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This article was recorded by Garry Phillipson in 1996 as part of his research for the book Astrology in the Year Zero

More details of the book and Garry's work, including other interviews are available on his website

An Interview with Christine Skinner by Garry Phillipson

Christeen Skinner specialises in the study of planet cycles and their relationship with economic, social and political affairs. Her practice in London attracts major business clients from around the world, including retailers, bankers and stock traders.

Christeen has appeared on radio and television in the UK, USA, Germany, Norway, Finland, Japan and Eire and gave a notably correct financial forecast on the BBC's "Heart of the Matter" programme. She was featured in Channel 4's Witness programme in the summer of 2000, during which she presented a "blind report" (i.e. a report prepared without prior discussion with the company) to Anita Roddick of The Body Shop, who subsequently described Christeen as "a marketing genius".

Here, in an interview recorded with Garry Phillipson in 1996, she discusses her approach to client work and how she developed her practice.

Q: Could you talk me through a day in the life of an astrologer who specialises in business and finance?

Those are two distinct things; you have a business astrologer or a financial one, and, in this country, I don't think you can actually call yourself a financial astrologer. The Financial Services Act (1986) means that, if you say to me, 'I've got £10,000 - what shall I invest in?' I can't do that. So I wouldn't say that I was a financial astrologer.

The work I do is sometimes financially geared, though. I might have someone who asks me to study a particular commodity - gold or silver, say. They will want to know whether I can predict the moments when there will be fluctuations in that market. Clearly, if I was really good at that, I wouldn't be sitting here still working as an astrologer! But those of us [astrologers] practising this actually have as reasonable a track record as the other economists or financial analysts.

I have two commodities that I specialise in - gold and one other. If somebody asks me to look at, say, sugar, I will do it, but there is a huge amount of research required in order to do that. In terms of what happens then: my shipping owner might be very interested to know what sugar prices are going to be like, (a) when he is picking up his sugar in Cuba (he's not, by the way, this is a made-up example!) and (b) if it takes three months to get the sugar here, what the prices will be like when he drops it on the market here. That kind of work is financial.

Q: Why is the Financial Services Act a problem? What do you do about it?

The act says that nobody should offer you any kind of financial advice, unless they have been taught and have a proven understanding of what the markets are about. And I am not registered. On the other hand, the kind of people who come to me tend to be very wealthy, and don't give a monkey's about the act. When I say, 'I can't do that because of the Financial Services Act', they will say, 'OK - how do I need to ask the question in order for you to do the job?' And it's quite easy; they just have to pick ten companies, then I can tell them what I think each will do next year. But I can't say, 'These are ten companies you should invest in'.

Q: You mentioned that astrologers come out quite well in the financial prediction stakes - are there any comparative studies?

No, unfortunately there aren't. But I think we're all up for taking part in one.

Q: How does what we've been talking about so far differ from business astrology?

Business astrology is quite different; for instance, someone says to me, 'I've got shares in Rolls-Royce, what do you think they are going to do?" That means looking at the chart for Rolls-Royce. A company I was working for recently had gone from being a quiet company to being floated on the stock exchange. We didn't really have any say about the date for the flotation, unfortunately. But they wanted to know what their turnover of shares was likely to be, who would they attract, and so on. They already have difficulties, and that was quite obvious from the Pisces-Sagittarius mix that they had at the time.

Then (this is one from earlier today) I might be asked to choose a date for a chain of shops to start their sales.

Q: How do clients get in touch initially?

It's all done by referral - every client I've ever had has come that way, I've never had an advert anywhere. People phone up and say, 'I hear that you did some work for so and so - he gave me your card…'

Q: And then what? Do they visit you?

Occasionally, but more often I visit their offices. I prefer the variety, I like to get out and about. I also have clients in Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Los Angeles, New York - obviously I don't go to them! Their work is sent by fax and email. I think business astrology lends itself very well to tele-working.

Q: Could you talk me through the things you would look at in doing a typical piece of work for a business client?

OK, let's say that you have come to me about a company, and work through it as an example. What is your status in the company?

Q: Managing Director.

Did you start the company?

Q: Yes.

What kind of products do you make?

Q: Hard drives for computers.

