Soothsayers See Doom, Gloom in Closeness of Mars
Author: Ed Cropley
Soothsayers from India and Hong Kong to a tent outside a temple in the heart of Cambodia's capital say Wednesday's close encounter with Mars spells natural or man-made disaster on Earth.
Mars, the red planet which shares the name of the Roman god of war, passed closer to Earth at 5:51 a.m. EDT than at any time in the last 60,000 years.
"This is not good. When they come close suggests some sort of clash, like a brother and sister who get too near to each other," Sy Vannak told Reuters after consulting a scattered array of playing cards.
"Something will happen within 24 hours. The problem will only be in America - but it will be little and quick," the 41-year-old Cambodian soothsayer added this week from the depths of her incense-filled tent in Phnom Penh.
In Hong Kong, Benny Y.Y. Cheung takes a longer view, but he too predicts disaster.
"There is an impact on the magnetic field, mainly in the month to and the three months after the phenomenon," he said. "There will be disasters related to fire, including wars."
Wednesday's close encounter between the two planets coincides with the start of six-nation talks in Beijing to try to defuse a crisis over North Korea's nuclear programs.
In Britain, Prime Minister Tony Blair is due to testify on Thursday at an inquiry into the suicide of a top weapons inspector and the information the Blair government used to make the case for war in Iraq.
Some astrologers link the proximity of Mars to bloodshed and violence in Iraq, elsewhere in the Middle East and in Afghanistan or to a rash of terror attacks, the latest of which killed more than 50 people in Bombay on Monday.
Others predict natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes or floods. One predicted problems with snow.
In mainland China, fortune-tellers were officially banned, along with all superstition, when the Communists took power in 1949.
One Beijing newspaper mentioned Mars on Sunday, but gave only a factual account of where the planet will be in relation to Earth yesterday, and the best time to see it.
Today's fortune tellers in the world's most populous nation delve into events much closer to home, such as birth times and feng shui relationships between objects and their impact in everyday life.
"Mars carries quite a lot of energy and its proximity to Earth changes the forces that affect our way of life," said Edwin Ma, a feng shui master in Hong Kong. "It brings volatility and unpredictable events."
Hong Kong's Cheung said the magnetic impact fuels impetuosity. "The phenomenon will be more pronounced in places near the equator which are already hot, like India and the Middle East."
He links heatwave deaths in France and major forest fires in Canada to the approach of the red planet.
Bombay-based Bejan Daruwalla, one of India's leading astrologers, says the impact of Mars depends on individual personalities.
"Mars means energy and energy means force," Daruwalla, who has a wide following in the world's second most populous nation, said. "It can have positive as well as negative impacts. If you are a man of peace, it will have a positive impact and if you are a man of anger, it will have a negative impact."
QUICK TO ANGER
Vineet Jain, a leading New Delhi-based astrologer, said with Mars coming closer to earth the overall impact will be negative till February, after which it will become positive.
"Violence will increase as people will be less patient and get angry quickly," he added. "This could result into an increase in violence in Kashmir and worsen relations between India and Pakistan. Similarly in all conflict zones like Iraq and Palestine, things will worsen," he said, adding:
"There will be more terrorist attacks and cyber crimes."
Kishore Acharya, another Delhi-based astrologer, took an equally gloomy view. "There will be more bloodshed and the possibility of natural disasters like earthquakes and snow storms is also high."
But not ever