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When preparing for an appellate argument, Washington, D.C., solo practitioner Christopher Warnock consults pretty much the same sources that any thorough lawyer would: trial transcripts, depositions, casebooks, law reviews, law reporters and such. But probably unlike any other lawyer in town, Warnock might also sit down at his computer and, using commercially available software, generate a chart that shows the alignment of the planets at the precise time the hearing is scheduled to begin. With such a chart in hand, Warnock could thus take a stab at astrological event analysis in an effort to handicap his chances in court. Crazy? You might think so at first, certain that the whole business is unadulterated hooey. But spend some time with Warnock, let him tell you about his beliefs and experiences, and you might be surprised to find some fissures developing in your rock-solid wall of skepticism. The 39-year-old Warnock has appeared numerous times before the D.C. Court of Appeals, often as a Civil Justice Act-appointed counsel, and has participated in at least a dozen cases that have merited published opinions. Matthew Greene, a partner at Fairfax, Va.’s Smith & Greene, who shared argument time with Warnock in a case before the D.C. Court of Appeals this past September, speaks admiringly of Warnock’s advocacy skills, saying that he is one of the few attorneys who, during oral argument, can effectively carry on a conversation with the bench. As a rhetorician of some accomplishment, then, perhaps it’s no wonder that he speaks so passionately and convincingly about Renaissance astrology, a brand of astrology practiced before 1700 and once considered a branch of astronomy. He describes the discipline as “a science of great complexity, capable of detailed and precise predictions.” When asked if he ever gets mocked for his beliefs, Warnock responds, “I think it’s less ridiculous than angels, for example. At the Catholic Church, they get exorcists and angels and miracles and transubstantiation, but they have a better lobby than astrologers, I guess.” There is a philosophical underpinning to astrology, he insists: “The whole basis of astrology is that the world is not random, that things just don’t happen for no purpose, that everything fits together, and that the cosmos is just one great unified being. This is very straight, classical philosophy, just what you would have learned if you went to university in the Middle Ages or during the Renaissance, or if you were in Plato’s academy or with Aristotle. That was the standard view of reality, and that changed around 1700, with the Enlightenment. “Now, we have a view of reality that is mechanistic and material. Matter, and energy equals mc� — that’s all there is. Life is just a pointless, random series of painful events.” Such a philosophy is too bleak for Warnock, but he acknowledges that many others think in these terms and, for them, astrology will have no meaning. “You have to step back and ask what’s your basic worldview. If your worldview is that there’s nothing but matter and energy, that there’s no God or no spirit, then astrology can’t work,” he says, adding, “If, however, you believe there is a realm of the spirit, then astrology could work, and therefore it’s worth taking a look at it.” So what has led Warnock to take the spiritual path? Warnock had what he characterizes as a normal suburban upbringing, growing up near Lansing, Mich. After high school, he enrolled in Kalamazoo College, where students are encouraged to spend a year abroad studying. Thus Warnock traveled to Scotland his junior year to attend the University of St. Andrews. As he tells it, he was smitten with the place. “I took the normal sophomore courses at St. Andrews, and after that, I said, ‘I’m not going back,’” Warnock recalls. “So, I transferred.” At St. Andrews, Warnock studied the Renaissance and modern history. He found the course work considerably more intensive than in the states and says that he was required to do much writing during his tenure. So much so, in fact, he found that when he graduated in 1986 and returned home to attend the University of Michigan Law School, the workload at “law school wasn’t such a big deal.” In law school he met his wife, Kathleen Sutherland, who was also a student. After receiving their law degrees in 1989, Warnock and his wife “decided we’d be rich and powerful, so we came to Washington.” Having put in a stint as a summer associate at Baker Botts, Warnock knew from experience that big law firm life wasn’t for him. Thus, for his first job out of law school, Warnock labored at the Internal Revenue Service in the International Tax Division as a lawyer in the Office of Chief Counsel. After two years at that post, he went into private practice with his wife, who had been an associate at Washington, D.C.’s Venable, Baetjer, Howard & Civiletti. At first the couple did a lot of civil litigation. “And then,” Warnock relates, “we discovered CJA, which at the time was open. We came in just as they raised the hourly rate to $50.” It was a case in which Warnock was a CJA-appointed counsel, in fact, that he had perhaps his most celebrated court victory and had his interest in astrology kindled. In the 1996 