WHEN FINDING MEANING IN THE STARS STARTS TAKING A TOLL
In recent years, astrology has taken over the internet. It seems like every website, specifically those with a female-identifying audience, has content geared around horoscopes and astrology. Websites like The Cut have seen a 150% rise in readership when it comes to astrology content. 2018 was the year astrology memes exploded, and they often entertain me when I’m trying to procrastinate.
There is still no science backing astrologers’ findings, and even so, I’ve been adhering to its teachings well before its rise in popularity. Many moons ago, I’d convince my friends to visit to Astrology Zone to read Susan Miller’s monthly horoscopes (arguably the first well-known online astrologer). I’d get a text from my best friend:
Susan has got me triiiiiping out. Wtfff.
My response was always predictably the same:
Trust the stars.
Since I can remember, I’ve been trying to find meaning in the unknown. I grew up being curious about the universe’s mysterious ways. When I was a kid, I’d carefully play with crystals while my mom got a reading from a local psychic. When my mom got her weekly issue of Soap Opera Digest, I’d quickly scan to the pages in the back to read my horoscope. Movies like the 90’s cult classic, The Craft, helped convince me that I was a witch in a past life. I was obsessed with space and time travel, and more often than not, on late summer nights, you could find me mapping out constellations with my fingers towards the starry sky, while my family opened their third bottle of wine.
As an adult, this curiosity didn’t falter. I got my first psychic reading when I was 16, and since then have gone to more healers and fortune tellers than most self-identifying woo woo people. Three years ago, I started attending moon circles religiously. If you came over to my house chances were high I’d read your birth chart and tell you about your sun, moon, and rising sign. My love for astrology only intensified. When I stumbled across Chani Nicholas’ work, a social justice online astrologer, I immediately became obsessed with her monthly readings. I’d pay $25 a month to have my month mapped out for me, and so often, more than any other astrologer, she’d perfectly predict the external while putting language towards the messy internal bits.
Astrology was no longer a tool to help gently guide me through life. I became consumed with it, hung on every single word, writing long journal entries of all the things I could expect to come.
For three years I followed Chani’s work, without ever feeling negative about it. But then around this time last year, my mental health struggled, and my obsession with astrology started to take a toll. My father had recently passed away, and the grief of my beloved father was excruciatingly heartbreaking. Dealing with the emotional mess he left behind for me and my family was equally challenging and painful. I was also trying to conceive, and every month that I didn’t get pregnant, I felt like I failed. Anxiety, which I thought I had “cured” years ago, started to creep in again, and I experienced depression for the first time in my life. More than ever, I turned to astrology to help me understand all the things I could not make sense of. Astrology was no longer a tool to help gently guide me through life. I became consumed with it, hung on every single word, writing long journal entries of all the things I could expect to come. I couldn’t control how I was feeling internally so I was looking for anything externally to help me make sense of it. My astrology mania was a cry for help.
When I read things like, “the next few months may be really hard for you, but trust me, there are big lessons here for you to learn,” I felt completely defeated. I relied on my readings to get me out of my current emotional circumstance. The implied extra weight to come, on top of what I was already experiencing, made me feel like I would break into small pieces. I was already holding on for dear life.
“My astrology chart says my brother is gonna fuck me over,” I said to my husband while stomping over from our bedroom
In February, during the peak of my depression, my astrology reading described issues with siblings. It was news I was dreading. My half-brother, who is 18 years older than me, had a complicated relationship with our father, and it showed up in the last few months of his life, specifically after his funeral. Much like our father, his go-to method of dealing with life’s challenges was to sweep things under the rug, and his rug was overflowing with emotional baggage, shame, and guilt. We hadn’t spoken since our father’s funeral, but my sister-in-law would often send me messages that he intended to reach out soon. “He just needs to process his childhood and his relationship with your dad,” she wrote.
“My astrology chart says my brother is gonna fuck me over,” I said to my husband while stomping over from our bedroom. I was often laying in bed during this time. My intuition had been telling me for months that something was “off,” and after Chani confirmed issues with a sibling, I feared for the worst.
Whether you believe in astrology or not, all the things Chani predicted happened. My brother went after my inheritance, and I spent the next six months dealing with the aftermath. I not only lost my father, but an entire family. My father, brother, his children, and my sister-in-law —all of them gone.
Instead of trying to find meaning in the stars to describe my outer circumstances, I’m learning to find meaning within to explain my inner unknowns.
While I’m still processing my brother’s betrayal, I’ve learned a lot about myself and the tools I use to soothe myself during immensely hard times. When I felt like I was broken, I obsessively turned towards things outside of me to give me a glimmer of hope. When I couldn’t figure out my life, I turned to the stars to help me find meaning.
Over the course of the last year, I’ve navigated my way out of my depression and constant state of anxiety. I’ve removed myself from all things woo woo, and I no longer study my monthly astrology readings. In order to recover, I started relying on other tools to help me, like therapy and walks in nature. Instead of trying to find meaning in the stars to describe my outer circumstances, I’m learning to find meaning within to explain my inner unknowns. Maybe that was the purpose behind my Saturn Return; a rite of passage I needed to go through in order to learn that only I hold the answers to explain what’s within. Much like when I was a kid, I will forever find beauty in the stars — I’m just no longer defining myself by them.
original ON OUR MOON photography by Britney Gill
illustration edits made by ON OUR MOON