Randy rolled over to face me.
“God, I hope you aren’t one of those girls who’s into astrology. That’s such a turnoff.”
I’m put off by his use of infantilizing language, especially in this context, but I’m also self-conscious about how my ballerina pink bedroom doesn’t exactly scream “27-year-old marketing professional who totally has her shit together.”
I am quick to reassure him, “Oh God, no. That’s so dumb. Don’t worry.”
A quick glance at my browser history would reveal I had scoured his Facebook profile for an hour before he arrived, searching for any indication of when his birthday was so I could calculate his birth chart — a map of each planet’s placement within the 12 signs’ constellations. It’s said to influence every aspect of our personalities, from the way we speak, to the way we love, to the way we fuck.
I couldn’t find Randy’s birthday. I was left to determine our romantic compatibility the old-fashioned way: actually getting to know him. So far, I had a feeling we weren’t riding the same moonbeam.
After he left, I found myself in a familiar, albeit risky, ritual: sitting in the shower with my legs to my chest, polishing off a beer and a bowl of beefaroni, lost in thought.
Randy was a depressed artist who dressed like Hunter S. Thompson. Last week, we went for drinks and spent the evening deciding who in the bar would be the most satisfying to murder (the dad in the polo tucked into his khaki shorts). We discussed our preferred method — he chose tub drowning, and I chose bludgeoning with a bundle of copper wire fastened together with duct tape. He seemed impressed by my specificity (a classic Virgo trait, thank you), and I couldn’t quite figure out whether he was actually a murderer or not. I sipped my bourbon and resigned myself to the fact that in this age of Tinder dating, you really can’t ever know for sure.
The date, like many others before it, wasn’t anything to write home about. He came over, we ate Thai food, watched The Kids in the Hall, and he accidentally tossed his jeans into my cat’s litter box. Same routine, different depressed artist. And once again, in a knee-jerk reaction, I lied about the fact that astrology-talk makes me froth at the mouth. Why was I so concerned with impressing him when, clearly, the stakes weren’t high? I had to face the facts: I’m self-conscious about telling men I love astrology. I don’t want them to think I’m stupid.
I was annoyed. I pride myself on being frank. As someone who frequently corners her friends at parties to dissect her feelings on the past 40 seasons of Survivor, I’m not normally shy about discussing my interests.
I have a complicated relationship with astrology. I oscillate between two modes: pragmatic, skeptical atheist and curious daydreamer with a sneaking suspicion that there’s magic in them stars. I’ve seen the Penn and Teller special that tears apart astrology like my new roommate’s chihuahua tears apart the garbage in my bathroom. But I also squealed like a happy piglet when my roommate asked me to accompany her to the witchcraft store to buy ingredients for a potion recipe she found on BuzzFeed.
When I was completing my psychology degree, I wrote a paper on the Barnum Effect — a phenomenon regarding the use of descriptive language in personality typing systems. Astrology hits that sweet spot of just enough vagueness to resonate with nearly anybody, but with a hint of specificity peppered in, further convincing the reader of its legitimacy. Even so, I can’t deny that when I see a copy of The Secret Language of Birthdays on a friend’s coffee table, I immediately snatch it up and flip to September 12.
Witty. Fearless. Practical.
You bet your cute ass I am.
Dry. Cynical. Defensive.
There’s a judgmental, patronizing voice in my head telling me that I’m above this kind of fluff. Sometimes I’m not so sure if it’s my own voice, or just the collective voice of all the Randys I’ve encountered in my lifetime.
When I open up about my interest in astrology, I feel that same sort of guilt and embarrassment as when I rewatch trashy reality TV from the early 2000s. But unlike The Simple Life 2: Road Trip, I’m getting a lot out of astrology. It’s making me more mindful. I think it might actually be making me a better person. And as someone who’s a little too fixated on being the best at things — another classic Virgo trait — I’m enjoying this process of self-improvement.
Astrology is having a real moment right now. It’s always been a thing, but now it’s like, really a thing — particularly among women and queer communities. If you’re on Instagram, you may have noticed the recent surge in accounts devoted to summarizing the traits of the 12 signs through the most easily digestible and shareable form of entertainment ever to dominate our screens: dank memes.
