London May 23, 2008 – It came and went like a bolt out of the blue - The Times (nicknamed “the Thunderer”) ran the headline. "Fortune-tellers targetted in new Consumer Protection Regulations"
"The fortune-tellers, at least, must have seen it coming. The biggest overhaul of consumer laws for 40 years takes effect on Monday, tightening controls on everything from door-to-door salesmen to children’s advertising.
Fortune-tellers and astrologists will be bracketed with double-glazing salesman under the new Consumer Protection Regulations. The changes, which implement an EU directive on unfair commercial practices, require businesses for the first time to act fairly towards consumers and will outlaw diresputable trading activities.
Fortune-tellers will have to tell customers that what they offer is “for entertainment only” and not “experimentally proven”. This means that a fortune-teller who sets up a tent at a funfair will have to put up a disclaimer on a board outside.
Similar disclaimers will need to be posted on the websites of faith healers, spiritualists or mediums where appropriate, as well as on invoices and at the top of any printed terms and conditions. "
Other British newspapers ran an almost identical story - and picked up that the new law will, among many other changes, replaces the Fraudulent Mediums Act 1951. And in an effort to put entertainment over fact, most repeated the hackneyed joke "they should have seen it coming!" I have to admit that I didn't ... frankly, the story just didn’t add up!
Who would propose a disclaimer that is inappropriate, if not dishonest?
First, every newspaper article used an archaic and rarely used term for astrologers: ‘astrologists’ suggesting the author was the same individual and someone who was out of touch with the profession. Second, only an ignoramus or mischief maker would propose that astrologers lie by claiming that their work is for entertainment purposes only. This kind of coverall disclaimer for astrologers, spiritualists, psychics, mediums, faith healers would not protect the public, but act as a shield for a charlatan or a malpractioner. Since the public understand that most astrologers offer guidance, insight, psychotherapy, healing, counselling, wisdom, education and yes, ideally present this in an entertaining or interesting way, this new law would ask the public and every astrologer to act out an elaborate, but pointless charade.
The courts will determine the specifics of the new Consumer Protection Law.
So I checked with our local Trading Standards Officer. From our conversations and a booklet* outlining the new law, that he sent to me, the following is clear:-
There is nothing specific about astrologers, psychics etc in the new EU directive. The details of the act will be determined by decisions in court. The new law is designed to ensure that traders “act in a way that enables the average consumer to make free and informed purchasing decisions”. Misrepresentations by any trader are actionable in the civil or criminal courts.
Astrology Disclaimers advisable but not required.
So, astrologers (and psychics et al) are not required to issue disclaimers. However, the new law implies that a disclaimer would be advisable for practicing astrologers who provide a written or recorded analysis to avoid any risk of misunderstanding or accusation of misrepresentation. This is especially true for astrologers since there are people out there who believe that astrologers can predict the future in a scientific way or that their lives are 'ruled' by the 'stars' (sic) or that the expertise of an astrologer is necessarily superior in specialist areas such as medicine, finance or the law.
Redundant and ridiculous disclaimers.
The practice of disclaimers has long been ridiculed. Typical of this is the warning on the Batman cloak that this "garment will not enable you to fly". Or made redundant; the bag of Planter's Peanuts that says "may contain nuts"! Or reduced to legal lipservice; when a movie like Dreamgirls (2006), clearly based on the lives of Diana Ross and the Supremes, plus Marvin Gaye and even features a young Michael Jackson look-alike, claims "any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental"!
Disclaimer to avoid disappointment, dispute and possible disaster.
However, sensible, informative and useful disclaimers can help avoid disappointment, disputes and possibly disaster for all professional services especially where there is advice or therapy. So, from this website or from all our related sites: www.equinoxastrology.com, www.astrocartography.co.uk, www.astrolivelink.com and www.astrologer.com, please note that all advice is for guidance only. For legal, medical, fiscal or other specialist questions, seek independent professional advice.
An updated and fuller disclaimer.
In July 2008, Transit magazine published some of these comments and the above disclaimer plus a more detailed statement by Roy Gillett, President of the Astrological Association of Great Britain. This opened up a discussion from various sources including an email exchange between Dr Geoffrey Dean and myself. [I have asked him for permission to publish the exchange and am awaiting his response.] This led to an updated and fuller disclaimer from Roy Gillett, including contributions from various AA members and myself.
"An astrological analysis is based on a translation of the symbolic meaning of astronomical cycles into ordinary language. This knowledge has been acquired through observation and application over thousands of years and supported by my experience practicing astrology over X years. To date, this analysis is not supported by experiments using the conventional research methods of hard science. Some scientists and most astrologers consider such test methods to be inappropriate for the subject matter and flawed for a variety of reasons. Astrology is a symbolic language and offers a balance of probabilities rather than specific certainties. As such, astrology cannot foretell your future. You should also seek qualified professional advice for medical, financial, legal and other specialist questions."
