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This article was
first published in
The Traditional Astrologer magazine,
(Ascella Pub.,
Issue 3, 1993)


A correct prediction: the NYC building strike of 1991; by Robert E. Zoller

The correct prediction of the building strike of 1991 was made in the context of a challenge and a wager. The author, who won the wager, is justly proud of his excellent judgement - not that the outcome was ever in any doubt, the matter being elementary for a competent practitioner of the only truly 'traditional' astrology - namely Medieval Astrology. As an act of compassion for the losers he has generously decided to suppress their names.

The purpose of this article is to report on a correct prediction publicly made before five witnesses, four of them astrologers, on the evening preceding a New York City building strike. Not only was the strike truthfully foretold, but the time it would happen as well.

On the evening of April 20 1991, a social get-together was held at the home of a New York City astrologer and Spiritualist Minister. Guests at the very Libran-Geminian affair were the author and three other astrologers who, including the hostess, made a total of five astrologers. In addition, a psychoanalyst who is not an astrologer was present, making the total number at the party six. The astrologers, it must be added, are all well known and highly regarded in the New York NCGR.

Shortly after all the guests had arrived and after some convivial story telling, following the standard how-do-you-dos, in fact just as the Chinese food order was being discussed, the only other male astrologer present besides the author, in an inimitable Leonian flourish, produced a horoscopic figure erected for April 21, 1991 NYC at 12:01 am and asked aloud (as if rhetorically): The question is 'will there be a building strike? I rather think not!'

'Is there a better way', I mused to myself, 'to capture the attention of all present more absolutely than to unexpectedly produce a new horoscope in a room full of astrologers? Surely he cannot be unaware of the effect he is having on the company?' I was lost temporarily in contemplation of whether or not this was a legitimate example of magic or merely prestidigitation.

The presentation and my speculation as to the secret purpose which he may have had notwithstanding, I tacitly admitted to myself that there was nothing more calculated to hold the attention and direct the conversation of a room full of astrologers than the unexpected materialisation of a hitherto unconsidered horoscope.

Hmmm. Interesting, I said in an Aquarian manner. His ploy was working on me despite my best efforts to remain inaccessible. I decided to play for time to scrutinise the figure.

Instantly the others, except the psychoanalyst (who maintained a pensive and attentive aloofness), momentarily forgetting the food order, commenced an agitated dissection of the figure.

Was it radical? What aspects were present? What house should we look to for the Union? Into the discord of discrimination stepped His Majestic Grandness, proclaiming with clarion aplomb that his judgement was at least equally founded upon his extensive experience in labour negotiations as it was on astrology. In the end, quoth he, management will make the union an offer which, while it isn't all that they want, will enable the union representatives to say to the rank and file 'See, we took care of you'. Nobody wants to strike. It's all for appearances. At the last moment they 'II say: 'Here it is, take it or leave it'.

Listening closely to his oration, I recognised his weighty credentials. I also noticed how every one in the room quickly but subtly fell into line with his appraisal, each offering an astrological rationalisation as a cover for their having been cudgelled by a combination of his worldly experience, sophisticated cynicism and paternal seniority.

For myself, while I too found these traits endearing and impressive, I reflected that astrologers ought to judge astrologically. Too often we are wise in our own conceits. Painfully, I remembered how often I had erred in astrological delineation by trusting in my own experience or logic, rather than in the time-proven principles of delineation. Experience has led me to humility by uncovering my own presumptuousness and has forced me to realise that we astrologers can no more tell the future than the poor client who seeks our alleged wisdom.

It is astrology, not the astrologer, which uncovers God's mysterious future and this it does only in conformity with the rules of judgement, leading the astrologer's reason along narrow paths; so that while he does not see the truth as a soothsayer, he may speak the truth, being led to say the right thing, not by his own wisdom, but by Art.

