Horoscope Review: The Top 10 Real Horoscopes in Fashion Magazines
Magazine Horoscopes: Better Than Ever
Picking up popular monthly and weekly magazines I always hunt for their horoscope columns, hoping they're based on real astrology and that forecasts will be entertaining and supportive. Recently I flipped through a month of popular American fashion, lifestyle, and gossip magazines to rate their horoscopes.
Magazines competing for readers know that 75 percent of readers read their horoscopes and often that's the first page they read. They want forecasts about most intimate interests: fashion, money, love, work, family, and sex. Today's readers know their Moon sign as well as their Sun sign, and have heard about Mercury retrograde or the influence of Saturn, so they demand real astrology. A pleasing surprise: Almost all horoscopes in major magazines were factual and written by astrologers with solid reputations in the astro community.
Usually listed under "In Every Issue" or "Features," a magazine horoscope tends to be a single, hard-to-find page. Fans are fierce about finding it, because it's the only part of the magazine about us.
Why We Get Really Good Horoscopes Now
Before the Internet brought intense competition, great magazine horoscopes could be counted on one hand. Around 1988, the weekly TV Guide started printing concise and spot-on horoscopes by the legendary Patric Walker, giving millions a taste for genuine Sun-sign horoscopes. His pupil Sally Brompton carried his legacy forward until another publisher bought out TV Guide in 1998. Brompton now writes daily horoscopes for U.K. newspapers and, using a perkier tone, for the teeny-bopper fashion magazine Seventeen.
Glossy Vanity Fair then knocked it out of the park with quirky and stunningly accurate monthly horoscopes by New York City's Michael Lutin, worth the price of the whole magazine. Famous for predicting in 2006 the recession of 2008 and its aftermath, Lutin left Vanity Fair in 2007 for no reason ever made public, and was not replaced. Lutin now offers weekly and monthly horoscopes through his website, and I follow him on Facebook.
Publishers decide whether a magazine should have a horoscope, and astrology is rock-bottom on their list of priorities. Magazine publishers make their money with advertising and hate sacrificing page space to an astrology column they must pay for. Almost all monthly magazine horoscopes are limited by space to two or three sentences per sign: rather too short for a satisfying monthly forecast. Once upon a time publishers could order their lowest-ranked staffer to write up bogus horoscopes, but Internet information has raised the standards, and readers can now smell fakes from a mile away.
My search found only scandal-sheet weeklies publishing questionable or unsigned horoscope columns. People's "Star Tracks" column, disappointingly, is celebrity scuttlebutt. Despite strong spiritual components, monthlies O and Yoga Journal don't print horoscopes at all. Self does not have horoscopes, nor do homemaker magazines such as Family Circle. Redbook's horoscopes are online only. Vogue used to print slender, elegant horoscopes, but no longer.
The Top Six
These are the magazines I most hope to find when stuck in a waiting room or salon chair. Magazine horoscopes should be accurate, detailed, smart, and consistent. Professional astrologers who write well are rare, and they switch jobs a lot. The hard-copy magazine and its online version sometimes employ two different astrologers.
Most monthly forecasts begin with a paragraph about the month's major planetary news, such as an eclipse or Jupiter changing signs.
Here are the choicest columns, and why:
- Elle magazine gave the fabulous astrologer Susan Miller two whole pages for her long and luscious monthly forecasts until April 2016, when the AstroTwins replaced her. Astrologers once laughed at the bleached-blond twins, but they manage to deliver modish and truthful horoscopes for all 12 signs on a single page. Sample opening sentence from Scorpio's forecast, Oct. 2016: "With eager Mars mashed up to your ruler, Pluto, all month, you might mistake a friends-with-benefits situation for happily ever after." The print is small, but Elle's 'scopes are up to eight sentences long so they're meatier and more satisfying than most.
- InStyle, hip and trendy, is loaded with gossip and fluff about up-and-coming celebrities. New York City-based astrologer Susan Miller--the one no longer at Elle--is the top adviser for this social set, especially those employed in the fashion industry. Before joining InStyle, Miller accumulated six million adoring fans by publishing the best and most generous free monthly horoscopes on the Net at her site Astrologyzone.com. You won't find her, though, at InStyle online, but only in the print version.
