On-Demand, $20 Astrology Readings Via Text Message? Yep, There’s an App for That

Photo: Getty Images/Isabella Dias
Picture the kind of gal who does elaborate rituals to welcome the new moon and quizzes her dates on their sun, moon, and rising signs—yeah, hi, it's me. I've been obsessed with astrology since my early teens, and to this day, I still feel like something's missing if I don't know exactly what's going on up in the stars, at all times.

You may call this type of behavior excessively woo-woo—I mean, I am a mystically-minded Pisces rising—but I actually see my astro addiction as a manifestation of my type-A, control-freak side. (Natal moon in the 6th house!) I like to meticulously map out my weeks in advance; I like to feel prepared for the unexpected; and I like to get as much insight as possible into the people around me, because relationships are messy and confusing by nature. Astrology makes me feel like I have a little more command over my own life, in some small way.

So obviously I sprung at the chance to try Sanctuary, a new astrology app offering professional mini-readings via live text rather than algorithm. I already use astrology to plan my days to some degree, but in practice, it requires a lot of research time. With Sanctuary, whenever you have a question, you can message it to a pro and get a straightforward answer within minutes. It's basically like having your own on-demand astrologer (which is exactly what my first big purchase would be if I came into a large inheritance).

With Sanctuary, whenever you have a question, you can message it to a pro and get a straightforward answer within minutes. It's basically like having your own on-demand astrologer.

Here's how it works: Once you've downloaded the Sanctuary astrology app, you enter your birth time, place, and date into your profile, and you automatically start getting your daily horoscope delivered for free. You can also opt for a $20 monthly or $200 annual membership, which gets you a 15-minute live reading per month, and you can buy unlimited à la carte readings after that for an additional $20 a pop. There are currently 30 astrologers throughout the United and Europe who read charts for Sanctuary, and all have at least two years of professional experience.

"We wanted to expand access so that people can do a reading anytime, anywhere," Sanctuary co-founder Ross Clark tells me. (Technically, live readings are only available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST, but that's likely to change as more global astrologers come onboard.) "We are using technology to simultaneously reinvent the reading and expand access to it. We're delivering information and insights through the language of now—the text message."

In theory, I was sold. But would Sanctuary actually be able to give me valuable intel in a 15-minute chat? Here's what happened when I gave it a try for a week.

1. The future forecaster

For my first reading, I want to get a bird's-eye overview of the energy I'll be working with for the next few months. Basically, I'm wondering where I should focus my attention to get the biggest returns (an admittedly big ask for a 15-minute session).

When I start my reading, my astrologer asks me if there are any areas of my life I'm especially curious about. After I let her know I want to zoom in on career and love, she asks whether I'm single or involved, and whether I'm happy in my career or looking to make a change. So far, good questions.

We start with career, since she tells me there's a lot going on in that sector of my chart. "It's truly a year of great prosperity and growth career-wise," she says, pointing out that Jupiter—"the planet of growth and all good things in life"—is currently transiting the career sector of my chart for the first time in 12 years, and right now, it's aspecting Neptune, the planet of dreams. This makes sense, as I've recently had several pinch-me projects come my way, and I'm glad to hear it could be a long-term trend. "Keep that positive energy active and out there, and stay open to unexpected opportunities," my astrologer advises.

She doesn't have as much to say when it comes to my love life, which also checks out. It's been almost a year since I've met someone who's held my interest, and I have a feeling the cosmos might just not be on my side right now. That said, she does mention my Venus return is coming up in June—when Venus returns to the same place it was when I was born—and that would be the best time of year to be social and get clear on what I want in a relationship. (Or to get a haircut, go shopping, or redecorate, since those things are all linked to Venus, too.)

Overall, I get a lot of clarity from this reading. I've been feeling more hot and heavy toward work than dating lately, and the reading confirmed that this is probably the best course of action for me at the moment.

2. The vacation planner

A few days later, I enlist a Sanctuary astrologer to help me firm up my vacation plans this year, since I've been feeling indecisive about pulling the plane-ticket trigger. She asks if I've made any plans already, and I tell her I'm looking at late May for one trip and mid-August for another.

Luckily, both of those time frames are golden for me to travel, from an astrological perspective. "Mercury and Venus are both in your second house during the month of May," my astrologer says. "This would be a great time to enjoy what life has to offer, spend money, and enjoy the earthly delights of this planet." Done and done—I'm a big fan of earthly delights. Regarding August, she lets me know Venus will have moved into my fifth house. "This is a good time to travel. The fifth house is about expression, passion, creativity, and fun."

I also want to know about the upcoming Jupiter retrograde—happening April 10 through August 11—and whether it may throw a wrench into my vacations. According to my astrologer, I probably don't have anything to worry about. "Jupiter retrograde is a time to slow down and appreciate what is around you, what you are learning, and where you are growing," she says. "Your travels this year will most likely teach you a lot and shower you with gifts."

Honestly, even if the cosmic conditions skewed unfavorable, I probably would have gone ahead with my original itineraries. But of course, it's nice to have validation that there won't be any major planetary obstacles in my way.

3. The matchmaker

Later that night, I log into Sanctuary hoping to get a compatibility reading before a date—but I find out the app's astrologers aren't able to look up other people's charts without their consent. (Sorry, stalkers.) Instead, I suggest looking at the qualities I should be seeking out in a partner, based on my birth chart.

The astrologer starts by pointing out that Virgo rules the partnership area of my chart, and that although I'm "a very dedicated friend and partner" and "can accomplish things like nobody's business," I'm probably super-picky when it comes to relationships. (Bingo.) "Making sure you're not trying to control others with your expectations goes a long way to help temper the difficulties this can cause," the astrologer tells me. This is something I definitely need to hear—and I'd somehow never picked up on it myself, in all the years I've been analyzing my own chart.

Then, we get to the compatibility portion of the reading. While my astrologer can't tell me if a specific sign will work well with me—because there's so much to every person's individual chart—the advice she does offer is spot-on. "As a Cancer sun and Leo moon, you need someone who is willing to totally see you, in all of your gooey emotions and in your performative, fun-loving side," she texts. "This person should be willing to hold you while you cry over nonsense you don't understand, and should cheer you on when you're in your full power. A cheerleader and a shoulder to lean on. What I would look for if I were you...is just an energy that feels like home."

Could that advice apply to anyone, regardless of their zodiac chart? Of course. But if there's one thing astrology's good for, it's reminding us that we're all intricate bundles of contradiction, and life is never black and white. All we can aim for is to do our best with what's in front of us—and sometimes, $20 is a small price to pay for the reassurance that you're on the right track.

If you've never heard of a moon sign before, here's the scoop—plus, more astrology terms, decoded.

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