I am getting my information from NASA
December 23, 2014 9:58 PM   Subscribe

Susan Miller writes 40,000 words a month at Astrologyzone.com, perhaps the world's most popular horoscope website. She also writes for Elle, TIME, the Washington Post and various stars and CEOs. Recent delays have led to fan Twitter storms discussed in the Atlantic (Dude, Where's My Horoscope?), Jezebel (Susan Miller's Illness has Astrology Fans Losing Their Goddamn Minds), the NY Post (Groupies of famed astrologer Susan Miller can’t cope without her), the latest episode of the podcastTL;DR , and, of course, there's reddit.
posted by bq (48 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
The first substantive comment on the reddit thing includes:

"...it said that she is an amateur astrologer."

So ... there's a difference between amateur and professional astrologers? Noting also that she's not been writing due to "an unforseen illness". Um, unforseen...?
posted by Wordshore at 10:07 PM on December 23, 2014 [9 favorites]


Astrologyzone.com has a very dramatic rhythm.
posted by vapidave at 10:28 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm really into astrology, but only for the negative things: doom, panics, negative traits that can't be erased.

So as a Libra, I am a vain, gossipy drunk who often uses wit as a weapon and education masking a nasty self-involvement with a glittering surfaces that's all too easily bored.

On the other hand it looks like things are arranging itself for me to indulge in all my worst habits next year!
posted by The Whelk at 10:36 PM on December 23, 2014 [6 favorites]


Presumably a professional astrologer gets paid for their tomfoolery, while an amateur provides it gratis.
posted by axiom at 10:41 PM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Susan Miller is the original SEO content generator.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:42 PM on December 23, 2014


well a really good astrologist/tarot reader/life coach/spirit guide/religious leader is basically a therapist. Someone you pay to listen to to you and advise, using whatever culturally specific metaphors and stories they have and which will be relevant.

A con-artist one is just the same con artist any type, wasn't there a metafilter thread about how "licensing" physics made it so only the con-artists promising to dispel curses and demons could afford the rates?

The problems of emotional labor are legion.
posted by The Whelk at 10:46 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Susan Miller is the unrivaled Queen of Astrology. She is known for her affable delivery, her reverence in the world of fashion and, most importantly, her accurate horoscope forecasts

So the Jezebel link refers to her horoscopes as "accurate". What on earth are they basing that on? Did they run a study comparing her horoscopes to other people's and both to reality? I would like to see such a study.
posted by lollusc at 10:52 PM on December 23, 2014 [9 favorites]


The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

I never thought anything could make me feel sorry for astrologists... but that Atlantic article did it. Jesus wept, you're getting something for free[*]. Leave the poor woman alone. If I were her, I'd flame out big time when I'd saved enough to retire.

[*] which is probably the right price for a horoscope.
posted by sbutler at 10:55 PM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


When I was a child, we only ever got to eat at McDonald's when we were on road trips, which was pretty much the only thing keeping us kids from descending into hateful, venomous anarchy during those twelve hour cross-country drives. At one point when I was six or seven, McDonald's was doing some sort of Asian salad or something, and as a part of the promotion they had fortune cookies. I managed to finagle one, and my fortune read "YOU WILL TAKE A LONG MCJOURNEY". My mind was blown! How the holy fuck did McDonald's know that I was on a long McJourney... er... road trip... whatever?

It turns out that little kids are really easy to impress. I'm kind of baffled that similar shenanigans manage to mystify adults, but since I have a couple of beliefs of my own that aren't empirically verifiable, I try not to be too judgmental about it.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:58 PM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


So as a Libra, I am a vain, gossipy drunk who often uses wit as a weapon and education masking a nasty self-involvement with a glittering surfaces that's all too easily bored.

Astrology must be bunk, because that describes me to a goddamned T and I'm an Aquarius.
posted by figurant at 11:35 PM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Noting also that she's not been writing due to "an unforseen illness". Um, unforseen?

