Deborah Dillard, 46, of Clifton, has been practicing astrology since 1975 and Tarot since 1983. She is the president of the Astrological Association of Northern Virginia (AANV), and chairman of the East Coast Astrological Salons. She has also taught astrology for 15 years in the Washington, D.C., and Virginia areas to seasoned astrologers and novices at AANV meetings, bookstores, and private groups.
In addition to reading the constellations, she also heads the Clifton Farmers Market, and has volunteered at both the library and at her 5-year-old daughter Emily's school, Nysmith School for the Gifted in Herndon.
"I think it's important to be involved in your community. You're not a Catholic, or a Protestant, or a Republican — you are their neighbor, you just happen to be those other things," said Dillard, who is married to Paul Radam, 43.
Dillard's interest in astrology began in high school with a paper titled "Why Astrology is Bunk." But after researching for the essay, Dillard learned that many famous people use astrologers.
"I failed the paper, but it started this lifelong pursuit in the interest of astrology," Dillard said.
SHE PRACTICES a type of astrology called sidereal, which assigns people a sign based on what positions the stars were in when they were born, and not on set dates. The sidereal zodiac is used by astronomers, Vedic, and sidereal astrologers. The tropical zodiac is used by astrologers only.
Dillard began working from home as an astrologer in order to spend more time with her family.
"I went full-time so that I could stay home with Emily. I didn't want someone else raising my child," Dillard said.
She also gives advice to listeners as Debs the Horoscope Lady on the "Rick Adam's Show" on KOL Radio heard over AOL every Tuesday afternoon. She stressed that astrologists don't read minds, and that they are not psychics.
"I don't know what you ate for breakfast that morning, that's not what I do. If it doesn't make sense, then it doesn't make sense and don't buy it," Dillard said.
Petra Schillig of Petra's Skin Spa has used Dillard's gifts as an astrologer for more than two years now and has had good results.
"She's absolutely outstanding. She finds out what people's strongest abilities are and which directions your business should go," Schillig said. "She has never been wrong."
Schillig used Dillard's advice to hire a new aesthetician, Rula Brown, and credits her with finding the perfect match.
"She is like a friend to me. We work wonderfully together," Schillig said.
"Somehow we are very compatible, it's all working out," Brown added.
DILLARD ALSO started the Clifton Farmers Market which meets Sundays from 8 a.m. to noon on Chapel Road in Clifton. It has turned some people's hobbies into businesses. T & T Apiaries, a local business that sells honey, beeswax and candles, is an example of one.
"It's something that brings the community together, and that's why I do it," Dillard said.
"I think it's a really great idea that brings people together," said Clifton Mayor Jim Chesley. "People show up, have a cup of coffee and talk about what's going on."
He also spoke about what Clifton would be like without Dillard. "We would be missing a very talented asset that we currently have," said Chesley.
Born in Washington, D.C., Dillard grew up in Hyattsville, Md., and planned on studying lymphatic research in college but dropped out to pursue other careers such as running a used book store in Occoquan and raising her child.
Dillard has been featured in an article on astrological gardening in "Flower Garden" magazine.
Deb Dillard can be reached at Sun Wise Turn, LLC, 12644-E Suite 194 Chapel Road, Clifton. Call 571-334-7474. She also maintains a Web site at www.mybirthchart.com.