Astrotheme Untrustworthy for Birth Times?
One of the challenges with western astrology is that it requires an accurate birth time in order to calculate a complete horoscope or birth chart for a person. Astrologers often like to use the charts of celebrities as examples in order to demonstrate various astrological techniques and concepts, since their lives tend to be so well-documented, and as a result of this celebrity birth times are often highly sought-after by astrologers. While the pros and cons of using celebrity birth charts are sometimes debated by astrologers, the practice is pervasive.
Birth data collection itself becomes almost like a separate skill set that astrologers have to develop in order to obtain birth times. This is because there can be many challenges and complications involved in finding out what time a person was born, especially if you don’t know them personally. Astrologers draw on a wide variety of different sources in order to determine or confirm when a person was born, such as obtaining a copy of their birth certificate, birth announcements, the recollection of parents or other family members, and so on.
In the 20th century entire databases were created in order to collect birth data and provide background information about where it came from and how reliable the source is. Astrodienst’s AstroDatabank is the largest and most well-respected example of this sort of database in the astrological community, and they employ a system for classifying the reliability of birth data called the Rodden Rating system, which has become the industry standard. AstroDatabank is not the only purveyor of birth data though, and another website that frequently shows up in the results when you search for celebrity birth times is Astrotheme.
Astrotheme is a French website founded in 2002, which has pages set up for thousands of celebrities where you can see their birth chart, a biography, and a computerized delineation of some parts of the celebrity’s horoscope. The purpose of these long reports appears to be that they help to draw in traffic and advertise the personalized reports that Astrotheme sells to visitors. Since Astrotheme is one of the few websites which lists celebrity birth times besides AstroDatabank, their pages often rank very high in the search results, and sometimes when AstroDatabank does not list a known birth time for a celebrity you will be able to find it on Astrotheme.
Unfortunately Astrotheme has gained a reputation over the past decade amongst some data collectors I know for not being very reliable when it comes to the birth times that they give for some celebrities. Usually the birth times they list are just taken from AstroDatabank or other birth data collections, and in those cases the data will be more or less reliable. However, in instances where there is no known birth time for the celebrity in any of the databases Astrotheme will sometimes claim to have obtained it from another source.
This first came to my attention maybe 7 or 8 years ago, because I noticed that they often listed exact birth times for a number of celebrities even though the other databases said that those birth times were unknown. At first I thought that this was great, since it gave me another source for birth times when the other databases failed. However, there was one glaring issue at that point, which is that they didn’t seem to regularly list their sources for the birth times on their website, so it wasn’t clear where they had obtained the data from. This is problematic because sometimes in the astrological community if you see a birth time with no source it means that the time was rectified through astrological means. This is problematic since rectifications are not always accurate, and thus they are not usually treated as reliable by birth data collectors. In some instances a poorly done rectification is no better than just a random guess at the correct birth time.
Examples of Unreliable Sources
In 2009 one astrologer I know went so far as to write to Astrotheme in order to request that they start listing the sources for their birth times, because they commonly didn’t at that point. Here is the email:
You have a really incredible service going. Absolutely incredible. This could be a really wonderful tool of research, but I have one suggestion. The site would be just that much more incredible if you gave the sources for all the birthdata. Sometimes when I’m searching for a birth time, you will be the only site on the internet that gives a birth time for someone, but I can’t really trust it because you give no source. I don’t know if someone just rectified it or if you actually have a credible source for the birth information. Will we ever see this on Astrotheme?
Their response was a bit disappointing, basically saying that it would take too much time to list their sources for all of the biographies, and instead saying that astrologers should just email them if they want to find out the source for the birth time they list for a specific person:
We do better: we answer for any question about a celebrity. We have around 100 and more sources. It is a lot of time, and we propose the best source, because we compare all. If you have any question about one person, ask and we will give you the source and comments. It will take about 6 months to finish all the biographies, and to enter sources would be too much time, but we can find it if you ask. We answer everyday for that.
My friend then asked a followup question about a specific birth time that they listed on their website for the actress Jennifer Love Hewitt:
Ah that’s great. I didn’t know you could do that. Could you please look up the source for Jennifer Love Hewitt’s birthtime?
Sure, For her, for example: http://www.vegaattractions.
But it is not a “very good” source, unfortunately.
The link takes you to some random commercial astrology website that sells computerized reports, which lists the same exact birth time for Hewitt that Astrotheme gives, also with no source. They do have a notice on their site though saying that the primary astrology website that they use for finding celebrity birth times is, surprisingly, Astrotheme. In other words, the source that Astrotheme cited for this piece of birth data claims that Astrotheme itself is their primary source.
