The Zodiac Trap

by Lola M. Williams

Trapped! Like a mouse who sniffed the cheese once too often, I followed the bait into the snare.

Bang! The trap sprang, and I was neatly caught. My first sniff seemed so tantalizing, yet so harmless. Now I recognized my dilemma, and I wanted out.

My thoughts turned to Cindy, a teen who, years ago, confided to me, “Mom won’t leave the house until she’s read her daily horoscope. It tells her what will happen, what to avoid, and what to do.”

“Mom,” a prominent lady in the church, was caught in the zodiac trap. I wondered how she could be so foolish; now I found myself caught in the same trap.

Innocent Curiosity

I enjoy reading the various columns in the daily newspaper. They are on the same page with the crossword puzzle, which I do as a brain teaser. On the bottom section of the page is the daily horoscope. One day I glanced at it out of curiosity. It seemed harmless, almost bland. I wondered why people got so excited about it.

A few days later, I read my horoscope again. Something in it stuck in my mind. Soon I was reading it almost as faithfully as I read Billy Graham’s column, “Dear Abby,” and the humorous musings of Erma Bombeck. Before I knew it, I was hooked — me, a middle-aged woman who has been a Christian since childhood, has read the Bible through numerous times, has taught Bible school for years, and has spent almost thirty years as a pastor’s wife. Now here I was, eagerly turning to my daily horoscope.

What’s the Harm?

I felt sawn asunder. Something within me warned, “Caution! Danger ahead!” Yet I reasoned, What’s the harm? Maybe there’s even something to it.

Not without struggle, I finally decided to listen to the part of me that warned of danger. Though a few of the horoscopes appeared to be on target, I knew deep down that most missed it by a country mile. Still, I couldn’t keep my eyes from straying to that section of the newspaper. I found myself mulling its words over in my mind.

False Predictions

I prayed for help, and God did not fail me.

I often jot down my personal problems to bring them into sharper focus. This way, I can begin to see the solution. I started keeping notes on my daily horoscope. Each morning I read what my horoscope said, laid it aside, and got on with business as usual. That night, after reviewing the horoscope, I’d write my observations.

After several weeks, I discovered that most of what was said didn’t even come close to happening in my life. For instance, one promised, “Hope is revived concerning search for ‘soul mate.'”

But I don’t need to search for a “soul mate.” I already have mine; I’ve been married to him for almost forty years!

Another promised, “Communication will be received from distant land. Secret fund revealed by partner or mate.”

That day I didn’t receive any communication at all — from a distant land or elsewhere. To date, my partner and mate (who happens to be one in the same) hasn’t revealed any secret funds not even pennies from a piggy bank!

Another horoscope cautioned, “Be aware of fine print. Read between lines.”

Big deal! I always do that, as does anybody with a modicum of common sense.

Still another foretold, “Automobile battery requires checking.” (No problems there.) The same horoscope also predicted, “Green light flashes for promotion.” Since I am self-employed, that does not apply to me.

A Merry-Go-Round

I began to see how far-out these predictions were, or so general they would fit almost anyone. I noticed something else, too. A couple of times I glanced at what some of the other “signs” read. Many of them sounded familiar.

A quick check showed that they were the same ones earlier predicted under my sign. The horoscope reminded me of a merry-go-round: It kept me moving, but I wasn’t getting anywhere.

Astrology in the Bible

I’ve heard it said, “People used astrology in the Bible, so it must be all right.”

Astrologers are mentioned in the Bible, but only in a negative way. They are classified with the magicians and enchanters — not a godly group of companions in any sense of the word. My dictionary describes astrology as “False science that claims to interpret the influence of the stars and planets on persons and events. A study of the stars to foretell what will happen.”

Astronomy, often confused with astrology, is listed as “A science of the sun, moon, planets, stars, and other heavenly bodies. It deals with their composition, motions, positions, distances, sizes, etc.”

The three wise men in Matthew 2 who sought Jesus were astronomers. They studied the stars, not to guide their lives, but to guide them to the Christ child. Joyously, they announced, “We saw his star in the east. . . ” (v. 2).

Later, the star led the wise men to the very house where the Child lay. Matthew wrote, “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed” (v. 10).

While astrology and astronomy sound similar, and while both deal with the stars and planets, they are unalike. One is blatantly false, while the other is a study of God’s handiwork.

Escaping the Trap

If you, like me, find yourself getting wrapped up in the daily horoscope “just for fun,” beware! Danger ahead! You may be allowing the person who wrote that horoscope to guide your life, when you should be following the guidance of God.

Here are five things I did to escape the zodiac trap.

  • I prayed as though my very soul depended on it — because it did. God helped me overcome the snares set for me.
  • I asked other Christians I could trust to not condemn me, but to pray for me. There is strength in united prayers.
  • I took an extended weekly survey, listing the results in my journal.
  • I sought the humor in the horoscope. I learned to poke fun at the predictions, especially the ones that missed the mark completely (as most of them did).
  • I set out my box of Scripture promises where I could reach it instead of the daily horoscope. Systematically, I worked my way through the box, reading aloud the promise I selected for that day. Many were right on target for me at that time in my life. The others I stored on the back burner of my mind. If I didn’t need them that day, I would need them in the future.

A Deadly Snake

When I was tempted to “take just a peek” at the daily horoscope, I pictured it in my mind as a coral snake, common to many parts of the country. Its brightly colored bands make it easy to recognize. So, too, are most horoscope sections of newspapers and magazines. They are easy to find — and easy to avoid — if I choose to do so. And I did.

Coral snakes move slower than other species of snakes, but they are deadly! The daily horoscope took months to move into my conscious mind. Yet it began its work on my subconscious mind almost immediately, subtly turning my thoughts away from God’s guidance.

Coral snakes don’t strike, but when touched, they bite repeatedly and inject a lethal poison that attacks the nervous system. Horoscopes didn’t strike either, but they “bit” my mind repeatedly, causing me to ultimately depend on their words instead of on the Word of God. The result was almost a lethal poison to my spiritual nervous system.

Considering the devastation of AIDS, alcoholism, drug addiction, and sexual and physical abuse, dabbling in astrology may seem tame. But I know from personal experience that it can be just as dangerous spiritually — perhaps more so because of its innocent appearance. Anything, no matter how trivial, that takes the keen edge off my walk with God needs to be deleted.

Avoid False Paths

In one of his newspaper columns, Billy Graham said, “Although astrology is very popular today . . . the Bible labels it and similar ways of trying to forecast the future as false paths that can never deliver what they promise.”

But God does deliver — on His promises and on His warnings. As far back as the time of Moses, God exhorted His people, “And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars — all the heavenly array — do not be enticed into bowing down to them . . . ” (Deuteronomy 4:19).

I keep this warning ever before me so I won’t be entrapped again.

Scripture quotations were taken from the New International Version.