I have to admit, I read my horoscope. Kind of often, actually. It might seem crazy, but it’s something I’ve always done, probably because of all the fashion magazines I’ve read throughout the years. I don’t know if I really believe in it — it’s more like a pastime, but I know that my favorite is the one by the AstroTwins. They are fun, modern, funny, and they don’t take themselves too seriously. So that’s why I suddenly wondered — what is an astrologist’s career like? How do you get into it, how do you build it as a career, how do you make a living out of it? The AstroTwins answered all of our questions, and honestly, I find them just as inspiring in real life as they are in their horoscopes, and whether you believe in it or not, that’s what counts!!!
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Tali: We wanted to be artists. We both went to art school; we have fine arts degrees. But then we also wanted to be writers, so we kind of get to do both now. Where did you go to school? Ophira: We always wanted to go to the University of Michigan, we grew up in Detroit, so we thought it was the best school and were fixated on going there. They didn’t have a great journalism program, so we actually ended up starting our own magazine, our own women’s magazine, while we were there. How did that come about? O: Everything happens through love a lot of the time. Tali had a little summer romance with a guy who lived out in New Jersey and she wanted to find a way to meet him, so she entered a contest for Sassy’s magazine reader produced issue. T: He had come to visit at our school and he got me obsessed with New York. I thought I have to get to New York and I want to see him. It never occurred to me to just save some money and buy a plane ticket. Instead I entered and won Sassy’s Magazines’ reader produced issue contest. I got to replace the art director there and I got this 3-week whirlwind trip to New York. I forgot all about the guy, who turned out to be a loser anyways. But my love of journalism and woman’s media was really born—it was in me—but I think the universe places these things in front of you sometimes. I didn’t know I would love putting a magazine together that much even thought I had writing and art and my favorite things. O: It also brought together all of these 15-20 year old girls. We just got really into giving women a different message than the one they were getting in the media—making it fun and making it stylish, and really bringing people together. But astrology is really the best way we found. It doesn’t offend anyone usually. T: And when we were publishing our women’s magazine the thing that would bring everyone together was astrology. It was kind of this hobby and we’d have women of all different cultural backgrounds. It was at The University of Michigan and the university back then was a bit more segregated so everyone hung only with their culture and we really wanted to bring everyone together and show the beauty of all women and give everyone a chance to have their stories in the media. But the thing that was the best ice breaker was always astrology. Like, “Oh you’re a Gemini you’re a Gemini.” It doesn’t matter what your background is. O: It erased cultural barriers. We tell people the story of who they are. And then we look at timing based on where the stars are now. Should you leave your job? Should you leave your husband? Should you stay? What did your parents do? Did it have any influence on your aspirations growing up? T: I would say in a bizzaro way. They’re both very entrepreneurial. O: Yeah, dad is from Israel—he came here right before we were born. He had his own landscaping business. Then our mother is a rabbi. She was a school counselor but her dream was to be a rabbi. So there’s some spirituality. Our tag line is we bring the stars down to earth, so we have the spiritual from our mom and the dirt from our dad. T: Yeah we worked with our dad when we were teens. We were cleaning people’s yards, but we really liked being outside and on the move, we’re Sagitarians. It was an unconventional thing to do. It also gave us humility and a respect for being of service to people. We really try to bring that into our horoscopes—how can we be of service to people. When did astrology first touch your lives? What’s your first memory of astrology? T: We always read our horoscopes. We had a paper route and we’d read Dear Abby and the horoscopes, they used to be right next to each other. Then Ophi’s college boyfriend did a chart for her 21st birthday for her. It had this 30 page booklet and we knew we were Sagitarians but we also have Mercury, Mars, Moon and Venus in Scorpio, so when we were reading those descriptions we were like oh that sounds so much more like us. O: It was like someone gave us this secret owners manual that they say people don’t come with. So we wanted to do it for our friends. I think as twins and maybe it’s just our personality, we were always trying to figure people out and giving advice from an early age. T: We’re computer geeks too and Ophi was working at the computer lab at the University of Michigan. Astrology is very geeky by the way, if you haven’t noticed. I try to explain it to guys and they tune out. If you want to see women be a bunch of math geeks, teach them astrology. It just has to be applicable to human behavior. Did you always want to work together, being twins? T: We naturally do, it wasn’t even a choice. We had our own language in the crib, we even remember a few words. We’ve just always been very connected, we’re lucky like that because not all twins are. There are differences; I mean Ophi is more the practical one. She has kids, I met my husband at burning man; I