“My Study of Astrology”

By James E. Talmage

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    Years ago, while a … schoolboy in far-off England, I made acquaintance with an aged sage who placed implicit trust in the … stars … He devoted himself with great energy to instruct me in the mysteries of astrology. I drank at this fountain of error with increasing thirst, and trusted his words with all the power of a child’s simple faith … Before I was ten years old, I had learned to cast the horoscope …

    “Among my schoolmates was a big blustering fellow, who ruled … the playground by his great strength. We all acknowledged his supremacy, and paid him tribute of our property … Further, he compelled us to do his arithmetic for him, to draw his maps, and write his essays … If any boy appeared to doubt his authority … a severe beating was applied to bring the rebel to a sense of his duty.

    “Worse than this, our oppressor … was the son of a wealthy family, and the teacher favored him …

    I consulted the stars, and determined to break the chains that bound us and to set myself and my schoolfellows free … I managed to find from the bully’s sister the date and exact hour of Ben’s birth. With this information I hurried home, and at once proceeded to compute his horoscope. Ah! I might have known it: … He was a son of Saturn, born when the planet was in ill conjunction: it was no wonder then that he was untrustworthy, mean, and cruel. Then I cast the horoscope of the future, and found that at a convenient hour, five o’clock in the afternoon Wednesday, his star would be declining, and mine would be ascending … Surely the day of our deliverance was near at hand: the stars had promised to help me in my dangerous enterprise, and victory was assured. Force should be subdued by the power of superior knowledge.

    “So on the morning of the appointed day I confronted the big bully on the playground, and challenged him to meet me that evening at five o’clock, boldly expressing my determination to show him who would be master from that time forth … He laughed loudly and cuffed my ears; but this I bore … for the time of revenge had not yet come … During the day I received many a hearty wish for success …

    “At five o’clock we were at the appointed place; a score of boys were there to see that everything was fair. My antagonist was nearly 30 centimeters taller, and fully a stone (14 pounds) heavier than I, but these were trifles I ignored; had I not the happy assurance of the stars that I should win? I made a speech to the burly fellow, telling a few of his many acts of oppression and cruelty, and closed with a … flourish, declaring that henceforth we would be free. This was received with a laugh of derision by my opponent, and the hostilities began.

    “The conflict, though fierce, was … brief. I gradually recovered consciousness, and found myself lying on the ground, cheek cut, eyes bruised, nose smashed, a couple of teeth loosened, and a quantity of hair gone. The bully left without a scratch.

    “As I slowly walked homeward, I was in an unusually thoughtful state. I began for the first time in my life to have serious doubts about astrology. Amongst my family my appearance created considerable consternation; then my father reminded me of his oft repeated injunctions against fighting; and to impress the lesson firmly upon my mind, he proceeded to illustrate his lecture by hitting me several times with the buckle end of a stout strap.

    “This was convincing. My doubts vanished, and with them all my confidence in the horoscope. I knew that astrology was a fraud.”

    (James E. Talmage, extracted from an article entitled, “My Study of Astrology,” which appeared in The Contributor in 1893.)