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Astrology Reports...

Wise Investment or Waste of Time?

Should I take this thing seriously, or is it just random verbiage? The answer lies somewhere in between...

A Consumer Guide...

By John Townley, January 2011

The recent, totally bogus media kerfuffle over whether all the signs in the Zodiac had changed and another one added probably caught a lot of legitimate astrologers by surprise. What fueled this incredible time-waster? Sheer ignorance. The general public and average reporter just didn’t know enough about astrology to dismiss the fraud. In today’s believe-the-first-thing-you-hear 24/7 news cycle, that’s how a lot of opinions are formed and sustained, simply by repeated misinformation fueled by fear and/or wishful thinking, from 9-11 conspiracy theories and crazed Obama fantasies to countless end-of-the-world scares.

So, any real knowledge about astrology, itself on the fringe of credible for many, relies on people getting accurate and truthful information about the subject. For most it starts with knowing their Sun-signs, and usually the next step is buying one or more modestly-priced personal reports, to have a peek at a real, full horoscope. Then, if that seems to work, the next move is to a pricier consultation with a professional astrologer, or to study it in depth through books, classes, or a traditional apprenticeship.

This makes the lowly, computer-generated personal astrology report a critical gateway, a midwife to the field itself. If a report is interesting and insightful, you keep on going – if not, you conclude there’s not much to it. So, it’s very important that they be worthwhile. But are they, in fact, really any good? And if so, what are they good for, if the only “real thing” is a live, consulting astrologer?

Here’s a brief history and consumer guide to astrology reports, from one who has himself been there and done that (I have written the text for seventeen different report programs), an analysis of their usefulness, and tips on picking the good and avoiding the bad:

In the beginning...

Before there were computer reports, in the 1960s-70s, there was the astrological “cookbook”, which gave a couple of paragraphs of interpretation for every planet in each sign, house, and aspect. The student/novice would need to have a copy of an already-calculated horoscope and would then look up the appropriate paragraphs to read about it. That required a certain level of commitment and follow-through that most people didn’t have then and almost nobody has now, so it had a limited audience, mostly of student astrologers.

Then, in the mid-1970s, only a few years before the advent of the first personal computers, a Massachusetts entrepreneur (Frank Molinski) had the bright idea of publishing a large series of astrological cookbooks on various specialized areas (love, relationships, transits, progressions, houses, and more), which could both be offered for sale in bookstores to the burgeoning New Age market and the plug-in text used in a computer printout from a business computer. This became the “Planets In” series (Planets In Love, Planets In Transits, Planets In Houses, lots more), for which he commissioned works by a number of leading and rising astrologers, such as Rob Hand, Robert Pelletier, and myself, published by Para Research and later sold to Schiffer Books (and their report rights to AstroDienst, which still sells them, but with no royalty to the authors).

A flood of verbiage...

That turned out to be so successful that when home computers arrived on the scene only half a decade later, along with accompanying chart calculation programs, everybody decided to get in on the act, with companies begun by Michael Erlewine (Matrix) and Rob Hand (Astrolabe) leading the way. Since then, a host of computer report companies have sprung up all over the world, starting with text by well-known astrologers who really knew their stuff and broadening out to trash written by would-be journalists with at best a smattering of astrological knowledge, just out to make a buck. It’s a good bet that the latter outnumbers the former now, which makes it a truly buyer-beware market. As of this writing, if you just Google “astrology report”, you get nearly a half-million results, and you can flip a coin as to whether any one report you find there is real or phony, or something in between. How can you tell the difference? And, assuming you get a good one, what use is it, really?


Personal astrology reports can be attractive and useful, but buy for content, not packaging and promises...

Why buy one at all?

If an astrological report is only halfway between the shallows of Sun-signs and the depths of a pro consultation, what good is it to begin with? Who buys them, and what’s the benefit?

First, you buy them for a new level of insight (especially for a natal chart report or a comparison or composite), to see what all those other planets in your horoscope mean (and they mean a lot) individually – a list of general meanings of your planetary placements and aspects. A computer can’t integrate all that information and draw conclusions, which right now only an experienced professional can do, but it’s a start. You get a whole new set of multiple levels of meaning to help you familiarize yourself with what’s going on inside your chart and get better acquainted with astrology in general. It’s personally useful to anyone, and a student may find it useful to get multiple reports to see how these placements work in other people’s charts.

