At Planet Waves, We Are Journalists First.

New York, Feb. 24, 2020 | Read on Web

Dear Friend and Reader:

         It's been quite a year, in both the news and astrology, and where the two meet. Every day I am more grateful to do what I do. After 25 years (I wrote my first horoscope in April 1995), I am more passionate about what I do than ever, and happy to make my work available to you.

Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.

         I want to thank you for your Planet Waves membership, and invite you to stay with us for another round of the Sun. Before I get into my topic of the moment, here are some renewal and upgrade options.

         Note that upgraded astrology kits are available with Core Community renewal, and that Chart Key readings are available with the upper-tier Backstage Pass. All subscriptions come with my eBook Astrology Revealed. This is actually the second half of a book; the first part, the adventure story, is well underway here.

         One other bit of very happy news: after years of searching for a developer, we got a tip from a longtime subscriber, and now we are well into upgrading our website, moving over the very best of our writing. Please have a look.

         Sometime later this year, we will be adding our new checkout system to this site. Once that is done, you will be able to log into your accounts and access your subscriptions and readings.

         This has taken a while! Most of the work involves converting our antique database into something modern. But it's actually happening. Your renewal will ensure that we can finish this project soon, so everyone can benefit -- soon. Thank you for renewing or reviving your membership. We don’t take ads! Every single membership matters.

         And now, if you have 10 minutes, I want to explain what we do here at Planet Waves. This will take you inside the essential value of our work, and let you in behind the scenes of my writing process.

         Once again, thank you for your renewal. If you have any questions, please give us a call at (845) 481-5616. Note, if you have already renewed, please disregard this letter. Thank you.

Planet Waves

Why I don’t read much astrology writing

         I try to take a positive approach to offering my work. However, I have a thought I want to share.

         I read very little astrology writing, meaning, online. There’s a reason for that: most of it sends my head spinning, or has a soporific effect. Most of it is, in my view as a journalist, irrelevant. As an editor, I go mad trying to sort through the assumptions and the sloppy thinking in nearly any article posted to the internet.

         There seems to be little tradecraft to the writing. There is little to no original research. Nobody edits the work. It's like finger painting.

         The problem here is that in seeking out astrology, many readers are looking for real information. Often readers show up at a point of confusion or decision, when we need clear thinking the most.

         Astrology writing tends to be more about astrology than it is about the topic at hand, loaded down with jargon. It’s so self-referential that it’s nearly impossible to get the point.

Planet Waves

Astrology, presented as journalism

         I came to astrology after a long career of covering scientific fraud. This required that I understand science and also how it is used to deceive. So I am sensitive to whether astrology is honest. By that I mean intellectually and spiritually grounded.

         All new Planet Waves writers are trained first in research, fact-verification and the basics of clean, clear writing. All of our researchers, writers and editors are on something called the Eco List. We follow and analyze the news, from many sources, pretty much around the clock. We spend a lot of time digging into primary sources, meaning original documents. We carefully verify the time of every news event before attempting to read the chart.

         Good journalism follows strict guidelines, which begin with: Write like you want to be understood. For that to work, the writer has to know what they’re saying. This proves the adage that good writing is 90% thinking and 10% typing. This is very important where astrology — a technical subject — is concerned.

         Research standards for nearly all astrology writing are absurd. (The Mountain Astrologer, for which I write, is a notable and noble exception. It is a print publication, and like us, holds itself to print standards. Every article goes through a careful fact-checking process. Every article is edited for clarity, and cites its sources.)

Planet Waves

Here is an example of the problem

         This past Thursday’s subscriber article on Salacia was prompted by a reader’s outraged letter. She wrote to me, complaining that other astrologers writing about Salacia assumed that it was simply about being salacious.

         We did not make that mistake. Not a chance.

         Because I am a journalist (and English major), I began studying the etymology two years ago, when I first started writing about the planet. That included not just reading the word history but also a fairly involved conversation about the rules of etymology with Douglas Harper, editor of the masterpiece Online Etymology Dictionary.

