This week there was a weird news story. Apparently a senior figure in the Roman Catholic church has predicted that Pope Benedict XVI will be dead within a year.
It’s not the kind of thing you’d expect a priest to say, because the only person who knows the future is God. Though it does seems that the basis for the prediction is talk of some plot or conspiracy to assassinate the Pontiff.
As an astrologer I am of course interested in such predictions, though I do try to be rational. On the surface it might seem an easy prediction to make, given that the Pope is going to be eight-five in April. However from a statistical point of view, it’s not obvious at all. Benedict XVI must surely have the best health care that money can buy, and as far as I know, he’s in good shape, given his age. When you look at the actuarial tables, you find that an American male, aged 85, has a life expectancy of 5.65 years. So you’d expect the Pope to live to his ninety-first year, though of course he might die earlier and he might die later.
From an astrological view, predicting death is frowned upon, though up until the modern era every astrologer worth their salt would try their hand at it. Though one had to be careful – if you went about Rome or Avignon in the Middle Ages saying that the Pope was going to die you could end up being tortured to death.
As far as my own studies are concerned, I believe that in some cases it is possible to predict someone’s death, within a window of a few years. Though it’s a hit and miss exercise, and you would of course never try to predict a client’s death. There are two reasons for this. Firstly you don’t want to scare people. And secondly, there’s a danger of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy – the prediction itself could drive someone to an early grave.