What this demonstrates is that back somewhere around 2009 Astrotheme had a general policy of not listing their sources for every entry, and while you could email them to request the source of the birth time, in some instances the source would either not be very reliable, or would lead back to Astrotheme itself.
Another inquiry in 2009 about the exact birth time listed for the actress Kate Winslet produced an even more dismaying response from Astrotheme:
7:15 is found on many sites, we have taken the same birth time, but it seems that this is not sure.
For example: http://joycehopewell.blogspot.
com/2009/02/kate–winslet.html or http://www.vegaattractions. com/celebrity/stars/winslet. html or http:// astrologicalassociation. blogspot.com/2009/02/oscars- winners-and-astrology.html
Everybody says “We don’t know Kate‘s birth time for sure but the Internet widely reports 5th October 1975, 07:15am BST, Reading, UK. “.
So, basically in some instances, like with Kate Winslet, they just list whatever speculative birth time seems to be floating around the internet. In other instances, like with Jennifer Love Hewitt, there becomes this circular loop where they cite other websites for the data, and those same websites cite Astrotheme as their primary source, which implies that at some stage in this process someone fabricated the birth time and put it on their website as legitimate. The question is who?
A Fabricated Birth Time?
I’m not sure if Astrotheme’s policy on citing sources for birth times has changed since 2009, but I get the impression that it may have, because I’ve come across a few instances where they cite old entertainment magazines as the source for their birth times recently. For example, even though neither AstroDatabank nor any of the the biographical works I’ve found give a birth time, Astrotheme lists an exact time of 11:04 AM for the rapper Eminem, citing the November 2000 issue of a German teen magazine called Bravo. Here is a screenshot. Based on this I thought that perhaps Astrotheme was starting to get better about both listing their sources and doing the necessary research in order to obtain accurate birth times. But unfortunately the situation may have have actually gotten worse rather than better.
I was recently trying to find the birth time of rapper Kanye West by doing searches for it on Google. AstroDatabank has no entry for Kanye West, but Astrotheme does, so they come up as the first result when you search for the phrase “Kanye West birth time.” I was both surprised and happy to see that they listed not only an exact birth time for him of 8:45 AM, but they also gave a source for the birth time, which they claimed was from an article in the October 2007 issue of Blender Magazine. Here is a screenshot.
So, that seemed pretty good, but I wanted to verify the source for myself just to be sure, so I did a search on Amazon and ordered a copy of that old issue of Blender Magazine from 2007. It just showed up in the mail today, and I was shocked after I read through it and found that not only does the article not mention Kanye’s birth time, but it doesn’t even list his birth date. There is just one brief biographical reference to the fact that he was born in 1977, and that’s it. No birth time, even though Astrotheme cites this exact issue as the source for the birth time they list on their website.
So, we have a bit of a problem here. While it is nice in theory that Astrotheme seems to be making more of an effort to cite their sources for birth times now, in this instance even though they cited a specific source for the exact birth time they gave, the source does not support the time they claimed. So, this makes it look like someone concocted a false birth time and then provided a fake citation in order to give it an air of legitimacy, for some unknown reason. This is arguably even worse than listing no source for the time at all, because astrologers generally know that they shouldn’t trust unsourced birth times, whereas the citation of a legitimate publication in this instance might otherwise lead people to take this time more seriously than they otherwise should. In point of fact, at least one astrologer has written an article about Kanye West in just the past few months using the 8:45 AM time from Astrotheme, so there are astrologers out there who have been misled by the faulty time listed on their website.
The more troubling question here is whether this was just a fluke, or whether it is a more common practice. Unfortunately I don’t know the answer to this question, although I find it troubling that other data collectors on AstroDatabank who have checked the sources for birth times that Astrotheme cites for the rapper Jay-Z, the actress Jennifer Lawrence, and the actor Hugh Jackman report they do not in fact mention those times at all. So, I would encourage more people to research this issue in order to find out just how extensive it is.
In the meantime, the main point that I want to convey with this article is simply that I do not personally believe that Astrotheme is a reliable source for birth data because of issues like the ones I’ve cited above, and in light of that I would recommend that astrologers avoid using them as a source for unverified birth data, at least unless or until they take steps to implement some better practices.
At this point in history it is important for astrologers to to start taking birth data collection more seriously. One way that we can do this is by implementing systems like the Rodden Rating system which allow for a greater degree of sophistication in describing the sources of the data that we use. It is not enough to just list a birth time that you got from some random website anymore, but it is important to also know where that time came from, how reliable it is, and whether there is any conflicting information that should be taken into account. By taking just a few simple steps like this we will create a much better environment for conducting proper research in the field of astrology.