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Presidential race in the stars for astrologers

Saturday, May 17, 2008

By P. SOLOMON BANDA, Associated Press Writer

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DENVER — 

Picking a winner of the presidential contest is front and center at what's being billed as the largest astrologers' convention in years.

More than 1,500 astrologers from 45 countries have descended on Denver, site of the Democratic National Convention in August, for the "United Astrology Conference: Rockin' the Universe."

The gathering concludes Tuesday with a panel predicting a presidential winner in November.

Key to those picks: Astrological charts for John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. And integral to those charts: The candidates' exact birth times.

A hush fell over the convention hall late Thursday when Dallas astrologer Joni Patry announced a birth time for Obama _ one she said she got from a client with connections to the campaign: Aug. 4, 1961, at 7:11 p.m.

McCain's birth time was embedded like a gold nugget in a Mother's Day campaign ad. His mother, Roberta, mentioned that her son was born Aug. 29, 1936, at 11 a.m.

"All the astrologers are like, `Wow,'" Patry said. "As an astrologer getting his birth time, that's everything."

Clinton's birth time remains a moving target.

"I think they're hip to us and just don't want us to know that information," joked astrologer Shelley Ackerman, who will serve on Tuesday's panel.

Accurate birth times are essential for astrologers devising charts of the moon, stars and planets they use to predict the future _ or the race. Ackerman said McCain's ad changed his known birth time by at least two hours, wreaking havoc with predictions on his presidential aspirations. Other astrologers give other birth times for Obama.

Birth data are rated for accuracy and shared among astrologers through Web sites such as http://www.astrodatabank.com.

Ackerman and others insist their profession's work is as accurate, if not more so, than many polls. They note pollsters wrongly predicted Obama winning New Hampshire's Democratic primary.

"With astrology, I guess, there's just more to it," Ackerman said.

They also cite a history of high-profile practitioners.

Rose Mary Woods, President Nixon's secretary, passed along "national security forecasts" from astrologer Jeane Dixon to the commander-in-chief. First lady Nancy Reagan consulted with astrologer Joanne Quigley in the White House, according to former chief of staff Donald Regan.

During World War II, British intelligence hired an astrologer, with little success, to predict Hitler's actions.

"We are part of a cycle of nature, between the sun and the moon, the planets and the stars," Ackerman said. Then she paused to reflect on the current world situation.

"It's funny how in this age of reason, we've gotten unreasonable. We have gotten out of touch with our own natural rhythms of heaven and earth."

Only 25 percent of Americans believe in astrology, according to a 2005 Gallup USA survey. That doesn't phase the Denver conventioneers.

"More people believe in it now," said Lynne Palmer, a former dancer and astrologer since 1957 based in Las Vegas. "Fifty-one years ago, if you mentioned astrology, you had a big fight on your hands. ...Now you can ask, `What's your sign?' and people will tell you."

So who's going to win in November?

Patry predicts McCain, based on his chart, which she said appears stronger than Obama's.

Ackerman declined to reveal her pick. But she did say Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are top Democratic and Republican vice presidential hopefuls, based on their charts.

Hakan Kirkoglu, an astrologer from Istanbul, Turkey, dumped the candidates' charts and looked instead at the Iraq war. He sees a change _ possibly a withdrawal of U.S. troops _ in 2010.

"It means if Obama becomes president, Iraq would take over the priorities," Kirkoglu said.

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On the Net:

United Astrology Conference: http://www.uacastrology.com/

AstroDatabank: http://www.astrodatabank.com/

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