Well the lack of foreseeability protects her from allegations of negligence. For astrology purposes
posted by Hoopo at 11:37 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: vain, gossipy drunks who often uses wit as a weapon and education for masking nasty self-involvements with a glittering surface that's all too easily bored.
posted by jcworth at 11:38 PM on December 23, 2014 [16 favorites]


That is prescient.
posted by clavdivs at 11:45 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was going to regift my moonstones but my screen fro
posted by clavdivs at 11:53 PM on December 23, 2014


I don't believe in astrology, probably because, as a Taurus, I'm stubbornly skeptical.
posted by univac at 12:04 AM on December 24, 2014 [3 favorites]



So as a Libra, I am a vain, gossipy drunk who often uses wit as a weapon and education masking a nasty self-involvement with a glittering surfaces that's all too easily bored.



Come, sit by me.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:17 AM on December 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't particularly care for astrology, but I'm startled by the utter lack of empathy from some of her devoted fans. And the attempts to discern or debunk her chronic illness? Yuck.

Something tells me that late horoscopes are the least of these people's problems.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 12:18 AM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm really into astrology...

As an HR guy, I often wondered if I could not hire someone because they uttered those oh-so-famous words in LA. It never was an issue, as those people would usually be disqualified for drugs.

I always wondered what I'd do if they weren't. Probably look at the skin color.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:18 AM on December 24, 2014


wasn't there a metafilter thread about how "licensing" physics made it so only the con-artists promising to dispel curses and demons could afford the rates?

I think I let my license expire, and I'm not really up to date in all the recent High Energy stuff, but if you got any curses or demons I can give it a try for free.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:21 AM on December 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


That's lucky.

I've got these two connected compartments full of gas, and I'm trying to get them to reach equilibrium by exchanging molecules through a small hole, but it's blocked by a small bugger that's only letting the faster than average molecules go through one way and the slower ones go through the other way.

Please advise. Should I take away his flashlight?
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:43 AM on December 24, 2014 [10 favorites]


Yes, take away the flashlight. Demons don't need flashlights to violate the laws of thermodynamics. For all you know, that little bugger is heating up the molecules with the flashlight. That would be cheating.
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:01 AM on December 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


As an HR guy, I often wondered if I could not hire someone because they uttered those oh-so-famous words in LA.

That would be illegal religious discrimination. You cannot discriminate against a candidate who has spiritual beliefs that you don't like.
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:04 AM on December 24, 2014


So as a Libra, I am a vain, gossipy drunk who often uses wit as a weapon and education masking a nasty self-involvement with a glittering surfaces that's all too easily bored.

On the other hand it looks like things are arranging itself for me to indulge in all my worst habits next year!


So.... We are all one in the cosmos?
posted by qinn at 1:06 AM on December 24, 2014


So as a Libra...
...you share a zodiac sign with quonsar, mathowie and me, which if you believed in that $#!+, would be kinda scary.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:06 AM on December 24, 2014


From the Jezebel comments:

Susan Miller's story is really sad and very fascinating — she actually got into astrology because of her illness, which she talks about in this great Rookie interview. She was born with a rare condition that affects her left leg; when she was young, she'd be bedridden for weeks in excruciating pain and feared she'd never walk again:

When I was 14, I wrote to Horoscope magazine to ask if I'd ever walk again. My mother asked me one day, "Did you write to Horoscope magazine?" I replied that I had, about seven months ago, but they had never answered. She held the magazine up, and I was in the latest issue. She asked why I didn't ask her instead, and I said that I knew she would never tell me that I'd never walk again! I wanted an honest answer...

So we read the magazine's answer together: the writer said she thought I'd be able to walk again, and predicted when [that would happen]. I didn't understand all of the astrological terms she used, so I asked my mom what they meant. That's when she decided to teach me.