Accounts like @notallgeminis and @astrowonders have hundreds of thousands of followers that devotedly share and like the never-ending stream of astrology memes, leaving comments like “100% ME,” “Wow ok drag me,” and “uhh @poutinez is this us or…?”
Co–Star is a mobile app that seems like it’s run by two of your wine-drunk aunts switching off on advice-giving duties: you know, the conservative one who voices her disapproval of your life choices over Thanksgiving dinner, and the one who did too much acid while studying at Berkeley and was never really the same afterward. Co–Star generates daily, personalized horoscopes for users based on their birth charts, offering guidance ranging from prompts for self-reflection, stinging criticisms, cryptic philosophical questions, and more often than not, straight-up crazy shit.
You talk about other people because you don’t have your own life.
Stop trying to make people love you.
Watch a video of a peacock mating dance. Channel it when you go out tonight.
Start a cult.
Co–Star even provides forecasts for interpersonal relations between any of the friends you’ve added into the app. Last week it told Hannah, my roommate, to give her ex-lover an exotic fruit as a peace offering. Veiled metaphor or ballsy power move?
A lot of this advice may not be what one would normally consider “good” advice, but I and the other like-minded queer women in my primary group chat (which we’ve titled “Women with Powerful Auras — The Coven of Lovin’”) check these daily messages first thing in the morning. It goes beyond prediction and wishful thinking — they prompt us to pause, reflect, and set intentions for ourselves for the day.
We screenshot memes and send them to each other, exchanging playful jabs and engaging in the subtle art of roasting the shit out of each other. As a comedian, showing affection this way feels normal.
Hannah tags me in the comments of a meme showing Ariana Grande licking Pete Davidson’s face. Ariana is labelled “Virgo,” and Pete is labelled “Expressing sympathy by providing detailed instructions on how they think you should live.” I lob back, tagging her in an image of a sweaty Arnold Schwarzenegger devouring a sloppy hamburger. He is labelled “Gemini,” and the burger is labelled “Dreaming of a life without work and insisting we should just quit our jobs and live on the beach.”
Roommate Relations 101.
Is this daily consumption and exchange of criticisms a tad harsh? Well, sometimes. But it’s like looking into a magnifying mirror — it’s kind of unsettling to see your clogged pores blown up to five times their size, but once you see them, they’re harder to ignore. You’re compelled to deal with them.
Therapists are adopting astrology as a means of communicating with their patients. It takes some of the pressure off and gives people the tools to identify and address their behavior patterns. Acknowledging your issues is easier when you can frame it as though some cosmic force has predisposed you to form habits, instead of just owning up to being a flawed, occasionally shitty person.
My descent into studying my birth chart started a little over a year ago, and within that time, it’s been more useful to me than any session with a shrink. I remember standing by a rack of bridal gowns, buttoning up a crepe georgette sheath worth four times my rent.
The dizzying hum of nervous brides, overbearing mothers, and day-drunk maids of honour sounded like white noise. My engagement had ended two weeks prior, and I was living in my sister’s basement until I found my footing. Christmas was a week away, and I hadn’t been single in 10 years. You’d think I’d be miserable surrounded by starry-eyed romantics fawning over the details of their special day, but I was surprisingly okay. I still felt quite at home, invigorated by the daily wave of frenzied customers as they fussed about, overwhelmed with emotion, struggling to make decisions. I liked being the voice of reason.
My bridal shop coworkers are fierce, intelligent, and beautiful. They have tattoos, cats, and master’s degrees in English. They smoke weed and wear cool glasses. They’re into witchy shit, like crystals and tarot cards.
As I fastened the tiny elastic loops around each little pearl button, I overheard Janine and Erika lamenting about toxic Scorpio men. My first thought: it’s a little unfair to lump together all men born between October 23rdand November 22nd. Then again, most of my exes are Scorpios. I couldn’t help but consider their point. I chimed in, eager to hear their thoughts.
