The nation’s most prominent astrologist on the science of the stars and the societal perceptions posing the biggest challenges to her career
By Nada Barakat
Photography by Mohsen Allam
Abeer Fouad is perhaps the nation’s best-loved astrologer, with a hit radio show and four books to her name. The resident horoscope writer for Nos Al Donia magazine, Fouad also reaches out to her fans on satellite TV channels and via Facebook, ready to answer questions about what the future might hold in store. But it wasn’t easy for a woman who trained as an engineer to win over a society that knew very little about astrology and refused to accept it as based on the science of astronomy.
Growing up, Fouad attended French schools before going on to major in electronics and communication engineering at university. In the early 2000s, while working as an engineer, she decided to shift gears and against all odds literally reach for the stars, deciding to delve into the world of professional astrology. It took years for the tenacious Fouad to build up a reputation, but now, her star has clearly risen. Egypt Today sits down with Fouad to discuss her passion for astrology, the challenges she faces as a professional and the difference between true astrologers and con artists. Edited excerpts:
Tell us how you got into astrology.
My passion goes back to my teenage years. I used to ask friends and colleagues about their horoscopes, attempting to read more into their personalities. After I graduated, I worked as an engineer for a few years, then while on a business trip to New York, I visited a major bookstore to buy books about astrology. I found a treasure of knowledge that I couldn’t resist. I learned that cosmic objects — like the sun, stars, moon and planets at the time of a person’s birth — could shape a personality and affect his or her life, and by closely monitoring and analyzing these influences, we can receive guidance about our lives. I went on buying books and subscribing to online websites of astrology societies, and then I decided to take up astrology professionally.
Where did you go to study astrology?
Many astrologers around the world head to specialized schools in France or elsewhere in the West, but I chose a different path. I educated myself, studying the findings from international astrology and astronomy research centers and societies, while utilizing my background in engineering and astronomy to calculate and process the information. Many astrologers can access data about the positions and configurations of the planets, moon, sun and more from the international astrology societies and NASA, and then process the information based on their own studies. But there are a few celebrity ones who don’t really know anything about astrology or astronomy and rely solely on other astrologers’ published analyses and theories.
What would you say about astrologers who claim to have supernatural powers or connections with spirits?
Unfortunately there are a few who claim to be astrologers and who pretend that they speak to spirits and can change destinies, which definitely is not true. Those who claim such things usually do so to attract the uneducated and trick them out of their money.
Astrology is an ancient science …
Pharaonic Egypt was the earliest civilization to rely on the sciences of astronomy and astrology. The Pharaohs actually scheduled everything based on these sciences, designing their temples at angles that allow the sun to enter temples like Abu Simbel twice a year on the same days, to light the face of the king who hides deep in the sanctuary at the back. Not only that, they also used these sciences to maximize their agricultural output, planting certain crops when the sun enters the Cancer orbit and others when it enters the Capricorn orbit and so on. The Pharaohs were very advanced in astrology, and they were the ones who introduced the 12 star signs, carving them on the walls of temples like Dendara at Qena. Their records specified behavior and traits of people born on specific dates and their relation to the changing positions of the sun and planets. Astrology further developed with the Greek civilization entering Egypt. The Greeks were the ones who revealed how the early Egyptians built the pyramids, and they also worked on providing deeper analysis of Ancient Egyptian writings in the temples.
But how do Islam and the Arab world perceive it?
One of the greatest astrologers in history was [10th-century scientist Abu Rayhan] Al-Biruni, and Imam Ali Ibn Abi-Talib was an astrologer himself; he wrote Al-Ghafr, which is all about numerology and astrology. So that should shatter any accusations that astrology is heathen-related or prohibited by Islam. Anyone who Googles the statement ‘kazeb el-monajimoon walaw sadaqo’ (fortune tellers lie even if they say the truth), they will discover that it is neither Quran nor Hadith. Its source is not identified, and it is wrong that people stick with this saying and deny any other analysis that could prove the opposite.
There are specific Quranic verses that prove the relationship between the cosmic structure and peoples’ lives. The science of astrology was once one of the most respected, especially during the time of the Pharaohs. Later on, during Islamic rule, religious leaders worked on distancing people from sciences and made them believe that astrology was quackery or even sometimes related to magic and prohibited by religion.
In your book published earlier this year, you wrote that January 2014 and April 15 would witness bloody events. How can you prove that your predictions are based on scientific evidence and not just luck or speculation?
Both periods share one thing in common: the formation of the ‘closed square,’ where the sun and moon are in Capricorn, Uranus in Aries, and Jupiter retreats. This formation indicates violence and blood. And in that specific period there was massive violence not only in Egypt but in many other countries. By the end of April, signs of stability begin to appear, because three major planets will be located at water signs, forming an isosceles triangle. This usually signifies collaboration and unity that is expected to last till mid-July.
Would you say all astrologers agree on the same expectations when it comes to dates, or do they differ?
They would probably agree, however there are variations depending on how the astrologer analyzes the events and factors the planets’ positions. Sometimes one astrologer doesn’t notice if there is a square (bad formation) and misses a small planet that forms another triangle (good formation). A skilled astrologer never rushes into giving an opinion before studying the entire set-up of the cosmos.
So astrologers gain their reputation and popularity from their skill? Or from the media?
Both. I gained my audience after conducting a radio interview about Pharaonic horoscope signs — I am the only astrologer specialized in this across Egypt and the Middle East. After this episode, I was asked by Al Sharq Al Awsat Radio to do a regular show, which I did for several years. That show received the highest number of calls from the audience. Following the radio hit, I expanded my activities and worked on Nos Al Donia magazine’s regular horoscope section and went on to publish four books, one every year.
I am also very keen on making a regular monthly appearance on one of the private TV channels, along with taking daily calls from my audience or answering their inquiries on Facebook.
What are the most common things that people inquire about?
I receive daily calls on my hotline from people ages 17 to 60 and older. The majority ask about love, family, business, whether they will have children, and many other things. During the years I’ve attracted a regular clientele, who sometimes call me on daily basis; among them are many artists, politicians and famous figures.
Who do you expect to win the presidential elections?
Abdul Fattah El Sisi’s date of birth indicates that he is a very strong and smart person, and that in 2014 he is willing to show more courage and will have more surprises to offer. It also indicates that he is subject to entrapment and dangers. As for [Hamdeen] Sabbahy, people with aquatic signs are supposed to be lucky, but I believe that he already has had his share of luck by coming this far. et