Matrix Interview with Blogging Pioneer Elsa Panizzon
Our interviewer is Michael Erlewine December 21, 2008
Elsa Panizzon is one of the real Internet pioneers. She started blogging about astrology in 2001 and now some seven years later has built a significant following. Panizzon states:
“There were others blogging about astrology and the blogs were of high quality but it’s very hard to get an audience. You just sort of struggle out there alone and it’s hard to for creative people to continue to create with no recognition or encouragement from an audience.”
Panizzon realized that astrology was going more and more mainstream, and her thought was to get everyone together and create a site where mainstream news could come looking for astrology-themed content. Her idea was that the site would be diverse and constantly updated (just like a news channe)l and that if astrologers pooled their energy they would all have a better chance of being seen and perhaps picked up by the mainstream, a la the familiar saying “A rising tide raises all boats.”
Panizzon also worked the project from the other end by finding and linking stories in the mainstream that featured astrology, even if only to a small degree. The idea was to send the sites traffic which she felt would encourage more astrology themed content. She felt that over time this would have an impact and it really has. She started with some 30 bloggers but now has over 250. Panizzon says:
“I feel I have been instrumental in this growth because before I started this I saw many start blogging but give up in frustration when they realized no one was reading. This no longer happens. If you write a quality astrology-themed blog these days, I can provide you an audience from day one. The infusion of the new blogger benefits the group as well so I feel this is a near perfect design.”
Elsa Panizzon spends her days scouring the internet for astrology-themed pieces not published in blog form and features them as well, bringing attention to these other writers which again benefits the entire group. She does the same thing with astrologers who make videos: she includes them too and this helps her to maintain a mix that is interesting and compelling. Panizzon is also in great demand as a reader of astrological charts and she serves a wide clientele.
“I love this project; it comes straight from the heart. On the day I started I explained that I had seen others do things in service to astrology, like running mailing lists for example, creating software, etc. Well, this was to be my contribution and I sent my audience out to these other blogs on that day and I am just grateful it has turned out so well.
“As for my personal blog, it has evolved or the years. It changes as I change and as times change but my underlying motivation is pretty static. Entertaining comes naturally to me as does teaching. At the very, very least I provide a diversion for people. I try to be a light… an amusing light that people can look at when they need distraction from their difficult lives. I am a bit of a jester in this way but beneath that there is a very serious mind.
Elsa Panizzon has devoted her life to bringing astrology to the mainstream world. Here is her interview. We hope you enjoy it. Panizzon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and through her blog at www.ElsaElsa.com. Here is her interview with astrologer Michael Erlewine:
The Panizzon Interview
Erlewine: How did you first get interested in astrology?
Elsa: Blame my sister! She got interested at 10; I was 8 and tagged along.
Erlewine: Who did you learn from, what books or schools of astrology?
Elsa: We grew up in the desert, isolated, and without a phone or TV, but did get to the library once a week to lay hands on every astrology book in existence at the time. Most of them were way over our heads, but we crammed the info in anyway, having Capricorn ascendants and all. Let me tell you, it was painful. We went as far as to sleep with the books by our heads ala Edgar Cayce; we would have rousing debates over what meant what, but when it was all said and done we could both read a chart, by God.
Erlewine: When did you meet other astrologers and who has influenced you, in anyone?
Elsa: I didn’t hit “town” and encounter other astrologers until I was about 26 years old. By then my views on astrology were very well formed, so I had no opportunity to be mentored, however, far and away I have learned the most from, Liz Greene.
Erlewine: What type of astrology do you do?
Elsa: I like the straight natal chart best. It’s there; it’s hard core and while I realize the value and validity of other charts and techniques, for my purposes, the natal chart is most potent.
I am a surgeon rather than an intellectual and am just less interested in anything adorned when the naked unadorned thing is available. I am definitely from the school of less is more, particularly when working with clients.
My reputation is for candor. I go right to the core of things, starting there rather than trying to arrive there in a convoluted manner. It turns out I am the last stop for many people. They have already had it diddled and diluted, so I work on the other end of this continuum and like it very much.
Erlewine: Have you created any new techniques in astrology and what are they?
Elsa: No, but I have a knack for making astrology interesting and accessible to the passer-by and accept this as another of my functions. I get them interested and leave other people teach them more elaborate techniques or perhaps interest them in some sort of specialty.
Erlewine: What do you personally use astrology for in your life and how often do you consult it?
Elsa: I am immersed in astrology all day long, working with clients, writing my blog and editing the Astro Dispatch. I have no idea how often I consult it. It’s been with me so long it’s become baked in.
Erlewine: Have you done readings for others?
Elsa: Yes, I do readings on a daily basis by phone and by email.
I enjoy the work tremendously. I feel very skilled and hope to continue consulting for a long time.
I guard against burnout by being aware it exists and by only serving clients who have issues I am interested in while referring the others. That is, I am a specialist, not a jack of all trades and I aim to keep it that way.
