By Anne T. Donahue
I like to think of myself as a complicated, complex, ever-evolving person. Nobody knows me like I know me, and the more somebody tries to, the more I am determined to see them fail in life and also in their analyses. I am a mystery and an enigma. And if you don’t believe me, surprise! I am standing right behind you.
So I tend to root for my horoscopes to be wrong. How dare strangers and stars assume they know me; assume that because I was born at a certain time on a certain date and in a certain place that I embody traits shared by millions of people. You don’t know me. You don’t know my life. You don’t know the way I act in relationships. I hate you and I curse you. And I want more, please give me more.
Because if you are correct while dragging and flattering me simultaneously and in ways I never even thought possible, please keep preaching your beautiful gospel, astrology experts. I love you, and if you leave me I will perish.
Here’s the thing about my relationship with horoscopes: I’m largely obsessed. I want to feel understood and seen and like I’m at the mercy of something much bigger than me, which helps me explain and justify my shitty behavior as well as my affinity for trying to control everything and everybody in my life. But I also want my complexities and my flaws to mean something more than me just being a person who rules or who sucks sometimes. I want it to be prophecy that my workaholic tendencies are an indicator of being a Virgo or that my lust for attention can be attributed to having so much Leo in my chart. I want to make generalizations based on the birthdays of strangers and feel connected to them by acknowledging aspects of their personalities they may have thought weren’t visible. I want to be fluent in a language that weaves people together based only on where the stars stood on the day or night they were born. And then I want to look at hilarious memes based on all of it because everything feels terrible, and I just want to laugh.
But the further I’ve fallen down the astrology well, the more I’ve come to question whether or not I believe what I’m reading. I love my sun sign and my moon and the freakish amount of Leo that feeds my unrelenting ego, and I love to compare and contrast myself and my signs with those of my friends. I love using new moons and eclipses to add color to what otherwise may feel like black, white, and grey situations, or to make me feel like what’s happening in my life isn’t about extenuating circumstances or a testament to how life can be shitty. I love thinking that a stranger I’ve never met (and will likely never meet) can tell me so much I already know about myself by a chart and the sky, and I love believing in something bigger. I love the ritual, but not necessarily the belief system. I love to feel less alone, but know that there’s so much about ourselves that extend beyond signs, beyond the moon, beyond the universe. And those revelations have what adhered me to astrology even more. Because while I don’t necessarily believe in my soul that mercury in retrograde is pitting technology against me, I do believe that when we bond over our collective “ugh” over it, a closeness comes to pass that is necessary and beautiful. You hate when mercury goes retrograde? Well so do I! Now look, we’re in it together!
The weird thing is, when astrology is dismissed or condescended towards, I hate it. It makes me angry to think that anyone would have the audacity to belittle something that spans years and years. Because there’s a difference in saying, “I don’t know what I believe, but this seems cool” and embodying the traits of the world’s biggest buzzkill. And there’s a difference between writing something off you can’t prove either way and keeping the door open a crack to let some magic in.
So what I’m saying is that yes, I worship at the altar of astrology and its many apps, and I take joy in nodding in agreement with any and all Virgo. But the joy and peace I’ve found in astrology came only after I surrendered myself to the fact that I might also be wrong; that the stars may be just tiny suns in the sky, and that it’s easy to paint us all with traits using birth times and places because we, as human beings, tend to like personality quizzes. But why would that be a bad thing, either? Why not celebrate a belief system that seeks to unify and create dialogue? Why not bask in the ideology that there’s something bigger? Or that because I showed up here on August 29, I’m destined to work way too much and have a tendency to be anxious? Why not claim my week will be good or bad because my horoscope dictates as much?
These are the things I’ve come to obsess over – the jokes and the warnings and the hope that maybe it will all work out. And for that, I’m happy to embrace the ever-increasing astrology boom, and to maintain my strange relationship with it. I do root for so much to be wrong so that I can say I’m right. But what’s made astrology such a helpful tool over the last few months especially is the equal amount of hope that I’m wrong so that I can believe in something else.