Editor’s Note: Please enjoy this guest blog post from Nicole Edman, editor of our Llewellyn’s Astrological Calendar.
As we all turn our calendars over to yet another new year, Iâ€™m happy to wish our beloved data-heavy wall calendar a happy 80th birthday! First published in 1932, itâ€™s hard to believe that Llewellynâ€™s Astrological Calendar isnâ€™t even the oldest Llewellyn publication (that honor belongs to our 1905-born Moon Sign Book). Iâ€™ve been editing this calendar since I began at Llewellyn five years ago, and what once seemed like a daunting grid of mysterious symbols now tells me so much that I look at it every day. Whatâ€™s in retrograde? Is there a New Moon or Full Moon this week? An eclipse? A bank holiday? I also regularly use the astrological primer contained in the back of the calendar for associations, quick references on house associations and planet rulerships, and the occasional ephemeris question. And you canâ€™t forget the short horoscope for your sign each monthâ€”itâ€™s the first thing I look at when I flip the page each month.
Each yearâ€™s calendar begins with the grid construction in late summer. Our astrological data comes from a custom program, designed for Llewellyn by Rique Pottenger and based on the earlier work of the great Neil F. Michelsen. Having custom outputs of data makes the calendar much easier to put together but, like many computer programs, the information needs to be formatted and translated for non-computer (read: human) understanding. This involves much highlighting, finding, replacing, clicking, dragging, and font designing. I usually designate two weeks in July to slog through this process; once youâ€™re in calendar data mode, itâ€™s best to keep going until you finish! The grids are then proofed for astrological accuracy, and the holidays and fishing/planting dates are added. Itâ€™s then time to insert the monthly horoscopes with challenging and rewarding dates and the yearly travel forecasts and proofread everything for grammar. Finally, I add the ephemeris monthly charts, trying to make the text as large as possible while still fitting four of them on each page. By this point, Iâ€™m thoroughly confused as to what year I am in. (I confess, Iâ€™ve been known to write â€ś2011â€ť on a check in the fall of 2009, though the power company didnâ€™t seem to have trouble cashing it.)
And then thereâ€™s the artwork. This piece is always a challenge, but a rewarding one. We work extensively with our chosen artists each year to develop a cohesive theme and accurate astrological symbols for each sign. Our artists receive a thick packet of associations and characteristics, and there are many review stages between myself, our art director and art designer, and the artist. We try to go beyond the same old, same old and give each sign a unique and beautiful imageâ€”something you can look at for an entire month without getting bored. Art being a subjective format, we canâ€™t suit all tastes in all years. After all, whatâ€™s beautiful to one person may be bland (or worse) to the next. But thatâ€™s part of the balance of this calendar, and I feel our team continues to do a fantastic job.
Once the artwork is placed, the calendar gets a few final reviews from people in our building and is then transmitted to our printer. Then comes the tedious wait for the copies to arrive! I can tell you, itâ€™s a big day when the calendars and datebooks arrive in our building, and everyone clamors to get a look at next yearâ€™s lineupâ€”and snag calendars for their own cubicles, of course.
Stay tuned for my next blog post, where I recount a few old editions of the calendar and how itâ€™s evolved over the decades!
Many thanks to Nicole for her guest post!