Torre dell'Orologio showing the some signs of the zodiac.
Torre dell'Orologio showing the some signs of the zodiac.

So what if I believe in horoscopes?

Everyone has their own quirky little beliefs.

Some believe the number 13 is unlucky. Others think the number 8 brings good fortune.

Some won't walk under ladders, leave their shoes on the table, or spill the salt-shaker at dinner without tossing a pinch over their shoulder. Some are known to place crystals in auspicious places throughout the home, while others will pray to Saint Anthony to help them find anything from a parking space to their lost keys.

I can't say I'm particularly worried about spilt salt or parking spaces, but that doesn't mean I don't have my own weird little belief that helps me get through the day. Mine happens to be a particularly controversial one at the moment: I'm very in to astrology.

That's right, astrology. I'll proudly raise my hand and say that not only do I believe the position of the planets affects my every day life, but I check my horoscope - daily - to find out what each day will hold.

My Venus is in Gemini: does that mean I'll get bored on my next date? How will my Capricorn Saturn affect my finances? And given that Mercury is currently in retrograde, will my text to my boss be misinterpreted? This might sound like a lot to think about, but then again, I am an Aquarius rising with a Pisces moon: we tend to think a lot.

A few years ago, astrology was little more than a half-page spread in the back of the newspaper that told Scorpios not to bother getting out of bed this morning, or Taureans to apply for that promotion before the next full moon. But a lot has changed, and astrology isn't an afterthought any more: it's a booming industry, advising devotees on everything from sex, to success, to social justice.

This week I saw two articles shared extensively on social media: the first was a piece from


Vice asking why straight men don't seem to like astrology, and the second was a profile of astrologer Chani Nicholas, from Rolling Stone. Chani was heralded as the woman bringing social justice to astrology, and as I'm sure you can imagine, the reactions were mixed - to put it lightly. While some were quick to sing the praises of Chani, and astrology in general, just as many rolled their virtual eyes and guffawed and dismissed all astrological beliefs as hocus-pocus, a hoax, complete and utter hooey.

I'm a Gemini, which means I can entertain both sides of an argument without feeling too beholden to either camp, so I can understand why so many people are quick to dismiss astrology. One need only open the newspaper to see that the world today is unfeeling, fast-moving, and vast in its cruelty. If astrology were real, then wouldn't any disaster victim simply read their horoscope for the day and choose to stay home, averting all danger? Couldn't we all cast our eye to the constellations and figure out the winning lottery numbers for the week? To many, believing in astrology is no different to following any religious or spiritual movement, and to those same people, any time spent believing that some magical force from the sky has any bearing on our every day lives is time wasted.

Astrology is the domain of dreamers, while those who follow the earthly pursuits of logic, ration, and reason are intellectuals. And I'll freely admit that astrology doesn't feel intellectual: to me, it goes beyond that. Astrology is less about thinking and more about feeling, it places belief before knowledge and hope over hard facts. Astrology encourages us to believe that some greater cosmic force is at work in our lives, that our destiny is - even in an abstract way - written for us in the stars and planets as soon as we're born. It's easy to look out at the world today and think of that as a depressing concept: after all, if terrorism and climate change is what the universe had planned for us from birth, we can't have been thought of too highly.

That’s just soooo Aquarius.
That’s just soooo Aquarius.

But maybe that's exactly why we need astrology. When the world seems to be changing faster than we can keep up with, and every new day brings a headline darker and more depressing than the last, it's reassuring to flick to the back of the newspaper and find a half-page dedicated to hope. Not even the most astrologically-inclined of us can change what happens on the other side of the globe, across the ocean, or even in the suburb over: but we can be reminded to act with kindness, consideration, and care to those around us. We can pay compliments to indulge a Leo friend's love of praise or take care of a Cancer's tender feelings; and in doing so, make a tiny micro-change in our corner of the world.

These days, it can be very easy to dismiss anything that doesn't have a guaranteed success rate, and even the most devout of us astro-fans can admit that astrology promises no such thing. Paragraphs reminding us to exercise tenderness during the new moon deliver no road map for success, but they do act as encouragements for us to move forward with open hearts and gentle words: something desperately needed at the moment.

Maybe that's why I love astrology so much: not because it asks us to have faith in it, but because it asks us to have faith in ourselves.

But then again, my Mars is in Pisces. Of course I would say that.

Kate Iselin is a freelance writer.

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