The Devil has been out of fashion since the Seventeen Century. It’s probably got something to do with the decline of organised religion and the rise of psychology. The Church can no longer threaten us with hellfire if we don’t do what we’re told, while psychology has come up with plausible explanations for the awful things that people do to each other.
Yet the Devil hasn’t quite disappeared. The concept of evil is integral to Christian theology, and when intelligent people are acting in appalling ways a satanic causation might seem reasonable.
And one person who definitely believes in the Devil is Father Gabriele Amorth, who is the Vatican’s chief exorcist. He is coming up to his eighty-fifth birthday, and he has apparently done at least fifty thousand exorcisms.
For the benefit of anyone who hasn’t seen The Exorcist, an exorcism is a religious ceremony, used to drive out demons, or the Devil, from people who are possessed.
Father Amorth believes that the Devil is amongst us. He takes the view that Hitler and Stalin were both possesed by the Devil, and that the paedophile scandal that’s been rocking the Catholic Church is of satanic origin.
Furthermore he is critical of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, because he thinks they encourage their readers to mess around with magic, an activity which can lead them into the clutches of the Devil.
I would guess that Father Amorth would be hostile to astrology, and would take the view that people like me are on the brink of a spiritual abyss. But that won’t stop me looking at his horoscope.
Father Gabrielle Amorth was born on May 1 1925. In fact, his full birth details are available – ten past four in the afternoon, in the Italian city of Modena.
As a Taurus, he demonstrates the side of this sign that’s very literal. Taureans want things in black and white, and they tend to be disinterested in subtleties. So Father Amorth has taken on board the whole Roman Catholic theological system, with the Devil included. In this light, Taureans can be very traditional, and they often have a distrust of modernity.
Yet if you are possessed by the Devil, a Taurean priest is probably the right person to exorcise you. This is because Taureans have enormous stamina and resilience, and they’ll fight the Devil until the very end.
If you look at Father Amorth’s horoscope in greater detail, we see that his Sun in Taurus in in the Eighth House. The Eighth House is connected with death, as well as things that are hidden and scary. With his Eighth House Sun he can delve into areas that other people are terrified of.
Also, he has Pluto conjunct the Midheaven. The Midheaven is the point of the Zodiac which is highest in the sky at the time of birth, and it’s connected with the career. So his career is going to be of the nature of Pluto. In astrology Pluto is a dark energy, that’s associated with both obsession and transformation. And also elimination. The perfect signature for an exorcist.
As to whether Father Amorth is kidding himself, I’ve got mixed feelings. The Exorcist is certainly one of my favourite films, but there’s the issue of Ockham’s razor – in other words starting with plausible explanations before moving to extraordinary ones.
The Catholic Church, before blaming the Devil for the small minority of priests who were child-molesters, should consider how its institutional and dogmatic set-up might have contributed to the problem. Sometimes the easiest option is to project one’s sickness onto the Devil, and ironically that might be just what the Devil wants.
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