James Holden wrote in his 1996 work “A History of Horoscopic Astrology,” that astrology took shape from the Babylonians in the second millennium BC and was predominantly practiced by “wise men." That last bit has certainly changed. And in honor of Women's History Month—which Congress declared in 1987 would be recognized every year—it's important note why that shift is so crucial.
In 2018, Vice reported “astrology has shifted from being a niche interest to a major point of enthusiasm for many women and queer people. "Broadly, Vice's channel geared towards women and the LGBTQ+ community, gets a huge amount of traffic from astrological features and horoscopes. Other media platforms for women have noticeably ramped up astrology content from filler to the forefront.”
Noting a similar pattern of interest in astrology among folks who identify as women—specifically millennial women—a 2019 piece in FutureWomen questioned whether the framework of astrology might be facilitating fourth-wave feminism. “I think we’ve seen a rise in popularity in metaphysics, astrology, and tarot because historically speaking, this was a space where female ‘witch types’ could have access to their own autonomy that was never defined by, or connected to, a man," an interviewee named Cass said. "With the state of the world today, I feel like we’re in ‘the rise of the female’ where a lot more women are taking their power back—whether this is at work, in relationships or fostering and chasing their own goals.”
While those recent (though pre-pandemic, which is to say arguably of another era) accounts are correct to report the resonance between astrology and women and the queer community, it’s also worth noting that astrology has provided a safe, empowering space in service to women for well over a century.
Astrology has provided a safe, empowering space in service to women for well over a century.
In his 2018 lecture, “Trash Astrology: The History of Pop Astrology in America," astrologer Christopher Renstrom, author of The Cosmic Calendar, spoke on author Joseph R. Gay’s 1913 collection of essays titled Lifelines Of Success. According to Renstrom, the fact that Gay included a section about astrology, outlining traits of each zodiac sign, in his work intended for an audience of Black women—and that it sold well—points to the notion that the astrological framework is one that women, and not just white women, have long valued.
But still, more work must be done. In a recent piece published in Cosmopolitan, astrologer Mecca Woods points out how appallingly few published astrology books are by Black astrologers. And she's right: We must keep making the space by amplifying the work of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) astrologers and promoting women to leadership positions in the astrology community. Their genius and lived experiences in the field is what largely provides the insights that so many find healing about astrology as a framework.
In his lecture, Renstrom shared the details of astrologer Evangeline Adams who began broadcasting her radio show about astrology in 1930—just a year after Black Tuesday and in the throes of the Great Depression. The timing highlights that in times of global uncertainty, astrology has long been leaned upon for clarity—and often via astrologers who identify as women.
Now, 91 years later, astrologer MizChartreuse, a relationship consultant who offers weekly readings, does her work in line with the empowering legacy of astrology providing a space for discourse about women’s issues. She is on the speaker selection committee for the Astrology of Awakening II: Renewal of Hope online summit, slated for April. Now in its second year, MizChartreuse says the conference is led and taught exclusively by women, with the intention to elevate diverse voices for exposure in the astrological community. "We want to breathe new life into a space where women’s voices can share their astrology perspectives in ways that are innovative, creative, interactive, artistic,” she says.
With all of this in mind, let us remember during Women’s History Month that the present passion for astrology is perennial, not zeitgeisty. It is a moment in time built on immeasurable contribution by women in astrology who alchemized a practice once dominated by “wise men” into anything but. This year’s National Women’s History Alliance theme for Women's History Month is “Valiant Women Of The Vote: Refusing To Be Silenced,” and, it's my hope that the voices of all women in astrology, in all directions of time, be preserved, valued, and honored for their brilliance forevermore.
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