Given that information, this is how the conversation would go: I'd thank you for making contact. I would then write to you - this is a security test for me, because then I know that your address is genuine. What I say in that initial letter is that I'll be happy to do some work for you, and explain a few things about how I work.

I'd explain that, in order to do the job, I'll need as much information as possible. So you shouldn't ever worry about swamping me with information. What I require to start with is: your date, time and place of birth. I then need to know when your company was formed. This is going to trigger a lot of questions; you have to ask me what I mean by the company's formation. You may have decided in the pub one night that it would be a jolly good idea to sell hard drives for computers - but you can't remember which night it was. Maybe we can narrow it down to the month. That will help me, looking at your natal chart, to understand what mood you were in when it all happened. That's important; in the whole behavioural pattern of the company, your attitude is going to play a very strong role.

It will be worthwhile to go to the bank and ask them for the date when the company's first account was opened. The company's cheque book would have come legally into force as of midnight that night, even if you didn't pick it up until three in the afternoon. That would also give me a date. There may be a date when you actually registered the company; you probably bought it off the shelf, and then it had a company name-change. So I'm going to have a whole series of dates. Think of them all as tunes; there ought to be some chord structure that is similar with all of them, and that is for me to find out. Then I need you to tell me what the company is going through at the moment. I then go back to that little pool of charts and determine which one is singing loudest right now. I'll then take that as my working chart - banking on my experience, my nose for the job, to make sure that I don't pick the wrong one out of the four.

What I will then do is suggest to you what the company may be experiencing over the next six to eight weeks. What I want you to do then is to come back to me and report on whether that is correct or not, before I go on any further. In our contract with one another, you have to feed me information, and you have to allow me time to process that as best I can. Then I'd meet you for about an hour and a half; at that point I say, 'Let's see how it works for six weeks', because sometimes you just don't work with somebody. So we agree a base fee, and see where we go to from there. But my experience is that generally, people do convert to some sort of retainer scheme.

Q: So what might happen next? What kinds of things would you get involved in for the client?

Let me take a real live instance. This is a new client from last year ('95). He knew a little bit about astrology, but he didn't know how it could apply in business. He was just setting out with his own business; he'd had it for about a year, and was wondering where it was going to. We went through the process I just described, and it's been absolutely right for him.

What he asked initially was, 'I think I'm going broke: Should I take on another director? Should I get some new funding? Should I pack it up, because if I put it on the open market I think I'd be picked up by any of a number of companies?' So they were personal questions, but they also required me to look at the actual business charts. He had a further question, which was, if he did continue, how long might it be before the thing turned round?

That has switched round completely in six weeks. He is now on target, and we are now picking the best dates for him to have meetings with people, choosing the dates for him to do his research for a new product - and we have got a very nice timetable going. It looks like he is going to hit a financial problem later in the year, but we've got a contingency plan for that.

Q: How is the problem shown?

He's got a rough Saturn transit to both his chart and the company chart - he's moving into a different area which is quite uncharted, so those transits may be foreign governments saying 'we don't like this way of working'; but until I look at which countries he is working with - and there are eighteen - I can't say where the problem may come from.

Q: Has it ever gone disastrously wrong for you?

The only time I've been in trouble was with a company who wanted me to choose a date for them to run adverts in the papers; and picking advertising dates is a very straightforward job. I picked some dates, and a while later the advertising manager called me to say that one of the Sunday papers was offering them a slot at a big discount, but it wasn't on one of the dates I had picked, what did I think? So I said, 'It has to be your decision; but my opinion is no, the date looks lousy'. In the end, they decided to go with the date I had given; when I heard that they were going ahead, I said, 'Make sure you have enough staff. It says "24-hour answering", but I think you'll need two telephone operators for the first day'.

What had happened was that something extraordinary had happened. Whereas normally they increase their mailing base by 10,000 with one of these campaigns, it had gone up by more than 20,000. Naively, I thought I had done wonderfully well. They were furious, because the extra 10,000 people needed brochures which were about £2 a time - I had blown their marketing budget!

This is where we can go wrong. Whilst I'm not being paid to do the chief executive's job for them and plan for every contingency, it would have been very helpful for me to have thought more about what the numbers would actually mean. Because I cost them a lot of money! They didn't fire me, though.

