For someone who woke up at half past four this morning, Susan Miller doesn’t look tired. It’s a late summer afternoon and Miller is chipper sitting outside an Upper East Side café. With her auburn hair perfectly laid, her makeup flawless, and her summer dress neatly cinched at the waist, the astrologist exudes the radiance of a bubbly schoolgirl. In speech Miller is tireless—a veritable conversational athlete, leaping between subjects, balancing difficult topics, and tackling questions at a pace most would find exhausting. “I wasn’t born with family connections or family money,” she smiles innocently. “But God gave me a better resource: unlimited energy.”
Unlimited energy or not, Susan Miller obviously keeps herself busy. What’s more, her prodigious resume is evidence that while she may have stars in her soul, her mind is all business. In the seventeen years since Miller launched her website Astrologyzone.com, she has developed one of the largest and most recognizable franchises in the field. As a writer, she is prolific, writing over 45,000 words of forecasts for her website monthly. “I don’t like word diets,” she quips. Despite the site’s outdated 90s design—she insists on keeping it that way to provide a sense of “calm” to her readers—Astrologyzone.com claims more than 6 million unique page views monthly. Beside her website, Miller’s written nine books, manages a daily app, and writes regular columns and features for Elle USA, Vogue Japan, W South Korea, and nine other magazines around the world. Her Twitter account, which she sometimes updates more than 20 times a day, has more than 100,000 followers. On Facebook, Astrologyzone.com has more than 45,000 fans.
Miller’s popularity speaks in part to astrology’s growing cultural influence. While the percentage of Americans affiliated with institutional religions continues to decline, it’s now estimated that a quarter of the population subscribes to the power of the stars. In this expanding market, Miller’s visibility makes her a woman in high demand. The reason for this morning’s pre-dawn wake up? Going to CBS’s New York studios to film a morning show segment. In turn, Miller’s flipped that demand into a lucrative business. After CBS, she headed to the renowned Frederic Fekkai Salon on 5th Avenue, where along with pampering herself, she enjoyed breakfast and lunch too. Then she made her way toward home on the Upper East Side to get some writing done.
Life, however, wasn’t always so kind to Miller. As a teenager, she battled fiercely with repeated cases of internal bleeding, symptoms of an affliction that made, in her words, “veins and arteries turn to tissue paper and vanish inexplicably.” Miller missed much of high school, bedridden and in pain. “I still remember the mustard taste in your mouth from too much pain,” she says. “The world turns that color yellow too—it’s like a greenish-yellow. That’s the color of pain.” Susan underwent blood transfusions, broke her leg numerous times—she even died on an operating table. She points at her left leg and says, “If a dog bites me right here, right now, I will bleed to death in front of you. I will have five minutes and it’ll all be over.”
Miller turned to astrology because she thought it would tell her if she’d ever walk again. Her mother—who makes reoccurring cameos in Miller’s writing as “Little Mom”—had learned astrology with her sister by way of a correspondence with Rosicrucians in California. But Little Mom was hesitant to teach her daughter. ‘This is not a parlor game, this is serious stuff and I’m not teaching you,’ Miller recalls her mother saying. And yet by and by, Little Mom gave in. Astrology unfolded itself to Miller until an interest became a hobby, a hobby became a career, and a career became a global enterprise. Her health improved. Although she still walks with a limp, Miller doesn’t seem cowed by her afflictions. Did astrology have an impact on her improving health? “I hate all that fuzzy blue stuff”—Miller’s term for the New Age sentimentalities that often accompany astrology—“this industry reeks of it,” she scoffs. “’I’ll send you love and light!’ You don’t need love and light. You need a good doctor—I believe in traditional medicine.”
Here Miller reveals one of her most interesting idiosyncrasies. For someone who’s made their career in astrology—she lives and breathes a practice so often derided as a sham—Miller is incongruously grounded. She grew up in upper Manhattan and, after her health improved, attended NYU where she received a business degree with Honors. Miller has a mind of numbers, and insists on distinguishing astrology—uniquely categorized as a science as well as an art—from other, less disciplined practices associated with New Age thought. Before taking up astrology professionally, Miller was a successful commercial photography agent with a husband and two daughters. In conversation, it becomes apparent she’s retained the tricks and mannerisms of a businesswoman: she’s adept at establishing intimacy with strangers, referring to anyone and everyone as “Little Lamb.” She peppers conversations with personal details, but always comes back to well-practiced talking points and polished anecdotes.
To this day Susan Miller is a devout Catholic—she prayed to St. Jude in moments of pain in her youth. “My religion is everything to me. People need religion in life and part of the problem [in society] is that there’s too little morality.” The three important accomplishments in a person’s growth, Miller outlines, are education, marriage, and buying a home. When a reader asks her if the Meta Center—an event facility dedicated to “Consciousness Raising, Healing, Personal Growth, Transformation and Creativity” where she’ll be giving a talk later—is a sacred place, Susan responds: “Let’s be serious, the only sacred places are churches, synagogues, and mosques.”
There doesn’t seem to be a conflict between Susan Miller’s religion and her genuine devotion to astrology—instead she’s neatly folded the latter into the former. To her readers, Miller sees herself as “nurse, mother, and angel,” and takes Mother Theresa as a role model. Just as Miller’s mom shepherded her through the pains of her illnesses through astrology, Miller wants to do the same for her readers. “My mission in astrology is to alleviate pain—to see the good parts of life,” she says. “It is such a responsibility. I can’t tell you how often I look out the window, and I look at the city from up high and think, ‘There’s got to be something more I can do.’”
As if on cue, the whine of tires ruptures the afternoon calm. A momentary silence—and then the violent crush of metal on metal: In the intersection behind Susan, a small sedan has t-boned a pick-up truck, scattering parts and spinning both vehicles topsy turvy. No injuries, but the Upper East Side block comes to a pause. After hanging up with 911, Miller says, “You don’t know when you’re going to be looking at your life flash in front of you, you just don’t know. You have to plan for as much as you can.”