Are Newspaper Horoscopes Real or Fake?
Since I’m a syndicated newspaper horoscope writer, people frequently ask me if newspaper horoscopes are real or fake. This is a perfectly reasonable question. I just wish I could give them the answer that they want to hear.
To give you some idea of what writing a horoscope is like, I’d like you to imagine something. Imagine that you’ve been hired for a writing assignment. And your job is to sum up the entire history of the human experience in just three or four snappy sentences.
An impossible task, right? Well, that’s pretty much what writing horoscopes is like. You’d have to be a fool, a crazy person, or a genius to even attempt it.
Most people who know me will affectionately state that I incorporate all three of these things into my personality. So it stands to reason that I’m the perfect sort of person to be writing horoscopes!
In 1930, a newspaper editor in the UK asked a real astrologer to write a brief astrology forecast for Princess Margaret, who had just been born. This astrology feature was so popular that the editor then asked the astrologer to create a new astrology feature. He ended up using people’s sun signs as a simple way to look at what was going on and then wrote up short, breezy forecasts about each sun sign. Over time, sun sign horoscopes became a sort of guilty pleasure amongst newspaper readers, “junk food” that was easily digestible but not terribly good for you!
What people didn’t understand is that the sun sign is just one part of what influences your personality. You also have a rising sign, moon sign, Mercury sign, etc., and if these signs are all different, you’ll be a more complex type of person. And those simple sun sign horoscopes won’t tend to fit you very well.
I used to know someone who was a triple Taurus. He had his sun sign, rising sign and moon sign in Taurus. So when he read horoscopes for Taurus, they tended to fit him pretty well.
But what if your sun sign is in Taurus, your moon sign is in the opposite sign of Scorpio, and your rising sign is in Leo? You’re going to be an astrological “mutt” who is influenced by a variety of signs.
So because most people have very complex natal charts (a natal chart is the birth chart, a snapshot of where the planets were at the time of your birth) sun sign horoscopes don’t give them a very accurate picture of what’s going on. So because they’ve been “burned” by bad horoscopes, many people tend to think that astrology is fake or useless. If they actually sat down with a real astrologer and let the astrologer look at their birth chart for them and compare it to their progressed chart, they’d soon see the very real usefulness of astrology. But because most people are only exposed to astrology through newspaper or online horoscopes, and these horoscopes, by their very nature, can only offer a very incomplete view of what’s happening with the planets, astrology is often dismissed as bogus or fake.
The truth is that a lot of Fortune 500 executive types and wealthy, influential people keep a gifted astrologer on hand as one of their team of “master mind” consultants, along with their investment advisors and health advisors. At one point a world famous radio personality wanted to hook me up with a group of people in this circle who had been impressed with my work (I had done lots of radio appearances and workshops at that point.) But I didn’t really want to use my talents to just help rich guys make more money. I was more into helping people fix love relationships, find their purpose in life, that type of thing in those early days. Sometimes I do wonder if I would have ended up being Oprah’s fave astrologer if I had gone down that route, but oh well — path not taken and all of that!
These days, I’m one of the few real astrologers who writes horoscopes for newspapers. I used to also write them for a lot of different magazines which you’d find on the newsstands, magazines published both here in the US and in Canada.
There was a time around 1999 and 2000 when I was writing daily, weekly and monthly astrology material for a huge variety of publications at the same time. It came out to about 120 columns or 1440 horoscopes per month. It was a full-time job and an almost impossible amount of work, even for someone like me who is a fast writer and quite knowledgeable about astrology.
Astrology’s “big names” like Sydney Omarr, Athena Starwoman, and Joyce Jillson usually had loads of freelance staffers writing horoscopes for them. Many of them had 1-900 astrology hotlines, which required an enormous amount of material, as well as daily or weekly newspaper horoscope columns. And for several decades Sydney Omarr also “wrote” 12 books a year, one for each sun sign, describing how different astrology trends would affect people born under different sun signs. Do you really think he was writing 12 books a year while also writing thousands of pages of material for his newspaper columns and 1-900 hotlines? Didn’t happen. It was all freelance writers, some of whom knew very basic things about astrology, and others who were “winging it.”
When the dot.com boom happened in the late 1990′s, loads of magazines and online publications sprang up overnight with venture capital to spare. They could afford to be quite generous when hiring writers. Almost all of them wanted to feature a unique astrology column for their publication. So a business magazine would want business horoscopes, a sex magazine would want sexy horoscopes, and so on. I was applying for all these jobs and ended up getting lots of them. But when hiring writers, the editors told me that being a real astrologer was optional; they just wanted you to write in the right “style,” appropriate for their particular audience and suited to their readership.
So very rarely is someone hiring a real astrologer to write horoscopes. Sometimes they do, but not very often.
Even current big names in the industry like Rob Brezsny of that quirky Free Will Astrology freely admit that they did not start out as real astrologers but learned about astrology over time. When it comes to horoscopes, the key is to be entertaining and fun. That’s what editors want to see.
I’m currently sitting on a deadline for a group of columns I write every month. It’s called the Lipstick Mystic’s® Love Forecast. It’s weekly romantic horoscopes syndicated by the McClatchy Newswire service, distributed to mainstream newspapers, college newspapers, and websites around the world. It’s one of the few last astrology gigs I’ve continued to do. I can’t write a lot of horoscopes anymore because I’m too burned out from writing them. I calculated at one point that I’ve written over 40,000 horoscopes for magazines, newspapers and websites. No wonder I get a little creatively constipated and end up putting off writing my latest horoscopes until the last possible minute! I’m always hoping and praying that I’ll be able to fart out one more horoscope. It’s not a comfortable process!
When it comes to writing about how the planets are affecting ALL of us, though, and different health issues, personal problems and spiritual challenges that can arise, you’ll find me posting more and more about this stuff here. This is material I tried to publish years ago but most magazines didn’t “get” it, they just wanted simple, silly horoscopes.
I’ll be talking about this new Venus retrograde that we’re in shortly. It started May 15th and runs through June 27th. Venus retrogrades only happen about once every two years, and they’re kind of weird and misunderstood as a planetary trend.
So, did I answer your question about whether newspaper horoscopes are real or fake? I probably didn’t tell you what you want to hear, but it’s my job to tell you the truth. I’m kind of a bitch that way.