Astrology Goes Mainstream - NYT

Eric Francis Coppolino, a Brooklyn native, is the world’s only astrologer to carry international press credentials. After a long career as an investigative reporter covering corporate crime, Eric went from the front page to the horoscope page. Today he's the editor of Planet Waves, a daily astrology magazine, and is the host of Planet Waves FM, a weekly program affiliated with the Pacifica Radio Network. He described his writing as “news astrology,” or reporting on current events through the lens of planets, houses and signs.. 

“It’s like a carefully timed fortune cookie,” he said of the horoscope column he would write, “only a little longer. When it’s meaningful, when it answers something that you’re wondering, it can light up your mind.”


Astrology has long had its believers and its cynics, but for a craft so often criticized for being nonscientific and, in some cases, fraudulent, horoscopes still cover the pages and websites of publications in New York and across the globe.

The New York Times is not one of them. But The Daily NewsThe New York Post and Vice have dedicated astrology writers or daily horoscopes, as do The Los Angeles TimesThe Chicago Tribune and The Philadelphia Inquirer, to name just a few.

So why, in an age of information overload and in a news-saturated city like New York, are written horoscopes still so popular?

 Galit Atlas 

"One appeal is that they offer some order in an otherwise chaotic city and volatile world," said Galit Atlas, a clinical assistant professor in New York University’s postdoctoral program in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis.

“What makes us feel safe in the world is order, boundaries and sequence, and those three things are things that astrology can give us,” Ms. Atlas said. “Especially in a time when the world doesn’t feel safe, we tend to search for an order that makes sense.”

“That’s not a negative thing,” she added. “The more secure we feel in the world, the more we’re able to be productive — to live fully, to love and to work.”



Hunter-Gatherers in 10,000 BC built their astral temple at Gobekli Tepe. Jane Marie Kennedy modeling one of the 12 pillars of the Zodiac 2017.

Astrology is believed to have first appeared in ancient Babylon some 4,000 years ago. But as a written art in newspapers and magazines, the practice is comparatively new — about a century old. (The first horoscope column in a major newspaper graced the pages of The Sunday Express in London in 1930.)


Patric Walker at home in Lindos         Jane Marie Kennedy in Lindos 2015

There is no formal schooling to be an interpreter of the stars. But there are well-known newspaper horoscope columnists, like the English astrologer Patric Walker, who have mentored New York writers. Mr. Walker, who died in 1995 at his home in Lindos, on the Island of Rodos and was widely considered the most eloquent wordsmith in the history of horoscope writing, trained Sally Brompton, his successor and the current astrologer for The Post. His work also inspired Mr. Coppolino to shift from shoe-leather reporting to covering the planets in his online magazine Planet Waves and later at The Daily News.

 “I had no interest in astrology; I couldn’t see the use of it and it didn’t seem practical,” Mr. Coppolino said. “But when I started reading Patric Walker in The New York Post, I suddenly found myself with a guy who wrote like Steinbeck.”

Eric Francis Coppolino, my "news astrology" hero

He added: “By day I was covering toxic tort litigation, and at night I would hang out in my girlfriend’s room in Woodstock and pore through the ephemeris and the New York Post horoscope with a red pencil and tarot deck, and I hacked the Patric Walker horoscope, like Julian Assange.”

For 23 years, Mr. Coppolino, who grew up in Marine Park, Brooklyn, and went to John Dewey High School, has been writing what he describes as “news astrology,” or reporting on current events through the lens of planets, houses and signs. The first major story he covered using astrology was the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

I practiced architecture for thirty years and like 99% of all architects, I kept practicing until I ran out of money. Dairy goat farming seemed like the next logical career move until the milk ran out. Then one evening at the Fafella restaurant in Cairo, our Obama look-alike waiter, suggested fortune-telling.

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