By ANN BARRY
The Virginian-Pilot and
VIRGINIA BEACH (AP) -- For Larry Bress, owner of a Norfolk pawn
shop, the stars can tell him the best day to sue a debtor or the
best month to buy a car.
"It might be a bunch of bull, but I like to go with the odds,"
Virginia Beach modeling agency owner Lawrence Steinhart said an
astrologer's advice de-mystified a pain in his stomach and helped
him get a book published.
"I consider it advice with a difference," he said.
Astrology seems to have shifted from spooky to pragmatic over
the last 10 years.
Noel Tyl, a Harvard University psychology graduate, author and
consultant, said more and more people are viewing astrology as a
problem-solving tool rather than as a weird science.
"It used to be only women with blue-rinse gray hair, too much
time on their hands and a bad marriage, going down the street to a
lady with a crystal chandelier," Tyl said.
"Times are getting faster. People just over the age of 26 are
starting to feel pressures in life," he said. "Businessmen and
women are seeking help and guidance and finding that it can be
profoundly, strategically rewarding."
In New York, astrologers are hanging out shingles in
neighborhoods populated by young professionals and giving
consultations in restaurants where businessmen congregate.
In Hampton Roads, astrologers say their clients include realty
agents, doctors, salesmen, developers, lawyers, mothers and even
Their questions range from what investments to make to when a
teen-age daughter will find a sweetheart, astrologers say.
The planets follow certain cycles through the heavens and,
astrologers believe, each person plugs into that cycle the minute
he is born. The very minute is important because the stars shift
every four minutes. They said that is why daily horoscopes based on
birthdate, often printed in newspapers, are often inaccurate.
People are too intricate to be placed into only 12 groups.
Carole Devine Carroll, a Virginia Beach astrologer, said that as
the planets interact, "they trigger opportunities, blockages and
different things you have to deal with. How you deal with them is
"In romance and finance," said Ted Sharp, another Beach
astrologer, "forewarned is forearmed."
Membership in the American Federation of Astrologers has grown
from about 4,000 to 4,700 in the past three years. New national
groups, including the National Geocosmic Research Council and the
United Astrology Conference, have sprung up as well.
Even computer companies such as IBM, McIntosh and Apple are
jumping in, offering software to aid astrologers.
Nearly 100 astrologers attend monthly meetings at the home of
Virginia Beach astrologer Vicki Greene. Seven are full-time,
professional astrologers who charge between $10 and $50 for
consultations. Only Ms. Greene and Ms. Carroll are listed in the
Some participate in a monthly psychic fair at the Fellowship
Center in Virginia Beach. Most only take referrals from other
clients. But one astrologer hands out gift certificates to increase
What they do should not be considered fortunetelling, they
insist. And their clients said they consider signals from the stars
to be guidelines and inclinations, not fate.
"May -- that's one of the biggest words in astrology. You may be
an adventuresome person, you may have trouble with your
girlfriend," said Richard Kline, a Virginia Beach astrologer.
"There is one thing I want to underline, and that is I am not a
kook who runs to fortunetellers and psychics and astrologers,"
said Steinhart, owner of Talent Management of Virginia Models Inc.
in Virginia Beach. "Anything that smacks of fortunetelling sort of
gets my hackles up."
"Astrology does not rule my life, OK?" said Larry Bress of
Bress Loans. "I rule my life. If I am indecisive, she (the
astrologer) can help me, but I am not a robot. If I have a strong
feeling, I'll do what I want."
Still, several clients said they find that their astrologers can
counsel them with uncanny accuracy.
"In 1978, she told me not to buy a car," Bress said. "I did
it anyhow and I had nothing but problems the whole time," The car
was pale yellow -- "lemon yellow," he said.
In 1973, Steinhardt said, he was trying to publish a book on
health and beauty after 14 years in the New York modeling industry.
"I had trouble reaching my agent," he said. "He was busy. I
left a message. This went on for at least two or three weeks, and
it was enough for me to get very anxious as to whether we were
going to go ahead with the book contract."
He said his astrologer suggested calling the agent at a specific
"I telephoned at the exact hour that she told me to call and
was put through immediately, and everything worked out perfectly,"
Ellen Payne, an agent with Active One Realty in Virginia Beach,
said astrology has taught her how to handle different clients. She
knows, for instance, that she should show a customer born under the
Leo sign a big, flashy house. A Virgo, on the other hand, won't be
inclined to buy a house unless it is super clean, neat and "looks
just right," she said.
Anything can be interpreted by an astrologer -- even municipal
In 1985 Virginia Beach City Manager Thomas H. Muehlenbeck
chuckled over a newspaper article quoting Greene as saying March
was the worst month the city could have chosen for its $122.8
million bond referendum because Saturn was passing Venus, and
people would be more conservative with their money and more
disgruntled in general.
The referendum failed.