As a man, with a man's experience of life, my Virgo Moon friend had distinct advantages over me. His life experience was not only longer than mine, but was specialised in precisely the area he had led us all to consider. If we had all been labour relations negotiators, these qualities would certainly have given him a bona fide edge. His opinion would have been unquestionably the one to heed. But we were not. I concluded that he had fallen into a common error among astrologers, one which, as I am told, the Koran specifically warns against: unconscious hubris.

Being the fashionably cynical, articulate and suave sort he was, and adopting for the occasion the powerful archetype of the Senex, he had swept along into his mistaken opinion all those present save myself, and possibly the psychoanalyst who, due to her ignorance of astrology, was preserved from adopting a considered but false appraisal. Voicing my reluctance to join the others in error, I elicited from him a series of astrological analyses tending to support his position. The tone was thoughtful, tentative and, to my mind, unconvincing as it did not follow any known rules of judgement, except loosely in an approximate fashion, being more a product of his own theory than the dicta of our ancient astrological teachers of blessed memory.

Extending to my colleague the respect he was due, I sat quietly listening to his mistaken opinion, thinking that in the past I had fallen into similar errors. But not this time. I will spare the reader a recitation of his delineation. Time has proven his conclusions incorrect and made moot the path he took to them. I will likewise spare the kind reader the arguments which followed from the others who had unconsciously fallen prey to their own love and regard for the opinion of this persuasive yet erring professor. Not for my own glory, but in praise of the true art of astrology (purged of modem fantastic accretions, myths, archetypes, dreams of psychologists and other such chimeras), I will as briefly as possible, yet copiously and clearly, set forth the manner in which I was able to untangle truth from falsity and win the day in the face of a total lack of agreement or support from any other astrologer present.

In all honesty I do not remember who first suggested that we wager on the actual outcome, but I will concede that it might have been myself attempting to get a hearing in spite of otherwise unanimous opinion that there would not be a strike. Whoever it was, my Leonine friend and I became opponents, the ladies genteelly declining to bet. The money was placed on the table.[*]

To begin with, I objected to the presentation of the chart as a horary figure. While it is true that my opponent never specifically said it was a horary figure, his manner of presenting it for judgement implied it was to be taken as one and led the others to uncritically regard it as such - until I pointed out that the time for which the figure was erected had not yet occurred. One cannot cast a horary figure for an event which may not happen. By definition, horaries are cast after an event has occurred, as a means of foreseeing what will eventuate from that moment, or from the moment the astrologer heard about it. In either case we are dealing with a past time, not a future one. As a result, all questions of whether the figure was radical were meaningless.

What kind of figure was it then? Someone used the term 'Event Chart'. I balked at this (to myself) because, once again, the event had not yet, and might never occur. My Virgo Moon colleague pointed out, however, that the negotiations were to proceed up to the last minute - that minute being the end of the present contract and the minute set for a strike by the union should negotiations fail. I had no name for this kind of chart but I decided that the figure was judgeable on this basis as a horary figure, not for a strike but as the end of a contract. It was legitimate, I told myself, to ask what will happen next.

click for a larger view of this chart.

In judging the figure, I first noticed the position of Mars in the 7th house with the Moon. Though they are not technically conjunct, their house position shows us that contracts are the matter at issue. I next noted that the same sign (Gemini) was on the cusp of the 6th house as on the 7th house. The 6th I take to indicate people providing services, hence the Union which takes care of building maintenance and services (Union #32B/J). The connection of the 6th and 7th, shown by Gemini being on both house cusps, showed me that the contract negotiations (7th house) were linked to services. I did not like Mars in the 7th: it indicated fighting. When I saw the malefics Uranus and Neptune opposing the 7th house Mars from the 1st, I realised that the real trouble was in the offing. There could be little harmony at the 'last minute'. Moreover, Moon was conjunct the South Node in the 7th - a bad indication.