- Cosmopolitan we grab for its forecasts about our sex lives. It's been publishing horoscopes for decades, its naughty "Bedside Astrologer" annual forecast making headlines and shocking prudes long before sexy magazine horoscopes were routine. Recently the print version switched astrologers from the AstroTwins, sisters Tali and Ophira Edut, to the very young Aurora Tower, previously the weekly astrologer for Cosmo online. Lack of space--only one page allowed--plus space wasted on a silly monthly Sun-sign profile (telling Virgos, for example, what everyone knows: "You love precise details and laser-cut tailoring") means Cosmo columns are shorter and less detailed than readers want. But when it says "New Moon in your sign on the 8th," that's astrological fact.
- Marie Claire’s USA edition, often with very intelligent articles for and about women, carries monthly horoscopes by Eric Francis Coppolino, not yet a household name. Coppolino knows what's going on in the sky, doesn't talk down to his audience, and edits a website, Planetwaves.net, respected by professional astrologers. Your Sun sign's weekly horoscope is available at Planetwaves.net and highly recommended.
- Seventeen runs monthly forecasts by Sally Brompton (not the same as the late British Elle editor Sally Brampton). Tweens and early teens are Seventeen's target audience, so Brompton's column is written, or rewritten by an editor, in a breathy, boy-crazy style that's nothing like Brompton's daily horoscopes for London's Daily Mail. Brompton is a personal favorite and I'll take her in any flavor.
- The next one stands out because it's so unexpected: Upscale magazine Town & Country, for men and women tracking the luxurious lives of royalty and billionaires, has a "Stars and Signs" column by Katherine Merlin. She's the real deal, but the writing is colorless. Consider, though, that there's barely any space for the forecasts because all 12 are crammed onto one page along with 12 photos of Sun-sign celebrities, such as Aquarian Amal Clooney. During the second half of the month there's a "second half of the month" horoscope in the online version of T&C. The print and online versions should both have the whole month. T&C, are you listening?
Falling Stars and Former Journalists
Glamour would have been in the top six, except that when I last saw a printed copy, it had no monthly horoscope and hasn't had one since August 2016. Glamour.com's online "Lovescope" by "astrotherapist" Tracy Allen is focused on romantic and sexual chemistry, and it's real astrology ("Venus graces your sign until the 18th" is a fact) although none of the forecasts seem to come true.
- Star: This “insider” weekly brings you “celebrity, Hollywood, and entertainment news” for those who think “Stars Without Makeup” and “Megan Explodes with Rage as Pete is Caught Sexting” is news. Its astrologer is Jennifer Angel, a genuine astrologer who wrote horoscopes for The New York Daily News but can't write very well. The Daily News has replaced her with Madalyn Aslan, "The Ivy League Psychic," former astrologer for Cosmopolitan.
- Harper’s Bazaar, founded in 1867, is a fashion magazine “for women who buy the best” but eagerly read about “40 Ways to Wear Ankle Boots” and “11 Things Kendall and Kylie Jenner Did While Stuck in an Elevator.” Scary models in hideous clothes decorate its online monthly-horoscope pages, which are a month behind schedule. Peter Watson, former journalist, writes the forecasts for the print version. They're brief and not the best, but please note that when magazine editors say “Three sentences max,” that’s what astrologer-writers must give them.
- Tiger Beat, pop-star fan magazine for smitten schoolgirls who squeal over cute guys like Justin Bieber and Tom Holland, has horoscopes both online and in print by Julia Lee, who also writes Tiger Beat articles. Its two-sentence horoscopes about “crushes” and “besties” advise, “Be 100 percent yourself,” or “classes might be tough.”
- In Touch gossip weekly keeps us all informed about “baby bumps” galore. Its barely-there horoscopes advise Pisces, for example, that "change is in the air." Its online horoscope is credited not to a person but to InTouch Weekly and was last updated in July 2013.
Grocery-store checkout-line scandal sheets National Examiner and First for Women have horoscopes for readers who aren’t very demanding. The National Enquirer's astrologer Maria Shaw, "the French Quarter medium," is actually from Detroit and that's all you need to know.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of magazine-rack horoscopes and will amuse yourself with some of the best.