I made a deal that I would study astrology with her for 12 years. I was only allowed to do charts for family members—no friends. I didn’t know anyone, anyway, because I had lived in the hospital for so long.

posted by magstheaxe at 2:51 AM on December 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


> "What does a lunar eclipse signify? ... Miller recalls when she had a houseguest who 'spent the whole year crying on my couch,' coincidentally over the course of a series of five eclipses."

The last time there were five lunar eclipses in a single year was 1879.
posted by kyrademon at 3:32 AM on December 24, 2014 [5 favorites]




I always wondered what I'd do if they weren't. Probably look at the skin color.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:18 AM on December 24 [+] Favorite removed! [!]


.?
posted by bq at 5:58 AM on December 24, 2014


...you share a zodiac sign with quonsar, mathowie and me, which if you believed in that $#!+, would be kinda scary.

So, yeah, I used to write a (joke) astrology column for a punk rock magazine. The secret was to create a chart of all your friends with their signs next to their names, and then write each signs advice as if you were speaking directly to that friend and what you knew about their lives and personalities.

It was amazing how often I would get complimented by complete strangers on my ability to see into their lives. So, yeah, not a believer, but the shit works by being vague, speaking to specific character traits that many people share, and, um, maybe magic?

Definitely scary.
posted by valkane at 6:43 AM on December 24, 2014


The last time there were five lunar eclipses in a single year was 1879.

Either she thinks the phases of the Moon are eclipses, or there was some seriously unlicensed physics going on.
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:55 AM on December 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


I am a practicing astrologer and know a few people who know Susan Miller personally; from what I gather, she is the Jeff Koons of the astrology world but with a larger ego. In addition, based on this FPP, it appears that Jeff Koons may have a better grasp of basic astronomy. She is not whom I would choose to represent me to the world. This FPP amply illustrates why.
posted by Atrahasis at 8:06 AM on December 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


During the previous two weeks, she has broken her wrist and received a diagnosis of pneumonia, and there may also be a blood clot in her lung—a "tiny, tiny, tiny" one, Miller says, "but they think it might be an offshoot of a bigger one."

So, she wasn't able to predict any of this shit and put preventitive measures in place?

I predict the complete absence of James Randi's million dollars in this woman's bank account in her future.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:59 AM on December 24, 2014


Come on, that's a pretty cheap shot. There's plenty of healthy practitioners of woo out there we could be making fun of.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:30 PM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Good god, I think people need to chill the fuck out and stop whining about conspiracies because an ill woman is running late on her work. JEEBUS.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:38 PM on December 24, 2014


Good god, I think people need to chill the fuck out and stop whining about conspiracies because an ill woman is running late on her work. JEEBUS.

If you do work that is time sensitive, you should probably get it done on time. I remember writing a (polite) letter to CafeAstrology, complaining that their monthly horoscopes were being posted a week late, when they used to be posted a week in advance. There really is no point to a December horoscope when December is almost over. The next month, everything was on time. I think most astrologers understand this and appreciate that their audience is engaged with their work.

I think what people really need to chill out about, is their sneering at other peoples' spiritual practices like astrology. I am especially tired of hearing about how astrologers ran into unforeseen difficulties, proving they are A FRAUD AMIRITE? Most astrologers know how hard it is to do your own chart, it is usually your blind spot and you can't avoid distorting the results or discounting negative influences entirely. I know this is true from personal experience. I remember in 1996, I did my annual cartomancy and was horrified to see a very specific prediction that I would die near the end of the year. It scared the hell out of me and I put it completely out of my mind. If I had remembered, I would not have scheduled that major surgery in December, and I would not have died on the operating table. I was only dead for a minute, but I consider the prediction accurate.

Oh hey that reminds me, it's time to do my annual cartomancy, in time for the New Year. I don't do this professionally, although I could, if anyone could afford it and if I could afford the time (it takes hours, sometimes days). But for those who are not completely closed off to mystical influences, I will recommend a few of my favorite online astrologers.

