Transcript of Episode 40 of The Astrology Podcast
With Chris Brennan and guests Kelly Surtees and Austin Coppock
Episode originally released on June 26, 2017
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Transcribed by Sheila Reynolds
Transcription released November 5, 2019
Copyright © 2019 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
Chris Brennan: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan and you’re listening to the Astrology Podcast. For more information about subscribing to this show, please visit TheAstrologyPodcast.com/subscribe. If you’re a fan of the show and you want me to keep doing it and want to encourage me to record episodes more frequently, then please consider becoming a patron of the show through our page on the website Patreon [https://www.patreon.com/astrologypodcast]. By pledging as little as a dollar an episode, you can get access to some great benefits, such as a private discussion forum, early access to new episodes, higher quality recordings, and more. Today is Thursday, July 30, 2015 at approximately 1:24 pm in Denver, Colorado, and this is actually the 40th episode of the show, so it’s a big milestone. Today we’re going to be talking about the pros and cons of Sun sign astrology with Kelly Surtees and Austin Coppock. So before we get started, do you guys have any announcements that we should make before we get on to our topic?
Kelly Surtees: Yeah, I have one. For our very keen listeners who would like to support you and I, Chris, about the ISAR conference coming up, we’ve just got a note recently that for those speakers who have submitted to speak at the upcoming ISAR conference, which will be in California in October 2016, that those submissions are going to be voted on by the membership. So if you are an ISAR member, please consider voting for either Chris or myself if you like the idea of what we might be talking about. If you’re not a member of ISAR, it is a really fun, fantastic, astrological organization to connect with, and you can find out more about them through their website, ISARastrology.com. If you are a member, I believe that the voting for speakers for the next conference will come out with, the information will come out via e-mail directly to you. So, yeah. If people want to keep that in mind, we’d really appreciate that.
CB: Yeah, it’s an entire conference on forecasting that looks like it’s going to be pretty good. I submitted a lecture topic on the amazing Hellenistic timing technique zodiacal releasing, and timing peaks in a person’s career. What did you submit, Kelly?
KS: Now I’m being put on the spot because I can’t remember! (Laughs)
CB: Oh no. That’s fine. Well, I’m sure it’s a fabulous topic on forecasting and prediction…
KS: Yes. Something to do with forecasting and progressions and prediction. And you’re right, it’s one of our favorite topics because it is a whole conference about predictive astrology.
CB: Yeah. Exactly. And they actively want us to tell people that follow our work to vote for us because that’ll help show that we can draw in people to the conference. So if you’re a fan of the show and you’re a fan of listening to Kelly and I talking and the material we present then definitely vote for us in the next week when that comes out. And then you’ll see us at the conference. All right. Well, let’s get on to the main topic of our show which is—I’ve been wanting to do this for a while—so the topic is Sun sign astrology, pros and cons. The starting point for this is that I’ve noticed that people who are just getting into astrology or just, you know, got into it more advanced, like let’s say natal astrology, so they’ve gone beyond sun signs, they’ve started to become an astrologer or, let’s say astrological enthusiast. And sometimes people go through this stage, there’s almost like this progression in a person’s like studies of astrology where they kind of, once they learn that there’s more than just Sun signs and they realize how complicated and how advanced astrology actually is, they sometimes do this thing of turning negative against Sun sign astrology, and starting to denigrate it as almost like not real astrology. And for some people, this is just like a phase, and they go through it for a while and then they come out of it, and then they gain a more sort of neutral or sometimes positive stance toward Sun sign astrology, while other astrologers sometimes continue to hold this opinion. And I know some older astrologers who are just adamantly against Sun sign astrology and don’t see it as real astrology or have different opinions about its validity and usefulness in the world at large. So I thought that we could have a show where we talk about Sun sign astrology and we just explore some of the arguments for and against it. So, I thought that you two would be good people to bring on the show to do that because you both write or have been writers of horoscope columns, right? So you’re essentially in some sense, you’re professional Sun sign astrologers, right?
CB: I mean, is that an accurate depiction? Or is that, I mean, I’m not sure if…
Austin Coppock: So, I did write a weekly column with a horoscope component for eight years. I haven’t been writing a Sun sign column since 2013, but sometimes, or actually often when I write, if I write an article about something like Venus retrograde, like this summer’s Venus retrograde, after the essay portion I will usually attach just, you know, maybe a hundred words each for what that particular configuration looks like from a perspective of each of the zodiacal signs. Which you could say it’s horoscopes; I think of it as just thinking about it from the position of each twelve rising signs. But I will do a little sort of, yeah, I will create a little twelve-fold on-ramp for people.
CB: Sure. So, yeah, so both of you have some background. And I think that, on the one hand, somebody who’s very adamantly against Sun signs might say that you’re too biased against them, but I think that we’ll all be able to give a pretty fair overview of the different arguments for and against this kind of approach to astrology, or this phenomenon in the astrological community. So, one starting point might just be giving some background, in that most people don’t realize, or don’t know, that according to most historians that the primary viewpoint about the origins of Sun sign astrology in the way that it’s done today, is that it only really goes back to the 1930s, when in 1930 the astrologer R.H. Naylor started writing a Sun sign column for one of the local newspapers in the United Kingdom. And initially it just started, I think Kelly, you’ve done some research on this, in terms of, he originally did it at the birth of Princess Margaret in order to write a prediction about her life or something like that?
KS: Yes, absolutely. I think the prompt was Princess Margaret, what does the astrology say about the new princess? And it was quite popular. So the editors of the paper, having the idea of wanting to sell more copies, decided to expand that. And it is sort of the accepted starting point of modern Sun sign or horoscope columns. But as we’ve looked a little bit further, there are certainly examples going back up to a hundred, hundred and fifty years prior to that.
CB: Sure, just of people, I think you had cited the book by Kim Farnell titled Flirting with the Zodiac, where she tries to draw the history of Sun sign astrology back much further than the 1930s, right?
KS: Absolutely, yeah. She sort of challenges the notion that Naylor is the one who’s responsible for modern columns, making the point that at least half a century prior to this event in 1930, there were astrological columns appearing in newspapers. But even going back beyond that, when she goes all the way back to the ancient sky, you know, there are references that she details referring to people just based on their Sun sign, you know their body type, this particular body type, because they’re a Taurus. So those references that she’s got are going way back to sort of before the year zero. So there does appear to be some fragmented but certainly older sources.
AC: You know, just to chime in: I remember reading a translation of, I want to say it was like a Catalonian Spanish, 13th century text, that was, it was like, kind of a simplified astrological manual for somebody who didn’t really have ephemerises and didn’t know the whole thing. It was sort of, you know, I don’t want to say dumbing down, but a simplification that had a bunch of what was basically Sun sign material.
AC: Yeah, yeah. You know, that’s 800 years-ish ago.