“You know, I’m a Virgo, but I don’t think it fits. Everything says they’re hyper-anal and organized and critical, and that doesn’t really —“
Before I could even finish my sentence, Janine corrected me.
“Are you kidding? You’re textbook Virgo. It’s there. You probably just have an opposing moon sign and ascendant. Like, Pisces or something.”
I stared blankly. Janine sensed that I didn’t understand.
“Oh my God. You don’t know your birth chart? Okay, when’s your birthday, and what time were you born? In Winnipeg, right?” she says as she grabs her phone, her thumbs tapping furiously.
I thought back to the many times my mother recounted the events of my birth. She went into labour two weeks early at the Fort Garry annual block party and was worried she was going to have me out on the boulevard. That sounds like me. Even in the womb I struggled with FOMO and couldn’t say no to a party.
“September 12th, 1992, six at night, Winnipeg.”
“HA! Just as I suspected: Pisces Moon and Aquarius Ascendant. Oof, and a Libra Venus? No wonder you’re a hot mess,” Janine laughed. She and Erika exchanged knowing glances.
She handed me her phone, and I began to read.
It’s… long. Overwhelmingly long. I scrolled and scrolled and scrolled until I saw the bolded heading, “Pisces Moon.”
Your moon sign represents your inner emotions and true self. It rules your instincts, habits, and deepest needs. It is the mother planet, determining how we mother ourselves.
Those with a Pisces Moon are intuitive, dreamy, and often out of touch with reality. Prone to bouts of dissociation, they protect themselves from unpleasant situations by projecting their minds elsewhere, crafting fantasies and narratives as an escape from their situation. This often leads to a reputation of being spaced-out or clueless, when really, the opposite is true. They have an unparalleled, insightful perspective of the world, are deeply sensitive, and gifted with pronounced psychic abilities.
It wasn’t vague. It wasn’t universally applicable to all people — at least I’m pretty sure it wasn’t.
My mind gets me into a lot of trouble. It always has. My mom says it started when I was eight. That’s when I started going to La La Land. I hate that name, but that’s what some of my teachers called it. It upset a lot of them — they seemed to take it personally. Mrs. Coutu told my mom that she lay awake at night sobbing because she couldn’t figure out how to get through to me. She seemed a little unhinged, so my parents didn’t take her comments too seriously, but we did buy her a two-six of gin as a Christmas gift. It seemed like she needed it.
My brain is a cinema. Films are projected against my eyes, and I can turn the volume up so loud that I can’t hear anyone outside. As a writer, this is a valuable tool. As a friend, it’s another barrier keeping me from connecting to people.
When you’ve spent the majority of your life directing mental films to escape an unstimulating classroom, a home life brimming with bad vibes, or another night alone with nothing interesting on TV, you can cast a net into an ocean of ideas.
When my mind travels, my body goes on autopilot. Sometimes I look down and see a coffee in my hand that I don’t remember buying. I’ve been nearly run over by cars several times. One day I opened my phone and saw a text from my cousin:
“Did you just cross Memorial? Because I almost killed you.”
Doctors can’t seem to agree on what it is. Some said ADHD, others said it was a trauma response. One doctor — er, well, a doctor of metaphysics that my mom visited for tarot readings — took one look at me and said, “Oh! You’re one of us. You see things.”
On a handful of occasions, scenes have flashed into my mind without warning, causing me to pause. They’re different — they feel less controlled.
One time during my undergrad, I was leaving the house to go to hot yoga, and the screen in my head lit up with an image of a pack of police dogs snarling at me. I turned around, took the bag of weed out of my purse, hid it in the mitten drawer, and left the house again, carrying on with my commute.
When I arrived at the yoga studio, four big, black police dogs stood in the lobby with a bunch of cops who were casually chatting with the receptionist. I was not calm during that Vinyasa flow. My mind was spinning. Pragmatic atheists aren’t supposed to spontaneously tap into the next dimension and see through time. I’m not Raven-Symoné.
The critical thinker in me insists psychics are manipulative con artists who prey on vulnerable people. But then without warning, I go all “I’m Miss Cleo, call me now!” and things get confusing.