don’t have kids. I’m more the traveling nomad bohemian and she likes to take the business courses and things. At what age did you start making astrology into more of a career for yourselves? O: In our mid twenties. T: Yeah we wanted to learn web design in our mid twenties—it was the 90s—and we loved media. We saw the web coming and we were geeks and wanted in on it, also to learn web design and maybe turn that into a career path. So we taught ourselves web design by building our own astrology sites. Mine was Astrology Queen and Ophie’s was a Star Wars Astrology page. Then people kept coming to talk to us about astrology. One of our friends got a job at Teen People Magazine and she offered us a column. We literally haven’t stopped since And did you move to New York right after school? T: We stayed in Ann Arbor, Michigan for a little while with our magazine but then as soon as we decided to let it go we came right to New York. We would come here whenever we could, we just feel so at home here. Were you working at the time when you got the column? T: Yeah we were working more in web design. Ophi was hired as an associate editor at Ms. magazine after we sold our magazine. Ms. didn’t have a website yet and very few people knew how to build them! I built the magazine’s first website with Debbie Stoller who founded Bust magazine. Since we happened to work in feminist media, it was a no-brainer for them to hire us. Ms. had just been bought be an all-female investment group organized by Gloria Steinem, called Liberty Media for Women, so they were also keen to work with women. Our magazine we started at school, HUES, ended up going national. We published it on our own for six or seven years, and it became financially unsustainable as the web emerged as many magazines did. Everyone we met from there ended up getting jobs in women’s media and they pulled us into the astrology career. I was doing more of the design and Ophie was doing more of the editing. We both write equal amounts now, but I definitely do more of the creative stuff whereas Ophie is more of the strategy and web. When you say design, were you working as webmasters or graphic designers? O: Everything. We built our first ones in hand-coded HTML in 1996. Then we started designing them in Photoshop, slicing them up and putting them into Dreamweaver. Now we’ve taught ourselves WordPress a few years ago, along with the CSS coding and a tiny bit of PHP. So we’ve built a bunch of author and entrepreneur sites, to keep our skills fresh and because it satisfied the eternal art school students in us. Up until a year ago, the Astrostyle site was completely designed and coded by Ophi. We relaunched in WordPress last December, and Ophi collaborated on it – choosing the colors, fonts, images, etc. When needed, we go into the CSS code and make changes. I think astrology is most useful when people are going through a time of uncertainty: dating someone new, crisis in the relationship, motherhood, a new job or trying to leave a job they hate…We try to meet people at those places and give them useful tools to get unstuck. How has everything evolved from the column into the site and everything you’re doing today? T: It started with the column. Since it was Teen People it was more teen and pop culture and celebrity focused. This was in 2001 and 2002. Shortly after that we were given a book deal by Simon & Schuster to write a teen astrology book. That was our focus for about 3 years. In 2005 Teen People folded. We thought now we’re a little older we’d rather write for women and address meatier topics. So we revamped our website. We wrote astrology for home décor, astrology for a break up, a lot of that content is now in our e-books that we sell on the site. We gave it away for free for a long time. Then Lifetime TV syndicated all of it for their website so they brought us on as their astrologers. Then our old Teen People editor pulled us in to Brides.com and then our Brides.com editor gave us the dream job, which we still have for Elle.com. O: Elle.com was in 2009, so it was inching up over time to the audience we really love to write for which is that stylish, successful, smart women. How far in advance can you do a daily horoscope for your site and the columns? T: You can do years in advance. It’s called an ephemeris. It’s like a guide to where all of the planets are. You can go hundreds of years. Nasa has it all mapped out. We’re only 2 months ahead, not 100 years. O: We started doing weeklies and monthlies in 2006. T: Yeah, and we decided to do our own site. In 2006 we redesigned our site because we had enough people coming to us, so we decided to do that on the side. We were still building people’s websites for them until 2009 when the Elle job started and after that we decided to commit 100% to astrology. Was money tough in the beginning when you first got the column? T: It was Time Inc, and it was a daily—we were paid pretty well. I wish people were still paying like that! O: Astrology is usually the most trafficked part of all of these sites. But we had some clients and we also had another book deal to write this book about men called Love Zodiac. That helped to put us more on the map in the niche of love. T: In 2010 we started doing readings. We never wanted to do them. I didn’t want to be like Miss Cleo or Psychic Hotline because I think that diminishes it. But we now we each do a reading 5 days a week with some amazing clients and it ends up being like a life coaching and strategy session. How did you teach yourself astrology? O: Books and books. I got the chart from the boyfriend and then at the computer lab where I worked at there was this woman, she was a Scorpio and we