CB: Sure. And it’s like, yeah, and the Sun has always existed in the past 2000 years of Western astrology, and it’s always been noted, and for some people it would be even more important in terms of if a person was born during the day, then the Sun would be their sect light, and so it would be the most important luminary in their chart. I guess one of the issues is just that in the more advanced forms of like natal astrology and horoscopic astrology, the Sun sign was not always given as central of an importance as I think it started to get in the 20th century, because instead, like when, in the 20th century, it’s like when somebody says, you know, what’s your sign, you, people immediately think they’re talking about your Sun sign. But in prior centuries, like if you read the second century text by Vettius Valens, when he talks about a person’s sign, or the sign that a person is born under, he’s actually talking about their rising sign.
CB: And so I think prior to the 20th century and prior to the popularization of Sun sign astrology or the more widespread popularization in the way it was characterized in the past century, that a person’s rising sign, which would be seen as much more personally important to the person, rather than just their Sun sign. So, I think that also sets some context where even if we have precursors for Sun sign astrology going back much further, there was some sort of definite shift that happened where when, you know, this astrologer was originally just contacted to write a general astrology prediction and column about the birth of this new princess. But then they came back and they said okay, that was really popular, do it again, and do it every single week. And so I’m sure at that point he had to get a little creative and what he came up with or what he started doing was writing a weekly column just based on each person’s Sun sign. And then another astrologer was brought in to a rival paper named Edward Lindo, and he started writing a rival Sun sign astrology column. And then they both got really popular and other people started following or emulating the model and eventually it spread to the United States and other countries. So that is kind of an interesting phenomenon that we can trace back. And then as you go forward, you get, I mean that becomes so popularized, and that becomes sort of like the mainstream idea of what astrology is, and then eventually you get other books like, what was the book in the 1960s and 70s, the famous Sun sign book?
KS: Oh, Linda Goodman. Linda Goodman.
CB: Yeah. Linda Goodman’s book on Sun signs which is just like this massively popular, I think it sold something like a million copies or like some ridiculous amount of copies that no astrology book has ever sold before or since then. And Sun sign astrology becomes kind of like this thing on its own, which on the one hand becomes like the mass market sort of popularized version of astrology. But on the other hand, it almost becomes like a form of astrology on its own in some sense, in that there’s some people that never progress beyond that, and sort of stick with just that as an approach, in some sense.
AC: Yeah. You know, one thing worth noting about the popularity of Sun sign astrology in the 70s is you literally have that joke, “What’s your sign, baby?” Right? Like that, you know, we have, like when we want to make fun of or provide a caricature of somebody from that era, like, you know, “What’s your sign”—like, that’s what we say because that was part of the culture at that point.
CB: Right. Well, and I don’t even know, it’s like that’s a joke to us today, but in like the 60s and 70s, I think that was like a legitimate opener because so many people actually knew what their sign was at that point because it had become so popular as a, in sort of the contemporary consciousness, I guess.
AC: Yeah. Yeah. You know, about it becoming a, its own kind of thing: I think, I looked at Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs, I don’t know, maybe a couple of years ago? It is one of the first books I read, by the way, about astrology. I’m pretty sure it’s that book or maybe it’s another one by Linda Goodman, but they, she does solar houses. She she says, okay, well so, you know, if this planet is five signs from your Sun, or if, you know, all that, there is some approach, there is an attempt to systematize that.
CB: Yeah, and that’s pretty common I think for Sun sign writers, where it’s not just like, they’re not just looking at the zodiacal signs, but they’re actually incorporating—in some instances I think there can be a spectrum where sometimes Sun sign stuff can be very basic and very bare bones, but in other instances it’s like there are actual, like advanced, sometimes a very impressive astrologers, that are doing it, and they’re trying to incorporate as many possible additional techniques as they can. And one of those techniques is to basically do whole sign houses from the Sun sign, so that whatever the Sun sign is becomes the first house and the sign after that becomes the second house, and the sign after that becomes the third house and so on and so forth. And that’s actually a legitimate technique that’s been used for a couple thousand years now. I mean, you find that technique in Ptolemy, for example. He says to do derivative houses from the Sun in order to study certain topics like the father. In other traditions, like in Indian astrology, you have them doing derivative houses from the Moon and seeing that as very important so that they almost always cast a secondary chart called the lunar chart or the Chandra Lagna, or lunar ascendant.
AC: Yeah, they also do the, from the Sun, that’s the Surya Lagna.
CB: Okay, perfect. So it’s like, that has a long tradition and history and importance, that’s not necessarily new to 20th century astrology but sometimes people, like you’re pointing out, I think, don’t realize that there’s other, like advanced sort of techniques going into it, or other additional considerations behind it that you might not see at first glance.
AC: Yeah. Well, so, you know, when I do something, when I add a little horoscope portion to something I’m writing, you know, it’s a great challenge because you know nothing about the native to whom you’re speaking except that they have something important, whether it’s the Sun or their rising, something to anchor the perspective in the house system to one sign. But you do have all the information about whatever planets you’re delineating, right? Like, you know exactly what Venus is going to be doing in the sky, if we’re using this current Venus retrograde. Like, you know when she’s going to square Saturn, you know when she hits Jupiter, you know when Mercury conjoins her, and so, it really, you know it’s really an interesting challenge as to what you can say. Right? Like it’s not that you have zero information. You have a lot of information about, in a sense, what is being offered by the sky. You just have very little, you just have this one piece of information about how it’s going to be received.
CB: Right. And I think one of the things, and we can sort of close out this section and then move on to the next one, that will close out the history section, is that one of the points you made is that even if Sun sign astrology, let’s say hypothetically that some of the current history books, like aside from Kim Farnell’s arguments, but just say, like, James Holden’s A History of Horoscopic Astrology where he says it started in the 1930s, even if that’s the case, one of the points that you made as we were talking about this before we did the show was that there was a long history of doing astrological almanacs that led up to Sun sign astrology. And in fact that was the only type of astrology that really got astrology and allowed it to survive through the 18th and 19th century, when it was in that low point after it fell out of the public consciousness in the 17th century.
AC: Yeah, I mean, just two high points. You know, Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack was fantastically popular and it had a lot of astrological content. And then I remember reading, and this is a little earlier, but [William] Lilly wrote an annual almanac and Lilly’s almanac sold thirty thousand copies a year.
CB: Right. Which is a lot for the 17th century.
AC: Yeah. It’s, it’s England at the…yeah, you know, in the 17th century.
KS: Yeah, thirty thousand copies a year—astrologers today would be happy to sell that with their almanacs or their annual publications.
AC: I would love to sell thirty thousand copies a year.
KS: Yeah. Yeah. The other point, just in the context of the twentieth century: I think Alan Leo had a lot to do with the emphasis coming onto the Sun in the early part of the 20th century. And that happened, you know, 1910, 1920s, sort of in the precursor to when these columns really exploded. And, you know, we’re talking 1930s, we’re talking post the stock market crash and the Depression, you know, so that idea of people maybe looking for something, feeding the demand for the columns and things like that as well.
