THE STARS AREN’T BLIND, THEY’RE WOKE
Astrology is having a moment, and everyone’s welcome
IF THE PAST TWO YEARS have felt like one long mercury retrograde, you’re not alone. But if you’re looking for reprieve, there’s a meme for that. With the help of social media, astrology is taking on a left-leaning, social justice-aware agenda, meaning you might not discover what your most star-signaligned Tinder match is, but you’ll find an astrological explanation for why that political party you loathe is giving you extra grief this week (call it Saturn in Capricorn) – and permission to indulge in a bit of self-care to remedy it.
La-based Chani Nicholas is one of Instagram’s most popular astrologers, addressing issues like racism, sexism and the patriarchy with sassy memes, describing herself as “an angry feminist who just happens to be into astrology”. She also dishes up a unique strain of anti-affirmation affirmations (like “forgive yourself for every time you rejected yourself” and “this life is a beast and you do not have to face it alone”). She’s struck a chord that resonates: as sexual assault allegations in Hollywood started to roll in and the #Metoo movement found new ground, she assured her 128,000 followers that a new moon in Scorpio would bring a need to heal.
Nicholas noted a “noticeable spike” in the growth of her business after Trump’s inauguration, which she puts down to a “need for content that was proactive, consoling, encouraging, grounded, explicitly political, and critical in its analysis of system oppression”.
Nicholas is currently working on a book, due to be published later this year. “Right now, there’s a distrust among young people in a lot of things, like religion and government, but Chani’s astrology is helping them find a sense of purpose and belonging,” says Anna Paustenbach, her editor at Harpercollins.
Astrology is also finding new ground in the queer community, partly because it can be a comforting and inclusive form of DIY spirituality that’s without the traditional value systems of many organised religions. “It’s natural for anyone not resonating with mainstream ways of understanding themselves to be drawn to a system that provides a non-judgemental lens,” says Vanessa Montgomery, an astrologer and author of the upcoming book Star Power: A Guide To Astrology For The Modern Mystic ($19.99, Quadrille Publishing). “Astrology is a framework for self-enquiry and growth, and so it’s attractive to those who are used to questioning their gender or sexuality.”
Thankfully, that means the days when love and compatibility readings were heteronormative have gone the way of the idea that Virgos are virginal. “In my experience, astrology as a practice and the readings themselves are becoming more queer-friendly,” adds Montgomery. “Many of the most successful newer astrologers are queer, so they already understand the importance of speaking and practicing using a wider frame of reference.”
“Astrology provides answers,” says Montgomery. “By encouraging us to look within, to our own source of power and intuition, it’s empowering those that perhaps once felt a lack of power and presence in the world.” Call it an Aquarius-like idealism, but that sounds like something worth getting behind.