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Maria DuvalImage
Bad Astrology

CNN is currently doing an investigative series on a scam artist known as Maria Duval. The crimes of this person include targeting elderly and emotionally unstable people with promises of mystical intervention. Letters sent by Maria Duval assure these people that for a fee of twenty or thirty dollars she can solve their problems using her psychic gifts. Quotes from Duval’s letters show that she used astrological jargon along with other metaphysical references to seduce her victims.

No one really knows if Maria Duval is a real person or the front for a criminal organization, but someone using this name has been working this scam for over 20 years and they have accumulated a fortune in grubby dollars mailed to them by vulnerable people of all sorts. When we read about an Alzheimer’s patients being drained of their savings we all get angry, but as an astrologer, my concerns go even further.

For a person who loves astrology, seeing it used in this way is deeply disturbing. Obviously, crimes like these have been committed by preachers, psychologists, stock brokers and politicians galore, but people tend not to put their local minister or their financial adviser in the same category as Jim Jones or Bernie Madoff. Astrologers, on the other hand, are often tarred with the same brush that paints charlatans and criminals like Maria Duval.

It’s safe to say that every astrologer encounters someone in the course of his or her career who looks to astrology to do things that it just can’t do. How individual astrologers handle these situations depends on the circumstances, but the typical response is to try to educate the person and help them develop a more realistic perspective. If this doesn’t work, then the astrologer has to tell the person that they just can’t give them what they are asking for. Of course, there will always be people who will keep looking until they find someone who will tell them what they want to hear.

Ethics has always been a major concern for astrologers. Several astrological organizations have attempted to establish a standard of ethics for the profession, but we astrologers tend to be an independent lot and some of us resent the idea of having to comply with another person’s definition of what is or is not ethical. Still, the vast majority of people who get involved in astrology do so because they want to help people. The difficulty of even making a living in this field very quickly weeds out those who are interested in making money,

Of course, that doesn’t stop people with criminal intent from using astrology, or at least the language of astrology, to take advantage of vulnerable people. It is the business of every person who loves astrology and recognizes its value to watch for these unscrupulous practitioners and to call them out whenever possible. Predators like Maria Duval (or whoever the actual perpetrator of the scam turns out to be) cannot be tolerated. Not only do they do damage to innocent people, but they sully the name of the ancient and worth art of astrology.