So the so-called ‘Entertainment only rule' probably started as a news agency's comment based on their interpretation of the EU directive. Then in the ensuing media hype, speculation led to theory and ended up in print as fact. And just maybe, we astrologers could have seen this coming. Mercury went retrograde in Gemini on 26th May, the day the new law took effect. But it's only now that Mercury is moving direct (from 19 June 2008) that we can unravel the truth and maybe deflate another urban legend.
Thanks to my friend, Roy Gillett, for the references and other suggestions.
20 June 2008 [updated 19 August 2008]
Explore the many possible changes coinciding with
Pluto moving into Capricorn: Already, some of the anticipated world-wide regime change is starting to happen.
View the history and predicted future trends of the switch of Pluto from Sagittarius to Capricorn, graphically with a time line chart.
British National Achives released shed new light on the role played by astrology in the Second World War.
How does the disorder, Tourette's Syndrome manifest in a chart? A study of very public case.
How does a Lunar Eclipse affect you and what does it look like?
Your Personal Year Forecast gets you the inside track. This booklet is like a map, but set out with dates, that you can use to make the coming year successful and fulfilling.
How your Sun Sign could affect your car insurance and risk of accident ...
Was Ratzinger's papacy foretold by an Irish mystic nine centuries ago? What does his chart say? Plus how on the day, Eris, the planet of discord was named, the Pope inadvertently took RC/Muslim relations a leap back in time.
What's the status of Pluto? Astronomers have demoted Pluto. Astrologers think not! Don't underestimate the power of the small. Find out about another larger (dwarf) planet Eris. Date Twins & Time Twins. The strange and unexpected similarities between those born on the same day or at the same time.
Congratulations to Sue Tompkins (founder of the London School of Astrology [LSA]) on her excellent new book entitled "The Contemporary Astrologer's Handbook". To get a copy follow links to books ...
How Deep Purple & Whitesnake rock star, Dave Coverdale used Astro*Carto*Graphy to relocate to his most creative zone.
Where does Astrology come into the Harry Potter tales?
New Orleans shows up as a potential flood zone on George W Bush's Astro*Carto*Graphy map.
Was there an astrological connection between Hurricane Katrina & the Tsunami? Was it the new planet Sedna or the work of Uranus in Pisces? How does the Tsunami show up in Astro*Carto*Graphy maps?
Does an induced birth affect a horoscope? A lady emailed me asking if her new born son would respond to the chart set for when he would have been born naturally or for the time when his (induced) birth occurred. A good question ... here are some thoughts.
We guard our client confidentiality but some celebrities are open about their interest and for them simply ordering an Equinox Horoscope attracts media attention.
Master and Commander - the Movie. For more about the significance of Captain Jack Aubrey's role and the chart of Russell Crowe, inspirational leadership and the film Gladiator, the coincidence of the movie, "M & C" with the unprecedented and powerful Mars/Uranus conjunction of 2003 go to www.astrology.co.uk/news/Commander.htm Sceptical UK national newspaper The Guardian comments on web news.
World Astro*Carto*Graphy Study for George Bush: 5 key regions: fundamentalism cuts both ways... forecast of rowdy reception in Sydney materialises as Bush is heckled in the Australian Parliament ... GWB Neptune over the UK - was Tony Blair able to see the Bush from the trees?
Latest cloning research confirms that we are more than the sum of our genes.
New Age Festivals around the world coming up in 2008, London, Manchester, Los Angeles, Sydney, San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York, Melbourne.
What really happened when Mars was the closest point to the Earth for 73,000 years in the long hot (European) Summer of 2003? London's Mind, Body, Spirit Festival, the world's premier new age show, move through its Saturn Return. The Libra Effect: how psychic ability is enhanced at certain times. In honour of Sydney Omarr (1926 - 2002) - celebrated US sun sign astrology columnist.
Life of Carole Golder, astrologer known by millions through her writing. An official European Statistical Surveyrevealed that a majority of Europeans consider astrology as a science. Serendipity - a great movie with a powerful message about fate and destiny dressed up in a simple, predictable, romantic tale.
Usama (or Osama) Bin Laden's birth data has been a shrouded in mystery. Now, a reliable source points to a date that suggests UBL is a Leo and is contra-receptive, single-minded and self-destructive?
The Boston Phoenix ran an article on astrologers who predicted the September 11th Terrorist attack which included the work of
and Lynne Palmer...