were the only women there, and we were obsessed with astrology. She found a little piece of shareware that did charts—Cosmic Portrait. I put it on a disk and brought it home. We would just remember everything we read. But it would stick because when you’re applying it to a person you just go oh ok and then you just never forget. I think I got that program in 96. I can still see someone I went to college with and I still know if you’re a Libra or a Virgo. Do you think that anyone that’s passionate about astrology can become an astrologer? O: Yes, if they have intuition. We’ve actually created a 5 part class that’s done as a retreat in Tulum, Mexico every year to become your own astrologer. We’ve found it to be a really practical tool and the more that you understand it the less you worry and obsess. It’s not because you know things are going happen and you wait around for them, you just get an idea of what might be ahead so you might choose your actions in a different way. How would you explain that intuition? O: You have to give a shit about someone besides yourself. You also have to be into yourself too. It’s a combination of obsessing over yourself and asking why do you do this, but you have to be interested in other people too. Kind of like a puzzle person. Cracking a code in the way. If you had to explain the theory of astrology in simple terms what would that definition be? T: It’s a math of where the planets are in their orbit at any given time and there’s a legend that’s associated with it, and there’s a system of interpreting it so that it makes sense here on earth. O: It’s also like a cosmic roadmap. Your chart is the instruction manual that you don’t come with. I like to say it’s your factory settings. If you take an iPhone out of the box it’s the same as any other iPhone it has it’s system but you can customize it with backgrounds and apps, so we’re all the same, we have our factory settings but as we go through life you can make choices and free will to make choices that customize your settings. But you’re either an Android or iPhone, you are what you are. And that is all based off of when you were born… T: Yeah, your exact minute of birth. What you read in the papers is a sun sign, so that’s where the sun was in relation to the earth’s orbit around it. But there’s so much more: you have a moon sign, Mercury, Venus, Mars—all the planets are orbiting around the sun at different speeds so you freeze frame them at your exact moment of birth when you look at your chart. They’ll all be somewhere in that circle lining up with one of the 12 zodiac signs or 12 houses, we divide that circle in 12. Why is the chart done at time of birth and not another time, like conception? O: It’s the time your soul incarnates into a body, and it’s road map to your life as a “spiritual being having a human experience.” How would you explain what your business is comprised of now? T: Our philosophy is that if no one is going to give you a chance, build it yourself. And if it’s good enough, it’ll get picked up and that’s happened for us. O: But I believe in the generosity model. Give people really good, useful content for free. We don’t charge people to read our monthly and weekly horoscopes on our website because it a barrier for them knowing what we do. We give a lot away for free. We do syndicate it to places like Elle and that pays for us to be able to do that. But you have to be your own billboard. You have to show people, not tell them. We like to give a lot and it takes a certain amount of trust and people get addicted to the horoscopes and then they buy a book or do a reading. I guess our business model is provide as much value as possible for people. T: And the right people will come to us. We don’t chase after advertising. I think we really try to make sure that we’re putting something quality out there and we’re hard on ourselves. But in terms of what we offer now we have a lot of content. We have daily, weekly, monthly horoscopes, and then we have a lot of columns—on Elle, Elle Australia, Interview Germany, Refinery29, so we’ve gone international. We do readings—about 8 to 10 readings a week between the two of us. The best thing to do is to take the information and then live your life. If your intuition tells you to go left and your horoscope tells you to go right, you should go left because nothing is a better guide than your intuition. But sometimes what you think is your intuition is actually all your fears and preconceptions. Do you separate for the readings? T: Yeah, it’s too much for us together; otherwise people have to wait a long time. What we have in development is a pod cast where you call in with people. O: We also have our retreat in Tulum and we’re planning to do more teaching and interacting—maybe more videos, people like it when we do them. T: And we have the books, Men of the Zodiac and Momstrology. Ophi became a mom in 2010 and her daughter actually charmed an editor that gave us a book deal. So now we have a spin off website called Momstrology. O: I think astrology is most useful when people are going through a time of uncertainty: dating someone new, crisis in the relationship, motherhood, a new job or trying to leave a job they hate. When you’re at any kind of a transition the tendency is to get stuck in analysis paralysis and just stay in a crappy situation or frozen like a deer in headlights. We try to meet people at those places and give them useful tools to get unstuck. Do you feel like you’re rebranding astrology in the way that you approach it? T: Yeah, for sure. Fashion people love astrology. I think creative people are the ones that love astrology the most. O: But why do they need to see it on a