Mini intro: A while back, I tweeted about how I should probably write something on how astrology has made me a better person. Amelia Quint, the brilliant and magical astrologer behind The Midheaven, immediately asked if I was interested in doing a blog hop on the subject - proof positive that you should be prepared to deliver on what you promise the universe.
This post is the result of our mini blog hop. Read Amelia's beautiful essay here. It has been a sheer joy to collaborate with her on this topic.
I'm just going to be blunt. And honest. I could talk about the masterful, overarching lessons that astrology is teaching me. I could position myself as the perpetual student, always wanting to master a new subject.
Bullshit. I mean, those things could be true, but they aren't the driving force behind why I study astrology. They aren't the way.
They aren't the root.
I didn't set out to learn astrology in order to be a better, or more selfless, person. I am a fundamentally selfish person. I want to get what I want, preferably my way. That might be the instinct of a toddler, but at the end of the day, most of us are structuring our lives in order to get what we want with minimal conflict.
Even though I sought astrology as an explanation, as a tool, so that I could better understand how to get what I wanted in life, it taught me other things instead.
This is the simple story of those things.
How to Fall Down the Astrological Wishing Well
A little backstory: prior to being a card-wielding, star-reading entrepreneur with two businesses and a day job at a startup in New York City, I was a decidedly conservative, evangelical Christian with a solid blue-collar Midwestern upbringing. I also had a feminist streak about a mile wide running up and down my back, which was what set off the friction with my faith in my teenage years.
tl;dr Christianity was frustrating, namely because while I loved stories and spiritual gifts and craved the history and patterns offered by the Old Testament, I had little patience with the concept of "God's will."
For those new to Christian vocabulary: this was the concept that meant I could work and work for or against something, but that work did not matter because God had already preordained whatever was going to happen. I could work for something, and it would be all God and not me. I could lose something, and that was God, too.
I could understand "worldly" explanations: wrong place at the wrong time, socioeconomic disadvantage, being out as a lesbian, not having the right connections, not having gone to the right school, not being someone's type. That all made sense. Concepts of structural inequality and privilege make sense.
The idea that some "sky god" (as one of my favorite graduate school professors called Him) was predetermining every detail of my life? Infuriating.
I've recently talked about leaving Christianity, and how tarot helped me reclaim a sense of self, of identity, of spirituality. But tarot was fundamentally well suited to the task of recreating myself. Tarot is all intuition and imagination; there's little tarot history that even scholars can agree on, and there are any myriad number of ways to interpret the cards. Each deck and reader create a potent, and entirely unique, combination.
Tarot's radical ability to position each reading as wholly unique and subjective suited me just fine.
But... I'm a Capricorn. A double Cap with an Aquarius rising, at that. (And an oldest child, though that's beside the point.) Saturn is my chart ruler -- on steroids.
I loved tarot. But I craved more structure for my spiritual practice. I wanted a why that wasn't coming entirely from my very broken heart.
After leaving the church (and divorcing my ex-husband, and dropping out of graduate school), I was desperate to understand the why. And yes, I use the word "desperate" deliberately. Therapy and medication helped manage the day-to-day, but they didn't explain the Big Picture (therapy might, eventually, but y'all know that takes time).
Looking at my birth chart for the first time was like cracking open my past, present, and future all at once, and watching the patterns spiral out ahead of me.
This is what was.
This is what is.
This is what you need to do.
@@Astrology, like tarot, is fundamentally self-empowering.@@
Any astrologer worth their salt will admonish their clients about the importance of self-creation, that no chart is determinative, that no chart excuses behavior, that charts are only for our improved understanding of ourselves.
But charts are complicated, and they are the foundation. I wanted to understand.
So I read books. I read blogs. I sought out professional readers. I set out to learn a field that, unlike tarot, has a history and a system that can be passed on through text. I found how woefully inadequate my study was. I went in anyway.
I looked to my chart to understand my divorce, my coming out, my relationships that had failed, my relationship to my parents, their relationship with each other.
This is what I found.
