NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Many folks may fret themselves into a frenzy over the November U.S. elections and whether the world will come to an end on December 21, but for about 1,500 people gathered in New Orleans for the United Astrologers Conference, all will be revealed this week.
Not to be confused with astronomy, the scientific study of the physical universe, astrology uses non-scientific methods to predict how the relative positions of celestial bodies may influence human behavior and future events.
The idea may seem frivolous to some, but attendees at the conference - which bills itself as the "biggest astrology gathering planet Earth has ever seen" - are dead serious.
Sharp-minded and articulate, the astrologers show a keen sense of history and an acute awareness of political and societal behavior.
They also tend to speak a language that, for an outsider, requires translation.
"Check out that Sun-Neptune conjunction," Chicago astrologer Caroline Casey said, pointing out the optimistic implications of an astrological chart for the city of New Orleans that was on display at the conference.
Many - who come from as far away as Thailand, India, Australia and South Africa as well as Canada, Mexico and the United States - do not see each other often, and when they do, they like to get right to the point, Hillis-Dineen said.
If astrologers are asked how they are doing and things aren't going so well, she said: "They might simply say, 'Well, Saturn's on my Moon,' meaning that, emotionally, I'm having a stressful time."
For anyone who fears the end of the latest "great Mayan cycle," on December 21 will coincide with the apocalypse, astrologer Tad Mann of Hudson, New York, offers relief.
"Saying that the world will end with the end of the Mayan calendar is like saying that if an automobile's odometer only goes up to 100,000 miles, the car will disappear when it hits 100,000, but that's not what happens," Mann said during a media event at the conference.
"I think it's very important to recognize that astrology is basically about cyclical phenomena, and when one cycle ends, another starts up," he said.
So what's on the agenda when astrologers get together?
Over the six days they will hear from more than 160 speakers on topics such as forecasting, finance, mysticism and politics, share the latest in advanced celestial charting and discuss how to help people become more spiritually attuned to themselves.
Christina Collins, who says describes herself as a third-generation astrologer, said that most want to help others.
"I help people know when it's safe to have a surgery, when it's a good time to put a house on the market, or to help them figure out a career path or decide, 'Should I marry this guy?' " she said.
A special panel will weigh in on the November presidential election on Tuesday. "But based on what I've seen so far with the charts, my personal feeling is that (President Barack) Obama will probably be re-elected," over former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Collins said.
(Editing by Greg McCune)
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