No purple kaftans here
Published May 4 2003, 21:54 BST | By Dianne Millen
So you might be asking, quite reasonably indeed, why DS is looking at reality television, that most modern of phenomena, through the lens of the ancient art of astrology?
(Just before we go any further, since we don't know each other very well yet, I should tell you that I'm not sitting here wearing a purple kaftan and loads of eyeliner. (Don't bother emailing to ask what I am wearing, either.) And the balls in this house are definitely not made of crystal.)
Anyway, to get back to the question, to answer I need to tell you something more about the tools and symbols I'll be using to interpret events in the house throughout the series.
Everything in astrology begins and ends with the birthchart
- a map of the zodiac at the time of its owner's arrival on the planet. It is represented by a circle divided into twelve segments (or houses), each assigned to an area of life and ruled by one of the zodiac signs. Each planet/star - from Sun and Mercury to Pluto - is snuggled up in one of those houses. It's their sign, location, and relationship to each other - known as an aspect
- that is the real content and substance of the chart.
Most people know what their sun sign is - it's what you look up in the newspaper column - but all the other planetary and stellar structures represented in the horoscope, the relationships between them, and their location in the chart, represent a different part of your life, personality and outlook. For example, I'm a Virgo rising with Sun in Gemini and Moon in Libra (hence the absence of eyeliner and kaftan, and the slight ambivalence about everything, including the validity of astrology itself).
I'm not suggesting there is a direct correspondence between planet and person. Obviously the outer rings of Saturn do not have an invisible magnetic pull on your left hand and are not responsible for your lifting the seventeenth vodka and coke to your lips. No symbol or belief system, including astrology, can truly predict the future for creatures who have free will (even if said free will seems to have got up and left of its own accord).
In fact, prediction isn't really the name of this particular game - insofar as astrology can be used to look at the future at all, it is more about long-term trends (identified through planetary transits) than who's going to get evicted on Friday. If you saw the balance on my Ladbrokes' account you would quickly forget any thoughts of me knowing what the future holds...
So this is about analysis, not fortune telling. But in an complicated world whose interpersonal rules and mores are changing with the weather, sometimes it feels, frankly, that we can use any insights we can get. And astrology - the planets, signs, houses and aspects - can act as a symbol system to help you to understand your own motivations, those of others, and explore the important questions in life: why don't I get on with X? Why does Y never seem to understand anything I do? And why did
I drink that seventeenth vodka and coke?
The best way to think of it is as a route map, the symbols honed through generations of use, to plot a course through life's conflicts, attractions, blocks and transitions.
And if you stick twelve people in a house together and watch them 24 hours a day, there'll be plenty of those.
So why not put on your purple kaftan and watch BB4 through the window of the thirteenth house?