Lesson #1: Compassion
Compassion towards people you don't know is easy. (At least, with typical Aquarian detachment, I find it easy.) Compassion towards those I know very, very well? Much harder.
Being completely real with you, compassion - towards my parents, especially - has been the hardest emotional commodity to come by in my adult life.
Also, being completely real with you? Astrology has given me insight into my parents' lives and inspired empathy that I never thought I was capable of.
Now, I'm not perfect, and my relationship with my parents isn't perfect. Far from it. But looking at my parents' charts, and their composite chart, and comparing that with my experience of them has helped explain so fucking much.
Not excuses. But compassion, for hard lives and hard choices and doing the best you can.
Lots of compassion - the kind you only get by looking outside-in.
Compassion for my Pisces sun, Capricorn moon, Cancer rising mother, whose inexplicable and binding attraction to my double-Libra dad is all over her astrological makeup. Compassion for my dad, whose chart is dominated by air and earth and fundamentally does not understand my mom's fire and water.
Astrology has helped me take a harder look at my relationships with my natal family, and it is - slowly but surely - helping me understand their strengths and weaknesses, to see where they've clearly done self-work and where they haven't.
Where I haven't.
Where I could stand to be more patient and less judging.
Where I could stand to reckon with my own insecurities.
Where I can appreciate them, as they are, instead of hoping for what they might be.
Lesson #2: Choice
If I thought my family was cardinal energy on steroids, my partner is something else entirely -- which is what attracted me to her. She, like me, is a Capricorn sun. Unlike me, she has a Cancer moon and an Aries rising. Lord. She simultaneously embodies the energy of flatline winds and the sturdy Midwestern land that resists them. (She isn't Midwestern, but you get the idea.)
Generally, our shared Capricorn-infused stubbornness drives us to pull together. It is our rather formidable sheer force of will that have kept us strong through multiple jobs, me leaving grad school, her almost going to grad school, me starting two businesses, her having a career crisis. (Do you sense a theme, with two Capricorns and career?) We've also moved twice in the last 10 months and are currently preparing for our third move. We adopted a ridiculously sweet (and very high needs) pitbull.
Usually, our composite Capricorn energy and ability to intellectualize relationships (hi, composite Venus in Aquarius) keep us level headed. But sometimes, our deeply opposing moon signs rear their ugly heads (Cap/Cancer, with less than optimal house placements).
Which leads me back to the lesson. Choice. If understanding my parents' birth charts inspires me to compassion, understanding my partner's reminds me that to love thoughtfully and intentionally is a choice.
The best choice you can possibly make.
It is a choice to recognize patterns in relationships.
It is a choice to work on a relationship.
It is a choice to keep a relationship.
It is a choice to treasure and honor the person you share life with.
When it comes to my partner, astrology, perversely, reminds me that nothing is fated, nothing is set in stone, and that charts, honestly, mean very little. If either of us were choosing a mate based on "chart compatibility," we would have run screaming from each other long ago.
And I would have missed out on so, so much.
Not the least of which is loving someone who helps me imagine and co-create a future neither of us would ever have dreamed of otherwise.
Lesson #3: Change
How will I change, and when, and for what? Astrology sates the occasional meandering curiosity I have about the future with assurances that I have all I need here in the present.
Truth be told, I am more drawn to the past than the future, convinced that understanding what has been will help me build a strong foundation in the present -- which will ensure the future for myself and those I care about.
But astrology helps guide my self-creating in the present. It helps point to character flaws and behavioral patterns that need work. It helps encourage me to expand my thinking, to tap into my Aquarius rising and really envision possibility in a way that is active and purposeful. It reminds me that, mountain goat that I am, I will always be able to put feet under my dreams (and plans) when I set my mind to it.
I fear change less. I respect my own power more. And I am constantly learning how to take my astrological toolkit into my daily life.
Compassion. Choice. Change.
These are the lessons.
These are the challenges.
These are the hopes astrology offers us.
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P.P.S. This essay is part of a mini-blog hop with Amelia Quint, the witchy astrologer behind The Midheaven. Go read her blog post for more on how astrology helps shape us.