Q: That's really interesting. Do you have another episode from your case-book that you could talk about?

Fraud is worth mentioning; astrology is very good for picking up fraud. If you see a company chart that is being zapped by Neptune, you can bet anything you like that fraud or loss will be an issue. Astrologers have an edge on other professional pundits here, because our understanding of time is usually good.

The question arises of what orb to allow for Neptune transits. Going back in the company history, if you find that they have tended to respond to Neptune a bit early (3 - 5 degrees) you can expect that pattern to continue. So then you can ask them what was happening around the time that the latest Neptune transit came into orb - did they open a new store, take on new staff? I don't think there's any security firm in the country that can do what we do, at the speed we can do it.

Q: Have you ever pinpointed who was perpetrating fraud in a company?

Yes… (section omitted). We were pretty certain that we'd uncovered something. Then we didn't have all the birth data, but we did have the birth dates for the people who might have been involved. With that, it was possible to identify who were the most likely suspects. It's not foolproof, but I think it's as good a measure as any. I think it was around £40,000 that had gone missing in that case.

Q: But if a company has shops all over the country, how do you know where to start looking?

Astrocartography and local space can actually take you to the shops that are involved.

Q: Talking about astrocartography and local space - would you also get involved in advising someone where to locate a new factory or shop?

Absolutely. One of the guys that I work for wouldn't make a move without looking at astrocartography first. Now this is a hard thing to say, but I think that he actually takes it too literally - like someone who will say, 'I'm not going to travel because Mercury is retrograde'. It's not just the astrocartography of the company; you have to look at the progressions to the company's chart, the political climate, all kinds of influences.

Q: What do you think the image of astrology is, in the business community?

There are of course people who pooh-pooh it and are dismissive. I think there are as many, or more, who will say, 'yes, I've looked into that and I'm not interested' - when they haven't looked into it properly at all. What the proportions are, I couldn't say. What I do know, is that the enquiries we have are generally from people very high up in companies.

Q: Are many of your clients actually quite sceptical about astrology?

That is the type of client that you want! What you don't want is the kind of person who says, 'Oh, I've believed in it all my life, read my stars every day in the papers…' You really don't want that. What you do want is someone who is prepared to take a bit of a risk and try it out, so that they will find out whether it works or not for themselves.

Q: When you visit businessmen in their offices, do the other people you might encounter - the receptionist, their colleagues - know that you are there on astrological business?

More and more often, yes they do. If it's a busy firm, often the receptionist only has time to get your name, they aren't interested in what you are there for; but in other places, yes, they have known all about it - which has astounded me. In one place recently, I was introduced as 'the company astrologer' - I'm not on the payroll yet, though!

Q: What was your route into astrology to begin with, and then into business astrology?

For my introduction to astrology - well, this is my earliest recollection. I was brought up in Scotland, and went to Brownies. My father used to walk me back from Brownies because it was dark. One night, he pointed out the planet Mars; he explained that 'planet' meant 'wanderer', and told me about the planets and constellations. Then he said, rather coyly, 'Some people think that they influence life on earth'. There was a long silence, because I didn't have a clue what he meant. We walked on, and as we were walking down our garden path, he said, 'Don't say anything to your mother about that…'

It was almost like some great sexual secret. I'd been told something, but I didn't know what the next question was. The following week my father was very reluctant to talk about it. Eventually, I got a book on astronomy from the library; realised that was the wrong thing, that didn't have the answers. I asked about astrology at school - the teacher went bananas, 'Don't use that word in this place' and so on. Then I really knew that it was something I needed to know about!

I drew my first chart when I was about seventeen. I drew it incorrectly - I had Aries rising, and couldn't understand that; for a long time afterwards that was a problem; I thought I had Aries rising and that just didn't feel right, it was like a bad photo which didn't really look like me.

But then I really did get into it, and by the time I was twenty-one was doing readings - when I look back now, they were to an appallingly low standard. Then Claire [Christeen's daughter] came along, and I didn't have time to do very much. It wasn't until the kids were at school that I could do a bit more again. Now at that time, my friends were women of my age. We were the Uranus in Cancer bunch! Quite a few of them were on their own, or about to be divorced, and several were thinking about starting their own businesses. So in looking at their charts, I started getting hooked into business astrology. I knew nothing about it at this stage. So I would go to the library and get books on different companies, then look at the charts for the companies, trying to work out whether you could actually see what happened to the company by looking at its birth chart.

