Consulting my horoscope used to be a regular part of my day. Most mornings, I checked the bite-size forecast of what I could expect over the coming hours and where I should focus my energy (generally time, money, or love). The advice was usually paired with something about planetary alignment, but I skimmed over that while daydreaming about what was coming my way. “Uranus turns direct today after five months of retrograde motion, dear Pisces.” Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever—I had the promise of a great deal of money comin’ at me over the next 24 hours! Who cares about what Uranus is doing? Let’s go!
My daily horoscope was akin to spiritual guidance; it gave me something to think about and interpret every day. It wasn’t until I faced a great deal of uncertainty that I realized my horoscope habit was actually holding me back.
It wasn’t until I faced a great deal of uncertainty that I realized my horoscope habit was actually holding me back.
Some days I was careful about time management because my ‘scope said I was at risk for running late, and I’d show up everywhere on time. Was that because my horoscope told me to check the clock relentlessly, or have I always been punctual? Other times, I’d read something like, “You will find love or someone special today,” and when no one crossed my path, I’d feel like I missed out.
During times of insecurity, I used my horoscope as a crutch and centered my faith around what was supposedly in the stars. I turned to the advice of Susan Miller, author of the renowned AstrologyZone. She looked like she knew her stuff, and I spent a considerable amount of time picking apart her lengthy horoscopes to find any inkling of relevance to my circumstances. Miller runs a heavily marketed operation and churns out tons of content. In 2013, she posted seven pages at the beginning of every month. Today, she provides daily guidance and thousands of tweets. I began to wonder if all her posts were well-researched and authentic.
Horoscopes on the internet are not a science. They’re often riddled with grammatical errors. They’re auto-generated. They’re clickbait. At this point, daily horoscopes seem to have the same amount of scientific legitimacy as a fortune cookie. The saturation of faux astrology by meme-queens and news outlets thirsty for a click has compromised the legitimacy of the science.
In a recent episode of NPR’s This American Life, host Ira Glass interviewed the inventors of InspiroBot, a site that generates inspirational quotes and places them over imagery to create a perfectly shareable piece of internet wisdom. This sounds a little like forecasting what’s on the horizon for a Sagittarius or an Aquarius or a Libra.
At this point, daily horoscopes on the internet seem to have the same amount of scientific legitimacy as a fortune cookie.
For years, I wondered if I was on the right path. I relied on fortune cookie wisdom, only to receive answers like this from CafeAstrology: “You will continue to face difficulties, but you are on the right path for you. Trust yourself and just keep pushing forward.” On the same day, AstrologyZone posted something to the effect of, “Don’t be afraid to try new things.” What to do?
This Pisces was hooked on weaving together various predictions to get the answer I needed, but I still felt unfulfilled, lost, and unsure of myself. I was frequently overwhelmed. I was absent from the present moment and stuck in a mental quicksand of wondering what was next. I clung to anything to get a sense of grounding.
Whether it was running on time, harnessing the willpower to hit the gym, or even meeting an old friend for coffee, I mistook my autonomous actions for guidance from poorly written prophecies. This prevented me from recognizing my own power and compromised my satisfaction and personal fulfillment. If I had a good day, I credited the horoscope instead of recognizing that I had taken specific actions toward achieving a goal. I never gave myself credit, and it hindered my habit-making.
I mistook my autonomous acts for guidance from poorly written prophecies. This prevented me from recognizing my own power.
Over the past year, I started listening to podcasts that denounce astrology (and religion, but that’s for another time) and preach stoicism. I met someone who believes knowledge and reason are more powerful than faith. Suddenly I was discussing productivity and potential instead of “what lay ahead for water signs” and “how fire signs were really in for it this year.”
I began to learn that I would not find answers in my horoscope, but in concrete action. I began to understand the power of routine and maintaining a healthy diet. Self-improvement books like Unf*ck Yourself, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, and The Dip have given me the direction and determination to act and learn now rather than later.
I stopped blaming the stars for my mistakes and started taking ownership. I didn’t think less of myself when I stumbled; instead, I said something like, “I did this action. In this context. Now, I learn and move on.” Since then, I have been immensely mindful of consequence, and I’ve also had a heightened awareness of the lessons I’ve learned.
I’ve experienced a tremendous amount of growth since quitting horoscopes. Instead of interpreting my horoscope every morning, I wake up early, go for a run, meditate, and cook a healthy breakfast. I complement my habits by reading a nonfiction book on a topic I’m passionate about or listening to a podcast like Waking Up With Sam Harris. I also started listening to audiobooks that improve my ability to understand the power of intent and reason. Whereas I used to invest my energy in something I did not understand, I now focus on what I can comprehend and control.
Recently I dealt with heartbreak. In the past, I would have wallowed, consulted my horoscope, and waited for external circumstances to make me feel better. Today, I think about what I can do to comfort myself. Horoscope says: “You will begin new journeys.” Science says: Exercise. Horoscope says: “You’ll find that you can tap into incredible courage.” Science says: Meditate and journal.
I am not saying that astrology is completely useless. On several occasions, my mother has provided counsel based on what she’s concluded from astrology, and most of the time, it’s a comfort. Much like I wouldn’t trash someone else’s devotion to a religious practice, I don’t trash folks who subscribe to astrology. People spend their lives studying it, and I must give credit where it’s due.
But my days of helplessly checking my horoscope and letting things happen to me are over. Now I feel a renewed sense of confidence in my ability to create my reality. Although I admit, when researching this article, I felt a twinge of “OMG that’s me!” when I read several ‘scopes. Old habits die hard, but my new habits are serving me well.