Why Are We So Obsessed With Astrology?
A few weeks ago, I was struggling to tell my therapist about the internal fire and burning impulses I feel, despite being seemingly grounded and in-control 99 percent of the time.
Finally, I sighed, “You know, I’m a Capricorn sun but I have an Aries moon.”
She smirked. I immediately regretted it. For me, astrology is a way to understand,analyze, and categorize my emotions and identity, but I forget that it’s not always the best way to communicate my feelings to, say, a mental health professional.
I have always been fascinated by astrology. Growing up, I loved anything related to the mystical: History Channel documentaries on secret societies, The Hex Girls, the Disney Channel Halloween lineup, all five seasons of Ghost Whisperer with Jennifer Love Hewitt. Spooky things excited me, and women never seemed more cool or powerful than when they were casting spells or having visions. Witches were my first feminist icons.
My draw to the mystical never went away; it only got stronger. I began to understand that femininity and spirituality are intrinsically linked. Belief systems often disregarded by society—systems like paganism,Wikka, and astrology—made space for female deities and female practitioners. In turn, these women were feared, exiled and, well, witch-hunted.
So, predisposed with a reverence for the femininely spiritual, it is no surprise that I fell deep into the well of astrology. The first step for me, and for most, came with the discovery of my natal chart. I always identified with my sun sign (the one everyone knows that’s denoted by your birthday and marks your ego) but I felt it painted me a bit too one dimensionally. I am more than my insatiable drive and cynical sense of humor! Enter: my moon and rising signs, the placements that control emotional and social selves, respectively (Aries and Leo, if you must know). Once I understood these three levels of my identity, I moved on to other placements: Venus and Mars and Mercury and Jupiter and Mid Haven and Lilith. The deeper I went, the more I was shaken by the accuracy and the more I was convinced.
My journey into astrology has largely been a personal one. It is a tool that has helped me better understand myself and my varying layers— to identify and counteract my negative tendencies in a constructive way. Astrology protects me from self-loathing and self-pity; rather than blaming all my shortcomings on my individual inadequacies, I can feel connected to the pull of cosmic bodies. However, it has also affected the way I understand my relationships. That isn’t to say that I ward off all Libras because the Zodiac claims we are incompatible. Rather, astrological signs and placements serve a rubric for me to understand my friends on a deeper level.
The beauty of astrology is that it is up for interpretation. You can take what you need. So, I reached out to other astrology enthusiasts to see what the study of the stars means to them. Read them below:
Maura Fallon, 22, is a self-identified witch who was raised Catholic but now looks to astrology for guidance. (Aries sun, Virgo moon, Libra rising)
“Personally, it's given me a way to heal negative aspects of myself or my past and to move forward and feel better about them, because I'm self-aware and I think that's how it's empowering. The more self-aware you are, and the more aware of your place in the world, the more strengthened you are to move forward in it. You canmove with a sense of grace and power that you don't have if you're being bogged down by guilt, shame, and traumas that you refuse to deal with or aspects of your personality that you deny are there and blame on devils and temptresses.
The very basis of astrology is that we are all made up of these individual, unique, badass parts and we have all have our own service to offer the world.”
Christine Guinessey, 20, sees astrology as a catalyst for positive online communities. (Virgo sun, Cancer moon, Libra rising)
“I think the internet is a great way for people to discuss astrology and different interpretations of charts and characteristics of signs, etc. It’s honestly one of the only areas of the internet where i rarely see hate speech and people are just having fun interacting with the content, which is especially true for astrology meme accounts. Lots of people like to discredit astrology, but seeing how people interact with it online shows how helpful it can be and how happy it can make people. It’s something that isn’t hurtful and everyone can enjoy, which is really rare on the internet."
For Lead Camp Thirlby Counselor Natalie Geisel, 20, astrology is a bonding element of queer culture. (Gemini sun, Leo moon, Aquarius rising)
“I didn’t get into astrology until maybe two years ago, as I always thought it was a hoax due to all the Gemini slander I got in my old friend group from high school. But I soon embraced it once I understood the rest of my chart and began to get uber introspective—that is, I started to reflect on how I communicated, loved, expressed emotions, and simply lived my life, even if it didn’t 100% match my placements (even though I am fully my chart and believe it more and more each day). Yet, I too often let it dictate my life, where I’m terrified of Scorpios and would date someone simply because their Venus placement is compatible with my own Venus in Taurus. At the end of the day, though, I think it’s an obsession that bonds a lot of my friends together, and on a broader scale, is a universal connection for all queer women. I’ve never met another queer woman that didn’t at least know their sun, moon, and rising placements, and it’s a common trend for lesbians to look at each other’s compatibility on Co—Star on their first date. It’s just another part of queer culture that brings us together by a (possibly pseudo) science that’s far more fun and inclusive than most groups or organizations.”