CB: Right, ‘cause that brings up an interesting point because he’s also, Alan Leo’s noted as being somebody who popularized astrology but one of the ways that he did it was learning how to do more of the mass market astrology by writing out delineations for certain placements in a person’s chart ahead of time, and then, like, basically doing carbon copies of those interpretations or those delineations and then just when a person came in with a certain chart, they would already have a pre-made delineation to send out for that. So maybe part of what we’re talking about here with the early 20th century is like the mass market-ization of astrology in some sense and how…
KS: One hundred percent.
CB: …how astrology kind of revived after a two century slump as a result of being able to become more popularized or being able to appeal to the masses in the way that it could immediately be picked up and started to be applied to their lives. Versus this thing that’s very complicated, where you have to do a bunch of math in order to construct your entire birth chart and then you have to pay money to have a full consultation with an astrologer who will interpret it for like an hour, or however long it takes, that suddenly you can write off and pay a few cents to buy a stock delineation from Alan Leo. Or you can pick up the newspaper and read your sort of daily forecast just based on your Sun sign or what have you.
AC: Yeah, I would also note that Evangeline Adams was running a killer business in the ‘20s where, you know, you’d mail her five dollars or something and she’d calculate your chart and send you a pre-written delineation. And I forget what the numbers were exactly, but she was just, she was doing a huge amount of business.
KS: Well, yeah, and she was the one who ended up having that really, turning-point court case brought against her, wasn’t she?
CB: Yeah, both Alan Leo and Evangeline Adams did.
KS: And Evangeline Adams, yeah. So, I mean, you can imagine how imagine how popular it must have been in that early part of the 20th century to have like this major court case come about. You know, these days, astrology does seem to fly a little bit under the radar, and it’s sort of hard to imagine someone would go to the bother of a court case.
CB: Well, yeah. Over the past couple of decades, like organizations like AFAN have been successful in fighting anti-astrology laws, many of which are still on the books in different areas, they’re just not enforced as anti-fortune-telling laws, through like freedom of speech and stuff like that, at least in the US. But yeah, back then, Evangeline Adams was brought up on charges. And there’s like this weird, like, sort of almost mythical story about how she was given a chart to interpret by like the judge. And the judge says, “Interpret this chart,” somehow, and she looks at it and she says, “This person died of drowning.” And then supposedly it turns out that it was the judge’s son and he had died, like years earlier, from drowning. And then he immediately dismissed the court case. And I’m not, I’m kind of slightly skeptical of that story, I mean it seems to be documented as happening, supposedly, but, yeah, it’s one of those legendary sort of stories that sounds like almost a little bit too good to be true. But who knows.
KS: Yeah, I was just skimming through Kim’s book again. And reputedly, Evangeline was charging $50 a client, back in the 1920s and early 1930s, which…
CB: Which is like, what, two million dollars today?
KS: It is substantial, right? I know some beginner students of mine, when they first start dabbling in professional clients, they chart $50 for their first six months or something for clients today. So to be doing that then…
AC: Well, it’s important to remember that Evangeline Adams was part of the cultural elite in New York City. You know, so most of her friends were loaded. That was the clientele…
KS: It says that J. P. Morgan was one of her clients, so yeah, clearly they could afford it. But the point that you’re making, Chris, you know, about this sort of mass market dissemination of astrology, I mean that’s really, I know you want to get into the next section, that’s really the segue point here, is that because it is a simplified version of astrology that appears in these Sun sign columns, it’s immediately accessible, you don’t need any technical or specialized information. It’s often an introduction for most people.
CB: Yeah, so that’s like our first pro in favor of Sun sign astrology, is that it’s most people, at this point in time, in the, for most of the 20th century, it’s most people’s gateway into astrology. It’s the first thing that they learn about astrology, it’s their first exposure to astrology as a concept, and it’s oftentimes the way through which a person can eventually get to the more advanced forms of like, natal astrology and mundane astrology and horary and electional and everything else. So that’s one of the traditional arguments, I think, in favor of Sun sign astrology, is that it’s kind of like, the gateway drug into, you know, astrology in general.
KS: The gateway drug. I love that!
CB: Okay. It’s the, Sun sign astrology is the marijuana of astrology, I think.
AC: So I want to take a quick poll just among us.
KS: Yeah, I was going to say we all have to confess, don’t we?
AC: Right, well, yeah, what was, before you got into astrology, how did you regard horoscope columns?
CB: I mean, I always, I read my horoscope and I sometimes got, like, those little scrolls at like, corner stores, that they sell that have like, your…yeah, the scrolls. So yeah.
KS: The news agents, we call them in Australia. Totally, I loved them. I read them, and I couldn’t get enough of them. And I sometimes think that was because I was a teenager and I was boy crazy and I needed to know if my sign was going to work with his sign or whatever. (Laughs)
CB: Well, and you know what’s funny about that is arguably, or possibly, all three of us are people with day charts, potentially, and if not day charts then at least, like, huge emphasis on each of our Sun signs.
AC: I thought they were complete garbage.
CB: Oh, really?
KS: Of course you did, Austin! (Laughs)
AC: Oh yeah. Oh, I thought it was just garbage.
CB: So all Sun sign astrology then never appealed to you, or you never saw any, like, of the characteristics to ring true?
AC: No. Part of it is that I’m a Pisces, and that there was this habit that a lot of, or I’m a Pisces, my Sun is in Pisces, which is my sect light. And people, a lot of popular Sun sign writers always depict Pisces as just these, like, shapeless, amorphous, weak-willed, like, sweetie-pies.
CB: But you’re like a Sun conjunct Mars opposite Saturn Pisces?
AC: Yeah. (Laughs)
CB: The metal version of Pisces.
AC: Yeah. And you know, I was, I had an almost military discipline about my life as a teenager. And so, you know, I was just like, this has nothing to do with me. This is stupid.
KS: Oh, my goodness. See, and Austin, I find that funny because, of course I’m a Pisces too, or I’ve got the Sun in Pisces as well. And I loved them. But I mean, I’m a girl, and you know, they spoke to my spirituality or something. I don’t know. Yeah, I have the Sun-Saturn thing too, but it’s interesting, and maybe I didn’t think that much about them.
CB: Well, I mean it’s also, it’s like, Kelly you have a huge stellium of planets in Pisces.
KS: Well, and actually yeah, I mean, I don’t necessarily need to talk about my whole chart, but the one thing…
KS: …I wanted to say, no no no (laughs), it’s, I am going to, though, I’m going to talk about one, two components. The way a lot of Sun sign or horoscope columns are written is that the writer of the column makes an assumption that your Sun sign and your rising or ascendant sign are one and the same. And I think because in my own chart I do have that, I do have the Sun in Pisces and Pisces rising, that has always been a really nice feature or dovetail for me.
CB: Yeah, I…
KS: And so when you reach… yeah, yeah, go.