Reading all this Pisces Moon business got me thinking about a lot of big-picture things. Maybe I need to give more credit to my intuition. Maybe spirituality isn’t as frivolous as I had believed it to be. And maybe it isn’t completely, 100 per cent my fault that I have a tangled mess of strange hang-ups. After a lifetime of family, friends, teachers, and partners growing frustrated with me for being distant and detached, maybe it wasn’t me they should have been angry at. Maybe it was the moon’s fault! Thanks a lot, moon!
That day at the dress shop, after I got home from work, I planted myself on the couch and continued my trip down the astrological rabbit hole. I discovered that on the wheel of the 12 signs, Virgo, the sixth sign, sits in direct opposition from Pisces, the 12th sign — Virgo, the pragmatic realist, and Pisces, the dreamy idealist.
That lifelong internal conflict of questioning spirituality, with those opposing voices in my mind debating over whether I should indulge in astrology? Heck, turns out that was just my sun and moon quarrelling all along.
I continued to read the lengthy description of my planetary placements — just under 7,000 words. I was enthralled by this reflection of myself, cataloguing my greatest strengths and embarrassing weaknesses in one easy-to-navigate list. I love a good list — classic Virgo — but this was too much to absorb all at once.
Even now, over a year after that first birth chart deep dive, I find myself discovering new insights.
That night with the beefaroni in the shower after the awkward date with Randy, I decided to take a critical look at my relationship patterns. Venus takes care of that.
The Venus in Libra woman is a gentle, accommodating lover who seeks the middle road, however, she can often become too accommodating, losing herself within their relationship, and seeing herself as part of a whole. She tends to have idealized images of her relationships.
A lump formed in my throat, as though this hard-to-swallow pill had materialized. As I kept scrolling, the dragging continued.
Passive-aggressive, resistant to change, and cowardly in matters of confrontation.
Marriage is not for you. If you throw yourself into it, you’ll probably view it as a silly mistake in your youth.
You struggle to tell the difference between dependency and affection.
I grew increasingly anxious and frustrated with myself as I read the descriptions. Knowing my track record, I couldn’t spot any lies or half-truths. Then, a sentence jumped off the page and slapped me in the face.
When you don’t have a partner, you feel like you’re failing.
That sentence lanced an inner wound, and a stream of emotion shot out of me like something you’d watch on Dr. Pimple Popper. And just like a gnarly zit, when all that built-up shit expelled, a sense of relief washed over me, somewhere at the crossroads of cathartic and orgasmic.
For the year following my breakup, I kept company around that I didn’t particularly enjoy, like the cannabis sommelier who kept calling me “M’lady,” and the swing-dancing climate change denier. I figured it was better than nothing.
I had spent so much time focusing on finding someone to fill the role of romantic partner, I failed to realize how much I had accomplished alone.
Sitting on the floor of my shower with a beer and a bowl of beefaroni may have looked like rock bottom from an outsider’s perspective, but really, it was a huge victory.
I was living in my own apartment debt-free, working full-time as a writer, drinking and smoking less, and happier than I had ever been. And I did it all by myself.
Spending all this time feeling as though I was somehow deficient without a partner, I failed to realize I was succeeding more than ever before.
I felt confident and capable — a far cry from how I felt one year prior. In a confusing world that celebrates self-deprecation and is full of constructs built to make people feel inadequate, it’s radical to like yourself.
Maybe it’s silly that I rely on a pseudoscience to prompt introspection, self-work, and self-love. But that little spark of hope that truth lies in the stars gives me a sense of ease. Even if it is all bullshit.
Astrology keeps taking the skeletons in my closet and displaying them for me in 64-bit colour. But it also reminds me that even if I didn’t place all the skeletons in there myself, I can work on clearing them out.
I catch myself zoning out and going into movie mode, and I snap back to reality. I feel my impulse to lecture my friends on how to fix their problems, and I remind myself to listen better. I tell Virgo to back off a bit.
I listen to people talk about things I’m not interested in, and I’m not a jerk about it. So why bother omitting the truth just to appease some knockoff Hunter S. Thompson?
I like a lot of weird things. I like astrology. And I like myself. Don’t @ me.