case Turner v. Bayly, Warnock was arguing on behalf of a client who was being denied a jury trial by D.C. Superior Court Judge John Bayly Jr. Warnock’s client had been charged with an offense punishable by imprisonment of up to six months. Judge Bayly, who considered a month to be equal to 30 days, consulted the D.C. Code, which conferred a right to a jury trial for offenses punishable by terms of more than “180 days,” and interpreted the six-month limit as equaling, but not exceeding, 180 days. Warnock argued that a month meant a calendar month and that any six-month period would therefore surpass 180 days. The D.C. Court of Appeals sided with Warnock. But the argument provoked Warnock into thinking about things other than the law. He explains: “There is a Supreme Court case that says, well, when you define a month, it’s a calendar month. That means June 1 to July 1 is a month regardless of how many intervening days there are. That was enough for the lawyers, and that was enough to win the case, but I started getting really interested in the concept of a month. What I realized is that when you talk about money, for example, a hundred $1 bills equals one $100 bill, and there’s only one fundamental measurement. With time, though, there’s many fundamental measurements. The earth spinning on its axis is a day. The time it takes the moon to go around the earth is a month. And the time it takes the earth to go around the sun is a year. And none of those fit together perfectly. You have this infinite series of cycles that interact with each other, and a friend characterizes it that I fell down a black hole with that Turner v. Bayly case, and I’ve been falling ever since as I discover more and more about astrology. That’s what astrology is: the study of these cycles.” Thus Warnock’s fascination with Renaissance astrology was launched. His interest in the Renaissance dated back to his days at St. Andrews, and, he admits, “I’ve been searching for answers for a long time.” In 1991, for example, Warnock was initiated into a Sufi order, and he was tutored in Islamic logic by Ayatollah Mehdi Ha’iri Yazdi, who has the distinction of being a master of traditional Iranian philosophy as well as possessing a doctorate in Western philosophy from the University of Toronto. “What I learned from him is that the scheme of knowledge is splintered,” Warnock says. Not one to do things half-heartedly, Warnock approached his study of Renaissance astrology with characteristic rigor. He points to his teachers — Carol Wiggers, Lee Lehman and Robert Zoller — as being among the foremost astrologers in the United States. To get a true appreciation of the depth of his knowledge of and devotion to the astrological arts, visit his Web site at www.renaissanceastrology.com. “I have two circles,” says Warnock. “I have a legal circle and an astrological circle, and they do overlap a certain amount.” Describing his law practice, which Warnock runs from his Cleveland Park apartment, he says, “I do appellate, CJA, and I have a civil practice, which mostly is trying to keep people out of court. I have a church as a client, and I do a lot of work for it.” Most of his clients come from referrals, he says. He also has an astrology practice, where clients come to him primarily through his Web site. “Financially, the astrology practice is more of a hobby,” he says. Recently, a client asked him to determine the best time to file for a divorce. Such a request calls for the practice of electional astrology, the art of picking the most propitious time astrologically to take action or to begin an activity. Warnock relates the process: “I looked at the client’s birth chart and his wife’s birth chart. I noticed he had Aries rising and she had Libra rising, which was very helpful because when you do a lawsuit, the first house is the moving party — the plaintiff usually — and the seventh house, which is opposite to it on the chart, is the opponent. So if Aries is on the first house, then Libra’s on the seventh house. “So what I was able to find was that Mars was strong because Mars was Aries, and Venus [who was Libra] was weak. That’s your key to a lawsuit. Who’s the strongest? The strongest planet wins. And then you also look to see if there is a nice connection to the judge or a jury. So I was able to find an election for him where Aries was rising, Mars was strong, and Venus was weak. And it also happened to be during filing hours. It was at like 10 o’clock, and there was a 20-minute range. “My client had arranged with his lawyer to file, but his lawyer called him up and said he couldn’t do it. So the client actually went down to the courthouse himself and stood in line to make sure he got it time-stamped at the right time.” Warnock contends that the practice of law and the practice of astrology are not mutually exclusive. A devotee of Blackstone’s Commentaries, Warnock sees a nexus between natural law and astrology. “There is intuition involved. But when I do a chart I have a set series of steps that I go through. You have to use judgment. You have to use intuition. But just like being an attorney, it’s restrained by your training, by precedent, by the pragmatic experience and knowledge that you have.”

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