CB: That raises the point that they’re probably, even from the perspective of advanced astrology, there’s going to be certain people who theoretically Sun sign columns would appear to more, whereas there’s going to be other people where if the Sun is not playing as dominant of a role in their chart or if it’s not in as prominent a location, then it’s not going to speak to them as much as somebody who, you know, has the Sun, Moon, and Ascendant in the same sign, let’s say, for example.
KS: For example (laughs). Yeah. For sure, hypothetically. Yeah, so, I mean there’s, of course, and that’s the part where horoscope astrology is simplified. We have to make assumptions because we can only write for twelve different groups of people. We don’t get to write for a hundred and forty-four or what have you. But the other point there, if you are reading horoscope columns, it can be helpful to read for both your Sun sign and your rising sign as well, just based on how they’re written.
CB: Yeah, definitely. That leads us to our first argument against, or our first con, which is that arguably, they’re too simplistic. Because a Sun sign, and this is commonly brought up by skeptics of astrology, the argument that, you know, that the premise essentially is that, especially if you’re looking at a daily horoscope, is that one-twelfth of the world’s population, entire population of like six billion plus people, is having the same type of day. Or that somehow that horoscope column for each sign applies equally to all, you know, whatever, a sixth of one, of six billion people is. And that’s kind of a compelling argument in some sense. I mean, there’s actually pros and cons against that argument, but at least on a surface level, there’s something sort of compelling about that, in that even most astrologers would agree that, you know, just taking that one factor into account is very simplistic compared to the number of factors, the hundreds or thousands of factors that you’re taking into account in an actual birth chart.
KS: Absolutely. Absolutely. It is, I mean, it is a simplified version, and I think, I mean I do write horoscope columns, I’ve been writing them for ten years, and I write, sometimes I do daily, sometimes I do weeklies, I’ve done monthlies, I do my annuals. We are simplifying it. And that’s a valid kind of con; it is not as specific as a detailed chart reading. But that idea of it being a gateway or an entry point—it’s a starting point, essentially.
AC: Yeah, well, and so, you know, what you were saying, Chris, is that not everybody’s going to have exactly the same event happen at the same time. Or that one-twelfth isn’t going to have that. And so that was something that I thought a lot about in terms of, and still think about in terms of what are the boundaries of the claims I can make, right? So let’s say that, you know, Saturn is going to be in the sixth house from the Sun for two and a half years. Right? Like, you can say real things about that…
AC: …but it’s not going to manifest for everyone in a dramatic and literal fashion. You don’t really know how much power that’s going to have, whether it’s going to be an internal theme, or whether it’s going to be really blatant. And, you know, the major events of their lives are going to sort of hang on that skeleton. You don’t know that, right, ‘cause you don’t know if they have other planets in their sixth, you don’t know the condition of the ruler, you don’t know what the Ascendant is. But you, simply having a planet in a place and in a sign, and knowing what that planet’s doing with the other planets in the sky if not in the chart, does allow you to make certain claims and to say certain things. But, you know, in some senses, trying to be too accurate with a Sun sign column is a road to hell. Right, ‘cause you just can’t go beyond a certain point because you don’t have the information. So, I don’t know, I just try to you know, throw down the range of experiences that is likely, and what they look like, what they will probably look like externally as well as what they will probably feel like internally, ‘cause I don’t know—I don’t have their charts, which one of those sets of experiences or events is going to pop up for that person? I know it’s going to be in that range, but I don’t know where.
CB: Yeah, I mean, and we run into that even in full blown astrology, where, I mean, you have the same phenomenon., where for example, in a very simplistic sense, like , I’ve been, for some reason, and like Lisa, my girlfriend always comments on this, that I have an abnormal amount of friends who have Leo rising. And so when Saturn changes signs, I get to see, like, all of the different events that are associated with Saturn going through a different house, a different whole sign house, happening to this huge group of people. And so over the past three years, I’ve been observing all of my Leo rising friends having Saturn go through their fourth house, and all sorts of things pertaining to like their home and living situation, to their family, and just the general theme of like roots or foundations coming up in each person’s life, but in a slightly different way. And you kind of get the same thing with Sun sign astrology, where the astrologer has to speak in a general sense in order to describe or attempt to describe the archetype of what that placement or what that transit or what have you will mean. And then there’s some way in which it’s still probably true that in a number of different ways, that each person will see, or many of those people will see, some manifestation of that. Sometimes in a very stark way and sometimes in a very subtle way in that area of their life, I think.
KS: Yeah. The one thing I would say to that is that’s absolutely true, and it can still be useful or helpful even if it is somewhat general. You know, that example of the Leo risings with Saturn in the fourth, I mean, we know the topic there would be home and living situation, or family affairs. And I think this is one of the great pros or gifts of simplistic or Sun sign astrology, is that at the very least it can just shine a little bit of a spotlight in one corner or another of life. And that can then invite the person to bring some attention there and maybe engage in that area of their life in a way that, you know, feels both, that intuitively appropriate but may also have that resonance with the planet cycle.
AC: Yeah. I was going to say something similar. Another thing I would like to add is that because of the intellectual and religious disruptions over the last couple centuries, most people don’t have, or a lot of people don’t have a go-to place to access, what do you all it, the literature of wisdom. Right?
AC: Right. And so there’s not a, you know, we don’t, we have, like, science, about a variety of things, but wisdom and philosophy are a little bit different, right? The love of wisdom. And so if we’re not going, if someone’s not going to church, or isn’t very interested in what they say at a church, then, you know, I think horoscope problems—horoscope problems? Horoscope columns! (laughs)—hashtag horoscope problems—have provided a place for people to talk about wisdom, about how do you handle life. You know, and wisdom is always, you know, synthetic and general in addressing, you know, the principles of good living, the principles of handling oneself in a variety of situations. And there just, you know, I just don’t think there are a lot of places where people do that. You know, people like to talk about, you know, the awful thing that this person did or that’s happening in this county or country or whatever, but, you know, horoscope problem—god, horoscope columns!—have provided this, you know, this sort of site where wisdom is actually important.
CB: Well, and very briefly, so we can get on to some of the other points, we only have like 30 minutes left, but how did you, if you weren’t originally into horoscope columns or Sun signs, Austin, how did you get into astrology?
AC: I’ll do the really quick version of this. I was playing a video game. It was like this fantasy-based, military tactics game….
KS: Oh my god! Of course.
AC: …called Final Fantasy Tactics—it’s a total classic—and all of the characters had zodiac signs in it. And the interactions between them were modified by the aspect between the signs. So signs that had soft aspects, it would be easier to land a successful attack on an enemy that had a, that had like a trine sign of the same element. And then the hard aspects made it harder to successfully interact. And it, you know, and so I had to learn the, all of the aspects between the signs. And it happened to model it pretty well. And then I started noticing these, you know, these percentage modifiers between the people that I was working with, ‘cause I knew their Sun signs.
CB: (Laughs) And you used that to like time when to…attack people you knew or something?