purple or blue background with stars or wizards capes. We love style and we went to art school, so why not make it stylish? There’s no excuse to make something look so shitty when it’s something people want to read. Is it something that you do consciously? Is it something that you want to be recognized by? It’s on your website, but it’s also in your writing. You always provide interesting links and you’re very in tune with what’s happening. You’ll talk about a spinning class. You’re very current. T: We really want to be known for making astrology relevant to peoples’ lives. We bring the stars down to earth. If you can’t use it here on this planet, there’s really little point for it. The human spirit is something we’re really interested in. We all share that one-ness. I think astrology, even though it divides people into twelve, it is also this unifier. Astrology is the ultimate icebreaker. There’s no religion. You can connect with everybody. T: It’s also fun, so you can take it with a grain of salt. It doesn’t push people’s buttons unless they’re super religious. But I do have some really religious clients. I did a reading for a born-again Christian. Muslims from Dubai. Since Twitter started, a lot of people found us on Twitter and Google. We do readings for people all over the world: Iceland, Finland, Dubai, India, Hong Kong… What kinds of clients do you have that are a bit more surprising? T: I had one of the Secretary of States of New York for a good time. She still checks in. I had the daughter of an African king who went to Columbia. I helped advise her on what to do when she went back to her country and wanted to set up clean water access. It was an honor. O: I had a famous neuroscientist. Mostly women. Sometimes men. Coaches. A lot of entrepreneurs. T: People who just want to live a rich life. They want to make every moment count. O: We don’t really have unhappy people coming to us. They’re people who are interested in personal growth and being their best selves. T: They’re not fundamentally unhappy, but they can be going through hard times. O: Maybe they’re just stuck. They have a blind spot and we help them. T: The reading isn’t over until the person has a plan and hope. We stay on the phone with them until they are like, “Okay, this is what I need to do.” We really want to be known for making astrology relevant to peoples’ lives. We bring the stars down to earth. If you can’t use it here on this planet, there’s really little point for it. What does a reading entail? O: We need their time, date and place of birth. We do their chart. They can ask three questions. They fill out a form. They can ask about three people, but of course it usually goes into more sometimes. Just to focus them a little bit. T: We tell people the story of who they are. And then we look at timing based on where the stars are now. Should you leave your job? Should you leave your husband? Should you stay? How closely do you think people should follow what you’re telling them? T: With energy periods, it doesn’t matter because it’ll find you anyway. A lot of times people will say that they listened to the recording a year later and everything that you said happened. The best thing to do is to take the information and then live your life. If your intuition tells you to go left and your horoscope tells you to go right, you should go left because nothing is a better guide than your intuition. But sometimes what you think is your intuition is actually all your fears and preconceptions. How do you work with brands? T: We’ve started doing more teambuilding stuff. We did an off-site with Nike. We managed to do a one-hour teambuilding presentation for fifteen people on a staff where we looked at all their charts and showed their “star-powered synergies.” O: We read who works well together. We did a breakdown session of which signs should sit with each other so that they didn’t cluster into too much like-mindedness. T: We did something for Nordstrom where they sent us around to the pop-up shops that they’re doing with Olivia Kim. O: We just did the Kate Spade Saturdays lookbook. We did a whole 2015 horoscope. Their “eureka” book. We’re asked more and more to provide this specialty content. We did dinner at the Waverly Inn for Monika Botkier’s NYC relaunch. T: We’ll do readings or brand extension type things. O: We’ve done internal corporate retreats for a holistic nutrition company. How do you communicate with your audience? How do you put yourself out there? O: A lot of people find us on Elle and Refinery 29. We did this whole video series with Refinery, so that gave us some good exposure. Twitter for sure. We also do a weekly newsletter on Sunday nights. T: Word of mouth though, really. People read it, they like it and then they send it to their friends. Do you guys have a team that helps you out? T: We have someone who does social media. We have a publicist and we have a great assistant who is like a shaman. She’s an amazing herbalist and she should be a life coach. She loves people. She’s a Taurus. But we’re a pretty small crew. We work separately though. We don’t have a centralized office. Do you work from home? T: Yeah and we come here, to our apartment in Manhattan. O: I have an office up in Nyack. If you want to get out of the city, it’s so fun. T: My husband owns a Polaroid camera store in Seattle. I work with him in his store. He’s an Aries, so we get all creative together. I need a certain quiet. How long does it take you to do a chart? T: I’m pretty fast. I can write an entire week of daily’s now in a day-and-a-half. It’s scary. An hour for a day. Do you feel that once you know someone’s chart, you feel biased in the ways that you interact