Michael Lutin (Former astrologer for Vogue magazine)
ArtCharts (read the blog too)
AstroPPM (very technical)
Donna Cunningham (semi-retired, she does not write often enough)
Barry Perlman
Star World News (mostly Vedic astrology)
Tracy's Astro Salon
Cafe Astrology
Christina Laird
Janet Kane
John Townley
Leo Knighton Tallarico
Pat Paquette
Jim Sher
Diana Black
Astrology News Service
Benjamin Bernstein

I am very selective about who I read and there are a lot of people who just don't know anything about astrology. But these people all do. They are all rational, intelligent, and skilled, expressive writers. Most of them are even a little skeptical, some of them are even math and science oriented. And none of them make any claims that they have psychic powers.
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:32 PM on December 24, 2014 [15 favorites]


When she talks about eclipses, it's not just earth-sun-moon eclipses but other planets as well, and where they sit in the overall star chart - you could have the moon eclipsing mars for eg. and that would still be a lunar eclipse.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 4:15 PM on December 24, 2014


you could have the moon eclipsing mars for eg. and that would still be a lunar eclipse.

No, that's a lunar occultation, and most astrologers just consider it a conjunction. Only a few systems calculate when a conjunction is exact in declination as well as right ascension, for example, Magi Astrology.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:43 PM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


That would be illegal religious discrimination. You cannot discriminate against a candidate who has spiritual beliefs that you don't like.

Astrology is a protected religion? Since when?
posted by kjs3 at 6:05 PM on December 24, 2014


Oh man, you know, I love Metafilter, but astrology is one area where mefites can be annoyingly smug and sneering.

I am an intelligent, mostly-rational person, and I read Susan Miller's horoscope every month, at least when it's on time. I read a few others too. So do many of my friends, some of whom are actually scientists.

None of us are idiots. For me, personally, I see it more as a lens through which to view the coming month than a roadmap. I view the twelve signs as Jungian archetypes rather than ironclad predictors of behavior, and it's an interesting way to think about how and why people act the way they do.

Really, there's no need to be snide about it.
posted by lunasol at 7:51 PM on December 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


In which I get in trouble: I think astrology is bullshit but I actually believe there is a basis for astrology as it relates to personality. My belief is that it has to do with The role of brain thyroid hormones in the mechanisms of seasonal changes in mood and behavior http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11021328. And something to do with Changes in dietary intake account for seasonal changes in cardiovascular disease risk factors. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10369496. There are a lot of scholarly articles that detail the effects of seasonal and seasonal dietary changes as they effect people. It seems reasonable that this would effect the development of a child in the womb.

No way should this be used to shame mothers, but it makes sense that the prenatal environment might have an effect.

As opposed to
When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars

/Pisces
posted by vapidave at 10:30 PM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Astrology is a protected religion? Since when?

Since July 2, 1964.

Almost every religion is connected with astrology to some extent. For example, you may have heard a story about the Star of Bethlehem.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:00 PM on December 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


There are a lot of scholarly articles that detail the effects of seasonal and seasonal dietary changes as they effect people. It seems reasonable that this would effect the development of a child in the womb.


If astrology had predictive power based on seasonal effects, horoscopes in the southern hemisphere would have to be shifted by half a year to match. Do astrologists take this into account?
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:45 PM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


In which I get in trouble: I think astrology is bullshit but I actually believe there is a basis for astrology as it relates to personality.

An example would be the Mars Effect(via), where people with that astronomical sign would be over represented in sports and the military.

Which, of course, has been completely discredited.


Oh man, you know, I love Metafilter, but astrology is one area where mefites can be annoyingly smug and sneering. ... Really, there's no need to be snide about it.

If you are suggesting that folk who systematically make false claims are due more compassion than they sometimes get here, then I may agree with that.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:47 PM on December 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


"If astrology had predictive power based on seasonal effects, horoscopes in the southern hemisphere would have to be shifted by half a year to match. Do astrologists take this into account?"

