Outtakes from my talk with Susan Miller

The first installment of my new microcolumn, “The Historical Record,” ran in The New York Times Magazine on Sunday alongside some other quickies, including Lizzie Skurnick’s brilliant (and useful!) “That Should Be A Word.” This one concerns astrology, from Chaucer to Susan Miller.

A friend who, like me, is drawn to the stars, says astrology shouldn’t and possibly doesn’t work at all, that it’s just really easy for those of us who are attracted to and adept with metaphor to stretch the system to fit reality. I don’t disagree with her, exactly — of course I don’t, I’m a Gemini — but it doesn’t take more than a drink or two with friends before I’m pulling out my iPhone to look up their charts and their lovers’ charts and to ponder their synastry…

As I mentioned in the columnlet, Miller and I talked about Occupy Wall Street, which she attributes to a square between Uranus and Pluto that will recur into 2015; she believes the demonstrations will continue at least until then. (There was also a strong Uranus-Pluto aspect during the the Civil Rights Era, she points out. And the last time Pluto was in Capricorn, as it is now, the American Revolution happened.) “The universe always pushes us back onto the rails,” she says, predicting less government gridlock and a better housing market next year.

Like most of her readers, I became aware of Miller online, where the zodiac is big business these days. Many sites offer “personalized” computer-generated reports, round-the-clock transit predictions, and even phone consultations; Miller is more like a magazine columnist, posting general monthly forecasts for each star sign at her site, Astrology Zone. I asked her what she thinks about the explosion of Internet astrology.

“You need to know the provenance of the advice,” she said. “A lot of Internet advice is unsigned, which means there’s no yardstick.” She’s heard of many sites that “hire college girls — ‘A’ students in English — who have beautiful writing skills but no astrological background.”

What surprised me most was her response to my mention of Liz Greene, a Jungian analyst-astrologer I like whose “psychological horoscopes” are sold at Astro.com. “I don’t do psychological astrology,” Miller said. “I am very practical. I don’t presume to tell you what you’re thinking or feeling.” But that’s my favorite part!

As my friend Alex Chee says, “What I find interesting is that psychological astrologers think predictive astrology, what she practices, is the inaccurate art.”

My (waterless) chart, if you’re curious:



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