If we’ve ever hung out, you’ve seen me get a little star-struck.
It’s probably after I’ve had a couple of drinks. You’re telling me about the latest drama in your life. Trying to be helpful, I ask for your zodiac sign. You respond with “Aries…maybe?” It turns out you’ve gone your whole life without ever doing your birth chart, so of course all of your relationships have failed and you can’t get along with your sister. How have you come this far? How can you love anyone at all?
“Listen,” I explain, trying to stay calm, “it’s not just about being an Aries. It’s about your whole entire birth chart. If we don’t know your moon AND your rising sign we can’t understand anything about your personality. Can’t you PLEASE just call your mom and find out what time you were born?”
“What? Are you serious?”
“Yes. Call your mom. Right now.”
“It’s almost midnight.”
“So? She’s a cool mom. It’ll just take her a second.”
Astrology, like Christianity and Veganism, is a misunderstood and persecuted way of life. Some people fail to understand why I believe so strongly in a system in which the cosmos predetermine our behavior and preferences – from job opportunities to sex positions – and instead assume that I am against free will, or that I’m not very bright. (To be fair, I’ve had to learn some hard lessons about when and where to ask someone for their astrological information. Parties? Appropriate. Job interviews? Less appropriate.)
“I don’t know – I’m a Taurus, I think? Do you actually believe in that stuff?”
Uh YEAH I do, and if you were smart you would too (Taurus is, by the way, one of the least likely signs to get cozy with the cosmos). As J.P. Morgan, famed railroad monopolist of the 19th century, said: “Millionaires don’t believe in astrology. Billionaires do.”
Like J.P., I’m more than just “into” astrology. I use it to transform my universe from chaos into meaning in the same way the Jews use the Torah to understand how to navigate creation. When I read a great book, I Wikipedia the author’s birthday so I can see how his astrological sign shaped the work (Murakami is a Capricorn; Didion is a Sagittarius).
I make charts in my head about which signs predominate which fields. For example, divas tend to be Aries – James Franco, Lady Gaga, Aretha Franklin. And some of the best continental philosophy was produced by Libras – Martin Heidegger, Maurice Blanchot, Friedrich Nietzsche. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Cancerians Nikolai Tesla and Elon Musk share the same June 28th birthday.
Looking for patterns in this information is a part of what I, as a Virgo, find both fun and necessary for survival. If we’ve met, I know your zodiac sign. I probably still remember it, and I’m using it to analyze your etiquette on Facebook.
Today, astrology is maligned due in part to the stereotype of 70s singles in leisure suits spitting lines about the moon in Scorpio. But actually, our cultural rejection of the zodiac goes deeper than bar-side run-ins with aging creepers – it touches the very root of binary perception that, in the West, separates the secular from the spiritual.
We often neglect the value Consciousness and Being play in the world – as if the universe was merely a collection of objects from which consciousness arose as an unexpected afterthought. Talking about the energy radiated by people, objects, or celestial bodies still, even in the Lululemon era, makes you sound like a freaker.
But to me, it makes sense that certain planets retain unique energetic vibrations and that those vibrations resonate all the way down here on Earth, so that Mercury moving into retrograde might actually affect how I’m feeling on any given day. I mean, at some point every element came from the heart of a star, including those elements that make up human bodies. If the moon impacts the tides, why can’t the stars impact our chemicals?
The barrier between our bodies and the environment is more porous than we think. Chemicals make up our moods. The environment impacts our chemicals. I mean I’m no scientist but COME ON. This theory is ironclad.
To further prove my point, I will direct you to this study in which it is observed that the seasons you spend in utero may impact the temperament you have as an adult.
Astrology is so ancient no one can put a date on its inception, though the American Federation of Astrologers estimates it developed in ancient Babylonia as a way to predict the weather for farming. Now, in the post-modern age, the role of astrology is not to predict natural disasters but to reveal our psychological landscape and catalyze personal transformation. If used properly, it offers a rare opportunity for objective self-study and positive growth.
Everyone has blind spots, or destructive patterns you aren’t necessarily aware you follow – like a tendency to sleep with strange men when bored, or eating your roommate’s snacks and pretending like you didn’t. Astrology can illuminate what some of those blind spots may be in a way that your friends (who are mired in their own psychological shit) can’t.
You’re already interested in this if you’ve ever taken the Meyers-Briggs test, checked out the Enneagram, or gotten too deep into Thought Catalogue. All of these platforms aim to help us better understand our motivations and desires so we can get the stuff we really want – “happiness,” “a grateful heart,” “celebrity friends,” or “$$$$.”
Use properly, astrology can be a tool to help you improve from the inside out. The more you understand (and love) yourself, the easier it is to get a Benz and start hanging out with Drake. Because people, including Drake, will want to be around you if you are cool and you won’t be cool if you’re being an insecure douchebag who doesn’t know himself and can’t figure out how to love.
Okay, so, let’s put all of this into practice.
Pretend we’re at some party and I’ve had at least one glass of Bulleit Bourbon and I’ve cornered you against a fridge to ask you about your zodiac sign. Maybe you came here to meet someone, maybe you just wanted to come out and eat some chips, but you’re stuck with me now buddy and you’re going to learn something.
Pretend you have your smartphone, b/c obvi you do.
Find out the time you were born. Plug it into a free online birth chart generator, like this one. Scroll down and find out your Ascending and Moon sign. Together with your Sun sign, they are the most important factors to interpreting your astrological construction. Without each of them, you’re going to keep telling me “I don’t make sense as an Aries.”
But trust. Figure out those three, read about them, and call me crying when your mind is blown.
So for illustration: I am a Virgo with a Cancer moon and an Aquarius rising – a great combo if I wanted to spend my life brooding whilst deep-cleaning blenders. But now that I know I have a tendency to overthink decisions like “getting a new job,” “moving out of my parents’ house,” or “going to Westfield mall,” I can actively work to combat my inertia.
I recognize that a lot of this seems like hippie bullshit. I am okay with that. I am also aware that one’s expectations of the world ultimately shape one’s perceptions of the world (e.g. if you tell me you are a Scorpio, I will only see parts of your persona that are particularly Scorpy). That’s okay. I think it’s preferable to try and better yourself and not get hung up on the deets – if it works for you, it works for you.
I ALSO recognize that the idea of self-improvement fits into the consumerist structure in which we are made to believe that we are never good enough and must always strive for a perfection that is ultimately impossible. However, I believe when these values are turned inward we can undermine the kyriarchical structure of capitalism by cultivating love for ourselves, imperfections included. And loving yourself is exactly what makes it hard for someone to oppress you and sell you shit you don’t need.
So figure out your Moon sign and free yourself from the chains of digital post-consumer capital.
And why not? You’ve got to believe in something.