Debbi Kempton-Smith

Debbi Kempton-Smith (16 April 1950 1.16 am EST New York - 7 February 2018), was a well-known astrologer and author.   Her book "Secrets from a Stargazer's Notebook" (1982) has become a landmark title.  It is a sound astrology primer packaged in a highly entertaining style of startling wit, irreverence and directness  ... qualities that can come from a double Aries.  It became a classic with a huge following of devoted fans.  To describe 'Secrets' as a cook-book is an understatement to its brilliance.  The 500 pages are packed with charts of rock stars, actors, gurus, test tube babies, nations, plus tables listing the moon void of course ephemera and all calculated by computer.  In 1982, this approach was pioneering the frontiers of astrology.  

 

Debbi brought this same original witty style coupled with her sharp insight to her columns in Glamour magazine and later the Tatler (1999-2009).  This approach has been emulated by many subsequent Sun Sign writers.  She was a practising astrologer too and stated that her clients "included psychiatrists, corporations, celebrities,rock n' rollers, politicians and human beings."  

Debbi Kempton-Smith died in her sleep aged 67.  In her will, she left a note to all of us, stargazers, who have been touched by her genius:  “Cheer up! For I love you all very much! I’ll be waiting for you all in the next world… But please don’t rush… It is a more imaginative galaxy here, but they don’t have nachos.”

A Personal Note

In 1982, I was bowled over by a small hilarious paperback with a bizarre celestial purple cover entitled "Secrets from a Stargazer's Notebook" by an astrologer I had never heard of, Debbi Kempton-Smith. 

Then in 1991, a strange coincidence happened.  I met Debbi while browsing through the astrology books in Weiser's book store in New York.   In person she was even funnier than her writing - brilliantly clever and a very sharp observer of life.  Over the years, we kept in touch either in New York or she'd come and stay in London where I was running the Astrology Shop in Covent Garden.   More recently when the Tatler asked me to recommend an astrology columnist, I knew that sending the enquiry across the pond would lead to a mutually rewarding partnership.

Robert Currey and Debbi Kempton-Smith at the  Jim Stewart's Astrology Shop on Bleecker Street in New York in 1997.

The smaller original version of Secrets published by Bantam in 1982

While keeping her base in Manhattan, Debbi was a great traveller.  This led to surprising moments such as the time she started chatting to a waiter in Bengali in an Indian restaurant.  She applied her wanderlust to astrology in the form of Astro*Carto*Graphy.  We were both friends of Jim Lewis and in 1992 we completed his A*C*G certification course in New Jersey run by Madalyn Hillis to become certified Astro*Carto*Graphers.  Up until a few months ago she continued to order Astro*Carto*Graphy and Cyclo*Carto*Graphy maps from us.  Typical of Debbi, all her charts were given with pseudonyms like O Magnolia!, U Ranium, The Enchilda and Wazzup Doc.  

When Debbi lived in London in the 70s, she joined a growing and influential ex-pat community of astrologers such as Erin Sullivan, Liz Greene and others.  I am told that she was quite wild at this time.  Astrologer, David Jones told me "You'll love Debbi.  She's crazy.  It was a mistake for us to get high just before the keynote address at the (British) Astrological Conference.  After five minutes we were convulsing with laughter and had to make a very public exit."  Well, it was the era of Woodstock.  

 

However, in the last thirty years, Debbi became a very private person.  She rarely went to astrology conferences or even mixed with astrologers.  A notable exception, Zane Stein, an expert in Chiron and celestial centaurs, became a great friend and influence in her study of exo-planets.   Debbi became increasingly active in promoting humanitarian causes.

Zane Stein & DKS at a surprise birthday party she gave for Zane. 17 June 1995.  Photo reproduced with permission of Zane Stein. 

Debbi in the Pumpkin Fields. Photo (c) Zane Stein

Debbi Kempton-Smith was a highly original and talented astrologer.  Her book "Secrets" ranks as one of the best astrology primers of the era and perhaps the most entertaining of all time.   Barry Street and all of us who worked at the Astrology Shop in the 90s are thankful to her for leading us to avidly follow the 'Moon Voids'.  We will miss her craziness, her wit, her vitality and her inspiration.  I will miss her mostly as a wonderful friend. 

Robert Currey, March 2018

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