The Colgate Scene
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|Following the universe|
|by John D. Hubbard|
"Essentially, what I do is read horoscopes," said Karen Christino '81, an
astrologer from Brooklyn Heights.
It is a modest assessment. Christino is also an author, columnist, researcher and lecturer. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Seventeen and YM. She has written a monthly advice column titled "Choose Your Career" for American Astrology since 1992, and in addition to Star Success, An Astrological Guide to Your Career for Pocket Books, has written two serious works on Evangeline Adams, who introduced astrology as a popular topic in the United States during the first half of the 20th century. Christino makes numerous radio appearances and even co-wrote and starred in an off-Broadway musical revue, The Horoscope.
With all that is on her plate (or in her stars), Christino maintains a list of clients -- three quarters are women, most are professional and she "seems to have a lot of lawyers" -- who are interested in her "forecasting, vocational counseling, birthchart interpretations and compatibility analyses."
Christino came to Colgate with a background in music and math but switched to English and theater as an undergraduate. The daughter of an astrologer, she began working in film production in New York City after graduation but spent more and more time doing charts for people she knew until eventually it took over.
"I feel astrology found me," said Christino, who has been a professional for 10 years. "I just interpret the symbols. I don't feel I'm psychic, I just describe the astrological atmosphere."
The study of astrology is ages old -- the Babylonians watched the sky and the Greeks systemized what they saw. For Christino, out of the ancient complexities comes simplicity.
"There is an order to the world. There are no random events." Clients turn to the astrologer to have that order revealed. By reading horoscopes and through birthchart interpretations, she guides -- pointing out career possibilities ("A good time to change jobs is when you have a Jupiter on the ascendant") and certain liabilities. Most of Christino's clients have yearly readings, though she does charts more frequently to answer the occasional "burning question." By New York State law, astrologers are allowed to read charts for entertainment only, so picking a wedding day, playing the stock market or mapping a corporate strategy is all part of the fun.
Though she doesn't run her life ("I'm a spontaneous person") by Mercury retrograde or moons in good aspects, Christino does say if there is something important on the agenda she tries to schedule a "good" day. "You can't help it."
Astrological reality is determined by 12 signs driven by the seasons of the year, beginning with Aries, which starts on the Vernal Equinox. The eight planets and Sun and Moon also come into play, as do houses based on time. There are various other factors that can be mapped to produce a symbolic two-dimensional representation.
"I try not to be too extreme. I like to think I can elucidate things for people.
"I know I'm a little eccentric -- but I always was. I consider myself pretty logical. I really feel the universe will get me where I need to go."
Christino is not trying to control events, nor is she a therapist. Her greatest interest is in research and the history of astrology, and she is a prolific writer. In the fall '98 edition of Considerations, Christino wrote about a lecture she gave to one of Professor of Astronomy and Anthropology Tony Aveni's classes. Students' reaction to her talk still has Christino reeling.
"Even in an anthropological-style class, students pitted astrology against their ideas of science and took sides. I had simply pointed out how the rules and point of view of science differ from the rules of astrology. If I had talked about Chinese Buddhism or American Inuit beliefs, I think that the audience would have been more open and not have taken it so personally. Some students were very excited by the material, a few were clearly offended and some were even angry. I'm at a loss as to whether this is a result of cultural conditioning, historical perspectives, the intuitive fear that astrology can be subversive of the norm or something entirely different."
"I really love my work," Karen Christino explained one bright morning before heading off into midtown Manhattan. "The astrolo-ger's role is to help people be themselves, help them understand the world and the bigger questions of life. I like to think I do that."
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