For 25 years, Guy and Jeanne Spiro have been ushering in the Age of Aquarius one reader at a time.
From their vantage point at the Monthly Aspectarian, the monthly New Age magazine they publish from modest offices in Morton Grove, the Spiros have watched beliefs and practices once considered pretty “out there” become part of mainstream Americana.
“A lot of things that were laughed at 25 years ago are now pretty commonplace,” Jeanne Spiro says. “Chiropractors were pretty much laughed at, and now everyone goes when their back hurts.”
No longer laughing matters
“And now, you can’t swing a dead cat and not hit a yoga class,” he says, laughing, as Indian fusion music flows from a CD playing on his office computer. “It’s unbelievable — libraries, park districts, churches having yoga classes.
“You run into people who, 10 years ago you couldn’t have paid them $500 to read a book about meditation and now they come up to you and want to draw you a picture of their spirit guide named Zantar. It’s just unbelievable how it’s changed,” he says.
The Aspectarian, which takes its name from the astrological “aspects,” or signs, began as a double-sided single-sheet astrological forecast printed on legal-sized goldenrod paper back in September 1979. Today, it’s an 87-page newsprint magazine with a circulation of about 35,000. Most copies are given away for free at bookstores, shops and restaurants throughout the Chicago area.
Guy Spiro still writes his “astro-weather” column — the forecast for Friday cautioned folks in the Midwest to be on the lookout for “erratic behavior” and “the nutcases who will be out and about” because of a bad combination of cosmic energies, apparently.
The Aspectarian also includes interviews with authors and spiritual teachers, movie reviews, articles about alternative medicine, cultural commentaries, and plenty of advertisements for all manner of New Age goods and services.
Massage therapists, vegetarian restaurants, hypnotherapists, astrologists and occult bookstores are regular advertisers. Their business provides nearly all the income for the Aspectarian, Guy Spiro says.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, advertising revenue plummeted about 25 percent. But demand for the New Age magazine has remained constant — no surprise considering the world is in the middle of an age change, he says.
“Every 2,000 to 2,200 years, you have these huge shifts that occur and where we are is right in the middle,” Spiro says, explaining that the world is moving out of the Age of Pisces into the Age of Aquarius, and shifting from a mind-set of “surrender” to “personal responsibility.”
“People who don’t see a new age are really missing the forest for the trees because you’re living in it,” says Spiro, 52, who has a learned, if laid-back demeanor and bears an eerie resemblance to the late Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead.
“Just to keep up with popular culture — just to keep up with what’s on cable — you’re forced to process so much information that people are being dragged kicking and screaming into a state of semi-enlightenment,” he says. “Consciousness is being changed radically.”