Liz Pigott, 20, sees astrology as an egalitarian form of spirituality for women and queer folk, like herself. (Virgo sun, Aquarius moon, Libra rising)
“I think both groups, who are historically on the margins in some way or another, are particularly drawn to astrology because in many ways it is a practice that is open to your own interpretation and guidance. There’s also very little hierarchy or queer social stigma or barriers of who can enter the practice. Popes, priests, bishops and other individuals who are built into the foundation of Western religion have historically decided who is allowed to be converted, what values can be celebrated, and what social cues are welcomed into the church or place of practice but astrology is more of a space of self discovery and connecting with yourself to the outer world rather than just listening to a single (possibly problematic) source in a congregation or text.”
Kori Fogle, 22, says he was drawn to astrology as a tool for self-improvement. (Taurus sun, Pisces moon, Gemini rising)
“I like self improvement things, looked at Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator. Then I got into spirituality things a few years ago and astrology eerily made more sense. Looking at my natal chart helps me pinpoint my strengths, weaknesses, etcetera. Also, the more in depth you go with it is like deciphering a story about yourself. But the reader holds that power in a way to make you under the hypnosis of the story. You can make good/bad story however you look at it.”
Julia Carmel, 21, also uses astrology to draw self-awareness. (Sagittarius sun, Scorpio moon, Cancer rising)
“I’m into astrology because I think it’s a great way to realign your view of yourself and the world. I know that through my sign and my chart I find a lot of clarity, and even if it’s just a coincidence, it definitely helps me deal with my own weaknesses, both in myself and in my relationships. Even though it can seem silly, learning about the strengths and flaws of my Sagittarius sun or my Scorpio moon has helped my look at my life and my actions through a more careful and conscious lens.”
Camp Thirlby Counselor Geordon Wollner, 23, says astrology offers cosmic re-assurance for us earthbound-beings. (Gemini sun, Gemini moon, Scorpio rising).
"I'm still not entirely sure what the significance is of a 'Rising' sign and where my Mars sign resides. Luckily, I have my handy-dandy Co—Star app to remind me, refreshed and waiting for me to read about my Suns and Moons and how my stars align. For me, my astrological sign (calling all Geminis!) lives in a more romanticized plane—since I was younger, I've always loved the idea that we're all made up of stars and connected to the universe in some way. I don't think astrological signs are the end-all-be-all for human interaction, desire, and behavior; however, it is comforting to have some sort of other-worldly guidance re-assuring you of your actions and providing a possible explanation for the things our lives throw our way."
And, Camp Thirlby Counselor Sammy Gibbons says that by understanding ourselves via astrology, we can also connect with others. (Virgo sun, Cancer moon, Leo rising)
“There’s so many factors in our daily lives we use to explain why we’re feeling a certain way. You have stomach pains probably because of your lunchtime burrito, you’re feeling weepy and you think your period’s coming up. But there’s plenty of times and feelings that are impossible find reasoning for—that’s why astrology is comforting. Studying your sign explains why your personality is the way it is. Knowing your actions and thoughts are a result of something entirely unthinkable and out of one’s control, left up to the moon and stars, makes you feel less alone. It explains why you’re feeling so passionate about a lover this week, or why you’re struggling to focus at work. Sure, there’s doubt at how real it is, but any time you turn to your horoscope it always relates to an abnormal mood or event of the day, it’s like a friend who has all the answers and knows you in and out who comforts you at all times. Astrology helps us understand ourselves, and also connects us to everyone else, whether that’s with other Virgos, Geminis, Cancers or any human being, because we’re all guided by the formation of our very solar system.
About the Author
Victoria Middleton (she/her) is a third year student at The George Washington University studying journalism and mass communication with a minor in women’s, gender and sexuality studies. She discovered her love for writing as a little girl, typing fairytale stories on her parents old Dell and printing them out before taping them into glitter-glue-encrusted cardboard covers. These days, she thinks honest and fully developed stories about women are even better than fairy tales. When she’s not scheming against the male hegemony of the media industry, she can be found thrifting, watching cult films and TV and badly dancing to good music. She has been known to get overly excited about intersectional feminism, astrology and David Lynch.