in the same place, and who later on prove to be unmistakably different; it claims to predict accurately the free future, i.e., happenings that depend on the exercise of man’s free will, whereas such knowledge is unknown to anyone except God; it is against the doctrine of free will, for it leads to fatalistic views of man’s destiny; and it is against belief in divine providence, which includes the influence of divine grace and the value of intercessory prayer.”
The Church Fathers at the Council of Trent explicitly forbade anyone from reading works of astrology that concern “future contingent achievements, with fortuitous events and such actions as depend on human freedom, but daring to claim certitude about their occurrence.” Such works include horoscopes.
An Open Door to the Demonic
Perhaps the gravest danger regarding horoscopes, unbeknownst to many, is that it can serve as an open door to the demonic. All the things listed above (fortune telling, horoscopes, good-luck charms, tarot cards, palmistry, Ouija boards, seances, reincarnation) are ways by which the devil may receive power to obsess or possess a person. This makes sense because were there ever to be some ‘power’ in such a thing, then it would necessarily be a demonic (preternatural) power.
Testimony to this effect has also been provided by exorcists. One of the steps in an exorcism is to specifically determine how the demon gained access. There are credible reports that horoscopes have led to occult practices, satanism, and demonic possession. This alone should be sufficient reason for any Catholic.
Reading Horoscopes Is Sinful
There are those who say they read horoscopes “just for fun” and don’t actually believe in them. These attempted justifications, however, are inexcusable. This attitude reveals a vice-ridden mentality with regard to ‘entertainment.’ Why would one willfully choose to find enjoyment in something false which can easily lead into other occult practices? This alone makes it a temptation and a near occasion for mortal sin. Even worse, it causes scandal, as others may begin to think such acts are morally licit. We are obligated to avoid all unnecessary near occasions of grave sin. And willfully engaging in such occasion is in itself already sinful.
Hence, we should ensure that we do not read them and when we hear of friends or acquaintances reading them, we should remind them that our free will is not based on the position of the stars, God has given free will to each of us, and the state of our soul is dependent on our own actions or inactions; and since not everyone born on the same day has the same traits and personality, there is no logical basis to horoscopes.
Objectively speaking, dealing in horoscopes is a violation of the First Commandment because it necessarily implies one believes there are ‘forces’ in the world which can compete with (supersede) God Who is the Almighty Creator of all that exists. Given the poor catechesis that pervades our Catholic parishes, it’s quite possible many Catholics don’t know this is sinful. A sin does require knowledge and intent. Nevertheless, if you have practiced horoscopes, you should confess this as soon as possible and resolve never to do it again.
Prayer to the Virgin Mary for Liberation by St. Pius X
August Queen of Heaven, sovereign Queen of Angels, Thou Who at the beginning received from God the power and the mission to crush the head of Satan, we humbly beseech Thee, send Thy heavenly legions so that on Thine orders and by Thy powers they will track down demons, fight them everywhere, curb their audacity, and plunge them into the abyss. O divine Mother, send us Thine angels and archangels to defend us, to watch over us. Holy angels and archangels, defend us, protect us. Amen.