         Then I went through the astronomy, for about the third time: the discovery details and degree, the discovery chart, the type of orbit, and how it was categorized. Then I set up a research file.

         I’ve spent years seeking an understanding of the scientific nature of the new discoveries from an astronomical standpoint, sometimes working with The top discoverers in the field. People like Mike Brown of Caltech, who has personally helped me learn solar system science, and Jane X. Luu, co-discoverer of the Kuiper Belt.

Planet Waves

As for the astrology

         Then there’s the astrology, which I’ve been watching carefully for two years, formulating a thoughtful delineation. I’ve participated in this work with some the brightest astrologers in the new planet field, including Melanie Reinhart, Robert von Heeren, Zane Stein and others. We have one writer, Kirsti Melto in Finland, who just focuses on new-planet discoveries.

         Finally, after I finished the Salacia piece, I circulated it among my colleagues, including Douglas Harper for a final check of how I presented the etymology.

         Then it went through the usual five-layer Planet Waves proofreading and factchecking process, which includes making sure the article is therapeutically sound. We also do this with my horoscope.

         The result was an article designed to inform my readers today, and something built to last.

         You get accurate information, now. Then somewhere, someone is going to dig up that piece of writing in five or 20 or 50 or 100 years and they’re going to find something that stands up to scrutiny and is actually useful, because the quality went in at the beginning.

Planet Waves

But why bother? It's easier to skimp on quality.

         A lot of writers would say, why bother? After all, nobody cares much whether astrology is accurate. It’s all a bunch of opinions, right? Plus, all this work costs money and it takes time.

         Well, no. I say, why bother unless I’m going to work carefully, to get it right? So, you will often find me at my desk at 1 am, digging into some new topic, or checking my work on an existing one.

         Now, here's the interesting, unlikely and beautiful thing.

         You get this quality of work every Thursday. Maybe it’s more than you can keep up with. Please, forgive me: the volume of my work is never at the expense of its impeccable quality.

         And my research into the newly discovered planets is built over a foundation in classical astrology, taught to me personally by authors such as Robert Hand, who is my go-to guy when I have a question from classical.

         As a journalist, I have multiple sources in many fields: therapy, psychology, homeopathy, herbalism, midwifery, baseball, aviation, many facets of law and law enforcement, Human Design, the chemical industry, the nuclear industry, climate science, planetary science, history, energy, politics, agriculture, title searching, emergency management, search and rescue, conventional medicine, alternative medicine, shamanism, chiropractic, nutrition, music, the music business, sexuality, feminist history, media theory, and lots of others.

         That is what it means to be a journalist, at least as I define it. It's also what it means to be an astrologer. Astrology is about the world, not just the chart. Astrology is not about the planets. It’s about us.

Planet Waves

You get the benefits, in the form of informed writing, dependable writing that you can count on — in an age of disinformation.

         Many of my articles are the result of years of reading, inquiry and investigation. When the time is right, or the subject pops up, I bring the subject forward. (This is my version of being a Pisces.)

         I think of my Thursday pieces as little books that take 20 minutes to read. So if you don’t have time for books, read me! I never, ever want to waste your time.

         Then, every Sunday night you get an article on the current astrology — and my weekly horoscope, along with week-ahead daily birthday readings.

         Then, pretty much just for fun, I do Planet Waves FM. And Planet Waves TV.

         Were I an astrology fan, a student, or a professional, I would be jumping for joy that Planet Waves exists. I would be thrilled that even with our small budget, our industrious little staff never seems to stop.

         I would be asking, where do I sign up? And can I work with these people?

         Renew or subscribe right here! And yes, we would value your help in every other way.

         Thank you for trusting us as your astrologers,

With love,

PS — You may renew, upgrade, extend or subscribe by phone, by calling (845) 481-5616. If you have to leave a message, we will get right back to you. No phone tag!!

PPS — My next letter will be “The Problem with (Most) Journalism.”

PPPS — Among horoscope writers, I am the only one sufficiently self-respecting of my work to make them all available in a searchable database. You can use it as a research tool, and also draw a random entry in response to a question. Check it out!

Planet Waves
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