So it was not taught - it was just reading. As time went on, I got the Faculty Diploma, and what became clear was that, amongst my contemporaries in astrology, nobody else was investing much time in this particular area. By this time I had quite a lot of information. Looking back now, I don't remember learning astrology; I honestly don't think I did. It's as if it was just a language that was already there, lying dormant.

Q: What was your route into astrology to begin with, and then into business astrology?

For my introduction to astrology - well, this is my earliest recollection. I was brought up in Scotland, and went to Brownies. My father used to walk me back from Brownies because it was dark. One night, he pointed out the planet Mars; he explained that 'planet' meant 'wanderer', and told me about the planets and constellations. Then he said, rather coyly, 'Some people think that they influence life on earth'. There was a long silence, because I didn't have a clue what he meant. We walked on, and as we were walking down our garden path, he said, 'Don't say anything to your mother about that…'

Q: You have a background in music - did that influence the way you approach astrology?

Yes, it really did. I was a drummer - trained at the Royal Manchester College of Music. Once I was in my third year there, I was offered a job playing with the Royal Ballet orchestra, on a tour. This was relatively unheard of, and at that time - the early 70's - it was very much the case that, if you were offered a job, you took it. So I left the college after about two and a half years.

The link is, that there is tremendous discipline required to be a musician. There's no question about whether the show is going to start at half past seven - something dreadful might have happened at twenty-five past seven, but you still go in and deliver the goods. As often as not, you have to deliver the goods when you are not in the mood for doing it - so you have to be technically proficient, because that covers you in the times when you aren't in the mood to do it. That is something I really have brought over from music to astrology.

Q: Would you be prepared to have your birth data included?

Yes - 5 Oct 1951, 19.20 BST, Edinburgh.

Q: Could you pick out one feature from your chart which is important for your involvement with astrology?

view chart I have a gigantic T-square which has Uranus exactly at the IC; that is squared by Jupiter in the 12th, which in turn is opposed by Neptune, Sun, Saturn and Mercury. Uranus at the IC shows, I think, that I am totally at home with Uranus. Unless I really have no self-knowledge, I didn't have a difficult upbringing - I didn't have a broken home and all the things which are supposed to go along with an afflicted Uranus at the IC. But I do feel entirely at home with astrological things. The first charts I ever did - when I look back now, I must have known something before this time round (although I don't know anything about reincarnation). The fact that it squares Mercury-Saturn - yes, I have to learn it all my way. And I would like to think of myself as a technical astrologer; I don't want to pussyfoot round the subject.

Q: When a client comes to see you for a natal chart reading, how do you prepare?

I need to have twelve pieces of paper on the table. I have the natal chart, devoid of aspects; the draconic version of that; the heliocentric (mainly because I want to understand a bit more about Mercury); I have the midpoints - a 45 degree sort; the progressed chart (with the converse positions drawn in as well); the 5th harmonic chart; the 7th harmonic; the 9th harmonic; a graphic ephemeris (45 degrees); the consultation chart (which I print out when the person actually arrives); my own chart; and that leaves room for one more chart, which varies - it will be whatever I am particularly struck by, or interested in, on that particular day.

I generally ask the client if they have seen their chart before, and will show it to them - but will also let them know that I call it a 'horriblescope', because it's hopelessly limited as a representation of reality. I suggest that it's their cosmic signature, and explain all the other charts by comparing them with different views of the same thing - as if it were through a microscope, or an x-ray machine - explaining that there are different layers, and that the natal chart alone isn't the whole picture.

Often, the client will then take you where they want to go - they'll maybe ask, 'why are my planets all over there?', or 'why are these two planets together?' It's very rare that the client doesn't respond to seeing their chart - plus, of course, the consultation chart will have told me a lot about what we are going to talk about. I make a big deal about uniqueness; I like showing the client that the planets today are very different from when they were born.

Q: What is your ultimate goal when you do a natal chart reading?

