Toward the end of her life, Linda Goodman's favorite movies were Gone with the Wind and Brother Sun, Sister Moon, both of which she regularly screened for her friends in the rambling Cripple Creek, Colorado home she lost to bankruptcy just before her death. A giant stained glass window depicting St. Francis de Assisi cast blues and oranges across the carpeted parlor, where, once a week, this famous American astrologer would mouth "as God is my witness" along with Scarlett O'Hara. Following the films, she'd cart off everyone to the Palace Hotel on Main Street for a three-course dinner that she'd cover with a combination of estate jewelry and the small fortune she amassed from her astrology books' sales.
Goodman was a beautiful woman. In her earliest public portrait, a black-and-white author's photograph for Sun Signs (1968), she leans forward, eyelids heavy with makeup, her high-cheekbones defined by shadow. She's wearing a turtleneck, and her hair does a Nancy Sinatra flip at the shoulders. In a press photo 10 years later, she's red-headed with depthless peach skin and a raised eyebrow. Then, there's a point-and-shoot photo from her late Cripple Creek days: She stares directly at the camera wearing a Navajo print T-shirt, her palm planted on a golden bust of Osiris sitting before her on a coffee table.
I remember sitting at my own coffee table one night during the years I lived in Brooklyn, flipping through Love Signs and coming across a reproductive treatise in the appendix called "A Time to Embrace." The book was weathered from reference and shared shelf space with the English Standard Version Bible and The Collected Stories of Flannery O'Connor. Finding this little chapter was like finding a hidden track on an old album. In it, Goodman allows that "whether abortion is right or wrong is not the Aquarian issue," then undermines this in the next paragraph, saying, "The Catholic Church has taken the view that abortion is an act against Nature and against spiritual Wholeness. The Catholic view is correct." I found her lack of self-awareness funny, but was also confronted with all the hybrid Christian allusions in her books and my own awkward position between the occult and Calvinism.
During those years, because of my apparent interest in the subject, I was frequently asked to interpret astrological charts for my friends and friends of friends, and I eventually learned to read tarot as well. Both the Western zodiac and the tarot are constructed from similar forms, archetypes and patterns, and can be used to interpret one another. If I found any use of it for myself or others, it was not because of astrology's predictive powers, but rather the way the zodiac organized things that are already happening, that have already happened. I often felt compelled to say, "I am not telling your fortune. I'm showing you what's going on and what you might be inclined to do next. If you don't like your current inclination, then that's up to you to change."