I saw Venus in the 6th suggesting that the unions were ready to make a deal, but the dispositor and ruler of the 6th and 7th, Mercury, was in the 4th house representing buildings and 'landed interests', and therefore the Owners. This indicated that the owners had the union captive and were going to make them play their game. Furthermore, the dispositor of Mercury was the ruler of the 4th, Mars, in the 7th. The owners wanted the strike and the square aspect between the Moon and the Sun, ruler of the 8th (Money of the Contract) showed the issue to be money.

That the Moon separates from Mercury and applies to a square of the Sun, just after changing signs, told me that at 12:01 am the owners would have just told the union they would not give more money; that the union would have to make concessions and do things their way, and that they didn't care if negotiations broke off.

I thought that the Moon, being 4.7 degrees from its square to the Sun, should give the actual time of the announcement of the strike. Here I approximated and in doing so made a minor error. I overlooked the .7 fraction and reckoned 4 = approximately 8 hours (since the Moon's mean motion is roughly 12 in 24 hours). I said that the strike WOULD occur and that it would be announced at 8 am.

In fact it was announced at l0 am on April 2l that at 12:01 am the union had decided to strike. If I had accounted for the .7 fraction at the same rate I would have gotten 9.4 hours after 12.01 AM, i.e., 9:24 am, which would have been close enough. The Moon's actual motion on that day was just over 14, roughly 0.35' per hour, which would have made the time measure somewhat earlier than 10 am. The rough rule of thumb of per hour, which is admittedly approximate and arbitrary, is what I generally use and, as we see, gives a pretty good answer here, being only about 0.36' off.

So, I not only correctly predicted the strike, but also when it would start within 2 hours of accuracy - which is pretty damn good even though it could have been better. This, despite the opposition of everyone present, save the shrink who had no opinion and 'just listened'. I was able to achieve this victory and claim the cash prize (though it was really the spiritual reward which interested me and the vindication of the ancients) by relying on proven methods - not novelties, theories, reveries, wish-it-weres, etc., and, let it not be forgotten, by not trying to do it myself on the basis of experience, logic or psychic fantasies.

I cannot emphasise this enough: astrologers fail most often from hubris - i.e., thinking they know what will or what is likely to occur, or what is possible. They do not study astrology. They study other things like psychology, economics, history, politics, labour relations, etc., and then call it astrology.

The second most frequent cause of failure is faulty thinking. Astrology is not as rigorously logical as algebra, but it is almost so. Unless the astrologer can think for a long period of time along the same lines i.e., unless he/she has a sufficiently long span of attention - and adheres to the rules of judgement as to a mathematical problem, failure is inevitable as soon as the train of associative thinking leads off into never-never land.

The third most common cause of failure is the modernist arrogance. Humanity in every age seems addicted to novelty and the idea that we are smarter than the ancients. The exact reverse may be true.

Reflect on these things, dear reader, and above all study the rules of astrology set forth by the greats of astrology - especially Abu Ma'shar, Guido Bonatti, Morinus and William Lilly. Consider every author after 1700 to have secondary (if any) value, forgetting not that the tradition was broken by the Scientific Revolution which led us off into doubt about things which were reliable. The l9th century authors who re-introduced astrology to the west were well-meaning, but they over-simplified the Art for a less educated public than had previously studied astrology. Alas, the truth is that though the modern student of astrology all too frequently believes himself better off than his forebears, he is, in fact, less equipped educationally than his l9th century predecessors, and even they fell short of their 17th century counterparts.


  * I deem it ungentlemanly to engage in discussions of cash and therefore pass over the exact amount of cash placed by each side on the outcome of the wager. Suffice it to say that it was enough to spice the process and make the results interesting to a worldly man. For myself, I found the vindication of the ancients more than sufficient, both as regards participation and as to reward. The cash, considerable though it may have been, was merely a formality.
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© Robert E. Zoller - all rights reserved;. This article was first published in The Traditional Astrologer magazine, (Ascella Pub., Issue 3, 1993). Published online, February, 2014.

See also
An interview with Robert Zoller, by Garry Phillipson