I also make people know what they are getting into when they contact me. I answer questions directly. I am kind and not judgmental, however I sugarcoat nothing and people know this going in. It is a relief to them in most cases as everyone knows it’s very hard to get someone to state it plainly. It is also a relief to me.
Erlewine: Are you a social astrologer or a lone wolf?
Elsa: I have been to conferences but do not enjoy them. I have a little too much Saturn/Neptune going and feel overwhelmed by the energy at those things. It’s so bad I find it hard to speak and when I am forced to, my voice comes out as if talking in a vacuum.
This has been my consistent experience, so I have not gone to one recently but you know: Never say never.
Erlewine: Do you belong to any astrological organizations?
Elsa: I do not. I grew up such an outsider, I really have no idea how to be in and I just accept this limitation.
Erlewine: What are your thoughts about the state of modern astrology and astrologers?
Elsa: I think we’re going mainstream and that astrology blogging is the new “everything.” It is how astrologers commune, communicate, and spread the word these days and I am very happy to be a leader in this genre, having organized the “Astro Dispatch” and its predecessor, the “Top 10 Sources Of Astrology News.”
I am also pretty sure I was the first astrology blogger on the planet. having started in 2001 and I don’t know what else to say. I am happy about how this has worked out.
Erlewine: What about the business of astrology?
Elsa: It is inordinately hard to make a living as an astrologer, at least it is has been for me. I am currently making a living this way (barely) and just hope this continues.
Erlewine: Tell us about your business astrology projects.
I maintain my blog and the “Astro Dispatch,” but my income comes almost exclusively from doing consultations. I would like these other endeavors to pay, however they have not cooperated in the least!
Erlewine: Tell us a little about the story of your online blogging? How did that happen?
Elsa: Er… one day I posted a link to a (business-themed) bulletin board that referenced astrology. British Telephone had done a study and found people talked more when the Moon was full. To my great shock I got flamed. I responded to my detractor and the next thing I knew I was writing a hot streak and a crowd gathered.
I continued to write for about a month, at which point a friend printed the thread and turned out it was 400 pages long! I was stunned. I had no idea I had anything to say at the time, but I found out that in fact there is no end to what I have to say. That was in 2000; I discovered blogging in 2001 and am sure to be at it for a long, long time.
I think it’s ironic that I got started by coming across that article and now scour the internet for astrology-themed content for the Dispatch. This universe is a marvel.
Erlewine: How have astrologers responded to your site and what about regular folks?
Elsa: The response to the “Astro Dispatch” is wholly positive. I work terrifically hard on it and people appreciate it, astrologers as well as people who are just getting interested in the subject. They get sucked in by one of the bloggers and next thing you know they are reading more and more and becoming more and more interested.
People love my blog as well, while they simultaneously hate it in many cases. For some it is their morning paper, for others it is their support group. Many find it entertaining and inspiring… on the days it does not inflame them.
People definitely have an emotional response one way or the other. I write about the colorful people in my life who become characters the audience enjoys (or possibly love to hate) and become attached to. The whole thing is a drama for me and all involved. This is for good and for ill and I just really like it.
I mean you may or may not like my blog but you have to admit there is nothing like it anywhere on the internet, so on that front, I take both credit and heat.
Erlewine: Do you think astrology is a predictive tool and if so, how so?
Elsa: I do. I do not think you can predict death and the like (I know I can’t) however, when a person has Venus in the 11th house in aspect to Uranus and Uranus going over their descendant by transit, I am going to feel very comfortable saying, “Expect a divorce” rather than ‘Expect the unexpected.”
Erlewine: Do you identify yourself as an astrologer to others?
Elsa: Yes I do and I have for about 20 years. As to how people respond, I have no idea. It’s like asking how they respond to my black hair.
I am matter of fact about both my hair and my astrology, so if a person likes or doesn’t like me I would have no idea if it’s my hair or my profession unless they were to tell me specifically and they rarely do.
I have been mocked though, but it’s been a long time, at least to my face. “You’re going to marry a whaaaat?”
I figure people are going to like you or not and if they’re not going to like you it’s going to be very easy to find a reason, astrology or otherwise.
Erlewine: Does astrologer give you answers for deeply personal questions and quests?
Elsa: Yes it does. There is no end to what I have gotten from astrology. I don’t think I’d have survived my life without it, which is why I try to give back. I give because I owe.
Erlewine: Well, thank you so much Elsa for sharing with us!
Elsa: I enjoyed this very much. Thank you!
About Blogging Pioneer Elsa Panizzon
Elsa Panizzon is a veteran astrologer, author, and blogging pioneer. She has been blogging for the past eight years, and doing astrology consultations for over twenty years. Her memoir, “Heaven, I mean Circle K,” is due for publication later this year. Elsa Panizzon can be reached at email@example.com and ElsaElsa - The Astrology Blog.
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