AC: Well, no, I mean this wasn’t transit-based. This was just like inherent, this was basically like starting with synastry or aspects.
AC: And I was like, yeah, I do hate that Sagittarius that I work with.
CB: Well, that was not the answers that I was expecting…
KS: ..that you were expecting…
CB: …but that works. Okay. Well, that’s still basically, actually no—I mean, that’s still basically means that your entry point into astrology was Sun signs then. Well, in some broad sense, to the extent….
AC: It wasn’t about characterizing personality. It was about, it was a relational diagram. You know, I didn’t know what they meant, I just knew what the aspect, I knew the aspects between all of the signs, and the types of relationships that were applied.
CB: I mean that’s exactly, that’s what Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs was, though, and that’s exactly what…
AC: That’s what Love Signs is about.
CB: …most people use Sun sign astrology for.
KS: Yes. Yes.
CB: Yeah. And that becomes, that’s why, what was it, it was like that stupid History Channel special a few months ago, like, they got to the end and one of their teasers to make you hang on through the commercial was, “What happens when we put astrology’s greatest claim to the test?” And then they came back from the commercial, and it was like the greatest claim, evidently from their perspective of astrology, was that like different people get along or relate to each other better or worse based on their Sun sign. And they went on a whole section about whether Sun signs actually statistically stay together longer or shorter in a marriage. So at least for many people, I guess, in the 20th century, like you said with that thing earlier about, you know in the 60s and 70s, that pickup line, what’s your sign, or that opener, like that became the idea that a person’s Sun sign has something to do with how they relate to other people, became one of the main things that people knew or thought astrology was all about in the sort of mainstream consciousness. All right, so pros and cons. So we’re working our way through our list, and one of the things I think we’ve already said, basically, or conclusions we’ve come to as our second pro is that it keeps astrology alive, or it revived astrology and helped to revive astrology in the public consciousness after falling out for a couple of centuries, but it also kind of continues to do so. I mean, to the extent that Sun sign astrology is still around and is still something that people turn to and look to and still becomes like a gateway to other forms of astrology, it’s keeping astrology alive in the public consciousness. Whereas otherwise, it’s like, astrologers aren’t doing a super great job of doing that otherwise. Or we don’t have a lot of openings to do that otherwise. I mean there are a few things, like, you know, let’s say Mercury retrogrades and Saturn returns that are becoming popularized as more advanced astrological concepts, but…
AC: I have to jump in.
AC: My favorite new thing is how every astrologer, all the astrologers start arguing about what Mercury retrograde means, every Mercury retrograde…
AC: …is exactly the signification of Mercury retrograde. And it never fuck…er, sorry, and it never goes anywhere. It’s like this useless conversation. Anyway, just wanted to jump in with that. Please go on.
CB: That is a great point. We should come, Kelly and I did a Mercury retrograde episode a couple of years ago and it might be good to return to that and have this same discussion about that at some point. Okay. So, keeping astrology alive in the public consciousness. The con to that, of course, is that, or what astrologers then, some astrologers argue against that, is that that’s a bad thing, that it, because supposedly or arguably Sun sign astrology does not represent astrology, and does not represent astrologers very well, that that’s actually a bad thing, that Sun astrology is the thing that’s keeping astrology alive in the public consciousness, because then it give people a false idea of what astrology really is, or what it actually can do, or what it does, is the sort of counterargument. What do you guys think about that?
AC: Well, you know, when I was writing Sun sign material, or horoscope, I just think of them as horoscopes, ‘cause what I do, and a number of other astrologers do this, I know Michael Lutin does this. You know, there’s a little section, the header for the horoscope section, says, okay, so, you know, you can read your Sun; if you know your rising, that would probably be better. I, you know, always had a little caveat up there that was like, okay so this is not, you know, full-power astrology; this is really simplified, but it can be fun and it can be useful. But take it with a grain of salt. You know, if you want the real deal, like, get your chart, study it, or, you know, pay an astrologer to help you out with it. You know, there’s that. And I would actually, I started telling people to read their sect light, after all. So if you’re born during the night, read the Moon, et cetera, et cetera. And so I felt like, I don’t know, I don’t know if this is effective, but I felt like that was kind of protecting astrology a little bit. Right? Like, that I, you know, I wasn’t saying, oh, here’s astrology, this is how it works. I was saying, okay, we can do this, and this might be worth doing, but know this about it.
CB: Sure. You’re giving a sort of disclaimer in some sense.
AC: Yeah, exactly.
KS: Yeah, ‘cause I think the issue with horoscope columns is when people think that that is all that there is to do with astrology. It’s like, try it, dive in, enjoy it, but don’t stop with horoscope columns. Take it further. And that’s ultimately what you sound like you’re inviting your readers to do, Austin, is to be aware that this isn’t everything. And so I don’t know that it gives a false idea, or that it doesn’t represent astrology very well. It’s just that, I guess we have to be mindful and we’re mindful and maybe not the general public, that there are limits to what a horoscope column can do. But it will help, or it will be a stepping stone.
CB: Yeah, and that’s perhaps something we should address. I mean, ‘cause the people that go down this line of argumentation, one of their ultimate, like, assertions becomes that Sun sign astrology is not quote-unquote real astrology. I mean, how would you guys respond to that charge?
KS: Uh…..do you want to take this Austin, or do you want me to jump on my soapbox?
AC: Well, I mean, a lot…Okay, for one thing, real—the real astrology—is a pretty contentious concept. Does it bring the full sophistication of natal astrology to bear? Absolutely not. Does the astrologer, I mean, in some ways it’s almost more similar to election astrology and the way you know is the quality of time, more than you know the person who’s experiencing it. And so, you know, one thing that’s actually, that I’ve found pretty easy to call is when it’s going to suck for most people for a couple weeks. Right? And you can be like, yeah, these couple days, this is the, you know, that’s when the suck button gets pushed, and you know, not everybody’s life is going to go into the toilet, but three-quarters of your friends will be kvetching about how they had a really hard week. And so, you know, you do understand, you are using all of the astrology possible to understand the current planetary line-up, you just don’t have very much information on the natal level.
CB: Sure. And you sort of run into the same issue that if you’re practicing mundane astrology, for example, that you run into, which is that you see a big important planetary line up, you have a general idea of what it means, and you know that it’s going to apply to large groups of people or that there’s going to be large groups, there’s going to be some groups of people within the larger population that are going to get hit harder by that than other people. And so you sort of, like, describe the alignment and describe what you think it means, and then it’s like astrologers frequently, I’ve observed this, run into this thing where it’s like they’ll be this one even that like clearly matches the symbolic significance of that astrological placement or transit or alignment or what have you. And it looks really striking from a symbolic standpoint, that it actually does match what you’re talking about, but, you know, from an outsider’s perspective perhaps there’s this question of like, well, it didn’t really apply to everybody, it just, there was just this one event, or there was just a few events that matched that. And so, yeah, it’s just, it’s something you run into not just in Sun sign astrology but also in mundane astrology in general just in attempting to apply astrology to large groups of people, that sometimes it’s going to be especially striking in one group of people and perhaps not as much in another.
