Horoscope columns have been around since the 1920s. They were originally a way for astrologers to make astrology more accessible to the general public, and of course, to attract new clients.
Fast forward to 2012: not all horoscope columns are created equal! If you look around, you’ll see daily, weekly, and monthly horoscope columns. Some are junk and some are a real treat and surprisingly accurate. The reason horoscope columns aren’t equal is because astrologers aren’t equal. Heck, there are even horoscope columns written by people who aren’t astrologers! And not all astrologers are good writers, and even amongst astrologers who are writers, not all of those can write a good horoscope column.
Back in the pre-Web days when horoscopes were printed in magazines and newspapers, columns were (and still are) strictly limited in length. The newspaper or magazine editor gives the astrologer a certain word-count per issue. The writer often doesn’t have sufficient space to give the reader a comprehensive idea of what the planets have in store. Even with the Web offering almost unlimited bandwidth, horoscope columns still tend to be limited by word count. In my opinion, daily columns wind up turning into fortune-cookie sound bites, while monthly columns cover so much time in such little space that the advice becomes too vague.
Like Goldilocks trying different sized beds, I’ve found that a weekly column is just right. I write out all of the planetary movements for the week, and then spend some time analyzing all of the week’s planetary relationships, called “aspects.” Then I write information for each sign based on how these movements and aspects relate to the Sun-signs.
This isn’t a perfect science OR a perfect art! Sun signs are extremely general. Like I tell my clients, sun-signs are like pie-crusts; they’re just a container. It doesn’t tell me what’s in the pie. To get a really accurate astrological reading, the astrologer has to cast a birth chart set for the date, time and location of the client’s birth. A birth chart is a snap-shot of the solar system, and shows where the Moon, Mercury, Venus, and all of the other planets were at the moment of birth. This is the client’s personal life map, the essential baseline chart that’s essential for all subsequent forecasting charts. Like anything else, you have to start at GO, which is the moment of birth.
So a horoscope writer begins with the understanding that the information given is at best fairly general. That doesn’t mean that low standards are acceptable. The astrologer can still do a very good job of analyzing the week’s transits and aspects, and come up with statements, warnings, and guidance that can be amazingly accurate.
The crux of the matter is offering specific advice in general ways. For instance, I’ve been wrestling with giving advice for Libras for the past year or so. There are all sorts of Librans out there – women and men, younger and older, in relationships or single. A Libran who is married will be having a lot of specific issues centered on a spouse or partner, while a single Libran’s focus may be on other kinds of partnerships, like friendships or work relationships. Wording a week’s advice so it makes sense to all kinds of Librans has been pretty tricky for the past year or so. And if you’re a Libra, don’t get freaked out; nothing in astrology lasts forever.
My current weekly column, The Third Rock Almanac, is my fourth or fifth horoscope effort. I started writing it for the Toledo Free Press, a weekly independent newspaper. An expanded edition of the column, which covers Sunday through Saturday, is posted on Facebook. I’ve done monthlies for various magazine formats, three-month predictions, and even a few annual columns. Doing a daily column is something I’ve resisted from the beginning because of the fortune-cookie problem. If I was less careful and meticulous, it wouldn’t take me so long to write a daily column. It takes about four hours to do the math and analysis and write a weekly column, and it would take nearly that long to write a daily column. Of course, if someone threw a whopping huge pile of money at me, I’d probably do it.
Readers, choose your column with care! There are different criteria for the person interested in following a horoscope column on a regular basis. What do you want? Do you want positive psychological input? Emotional cheerleading? Thoughts or attitudes to consider? Or do you want plain old feet-on-the-ground advice, as in “drive carefully today” or “great day to make important phone calls” type of information?
Different astrologers look at things differently. An astrologer who focuses on personal growth and development (sometimes called an evolutionary astrologer) will write the type of column that helps you with psychological input. Other astrologers will focus on just one planet or aspect for the week, and try to relate it to each sun-sign. This kind of column gives the reader a thought or area of life they want to watch out for that week. Finally, the feet-on-the-ground type of column will be the work of a mundane astrologer who is focused on external events (i.e., the mundane, the every-day) and the experiences of individuals as they move through the world of work, relationships, and family dynamics. This is the kind of column I write.
Readers should have some idea of what they’re reading, and also an idea of what’s available. There’s a ton of free columns available on the Web, but buyer beware! Clicking on links for random sites that advertise free horoscopes can result in computer viruses, Trojans, worms, and spyware. If this is a worry, use a search engine like Mozilla Foxfire that shows a check-mark next to safe sites.
You can also check out horoscopes that are recommended by friends. This is one of the BEST ways to find a good horoscope column, and also a great way to find a good astrologer, tarotist, or psychic. Old-fashioned word-of-mouth recommendations are hard to beat.
Horoscope columns are a great way to start the week. They can give you a good idea of the way the stars are aiding or hindering efforts, and an overview of what to watch for. Even in this general resource the reader can get an idea of when to make hay when the sun is shining, and when to duck and cover.
May the stars shine on your path!
Elizabeth Hazel is an astrologer, tarotist, author, and lecturer. Her book “Tarot Decoded”is the definitive text on tarot dignities and using tarot-astrology to get the most out of readings. Liz’s new book, “Chiron and the Lady Asteroids,” will be released in 2013.
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