So far as we can tell, cult-favorite astrologist Susan Miller isn't a mystic: She's more of an architectural surveyor of fate. "It's very careful math," she tells MarieClaire.com. "It's all math. I'm doing geometry all day long."
And she means all. day. long. A skilled and master of charts, rising planets, houses of horoscopes, and much more, Miller is also incredibly busy: She recently parlayed her expertise into a partnership with Fresh, for which she created a particularly awesome line of Zodiac soaps (horosoaps, anybody?) along with little detailed booklets that delve into the specifics of the signs. But it's her creepily-accurate readings (who among us, really, doesn't have a calendar reminder to check Astrology Zone on the first of every month) that have made her a household name.
As obsessives ourselves, we nabbed Miller for a chat about all things astrology—eh who are we kidding, we chewed her ear off for everything she could possibly tell us about our futures. Here's what she told us.
Why is it so important for people to know their "rising sign"? What *is* it, anyway?
"The rising sign is the sign that was rising on the eastern horizon when you were born. It is the time your umbilical cord was cut and you began breathing on your own. The natal chart never changes, so the rising sign stays the same throughout your life.
The ascendant or rising sign (the words refer to the same concept and are used interchangeably) shows the characteristics you adopted naturally to cope with life.The rising sign explains why all Aries are not alike, for example, as you are a blend of your sun sign AND rising sign. It's the sign most people would guess you are if they had to guess your sign at a first meeting, say, at a party. If you were born at dawn, your sun (birth month) and rising sign would be the same, hence, you would be a double Leo or whatever sign you happened to be.
The rising sign is the most accurate indicator of profession, and also describes how you look—your appearance—and also describes your overall vitality and personality. Once you know your rising sign, you must read for that sign as well as your sun sign for your entire life, whether for personality description or forecast. Memorize that rising sign as you would your social security number—it's vital to know."
What's happening when Mercury is in retrograde?
"Mercury is the planet of communication, negotiation, travel, and intellect; it's objective thinking. And when any planet goes retrograde it sleeps, so just think of it as resting. Mercury is the sun's agent: He can't get more than 27.5 degrees away from the sun before the sun yanks him back, and that's when you have mercury retrograde. It happens every 12.5 weeks.
You can lock yourself out of your house; you can lose something valuable, like your iPhone. We rush, we become forgetful. We also make bad decisions because our priorities are changing during this time."
Yikes. So what can you do to get around it?
"You just have to be deliberate. Don't take your favorite pair of sunglasses with you—take your second pair of sunglasses, so if you lose them you won't feel as bad. You know what I started doing too? Taking off my earrings in the cab and putting them in the zippered section of my purse so the collar of my coat doesn't take them off."
What's one question you just can't answer for people?
"I can't tell someone to marry that person or take that job or move cross country. Those decisions are up to you. I CAN tell you the questions to ask to help you make that choice, but the final choice must be yours."
What do you do when you have to break tough news?
"I am a very compassionate person, and my style is soft and gentle. Astrology shows influences and conditions but cannot show absolute answers or final results: The final outcome of any situation is almost always up to you. Sometimes, of course, you have no control over an event, and you must accept the outcome.
The more I study astrology, the more I realize the universe wants you to be happy, productive and always moving forward.
We might assume that what we lose at times (say, at eclipse time) is so devastating that we cannot imagine how we will move forward. In fact, what an eclipse takes away from us was actually a blessing, because it opens us to something far better."
What's one of the most memorable moments from your career?
"Once I met with the marketing team of a top fashion magazine on the West Coast. The editor-in-chief wanted me to meet them to cook up ideas, so as we sat down for lunch. Each of the young women introduced themselves, and one of them—we'll call her Emily—said she had just gotten married. I smiled and congratulated her. She was very pretty and I imagined made a beautiful bride.
One of the other girls piped up, 'Emily recently lost her ring, right after the wedding.' Horrified, I asked, 'Was that your engagement ring?' and she nodded yes.
There's something called Horary Astrology where you can find missing objects through time charts. I asked her the precise present time, and she said, 'It's exactly 1:06 pm.' I made a chart for the missing ring.
Looking at it, I could see that the ring was with so much water—gallons and gallons of water, more than anyone could count. And there was a significant amount of wood near the ring too, but nothing in comparison to the amount of water.
Emily explained that she had been in the surf when she and her new husband were at the beach in Santa Monica, near the wooden Santa Monica pier. So Emily hired divers, and lo and behold she got her ring back!