AC: Yeah. I just wanted to chime in, not totally off topic but just slightly to the left. So one of my favorite things is when astrologers talk about the Uranus-Pluto conjunction in the ‘60s and how that was this like glorious revolution for freedom. So that’s what it looked like in the United States and parts of Britain. If anybody knows….
CB: Within like a segment of the population.
AC: Yeah. So if anybody knows anything about Chinese history, they were also having a revolution. But it was a hideously oppressive, super-radicalized—that was the Cultural Revolution.
AC: Right? That’s, yeah that’s when you know it was time to tattle on your neighbor and there were lots of people whose lives were interfered with or destroyed for rather unjust reasons. So yeah, it was a radicalization and it was revolutionary and that happened at the same time in both places. But (laughs) you know, this loading it with positive value that people like to do because they miss the hippies is hilarious.
CB: Sure. Yeah, I think that’s a really good example. So, what is your soapbox, briefly, Kelly, about this, about Sun sign astrology not being real astrology?
KS: Yeah, it’s, I mean, as Austin said, the idea of the real astrology, it is a contentious idea. I mean, what is real, and then what is astrology, and we’re out way in left field talking about existential stuff. But the idea, you know, if the horoscope column that you’re reading is written by an astrologer—and that’s something to keep in mind, is that sometimes they’re not, they’re written by journalists or what have you—but if it is written…
CB: Right, which is one of the arguments against horoscope columns as well.
KS: Of course. Yeah. Which, understandably so. But if it’s written by an astrologer who’s taking time to craft the column, it is real astrology in the sense that it uses the planets, it uses real time configurations, like Austin was referring to, you know, we’ve got coming up next week, Jupiter square Saturn. I mean, that is going to manifest differently for each of us, but it’s going to create some common threads or themes that we’ll all be grappling with, perhaps just in different areas or around different topics in our life. So, you know, if astrology, you know, if real astrology involves using signs with, you know, in Sun sign astrology, we’re using a solar version of the houses or a whole sign version of the houses, which is real astrology, and it’s using planets as they make actual configurations, then there is a realness to the work and to the information that comes out of them.
CB: Yeah. Definitely. And I mean, I want to go out on a limb here and just say, I’m tired of, I’ve seen like three or four different attempts to brand, of different people trying to attempt to brand, like what is the real astrology. And I’m really tired of it. And it’s such a bullshit distinction, because it’s just one group of people doing a specific type of astrology and saying that they’re the ones that have the true astrology, and everyone else doesn’t. And it’s sort of, like likened in some sense to like religious feuds, about, like, who has the monopoly on the truth, on the religious truth in some sense.
AC: Yeah, I think it’s odd….
KS: You go Austin.
AC: I was just going to say, I think it’s especially absurd, given the historical depth and breadth of astrology, for one person or one group to claim to have the real astrology. You know. How many fields have thousands of years of history in several different cultures?
CB: Right. Yeah, and different forms, and like, manifestations, and applications, and everything else. So even the distinction of trying to invoke, like, what is, you know, the real astrology, is kind of like a bullshit argument. I think most people would agree.
CB: So we should move away from that just in general. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing, like..
KS: Otherwise we’ll all have our blood boiling! (Laughs)
CB: Yeah. I mean, it doesn’t matter if you’re doing, like, traditional astrology and you’re saying I do the real astrology, or you’re doing modern psychological astrology and only that’s real. It’s like that’s really faulty argument because of the breadth and depth and complexity and variety of different forms of astrology. It’s really hard to claim that. And Sun sign astrology, even if it’s not as complex or advanced and doesn’t take into as many factors, it is a genuine form of astrology. And so that’s one of the pro arguments that I would make, is that there is some truth to, and there’s some fundamental, underlying validity, I think, even if you’re doing Sun sign astrology, to that distinction, to those twelve signs and to the qualities associated with them and the different applications of that. There’s still some underlying validity to it, even if it’s much more generalized and much more simplistic than something more advanced.
CB: And I think we would all agree on that, right?
AC: Yeah. I do.
KS: I agree. Yeah, I mean, and the other piece, too, is some of the points here on the pros list that, the one I wanted to kind of lead into with that is it aids in developing delineations that are comprehensible to the everyday person. So, you know, I remember a girlfriend, and if she listens to this she’ll know who she is, she said to me, you know, when we write horoscope columns, we’re writing to the girl on the bus. We’re writing to somebody who’s sitting on the train, or takin the subway, you know, they’re reading the magazine on the way home from work. These days they might be reading an astrology app on their phone. And the idea is that you’re providing something insightful that’s grounded in tangible or a real event that might provide a perspective they hadn’t considered. And, you know, to write that is great training for an apprentice or a beginner astrologer. And it really does help even all of us, ‘cause I think, you know, I’m, not that I’m obsessed with reading Sun sign columns these days, but there are some people that I love to read their work and how did they describe this particular configuration. And all of that helps to make astrology more accessible to a wider audience. And I personally can only think that that’s a good thing.
CB: Sure. So your…
KS: I don’t know what you guys think.
CB: …your points are that it, a) that it aids in developing delineations that are comprehensible and like accessible to the layman, and then b) that it’s actually also good for the astrologer and that it trains them to look at just a single placement or a single configuration from the perspective of all the twelve possible signs and to write it from that perspective in a more accessible manner in some sense. I mean, are those, those are your two points?
KS: Yeah, yeah. And that’s, yeah, that is absolutely it. And then the point there too, to carry a little bit further, is that if you are a working astrologer, you know, if there’s a configuration happening, say, the Venus retrograde or the Jupiter square Saturn, and you’re working with clients, this is kind of what you’re doing in session. You’re being a little bit more specific and a little bit more detailed because you’ve got the whole chart, but that idea of considering something from twelve possible perspectives, you would do that in session with a client. So this is like a muted down, or a simplified version of that, again.
CB: Sure. And in terms of the other cons that we had sort of listed, I mean one of them is the idea that Sun sign astrology is like an easy target for skeptics. It’s like, I don’t know if that’s a huge issue, it is in some sense to the extent that it’s easy, easier to mischaracterize astrology in various ways if all you know about is Sun sign astrology. So that’s a somewhat legitimate argument, but that’s not a huge, like, reason to like, get rid of Sun sign astrology necessarily. As mentioned earlier, not all horoscope columns evidently are written by astrologers. I was told this once by a sort of high ranking astrologer who said that some of the newspapers just employed random people that were not necessarily astrologers to write columns, and that is problematic. Although…
AC: Oh yeah. That’s certainly true.
KS: That’s true, that’s true.
AC: I was at a writing workshop in college a long, long time ago. And one of the speakers was a guy who was talking about his various jobs and he was like, “Yeah, so, you know, I don’t believe in astrology or know anything about it, but I wrote a horoscope column for twelve years for this one newspaper.”