This will sound a bit religious, which I'm not altogether comfortable with. Anyway - I really believe that, within everyone, there is perfection. But because it's so awesome, as human beings we choose to work on one facet at a time - saying, 'I'll try to be a perfect Libran (or Sagittarian, or whatever) this time'. I feel that part of my job, when someone comes to me for a consultation, is to affirm their Sun-sign to them. And I try to make that the last line of any consultation. It's all too easy for the potential of someone's Sun to be snowed in by their Moon.

Q: So do you try and show them how to do their Sun-sign better?

No! No, I wouldn't make that kind of claim. What I will do, is to try and find out how they think they are doing - 'how do you think you are doing as a Cancer? Are you doing what you want to do?'

Q: And you take the Moon-sign as showing the factors which are most likely to get in the way of the Sun?

Yes. It can sabotage it so much; you can feel as if you won't survive unless you look after your Moon.

Q: How would you feel about writing a Sun-sign column?

I'd be delighted to be asked! I think I'd be hopeless at doing it, but I have enormous respect for people who do it. It's tremendously difficult - to be given sixty words, and have to say something helpful to twelve groups of people every day.

Q: Do you think it's possible?

Patric Walker did it very successfully, people really got something out of that. I think it can be really good first-aid astrology. And I have tremendous respect for the people who write Sun-sign columns, especially those who answer letters and put people who write in touch with properly qualified astrologers. So those who behave with integrity, I think they are just tremendous - obviously I've got no time for the wasters. I'm sorry that the community at large sees it with such distaste - I can't imagine a brain surgeon complaining about people learning first-aid, so what is the problem?

Q: How did you start to use draconic charts? How important do you think draconic astrology is?

Draconic, in many ways, was the real mind-blower for me. What happened was that, at a time when I had very little money and generally couldn't afford books, I thought it was important to buy 'Saturn' by Liz Greene. I couldn't relate to what she was saying about Saturn in my chart. There were other things which I could really relate to - for instance, Moon-Saturn contacts. But in my chart, Moon and Saturn aren't really in aspect - they are about 67 degrees apart.

Quite often, when something's in a book, people just take it as if it's the Bible - and that's wrong, you have to keep questioning. So one afternoon, I wrote down what I considered to be qualities of myself, my husband, and Claire. Not thinking astrologically, just asking myself what words I would use if I was starting from scratch. I discovered that, amongst the keywords I would use to describe myself, there were a whole batch which belong to Scorpio. But I don't have anything in Scorpio. Looking at Claire, and Michael, I came up with a lot of qualities which belong to Libra - which there shouldn't be, going by their natal charts. And so it went on; I started to do this with clients, and got very disenchanted with astrology. I was convinced that it was just an exercise in making words fit.

Then, through an article by Dennis Elwell and Pamela Crane's book, I discovered draconic astrology. When I did our draconic charts, I was Scorpio, Claire and Michael were Libra - everything suddenly fell completely into place.

Q: What changes would you like to see in the world of astrology?

This is a sweeping statement, and I don't like sweeping statements. But the astrologers I meet are too content with this circular diagram that's been going now for so many hundreds of years - which is, patently, mathematically inaccurate. For instance, Pluto can look as if it's rising - but actually it's seventeen degrees away [from the ecliptic].

Architects are trained to use 3-dimensional software; they can model their building designs in 3D. So I don't understand why we aren't jumping up and down, telling the computer technicians that we want that, not this simplistic circular diagram.

The second thing, where I would like astrologers to tighten up their acts, is with aspects. I don't want somebody to say, 'I've got a square' - which square? If (say) a Mercury-Uranus square is waxing, you need to know that; it would be quite different if it was waning. We need to include that information whenever we talk about aspects.

Garry PhillipsonGarry Phillipson has practised astrology since 1976. His other interests include Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta. Astrology in the Year Zero published in 2000, resulted from Garry's study of astrology - in particular, from his investigation of the philosophy and assumptions that underpin the subject. His articles and lectures have appeared under the aegis of groups including the Astrological Association of Great Britain, the Astrological Lodge, the Company of Astrologers, the Urania Trust, the Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism, The Mountain Astrologer, and Ascella. He is currently working on a PhD about astrology and truth at the University of Wales, Trinity St. David.

Visit Garry's website at

© Garry Phillipson

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