Second, you often get a set of dates for timing events (in reports which include transits and progressions) – times you might want to hold back, times especially good for forging ahead. These are useful to everybody, including even professionals like myself who may overlook something that a computer will always pick up. Calendar reports like Daywatch are particularly good for this.

Third, regardless of whether you’re a beginner or a pro, a computer picks up every position and aspect in a chart and spits it out, just so you don’t miss it, pass over it, or simply forget it. After nearly forty years of practice, I’m still reminded of things reading my own reports that I haven’t thought about recently or have become more important lately than they used to be. That in itself is good reason to have a couple of reports on hand covering both natal, progressions, and transits. They cover all bases and serve as a background benchmark for your own development.

The question is, which one to buy, and which to avoid? That's next...


Some reports are drawn directly from books by established authors (as above)...those may be best bets...

Separating the wheat from the chaff...

First, before you buy, check if there’s an author. If none is listed (and that’s frequent), don’t buy it. It could be anything, even a stolen report from a real author, but likely it’s not even that.

Then, if there is an author, Google him/her. Is there a website, is there a track record of any kind? Most importantly, is this author published? Not a self-published e-book, but on real paper from a known publisher. I know this favors age, but experience is important and the more the better, which a significant publishing record will tell you. So will reviews of the books and other Web commentary. And for younger writers, are they published in magazines or on other websites, or are they speaking at astrological conferences where they must demonstrate credence among their peers?  

Next, if it’s by someone who is well-known or seems reputable, see if you can get a better price. The best reports often come from report-writer software produced by larger companies which are bought by individuals (middlemen) who then sell you the report at varying markups. Shop around for the best price, or you could wind up paying double for the same author.

Finally, balance the price with where you are buying it from. At a big portal website, non-astrologer staff (or worse, no live person at all) will run your data through without even looking at it, and if there’s an error, you’ll have to catch it. On smaller websites run by real astrologers (such as here at AstroCocktail, or the sites of the writers or publishers themselves) the astrologer-owners are more closely involved, more likely to spot errors, and have the personal expertise to correct them or to follow up with help if you don’t understand them. Personal, expert service really counts, beyond just what’s in the printout.

New developments, and the future...

That’s a quick wrap on the often-confusing world of computerized astrology reports, which haven’t changed all that much since they first began in the 1970s, except to get shorter and less thorough in response to the public’s diminishing attention span. There’s a new, value-added class that includes visual interpretation, produced by Matrix Software with symbolic illustrations for each paragraph, which can be really helpful, as a picture can truly be worth a thousand words. But a computer report that can put it all together and sort out what’s really important and what’s second tier, the dynamic interplay of all the parts, has yet to be written. However, that could soon be a possibility, with a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and expert systems programming.  Indeed, some years ago I vainly tried to put together the best of the best from astrology and from NASA’s AI division to that purpose, in the same room, but they just couldn’t relate to each other. Still, it will likely happen someday soon, as just such next-generation computer interpretation is already on the drawing board…

In the meantime, pick your preference of what’s out there with care, and then make the best of what you find – to learn more about both yourself and the unifying as-above-so-below philosophy that astrology has always represented…

To start, you can check out 22 different reports here we recommend, with samples, and they’re all on sale!

Report graphics may promise unlikely bliss...but they can still have real value for insight, reference, timing...

Background: reports with text by John Townley:

Passion Potential, (Matrix Astrology Software, also called The Eros Report)
The Birthday Report (Matrix Astrology Software)
Togetherness (book by Llewellyn, report on Time Cycles Research, Matrix Astrology Software)
Time Together (Matrix Astrology Software)
DayWatch (Matrix Astrology Software)
WinStar Express (Matrix Astrology Software)
Horizons (Matrix Astrology Software)
Know Your Lover(Matrix Astrology Software)
Know Your Dog (Matrix Astrology Software)  
Lunar Returns (
book by Llewellyn, report on Matrix Astrology Software)
Relating Potential (Matrix Astrology Software)

Lucky Lottery (Matrix Astrology Software)
Planets In Love (book by Para Research, Shiffer, report is Astrodient’s Love, Flirtation, and Sex)
Sexoscope (Astrolabe)


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