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It’s not something I’d flippantly advise to anyone, but whenever I’m about to jump into some Real Serious Sh*t, I take a heart-bracing look at my horoscope first.

My mild obsession with astrology has been going on for a while—around 20-years-kind-of-a-while. It has withstood my brief but intense flings with other pseudo-life management tools, like contemplating becoming a nun (at age 15), going vegetarian (at age 20, though not so intense), and practicing yoga (at age 27).

Is the length of my attachment to it indicative of how effective astrology has been in my life? Here’s a long answer.

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As predictive as astrology’s basic function is, it’s not the same as fortune-telling. I don’t buy into horoscope readings that are too specific:

  • “Today, you could meet the partner of your dreams.”
  • “You could get the call you’ve been waiting for today.”
  • “Try your hand at lotto because you have lucky stars.”

Those are for amateur hour and are highly likely to disappoint you when they turn out wrong (so Tita Susan Miller, you know why we broke up!). What I look for before trusting a horoscope source is if they can help me understand what the hell is going on and why, and remind me that all of this is a process.

Because astrology is hinged on the movements (and the patterns of these movements) of the sun, the moon, and the stars, a horoscope reading that provides the bigger astrological picture to me is the real deal.

Astrolutely.com taught me that last week, Mars, the planet of energy and action, is in hard aspect with Saturn, the planet of hard but rewarding learning and restriction. It gave me an Aha! moment: So that’s why a Serious Issue I had put off a week ago is now demanding to be dealt with, big-time! As much as I want to dash off and put my energy into something new and untainted, I must pull up my big girl pants and do some tough work first.

As for the down-is-up, white-is-orange, memes-are-truth fuckery that has been happening since last year, Astrobarry.com helped me understand it’s because that unpredictable weirdo Uranus, currently transiting through the hard-headed sign of Aries, has crashed the club and is knocking glasses and beer bottles off tables as he charges his way from table to table.

In this position, the planet symbolizing originality and change is in a square with Pluto, which is about power, transformation, and death in Capricorn, which is all about tradition and institution. Applied to the club party metaphor: Pluto is the host, so he’s so not down with Uranus’ antics.

Instant replay: Uranus is currently transiting the hard-headed sign of Aries. Now, do you know who’s an Aries? Du30, that’s who.

Now if like me, you thought 2016 was The Worst, that’s because planet of expansion and possibilities Jupiter is in the equality-minded and balance-concerned Libra, a sign in square with Capricorn and in opposition with Aries. Add the fair-minded-to-the-point-of-indecision Jupiter to the clash between Pluto and Uranus and…well, 2017 hardly looks to be the fresh start we were hoping for.

Jupiter in Libra, for all its waffling, is working to enact justice, like have Uranus pay for the damage it caused and have Pluto ease up a lot on its no shirts, no shoes, no entry policy, because even casual dressers have the right to party.

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As distressing as it could get to open my usual horoscope sources and see that the stars are up to some shady shit, not just generally but more specifically for my sign, the best part about finding out is the reassurance that it will all come to pass.

Stars aren’t static, and they move in predictable patterns. That means what’s shitty today won’t remain shitty forever, and if you just hold on long enough and keep it together, you’ll come out at the other end of the cycle better for surviving.

Conversely, what’s wonderful today is never meant to stick around forever. You’re simply meant to appreciate it before you move on to your next learning cycle, in the path the stars have set for you. It’s all very philosophical, actually.

And isn’t that a relief? Doesn’t that sound great? Doesn’t the thought that we’re all going through a process give you enough reason to get up from the bed and shoulder on through whatever issue you’re facing? That we celebrate what’s worth celebrating while it’s still here, because something else—good or bad—is coming around the corner?

So when someone mocks me for being so serious about astrology, I just give them a Prince side-eye. As far as I know, no one has waged war over horoscopes, and unlike other belief systems I know, astrology never decrees that some signs are lesser than others*.

Look, even the three wise men looked to the stars for guidance to find Jesus.

If checking Cainer.com every morning gives me reassurance that everything is eventually gonna be all right, what’s the harm done?

*And Virgos are secretly the best.

Illustration: Madel Crudo

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