Eric Francis Coppolino, who came home to Kingston 10 years ago this summer, is the world’s only astrologer to carry international press credentials. After a long career as an investigative reporter covering corporate crime, Eric went from the front page to the horoscope page. Today he’s the editor of Planet Waves, a daily astrology magazine, his horoscope appears seven days a week in the New York Daily News, and he’s the host of Planet Waves FM, a weekly program affiliated with the Pacifica Network.
You’ve been writing horoscopes for the Hudson Valley for 22 years, and recently were hired by the Daily News. How did that happen, and what’s it like to be in the newspaper?
Writing for the News is all about good vibes and 50-word paragraphs. My goal when I started astrology, way back in 1995, was to be a newspaper horoscope writer. The internet was on the rise, and print gigs were fewer and further between. However, I kept at it. Preparation met opportunity and I slipped into the job. It’s great to have a wider audience, and the News is a friendly place to work.
Tell me about your background in journalism. How did that lead to you being an astrologer?
Astrology has followed me since my first journalism job at the Echoes-Sentinel in Warren, N.J. That was in 1987. My beat included the sewerage authority, which taught me everything I needed to know about government. The Echoes’ editor, Florence Higgins, was an old-school astrologer who had the entire publishing company wrapped around Mercury retrograde. There was no astrology in the newspaper, but there was an astrology calendar hanging over my desk the first time I sat down there. Initially, astrology seemed useless and over-complicated, until I started reading Patric Walker in the New York Post. His column was so good, I had to figure out how he did it. To do that, I had to learn astrology; and soon after I started my own column.
How do you view your role as an astrologer?
I’m a public philosopher. I get to propose ideas to people, particularly how to think about their lives. I have an agenda. What I’m most interested in helping with is self-esteem. The world would be a happier place if more people felt better about themselves. That’s the message laced into every word I write. I would add: feeling better about yourself takes work and it takes honesty, and is worth the effort.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Currently I aspire to be a science fiction writer. In a sense, I already am.
What’s your educational background?
Most of it happened in Brooklyn, a place that spawns writers. When I graduated from nursery school, I received an award for being the student who most benefited from his Hebrew education. I guess that’s because I’m Sicilian. I went to P.S. 207 and John Dewey High School. I was accepted at the Culinary Institute of America, though I went to SUNYs Buffalo and New Paltz instead. I did therapy training out west. And I’ve studied thousands of documents from the files of General Electric, Westinghouse and Monsanto. I’m a media studies student of the McLuhan family.
What are some of the more interesting or foreboding charts you have done?
The election of 2016 was a difficult chart to understand. I wasn’t grasping the fact that it was even possible Donald Trump could be president. The 9/11 chart confirms what “truthers” have been saying all along. The chart for the moon landing is convincing that there actually was one (the moon was in Libra when it was landed upon). One of my favorite charts is the first flight by the Wright brothers. I’ve done way too many charts of terrorist attacks the past 16 years. Can we please stop?
What makes a chart interesting to you?
The astrology of a news event can map out the story long in advance of the worldly data coming in. I love forensic astrology — crime scenes, for example. Also, one of my passions is new discoveries; that is, of bodies orbiting our Sun, most since 1977. By that I mean Chiron, Pholus, Nessus, Eris, Sedna, QB1 and a few others. It’s interesting to see the way that the new planets tell the story of the emerging world, and also where they fit into charts of historic events.
What appeals to you about astrology?
Astrology is a subversive art. It can be used as a platform for any discussion at all; it can be used to describe, analyze or map out any subject, at any time of history. That’s a useful tool.
Tell me about the path into Planet Waves.
In 1984, I founded a magazine at SUNY Buffalo, called Generation. After many experiments, Planet Waves is the closest thing I’ve come to manifesting that vision. I had no concept of astrology then, though I had ideas about what a magazine could be: wildly diverse, literate, with lots of art, and a prankster streak.
Your Planet Waves FM program is now affiliated with the Pacifica Radio Network. That started as a podcast, correct?
The program I do now is a direct outgrowth of a show called Radio Navigator, which aired live on WDST-Radio Woodstock in the 1990s. I gave that show up when I moved to Germany in 1998. Over the years I tried many audio experiments using the Internet, and finally figured out how do a program. One day a couple of years ago, WJFF, a local public radio station in Sullivan County, was doing their membership drive, and mentioned being part of the Pacifica Network, which also includes WBAI and Democracy Now! So I called up Pacifica to see if Planet Waves FM could join, and it turned out that we qualified.
In recent years, there’s been a rumor about the signs shifting over, and the existence of a “13th sign.” What is that about?
It all started with a fellow named Owen S. Rachleff, who made a serious proposal in a 1973 book called Sky Diamonds: The New Astrology. The idea was not accepted at the time. Then in 1996, a sci-fi writer named John Sladek, who liked to prank astrology, wrote a novel based on a fictitious 13th sign. So it has literary roots, though Sladek managed to convince newspapers that it was true. Since then, it’s basically been a hoax, and a disinfo campaign that NASA uses to torture astrology fans. You would think they have better things to do. Your sign has not changed. If you ever bump into me in a café, I’ll explain in more detail if you buy me a skim, split-shot cappuccino, dry.
What do you say to those who do not subscribe to astrology, or feel your work has no credibility?
Neil DeGrasse Tyson personally called me out as a fraud in one of his books. When I read that, I knew I was going places.
How do the stars and planets predict world, life and personal events?
There’s a correspondence between planetary patterns and what happens in life, but the only way people see that is through consciousness. Astrology is entirely a figment of the mind. It doesn’t exist anywhere else.
How do dates react when you tell them you’re a professional astrologer?
Once I had a date and when she found out I was not just an astrologer but a Pisces, she called all her friends and they threw a Jacuzzi party for me. It was quite a night.
Have you ever done someone’s chart, and what you learn about that person becomes a deal-breaker for you?
You mean a potential lover or girlfriend? I’m more interested in how she smells.
What do you do for hobbies/recreation?
Things like guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, edibles and tantric rituals.
Why have you chosen Kingston to be your home?
My grandfather was born here. I thought I would return to my roots.
Name three of your favorite places in Kingston, and why.
My studio is my favorite place in Kingston. I’m fond of the law library in the county courthouse. I really miss the sinkhole.
Please scare the heck out of the readers with a brief summary of President Donald Trump’s astrological line-up, and any upcoming White House abominations.
I never thought you’d ask. Trump is under a lot of pressure. It’s going to get really weird in August. I don’t think this presidency will last long, in its current form. The thing is, that would make sense, and so much about our times makes no sense at all. There’s much bigger astrology looming in the background. The United States is about to go through its Pluto return. That’s going to last for years, and the warm-up started in 2007, though it begins to peak in 2020. The Pluto return of the United States is one of those before-and-after moments in our country’s history, and it’s happening during our lifetimes.