The Astrologer Who Fell in Love
I. A Magic Mirror
After graduating from college, I returned to my hometown to live with and care for my mother. My father had already died when I was 16, and it seemed that my mom might die soon now, too, since her breast cancer had recurred and was metastasizing.
I was the eldest of two, the only daughter. It seemed like everyone expected that I would serve as my mom's caregiver. Not seeing what other options I had, I went along with the plan dutifully. It was a quietly excruciating time.
One day I decided to look up my astrological birth chart.
The internet was less commercialized back then and there were reams of fascinating and free interpretations available for any of the aspects in my chart I wanted to read about. It was comforting to think that the planets at the time of my birth reflected something imprinted on my soul, independent of my life history and social circumstances. As the saying went, “As above, so below."
I read descriptions of psychological patterns that I was told I would face in life. I sifted through the advice on how to make the most of the cosmic hand I’d been dealt, and, since it all seemed plausible to me, I started to feel a little bit more at home in the universe.
I can see now that my interest grew out of a deep, unmet need for mirroring and support. But astrology couldn't provide the type of support that a human friend, partner, or good therapist might have given me. My high school friends had moved elsewhere for their first post-college jobs and adventures. The only person who I befriended in town told me he disliked astrology because his mother had apparently sought guidance in the stars for some of her child-rearing decisions. I remained enchanted by my new hobby.
More than a year after I moved back home, a week into receiving at-home hospice care, my mother died.
After her burial and funeral and the weeklong shiva, my brother went back to college 200 miles away, where he’d recently started his freshman year.
I thought I had to figure out what I would do with my own life, now that my mother was no longer here for me to orbit around. Adrift as I was, I couldn't make anything stick for very long.
II. Hotel California
In my late 20’s I decided to make a big move--2,000 miles away--to Northern California. I'd come up with three reasons: to be closer to my paternal uncle and his family, to pursue a credential to teach secondary school English, and to join a spiritual group which a healer I respected had mentioned to me a few years earlier. My three reasons sounded solid, on paper, and in 2009, the Bay Area felt like a place where transplants from around the world could blossom.
No one in California seemed to mind my metaphysical leanings. Many of my new acquaintances were just as fascinated with astrology as I was - a couple were even astrologers themselves. But over time, my penchant for the esoteric would come to obscure as much as it revealed.
As I sought comfort in the patterns astrology claimed were in play behind the scenes, I began to overemphasize the meaning I derived from what I was reading. It was easier to wax philosophical about abstractions than turn toward the subtler promptings of my heart, which I'd learned to stifle, or to confront the hard reality of the world right in front of my eyes--and the hard questions I would need to ask myself, and grapple with, to learn how to navigate it all alone.
The symbolism of the planets was just much more majestic and simple than the messy minutiae my daily life kept serving up to me.
The grandeur and sweep of astrology made it easy to chalk up a bad day (or week, or month) to a passing planet aspecting my natal moon; the challenging aspect would pass on its own, if I waited it out. I'd console myself after a break-up by rationalizing that it wasn't meant to be because our signs weren't compatible. I even pigeonholed people, to my later regret, based on what I knew about their chart. It felt easier to see them through a narrowed lens, so that I didn't need to meet them as the complex beings they actually were. Sidestepping all that, I also managed to avoid meeting my own inward complexity.
But we all have our defenses, don't we? I feel a lot of compassion toward myself for going down a rabbit hole in search of something supernatural and more orderly than this life. It was a way to maintain a safe distance from the immensity of the loss lodged with me.
So I kept my astrological knowledge close at hand, like a magical side-arm I could draw anytime I thought I needed to, rather than enter each mundane moment in a whole-hearted way, aware of the limits of my knowledge.
III. Earth's The Place for Love
At 40, I met and started dating a Bay Area man who could see exactly what I was doing with my astrological talk. Maybe because he was unusually grounded for me, or maybe because he knew he wanted to be with me, he wasn’t afraid to let me know what he thought about my vice. I admired his forthrightness.
A few months in, he professed his love for me, my woo-woo warts and all.
We'd met online during the pandemic very soon after he'd gotten his first break in tech - he'd managed to pivot into the field after spending years trying to make it as a musician. He was able to move to my neighborhood in Oakland to be closer to me.
After we were both vaccinated, we booked a flight to my hometown so he could meet my brother and see where I'd grown up.
At the end of our trip, he suggested we move there together.
I was incredulous.
He was serious, though. For his own reasons, he was tired of living in California; the Midwest was less expensive and less of an ideological bubble, or so he intuited. And despite the notions I'd had about California, with all its spiritual scintillation it had never become home for me.
Early in 2022, we caravanned the 2,000 miles from California back to Missouri.
That summer, the most magical thing of all happened: he proposed.
A year later, we said our vows and were married at a butterfly house.
As I’ve become able to open to and feel this unfolding love, I’ve discovered a place of coherence inside myself, where it's possible to start to connect to my heart's depth. It's a place where meaning is implicit - is already here. My mind doesn’t have to keep striving to put the pieces together metaphysically, because I can see now that the world is already whole.
This is the place I want to live from - a place of love, and wholeness, and realness.
There might be some kind of heavenly correspondence happening amongst the planets above us, but right now, paying attention to my own lived experience, what my heart and body have been wanting to tell me for so many years is taking priority over metaphysical theory.
Interrogating my own magical thinking and the defenses behind it isn't easy, but it's much more fruitful than clinging to the prepared platitudes that are so widespread in the world of astrology.
Still: I will always love how symbols radiate meaning out in all directions, like the sun.
I will always nod my head hearing stories of people who yearn to touch the star-filled sky.
But the earth is already filled with wonder.
And though it isn’t always comfortable to inhabit this planet, it is also the only place where human love is possible.