CB: Wow. Yeah, and so, I mean, when it comes to that, I would think there would still be a qualitative difference between, because even within the astrological community you can see qualitative difference between different people’s columns. And so I’m sure somebody like that is not going to write as good of a column obviously as somebody that’s like a serious, hardcore astrologer that’s putting everything they can into writing a good horoscope column. So that, you know, again, while that’s a misuse of Sun sign astrology or something like that, it’s still not necessarily an argument to get rid of it entirely. And then, additionally, one of the counterarguments is the idea that since most horoscope columns tend to be short, they’re not always, like, super useful. So I’m talking about, like, the very short, like, few sentence dailies. You know, what the usefulness, really, of that is when it’s so short and concise that you can hardly really say anything, like what that actually does for a person and if it’s useful. What do you guys think?
KS: Well…it’s hard to, I guess I’m trying to respond from someone who both, you know, would be interested in the reader and then has a little bit of an editorial perspective on that. In some ways, those really short, daily, like the ones you might read in the newspaper, they’re really just designed to add a little bit of sweetness or a little bit of lightness into your morning commute, essentially. So they’re not as technical, and in sometimes, the brief that you get as the writer from the editors is actually not to use any technical terms. And that’s not sometimes, something you get a lot of control over. So you kind of do the best you can, but when you’ve only got 50 words, which is how short some of them are, you’re really, you’ve got two sentences. So all you can do is maybe hit on a topic and sway it, you know, expand or contract type of thing. It’s tricky.
AC: Yeah, it’s, I wouldn’t write something like that. You know, I do sometimes, a lot of times, my horoscopes are really brief, but it’s after, you know, a thousand- or two-thousand-word essay about the main thing that we’re talking about. Right? So it just adds a little, it just offers those twelve perspectives on that, you know, on the main thing, whether it’s Saturn in this or Jupiter in that. But I wouldn’t, I, that’s, it’s not enough for me. I wouldn’t want to do it. And when I write, I write dailies in my almanac, but I just write about everything that happens in the sky that day. And then, you know, people can just notice how they relate to various things.
CB: Sure, and I mean, but at the same time, it’s like we do know, reputable astrologers that do dailies, such as, you know, Rick Levine for example. I know almost every conference and other event that I’ve been to with him, will be late up at night like talking about like quantum mechanics and like synchronicity, at like three in the morning, and then suddenly he’ll look at his watch and say, “I have to go write my column.” (Laughter) You know, he’ll run off, and he’s like really serious and dedicated to it, and does a really good job, and his column gets syndicated in like a bunch of different newspapers and online sources, like Tarot.com and like AOL and a bunch of stuff like that, I think. So, and I forget what exactly how he describes it, but I mean he does have a good argument for the dailies in being almost like this kind of, like, oracle or something like that, that is going to speak to some people. And even if he’s not able to go into huge details, there will be certain people who it does touch in particular, especially if they’re closely tied in with that sign for whatever reason. And that brings in the final counterargument, or the final con argument, which actually I think came up earlier in this episode, which is that you know, for some people, their Sun sign may not be as important as other placements, or there could be things offsetting it so that their Sun sign description is actually not going to match them well at all. And I think that’s what came up in your case, Austin, where you have the Sun in Pisces, and so there, any Sun sign column or any horoscope that you read would be describing it in a very ultra-Pisces type manner, but because you have Mars in the same sign and you have Saturn opposing it, you have this huge, contrasting or sort of mitigating factor that’s making you not the typical Pisces in some sense we might say.
AC: Yeah, I would also add that, you know, for everybody writing Sun sign columns out there, stop relying on Neptune to delineate Pisces.
CB: Okay. But instead focus on Jupiter?
AC: Or at least take Jupiter into account. You know, if you look at Pisces historically, like, they’re not, they’re mostly not piles of mush. They might be sensitive and imaginative, but they’re, you know, they’re not these useless receptacles. (Laughs) It’s really boring to read that. It’s like, oh you know, poor you, it’s like, no, that’s not how I live my life, right? And you know, it’s not just me with the Mars Saturn Pisces. I know lots of Pisces. Kelly’s one.
AC: …have the Mars there, and who has Sun and Moon in Pisces, right? And you know (laughs), you’ve hardly lived your life that way.
KS: That’s true.
AC: Yes. Stop overlying on Neptune for Pisces!
CB: That sounds like another hashtag coming on, like not all Pisces or something.
KS: Not all Pisces are in the gutter.
KS: But that too though, not that I do, I mean, Austin, like, to speak to that, that’s partly the astrologer’s preference. Because if you’re a modern astrologer writing a horoscope column, then you’re going to Neptune and you’re going to Uranus for Aquarius. Where if you’ve got more of a traditional bent, then you will default to Jupiter for Pisces and Mars for Scorpio or what have you.
AC: Yeah, but it’s incorrect.
KS: Well, you and I might think that, but not everybody agrees with us. (Laughs)
CB: Let’s, since we only have a few minutes left…
KS: That’s a whole other debate.
CB: Yeah, we’ll get into that.
AC: I’m comfortable with that position. We can, I’d be happy to defend that ground on another day.
CB: All right. Well, that’ll be the pros and cons of modern versus traditional rulerships.
KS: Totally, that would be a very intense discussion. But, yeah. Tune in next time for that one!
CB: Right. So just to close off that last point, I mean, one of the downsides, and I think this is a potential downside, I mean as we saw in the case of Austin, is that some people may be actually turned away from astrology in general if their Sun sign description doesn’t match because of mitigating factors that are throwing that off. But unfortunately, I think that’s just a hazard that…
CB: …comes along with Sun sign astrology…
KS: Goes with the territory.
CB: Yeah, it goes with the territory and it’s just one of the main downsides that we’ll never be able to get around, but is, I don’t want to say, I want to almost say, like, it’s almost like a necessary loss, that we will lose some people in exchange for other people being exposed to it who, because they have placements that do match that sign, are more closely identify with their Sun sign for whatever reason. So…
KS: Absolutely. And I don’t think there’s a lot we can do about that. Hopefully just to get counterpoints or other accessible entry points out there, so that for people who don’t resonate with the horoscope columns, they might stumble across, you know, a well-written blog piece or, you know, a podcast of some kind that might speak to them a little bit more.
CB: It’s kind of funny ‘cause that would almost imply that for every Austin out there (Laughter), there’s like, there’s a Chris and Kelly, like a super Scorpio stellium and a super Pisces stellium, that are like really attached to their Sun signs…
CB: …and then there’s one, you know, person that’s like, no, that doesn’t match me at all.
KS: But the thing, the interesting argument here, to come back to you, Austin, is that you still found your way into astrology, even though you did not relate to the wafty Neptune bullshit version of Pisces, you’re still here, working as an astrologer.
AC: Yeah, thanks to video games.
KS: Video games.
