Planet Waves | The Horoscope Story by Eric Francis


The Horoscope Story | By Eric Francis

......Astrology is an extremely interesting mix of intuition and science, though it's clearly not a game for those lacking in imagination. Every culture has astrology, just like every culture has food. Sun-sign horoscopes, which are just a small aspect of the larger universe of astrology, are a blend of astrological thinking, common sense, mythology, poetry, synchronicity and the highly interpretative nature of the reality in which we live. This is to say, what we call reality is not so hard-and-fast as we might think, but is itself comprised of a multitude of symbols which are subject to interpretation. Your boss, your lover, the clothes you wear, what you think about your kids, how you feel about George Dubya, what you think of when you see the hot dog guy on Fifth Avenue, all of these things are symbolic in nature. What we live with from day-to-day is more about the interpretation than the reality; horoscopes just present another way of looking at life, no more "true" or "false" in the objective sense than any other way of looking at life.

......An astrologer stands between the technical and philosophical, on one side of the veil, and the world of human events and feelings, on the other, and then does some translating.

......Oh, plenty gets lost in the process, and the astrology you get, in the end, is going to be a little better or a little worse than the skill of the translator. But somehow, something gets through, often something new and surprising to both the reader and the writer. A good Sun-sign horoscope presents the reader with enough specifics to make reference points in life, but is also open-ended enough to be subject to interpretation. We might ask how it's possible that a horoscope read by 100,000 Sagittarians (imagine such a thing!) is able to say something different to all of them, and the answer is because each of them brings different experiences and material to reading the ideas in the horoscope.

So is it real?

......A skeptic might use this as proof that astrology is bullshit, but this same process works with everything from watching a ball game to an opera. Everyone views the same thing from a different perspective, and sees something a little different. C'est la vie! And face it, life would suck otherwise. Now, from a philosophical standpoint, I do not mean to make the case that truth does not exist. I don't think astrology is about getting at The Truth in the college professor sense of the word, but rather, it is a useful and easily available process that helps us get close to our own reality as individuals.

......Astrology relies upon scientific principles to do its work (there is en enormous amount of math, for which we are lucky to have computers that think faster than we do) it cannot be proven scientifically. This is because every case of interpretation is unique. You cannot have a "universe" of the same or even similar cases. Science is more like an abstraction of astrology; astrology came first, along with sex, poetry and food.

.....I've written a few articles in the past describing the process of creating horoscope columns, but in short, I simply look at charts for the New Moon, Full Moon, Equinox or Solstice (or some big event, like Saturn opposite Pluto) closest to the column date, and base my interpretations, more or less, on these. I may only use one chart to write for a whole month, such as a New Moon at the beginning of the month. I cast the charts for where I happen to be at the time of writing. Only one chart may be necessary because the planets move in a fairly predictable way. However, I use an ephemeris (my favore two are Raphael's, an annual available by spcial order at any book store and Aureas which is not availble retail in the US but is availble for purchase online) to check dates and keep things on schedule.

How they work...

......Horoscopes (mine anyway) are applicable to your Sun and rising signs. I always find the Moon sign interesting, too (ask an astrologer for yours, or go to a free chart service online and look these things up. Do it!) In reality, the whole chart for a column (New Moon, etc.) applies to all of us, and we all have business in each of the houses. For example, if you know that Capricorn is on your third house and you are a writer, then you can surely look to the Capricorn entry for information about your writing. The thing is, some of the ideas may seem way off base, so it's a good idea to adopt a take it or leave it approach to reading them, or a wait and see attitude. However, I don't bother with astrologers whose columns are full of too-concrete predictions, fatalistic nonsense or trivia. I really appreciate the work of Sally Brompton, Jonathan Cainer and Rob Brezsny. Note that two of these three writers are British. There is some fine astrology over in Olde England.

......However, these are all mass-market products. We are interested in linking our readers to other small press horoscopes and astrology writers, so if you know of one you like, please tell us.

......Sun-sign horoscopes presume that the sign your Sun occupies is the "first house," properly called the first solar house. So if you're a Taurus, then a Sun-sign astrologer will look to events in Gemini as your second house (relating to your wealth, values system, and sense of material security, among other things). You simply start with your sign as the "first house" and count around the wheel to get to what is called the solar house in question. The rising sign (your actual first house) cannot be factored in because everyone has a slightly different one. So, we presume the first house to be the sign of the Sun. I don't know of any Sun-sign astrologers who use a different system.

......There are always big, slow (and more important) movements of the planets; for example, for well over a decade, Pluto will be in Sagittarius, and we are nearing the end of seven years of Uranus in Aquarius. Chiron is moving pretty slow and is about to change signs to Capricorn at the end of the year; all these things factor into an astrologer's mind (depending on the astrologer, of course -- many don't use Chiron) when sorting out the influences for a year.

......The final process of coming up with the interpretation (turning water into wine, as Geoff Cornelius describes it in his awesome book, The Moment of Astrology) is highly intuitive. One looks at the charts or meditates on the influences till one has an idea.

......Some articles I've written in the past explaining this include Go Figure at, and the background notes or "interpretation keys" articles I added to the 2000 and 1999 annual horoscopes. The 2000 entry, in particular, gives away a lot of the secrets behind horoscope writing; compare it to the published 2000 interpretations if you are one of those people who stays up all night trying to make sense out of astrology.++

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