A few weeks ago, my partner and I sat in our friends’ Brooklyn living room. I had bongo drums in my lap, as one does, and we all took turns reading aloud and interpreting each other’s astrological charts. It’s the type of activity where the blatantly obvious feels like a revelation, and the clearly incorrect is brushed off as irrelevant. Therefore, everything is perfect.
After our little roundabout (which involved an extended pause to research the origin and meaning of one’s Lilith Node), I felt a little more real—and I think everyone around me did too. I felt seen, at least. Whether or not I agreed with the characterization of my moon in Taurus, it felt real enough to warrant deeper self-analysis. Rather than a flippant whim around which to build a personality, here was an ancient monolith.
As self-obsessed as many of us are, we tend not to think deeply about our personhood and our cosmic placement — at least not in the day-to-day. I think we ought to do more of that. Astrology is an accessible and worthwhile means of self-reflection. I’m no doctor—I’m not even a professional astrologer—but I think it’s medically accurate to say such self-assessment is good for the soul.
This kind of reflection is even more difficult — and necessary — when the world is swirling, near-constantly, with indescribable surreality. We’re constantly exposed us to immeasurable sadness. Not the sadness caused by a beloved uncle’s passing or the loss of a family heirloom down a dive bar toilet, but the type of sadness that occurs thousands of miles away. The kind of distant, pervasive sadness that projects directly into our brains and hearts—and that, ultimately, we as individuals are powerless to change.
As far as coping mechanisms go, astrology is top-shelf shit. Far more than the two-line horoscopes printed in the back of a six-month-old Better Homes and Gardens, astrology is an extremely refined art. When performed correctly, it can produce results that cut to the bone of the soul. What’s more, it produces a sense of cosmic importance without the expenses, both financial and otherwise, incurred by other vices like drugs, clothes, food, or sex.
The first use of astrology—the use of celestial bodies to divine truths about our life on earth—is typically credited to the Babylonians in the second millennium B.C. Numerous cultures—Mayan, Chinese, Greek—developed their own forms of astrology independent of each other, yet adhered to similar principles based on astrological calendars.
Astrology is as intense a brush with spirituality as one is likely to find in popular culture today.
The practice continued into modern times, but during the Enlightenment era, the rift between science and religion pushed astrology out of fashion. It was seen as a “spiritual science,” or pseudoscience. That push and pull between science and spirituality has persisted for centuries.
Despite spirituality having all but been plucked by its root from the sciences, astrology is forging an independent resurgence, gaining clout in popular culture. All layers of media have embraced it with a certain level of seriousness, from Jacobin to Daily Mail to Twitter. Astrology has transcended the New Age-ism of hot yoga and juice cleanses. It’s become an emotional outlet that crosses socioeconomic status.
The rise of astrology comes at an opportune time. We are scrambling for meaning in a disintegrating, Godless world. The earth inches closer to total collapse each day, and the human population as a whole has never been more in agreement over God’s absence. In turn, astrology provides a spiritual outlet without the baggage of religion. You can practice astrology at your own pace, individually or in a group. It bears no central responsibility and lacks a history of violence and destruction; it creates a safe space for self-exploration.
In this sense, astrology is as intense a brush with spirituality as one is likely to find in popular culture today. Its widespread level of acceptance, however tinged with irony it may be, illustrates, in some ways, our desperation. We can turn to the writing of the stars to ground us. They are cold and impartial enough to lend our lives weight, yet archaic enough to fill us with heady fantasies of druidic mysticism.
As we imagine our world disintegrating, our planet rebelling against us to regurgitate us back into the void, there is comfort in the belief that we inherently belong among the stars, hopping between constellations and glowing turquoise orbs. Astrology can be a means of controlling our present. It can also be a way to spiritually mitigate against future inevitabilities we know we’re powerless to stop.
If the world is already moving too rapidly to grasp, why not reorient our minds toward the stars?