By Eric Francis | October 4, 2016
It’s been an interesting week to be an astrologer. It all started when The Wall Street Journal published an article on September 29, Who’s Demanding to See Hillary Clinton’s Birth Certificate? Baffled Astrologers
That would be us. Astrologers are the new birthers.
As if on cue, The Wall Street Journal did its once-per-11-year front-page article on astrology. The last time was their piece on how astrologers were responding to the demotion of Pluto and the naming of Eris (that was in August 2006).
While the rest of the political dialog swirled around Donald Trump’s $900 million write-off, his tax returns, and his comments about an allegedly zaftig Miss Universe, the astrology world was abuzz with a newly revived discussion about Clinton’s missing data, thanks in part to Dow Jones and Company.
Why exactly is WSJ the only mainstream news outlet that takes astrology seriously enough to write a real article every now and then? Maybe they have fond memories of Evangeline Adams counseling J. P. Morgan about how to be a billionaire.
“There is one crucial detail Hillary Clinton hasn’t divulged to the American people, and it’s driving Michael O’Reilly bonkers,” the article by Yogita Patel begins. O’Reilly, from Bend, OR, has loads of other birth data on major political candidates, but he’s got nothing substantial on Clinton.
“Mrs. Clinton was born Oct. 26, 1947, at Edgewater Hospital in Chicago, Ill., according to the Cook County Clerk. After that, astrologers must play gumshoe to get any closer. There’s decent historical evidence for two times at either end of the day. The Clinton campaign declined to answer questions, ensuring the mystery will continue,” Patel writes. (quotes from WSJ article linked above)
This must be a running joke at both Clinton headquarters and Cook County Vital Records.
The article goes through the litany of birth times and various sources for them. Phoenix-based astrologer Patrick Watson provided the Journal with Clinton’s widely used 8:02 a.m. chart, which the newspaper published in the web edition. Watson used a whole-sign house version of the chart. Score one for Hellenistic astrology.
Although Watson provided the Journal with Clinton’s 8:02 a.m. chart, based on the Journal’s research, it would seem that the 8:00 p.m. time is better documented. With the 8:00 p.m. chart, Clinton would have the last degree of Gemini rising; at 8:00 p.m. and 47 seconds, it would be the first degree of Cancer rising. There are moments when the exact birth time matters, and this is one of them.
“The resulting evening chart, astrologers say, shows strong Gemini-Uranus influences, suggesting an erratic or unpredictable nature. Yet fast-forward the chart to 47 seconds after 8:00, and that could indicate a nurturing disposition,” the Journal informed its incredulous readers.
“There are two disappointing things about this article,” one reader commented. “One, that the WSJ published and printed it.? Two, I learned that I share the same sign as HRC. Keep me away from sharp knives and tall bridges!”
“In an era where the internet rules political discourse, and things which are demonstrably and empirically untrue can alter the thoughts of voters so dramatically, pandering to nonsense astrology is stupefying,” wrote another commenter.
“Nowhere in the article is the premise of these ‘astrologers’ questioned as they should be. You write their ‘conclusions’ without questioning their basis in empirical fact. This article contributes to the disarray in our political discussions. One cannot have rational discussion about irrational beliefs.”
You can say that again.
Adding to a week of intrigue, on September 25th, ISAR (the International Society for Astrological Research) announced that it would be revealing Clinton’s true birth data at its conference in California next weekend.
ISAR’s press release said that data collector Marc Penfield “will reveal the Democratic contender’s time of birth then, and the process he went through to find this KEY missing astrological link for forecasting the 2016 USA presidential election.”
Notably, this revelation was planned for the end of the conference, which would have kept the data concealed for all of the preceding discussions of the forthcoming election.
Other astrologers, not afraid to point out that this looked like a way to get people to come to the conference, put the pressure on ISAR and Penfield to reveal the data sooner. ISAR responded by releasing a video on Sunday, October 1st, in which Raymond Merriman and Shelley Ackerman interviewed Penfield.
Both are well known astrologers: Ackerman is reputed for having obtained Bill Clinton’s birth time from his mother in 1992. Merriman is a noted financial astrologer whose work is actually read by traders.
Introducing Penfield, Merriman said, “Marc has rocked the astrology world with the revelation of a new birth time for Hillary Rodham Clinton, the time that we’ve been seeking for so many years as astrologers.” Merriman said that this would be AA (double accurate) data based on a birth record.
Penfield, in the interview, said that this was actually old data, first published in March 2008 in the AFA Journal. He started with the story of how 2:18 a.m. data purportedly originated with an unnamed cousin of Hillary Clinton, who, in turn, got it from Clinton’s mother.
However, he added that he got the same data from Zayin Cohen, who claimed to have got it from the Court Clerk of Cook County, Illinois. (Other versions of this legend have him getting the data from an unnamed source in “Israeli intelligence.”) Several political astrologers I spoke to said that over the years, Cohen has given out three different times for Clinton’s birth (1:18 a.m., 2:08 a.m. and 2:18 a.m.).
Penfield said, “I called the records office in Springfield, the state capitol, and I asked the gal there to verify this birth time for me. I knew that she could not give me the information verbally over the phone. So we worked out a deal which a lot of reporters do whereby if I’m wrong, you tell me so, and if I’m right, say nothing.”
Using this method, he determined it was a morning birth, thus eliminating 8:00 p.m. and 8:02 p.m. Then, he said, they went through a number of questions: “We worked around a couple of other times and I got down to 2:18, at which point she said nothing.”
“We saw that in All The President’s Men. Woodward and Bernstein used that device as well,” Ackerman said.
“This is a trick that reporters use all the time!” Penfield added. However, Penfield did not claim to have recorded the discussion, which would be required by most fact-checkers and editors. Many apps make this easy from a cell phone. He does not have anything on paper.
Patrick Watson, the Phoenix-based astrologer, said this scenario seems implausible, because revealing private records in the State of Illinois is a felony carrying jail time and a $25,000 fine.
So, it would seem that something intended to resolve the controversy over Clinton’s birth time has only added to it.