with them at all? T: I just feel closer with them. I wouldn’t say biased. People rarely surprise us. I’ve read a lot about how people say “No, astrology can’t be real. The maps are all wrong.” How do you deal with that? T: Astrology does take into account the shifting constellations. Susan Miller did a great explanation of them on Elle.com. She says the constellations are just markers, because ultimately the planets are going 360-degress around the sun. The constellations were markers, but there were certain energies that were happening during that time. It’s more based on the seasons and where the earth is. T: Trying to prove astrology — Susan Miller thinks that you’ll be able to one day — but I don’t necessarily think about it like that. Can you prove Christianity? Can you prove shamanism? Can you prove art? How do you deal with the haters? People who are like, “There’s no way.” T: That’s fine. We just do their chart and then they’re like, “…oh.” They’re usually Capricorns or Aquarians. The occasional Sagittarius man. They’re almost always men. O: I remind them of what the true definition of a skeptic is, which is someone who suspends their disbelief, tries it out, and then forms a judgment. If you say you’re a skeptic, you’re actually not. You’re a cynic because you’re judging this without giving it a fair shot. What do you think is the biggest challenge about your profession and what you do? T: Just writing as much as we do. Time never stops. We never get a day off. What do you find the most rewarding about your job? O: I like to be able to give people a breakthrough of some kind. Helping people stop suffering in their head. No matter how great we all look on the outside, you sit down with a person and they’re in the middle of dilemma of some kind. Trying to prove astrology — Susan Miller thinks that you’ll be able to one day — but I don’t necessarily think about it like that. Can you prove Christianity? Can you prove shamanism? Can you prove art? What does your average day look like? A mix of writings and readings? T: Mostly writing. I wake up and turn on the coffee maker. O: Hope my daughter doesn’t wake up. I love that morning coffee buzz hour. That’s the best concentration. T: We wake up, have coffee, write, and then the Sagittarius kicks in and we get cabin fever and have to wander to some interesting place like a café or a restaurant or a hotel lobby. We always have to go somewhere to do some writing or reading. O: We go to some vintage stop. Wandering and meeting a friend for lunch. T: Then going back to writing and reading in the late afternoon. O: There’s a lot of location scouting for new and interesting places to write. Having beauty around us is really important. T: Most of our readings are on the phone. Most of our clients are from around the world. Do you ever do them in person? T: Sometimes. It’s much better on the phone because then people can just relax and listen. It can be distracting sometimes. When I’m reading, I’m looking up blankly and just seeing the chart. We don’t want other senses to interfere with our intuition. That’s why I think we want to do a podcast. Some people are scared of bad news. How do you deal with that? Of people being afraid of bad news? O: Bad news is usually a fear of someone dying or getting injured and a fear of being caught by surprise or not being ready for something. Usually, it’s lazy astrology for someone to tell you that they see an accident. I hate when people do that.There’s no way anyone can know that. Do you feel like you have a mentor? T: We have a number of them. My shaman is a mentor. O: Our financial advisor. He’s our Yoda. T: Vajra Ma who does amazing empowering women’s work. Our dad was an entrepreneurial mentor. He told us to never work for anyone else if we didn’t have to. Susan Miller is an inspiration because she paved the way for Internet astrologists. She has a different approach than us. O: She made people read their horoscopes on the Internet. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? T: This 80-year-old woman named Lenore once said, “Advice is something for people who already know the answer but wish they didn’t.” She was like our old weight-watchers leader. (Laughs) How do you think astrology works with other kinds of mystic sciences? T: I think they’re all the same. Whichever entry point it is for you. People who are into astrology tend to open themselves up to other things. O: It gives you a system for learning that’s accessible. What is your dream for astrology? T: My dream is that everyone knows what their chart is so they gain the self-acceptance and understanding. When you understand yourself and you can be in harmony with yourself, that is the only way to world peace. O: I think it’s also about understanding people. We have this e-book called, “How To Get Along With Anyone, Yes Even That Person.” It’s about how your distance between signs actually creates energy and how you deal with them. Is this person meant to be my best friend or a teacher for me? I’d love the opportunity to teach people that more because it’s a really simple tool. What’s your dream for yourselves and your business? T: A radio show is really exciting to us. I love Dan Savage. My dream is to do something like that so we can go around and answer people’s questions and laugh. O: Then with a big group where we give people an overview of the month and people just asks us questions. We’re really good at answering questions on the fly. It’s really like stand-up comedy astrology in a way. You can find daily weekly and monthly horoscopes from the AstroTwins on their website, AstroStyle, as well as their 2015 Planetary Planner, to get you ready for the year ahead!