Not that I know of and I agree. And I almost broached that myself in my original argument. Precession and a non-perfect annual period of circumsolar navigation render the 2,000 year old zodiac as incorrect with regards to it's "signs". It's off by several months now I think, but as you said it's certainly off.
posted by vapidave at 4:22 AM on December 25, 2014


If you are suggesting that folk who systematically make false claims are due more compassion than they sometimes get here, then I may agree with that.

It's not that hard. For example, we're pretty gentle with Marxists.
posted by happyroach at 4:37 AM on December 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


vapidave: Precession and a non-perfect annual period of circumsolar navigation render the 2,000 year old zodiac as incorrect with regards to it's "signs". It's off by several months now I think, but as you said it's certainly off.

Yes, this is a well known issue, you are talking about the Tropical and the Sidereal Zodiac. Most astrologers pick one system or the other. But for those few I know of that experiment in both, they say that both systems work and are entirely self-consistent.

An example would be the Mars Effect(via), where people with that astronomical sign would be over represented in sports and the military.

Which, of course, has been completely discredited.


Not really. You're basing your opinion on that wikipedia page, which is about like the rest of the internet, contemptuous and sneering at everything except atheism. That article presented a narrow selection of evidence to support their claim. Which is exactly what the article claims astrologers do.

The Gaquelin Plus Zone effect is still being studied and statistically significant results are still being discovered. Sure you can nitpick statistics, and you have to. Statistical methods have improved substantially since the original Gaquelin research and what you call discrediting, others might call verification and validation of results.

Dr Dracator: If astrology had predictive power based on seasonal effects, horoscopes in the southern hemisphere would have to be shifted by half a year to match. Do astrologists take this into account?

It's not based on seasonal effects. Conventional astrology is geocentric, calculated off an abstract point at the center of the Earth, and its relationship to the Ecliptic. It is calculated on the Celestial Sphere, which is a convention still used by astronomers and scientists today.

Obviously there are some severe misconceptions about astrology. Most people only know about Sun Sign astrology, which is what the Susan Miller columns do. They are a general statement for everyone born in that sun sign. Every astrologer knows there are fundamental problems with this, it addresses influences on a very broad group of people so it can't be very specific. So it is easy to poke holes in it, for example, you really should be reading the essay for your Ascendant sign, rather than your birth sign. But it is impossible to know your Ascendant without calculating your birth chart, which you cannot know without an accurate birth time.

If you have a birth chart, you can be pretty specific. So when you hear things like "I have Pluto transiting in opposition my Moon," that means the position of Pluto today, is 180 degrees on the Ecliptic away from the position of the Moon at the moment of your birth. These aspects can be interpreted in a quite detailed way. Just for example, Pluto opposing your Moon is considered a harbinger of death (Pluto) of your Mother (Moon). And indeed, my mother got very sick and died during this aspect. But Pluto moves so slowly that it will happen to very few people.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:53 AM on December 25, 2014


An example would be the Mars Effect(via), where people with that astronomical sign would be over represented in sports and the military.

Mars is a sign?
posted by malocchio at 10:09 AM on December 26, 2014


Sorry, charlie don't surf, but when I asked my VP of HR (Fortune 100 company, FWIW) if Astrology was covered by Title VII, the response was a very amused "not that I'm aware". So unless you can cite a definitive ruling, I'll continue to take my VPs guidance on the subject.
posted by kjs3 at 9:06 PM on December 29, 2014


Look at Van Koten v. Family Health Management Inc. A case of discrimination against a Wiccan who used astrology software on his work computer after hours, failed only because he was unable to prove that his employers had direct knowledge of his beliefs. The ruling strongly supports astrology as a protected belief, describing how the plaintiff described the Sun and Moon as gods.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:44 AM on December 30, 2014


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