CB: That is the traditional, that’s how William Lilly did it (laughter), and it’s a time honored access point to astrology.
KS: Totally. That’s how Rob Hand started I’m sure.
CB: (Laughs) Right. Okay. So, in order to wrap this up as we start getting into the last few minutes of the show, one of the sort of, I think points to bring it all together, and one of the points you wanted to bring up, Austin, was just that we’re kind of moving into a post-newspaper world, and what that means in terms of horoscope columns in the future, and whether they’ll continue to maintain the role that they’ve had in society or how that might grow and transform and change in the 21st century.
AC: Yeah. I mean, the whole horoscope column only comes about as astrology is adapting to early 20th century mass media. Right, like that’s where we get that from. Before that we had almanacs, because we had printing presses. Right? And now, you know, now we, I mean, so now we have the internet, and a lot of people have replicated with some alterations, that newspaper format. And it’s, not to say that’s entirely inappropriate, but if you look at what happens when new media are introduced, people begin by replicating a similar form of old media. Like old silent films are staged like theater productions. But with time, people begin to come up with forms that are entirely suited and only made possible by that newer media. And so I was just wondering, you know, where astrological writing will go. And I think already it’s kind of gone a variety of directions that it wouldn’t. You know, there are a lot of less formal columns, things, or, excuse me, pieces that are less formal than columns. You know, we call them blogs.
AC: And there’s also, you know, whereas there used to be, I think a sharper divide between Sun sign and real astrology, now there’s a lot of middle ground. You know. There are a lot of people who’ve, you know, got a couple of years under their belt and understand some things, and who just as a project, do some writing every week or every other week. And, you know, there’s this sort of middle ground or journeyman sort of area that blurs that, like, that Sun sign versus you go to conferences. Like real versus, you know, inside-outside. I don’t think that that dynamic, which is maybe where some of the criticism of Sun signs is coming from, I don’t think that dynamic exists any more, and it’s dissolving further every day.
CB: Yeah. And I mean, like, one of the things, the emergence of blogs and having an easy platform for astrologers to set up their own website and to write and also not have space limitations has almost seen the resurgence of the astrological almanacs, which is what essentially both you two are writing on a regular basis at this point, is something more akin to almanacs, rather than just Sun sign columns, due to having more control over your publishing platform and due to having not quite the same space restrictions, I almost want to say. Is that correct?
AC: Yeah, absolutely.
KS: Yeah. And also not having editorial constraints, because if you’re being published in any kind of print media, and you’re not the publisher, you are somewhat restricted by whatever the expectations of the person who is publishing your work. So, to be able to write online where there is no space restrictions, so your work count can be as high or as small as you want, and the topic or the theme or the tone can go in any direction that you choose—there is a fantastic level of freedom that comes with that.
AC: Yeah, I’ve really, you know, I’ve, although I’ve done projects with publishers, you know, I self-publish my almanac because I love the freedom to be negative. Right? ‘Cause I’m not trying to hit a mass market…
KS: And that’s one of the big points when you’re published in a mainstream audience, is the negativity is not allowed. No problems.
AC: Right. Like, I don’t need to sell fifty thousand copies to break even because of marketing costs.
AC: You know, like it’s not the same thing. And that provides a freedom in which, in my case, it’s a freedom to be more honest and to not have to sugarcoat things. But, you know, it’s, that’s what I, you know, think I’m doing with it. But in general, it is a freedom to, like you said, Kelly, to take the tone that you think is most appropriate. It puts the astrologer in charge on an editorial level in a way that’s actually been pretty rare in the past.
CB: Totally. And that seems to, that freedom also seems to allow I think astrologers to slip in other astrological ideas, which perhaps might be the reason why some of these broader astrological notions like Mercury retrograde or like the Saturn return or the Uranus opposition are starting to gain more mainstream currency in some sense.
AC: Yeah, I think that’s true.
CB: All right. Well, so, I guess it’s time to wrap this up since we all have stuff to do. So, let’s, maybe each of us, if you have any parting words in terms of the pros and cons of Sun sign astrology. Kelly, what would you say?
KS: I would, I mean, my very short summary is that they’re a great starting point, but don’t get stuck in them. You know, do keep your mind open and read beyond the horoscope columns. There is so much more. A horoscope column is not even the tip of the iceberg for astrology. And we’ve all drunk the Kool-Aid and we’d like you to join us.
AC: It’s actually an iceberg floating in an ocean of Kool-Aid.
KS: (Laughing) There you go!
AC: I guess what I would say is that a lot of the, I agree with a lot of the objections to Sun sign material, if the author of the column doesn’t take care to address them. Right? Like, put a disclaimer up, let people know that this is a radical simplification that can be useful and fun, but if you actually are interested in astrology or if you find this useful, for god’s sakes, pull up your chart. There are a million sites. All you have to do is click, enter your birth data, and then look at it. And there are tons of free report writers. Read a, you know, recognize that you have a Moon and an Ascendant. And that’s not beyond the intellectual or time capacity of most people. If you’ve got time to read a column, you’ve got time to pull up your chart.
CB: Definitely. And for my part, I would just say that they’re a useful and necessary, I don’t want to say evil, because I don’t think they’re, I don’t think horoscope columns or Sun signs are evil, but I think that they’re, I mean obviously some of their writers like you two are, but that’s beside the point. (Laughter) So, Sun signs are a necessary thing in order to keep astrology alive in the public consciousness and expose people to astrology and keep the discussion going on about astrology in the mainstream. And for many people like me and Kelly and other people, that will be the gateway into astrology. And there’s something not just useful about that, but even aside from that, Sun signs do hold some basic fundamental truth about astrology in general, and to the extent that they are doing that, and they’re bringing that to the public, I think it’s a net positive thing. So that doesn’t mean that we don’t need to stop talking about it and don’t need to stop trying to guide people or help lead people towards the more advanced forms, and countering the attacks of skeptics who try and make astrology or portray it as if Sun signs is all there is. But I don’t think it’s necessary to reject it or treat it as if it’s not the real astrology because it’s just as real, I think, as anything else.
CB: So, all right. Well, on that note, I think we can wrap up the show. So, yeah, you guys are good; any other points on your point? What are your websites?
KS: KellysAstrology.com and…Austin?
AC: I’m AustinCoppock.com.
CB: Awesome. So I’d recommend checking out their columns. So, anyway, that’s it for this episode. Thank you, we are just ending our first month of, after a month ago, launching the campaign on Patreon and we have over 50 or 60 supporters, I think, or patrons, so you guys, thanks to your support we’ve been able to do, I’ve been able to do one episode each week for the entire month of July, plus a fifth bonus episode with Nick Dagan Best, just as a thank you and a token of my appreciation. Now we’re on to August, and if support keeps going like that, then for the foreseeable I’ll be doing one episode each week. So this was the fortieth episode, which is a big landmark. I’m glad to have done it with Austin and Kelly. And, yeah, we’ll be back again soon with another full month of episodes in August. So, thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time.