Astrologers No Longer Welcome in Philadelphia
The news has been going around the astrological community for the past few days that the city of Philadelphia has started cracking down on “fortune tellers” in the city and closing down shops that are in the business of “fortune telling”. According to some of the reports this has had its main effect on people who were purporting to offer advice as psychics, tarot card readers and palm readers, although apparently a few astrologers were among those who were delivered a cease and desist order as well.
Apparently what happened is that the city inspectors were alerted to an obscure law that has been on the books since 1971 which bans fortune-telling “for gain or lucre”. Of course, the city itself has been issuing business licenses to these people all along, and is just now realizing that running such a business is apparently illegal in their city.
Fortunately no one has actually been arrested or fined at this point, but anyone who tries to engage in “fortune telling” again probably will be.
This kind of reminds me of some of the squabbling that periodically broke out in ancient Rome between the astrologers and the emperors at various points in time. In her book Ancient Astrology Tamsyn Barton relates one story while explaining the dangers of practicing astrology in the Roman Empire:
Thus astrologers were wise to act as an anonymous group. In the turbulent year of 69 CE, in response to Vitellius’ decree banning them from Rome and Italy from 1 October, they posted an announcement with their own edict:
Decreed by all astrologers
In blessing on our State
Vitellius will be no more
On the appointed date.
In response Vitellius executed any astrologers he came across, according to Suetonius. He did not have long to enjoy the satisfaction of proving them wrong, for he only survived three months afterwards. (Tamsyn Barton, Ancient Astrology, pgs. 47-48.)