and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
August #4

Where did we come from?
Answer might be in the stars
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, August 24, 2006

So there I was, researching the latest data on the theory of evolution with the help of some friends who responded to my recent column on the subject.

One wrote that "as a person of faith, I am indifferent to how my Creator created me - breathing life into mud, the Big Bang, evolving from monkeys - it's all good with me." Then he cited the Book of Job, in which God asks, "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth ... when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"

Yes, exactly. Neither creationists, the proponents of intelligent design, nor atheists were there to know for certain about the beginning. But despite the presumptuous claims of the latter, something started it all, and we might as well call this creative force God, then search for the methodology with inquiring minds.

My own inquiring mind has been all over the universe for most of my life; one ex-husband declared that my mind was so open that people tossed their trash into it. Be that as it may, my own tentative life-view got hit again with the mid-August news story about the latest determination from the International Astronomical Union about the definition of a planet.

If there are 12 instead of nine planets, what does that do to astrology?

The new outside planets, Charon and the so-called Xena, might not make much difference, but surely Cerus, circling the sun between Mars and Jupiter, has an effect. Having the goddess of fertility and agriculture between the gods of war and good fortune, makes a kind of cosmic sense to me.

For the uninitiated, each of the 12 astrological signs has a ruling planet except for Leo and Cancer, which are ruled by the Sun and the Moon. With Earth not counted, the other eight planets had to cover ten signs - so Venus doubled up for both Taurus and Libra, and Mercury covered both Gemini and Virgo.

Many astrologers have insisted for years that there must be two more planets, and here they are, with one left over! Ceres clearly fits Taurus, the Bull. But nobody wants Charon, the cranky old man who ferries souls across the river Styx, for a planetary ruler; so let's skip him and claim Xena for Virgo.

Some astronomers are seriously objecting to naming UB313, Xena's formal name, after a TV character instead of a Roman goddess. How to break this to the scientists: The gods and goddesses weren't real either, guys! Those of us in the Salem area should just be grateful that UB313's discoverer didn't name it Samantha.

If I were in charge of these things, I would re-name the planet Uranus. The Greek Ouranos wasn't a god at all, but simply the sky. Besides, it's impossible to pronounce in any way that gives it dignity. I would call it Athena, the goddess, interestingly enough, of both wisdom and war.

Mars, the god of war, is the male image, reflecting aggression, glory, and what Achilles in the movie, "Troy," calls a chance for warrior immortality.

Athena is not interested in these things: she simply tells us that we must respond to aggression with whatever it takes to preserve our freedom and other values. I visited her temple on the Acropolis of Athens many times when I lived there. Her alabaster statue sits near my computer, reminding me that when faced with "bad," in any degree, at any level, one must take up a spear and shield to fight for "good."

Anyhow, I hadn't seen any response from astrologers to the new planets, so I wanted to call my friend Darrell Martinie, the Cosmic Muffin, whom Governor Bill Weld appointed the official astrologer of the commonwealth. Except that Chip Ford and I had attended his funeral last month, so he wasn't available.

Chip was surprised that the funeral was held in a Catholic church, with Darrell and his husband, Ed, being a married gay couple. I was more surprised that there was tolerance for an astrologer!

I'd asked Darrell why he stayed in a church that, at least at the Vatican's level, didn't approve of his marriage. He responded that he was four things - blonde, Italian, gay and Catholic - and none of them were negotiable.

The funeral was presided over by two priests who honored Ed's spousal status and obviously had enjoyed Muffin. Father Mulloy joked about their theological "discussions," and Fr. Schmeruck laughed about the astrological advice he would get from him; then told us that "Darrell spoke with the stars." There, again the stars that "sang together."

Ed told me when I called to ask him about the new planets that in fact Pope Pius XII had been interested in astrology. Later I learned from Wikipedia that Pope Sylvester II (999-1003) was the scientist who introduced Arab knowledge of arithmetic and astrology to Europe.

I do not believe that our personalities are set by rays shining from the planets on the day we are born. But as is potentially the case with evolution, God may have set things in motion with patterns that will make sense when we questioning human beings have learned more about the wonders of His creation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem News, Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, (Lawrence) Eagle-Tribune, and Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Providence Journal and other newspapers.