Why is astrology such a thing right now? Our woo-woo-iest editors break it down


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Every so often, Team Well+Good goes *deep* with Slack chats—so much so that sharing them feels like the right thing to do. For instance, a couple of weeks ago, a few questions about dating app etiquette ballooned into the first Well+Good roundtable on swiping right. And today, it’s all about astrology—as in, why it’s so crazy popular right now. (Remember when you’d never heard of Mercury retrograde? Or Saturn return?) Here, senior editor Jordan Galloway and Los Angeles editor Erin Magner help me make sense of the cosmic enthusiasm that’s taken over our lives. 

ERIN H.: Hi! So I have to admit that I am increasingly viewing everything—and describing everything—through the lens of astrology. Maybe it’s confirmation bias, maybe it’s magical thinking, or maybe it’s real…but it’s been very helpful as a tool for self-reflection. I know you two have had a similar trajectory, being skeptical journalists who nevertheless can talk rising signs and new moons with the best of them. So, first question…

How are you using astrology now, that you haven’t in the past? For me, I definitely read Jennifer Racioppi’s column each week, and can rattle off info about the cosmic conditions affecting everyone—planetary transits, eclipses, full moons, etc. And I check out my sun sign horoscope, though not every day. What about you?

JORDAN: I feel like after spending several years in astrology 101—mainly just reading my horoscopes and focused on my sun sign—I’ve leveled up over the past few years to focus on ways it can help deepen my self-awareness.

I’m much more interested in the long-term phases such as the two-year Leo eclipse cycle that started in 2017 and just ended early this week and how reflecting on these types of transits can be a tool for contextualizing what’s going on in my life.

ERIN H.: Yes! The 19-year cycle that ended with this month’s eclipse is REAL to me. I had two deaths in the family 19 years ago and have felt a huge shift with that lately. Those long cycles are really interesting to look back on.

ERIN M.: OK, so this is going to sound psycho, but…I have the AstroTwins yearly planner with all of the major astrological events in it for each month, and at the beginning of the year I copy them all into my iCal so I know what’s happening each day. I also download my personal chart reading for the year on January 1, and do a solar return chart for myself on my birthday in June, and also put THOSE major transits into my iCal.

And then I have an app called Time Passages with the more minor transits for my chart (e.g. where the moon is that day and how it’s aspecting my personal planets), and I will also put those into my planner in the morning.

So basically, if you look at my calendar, there is a list of like six to 10 astrological events listed for each day. It gives me an idea of what energies I’m working with each day, and although I can’t say I plan my schedule by it, it’s just nice to have a reflection of why I might be feeling the way I am.

ERIN H.: AMAZING.

JORDAN: Uggh! I’m so jealous, Erin M.! I was just reading about the AstroTwins planner the other day.

ERIN M.: You should get it! It’s really good! I’ve been using it for the past seven years or so—I took an astrology class with them in like 2012 and have been hooked ever since.

JORDAN: I got the Many Moons Lunar Planner this year because I’ve been drawn a lot as of late to lunar cycles and phases. A big focus for me this year is connecting more to my intuition and trusting it.

ERIN H.: Yesssss. Moon stuff was actually my way into to all of this too, Jordan.

JORDAN: And I would say the practice I engage with daily is tarot. I learned to read tarot cards in 2015 from Carolyn Agis at Maha Rose in Brooklyn, and I really see it as a means of touching base with how I’m feeling day to day.

ERIN M.: I love tarot too, Jordan! I was just thinking today how both disciplines work so well together—but that’s probably a topic for another Slack chat.

ERIN H.: So Erin M., do you feel like this “leads the witness” at all, having all that info in your calendar each day? As in, you know what to expect so you kind of make it happen? 

ERIN M.: Sometimes! I feel more of an impact from the lunar cycles (I’m a Cancer) than the bigger astrological events, so those are the ones that I pay more attention to when I’m making things happen. (And other than that, I just like having a heads up about what might happen that day so I can be prepared.) So if I’m making plans with a friend and she’s asking me to decide between a day when the moon is in Leo and the moon is in Virgo, I’ll choose the day when the moon is in Leo, because I’ll likely feel more social that day….does that make sense?

ERIN H.: Yes! But hey, I am also a Cancer. Cancers named Erin rule.

JORDAN: Can’t agree more, based on the two Erin-Cancer combos I know.

ERIN H.: What’s been the reaction from people in your life, re astrology, tarot, etc? Friends, family—it makes my dad insane, for instance, whenever I mention anything astrological. He has a PhD in math and he is NOT HAVING IT. “Erin, you’re a smart person, why would you believe in that BS?”

ERIN M.: My mom is very woo-woo, so she’s just as into it as I am. My dad is similar to yours, Erin, and I just never talk about it with him. I live in LA, so my friends are all super into it too and ask me to run their charts for them. It’s very much an accepted thing to talk about here.

JORDAN: So is mine! Last time I went home, she was like: “I got you a new salt lamp, and I’ve had it lit all day so the energy should be good in here.”

ERIN M.: LOL, my mom also got me a salt lamp, JG! They should hang out.

ERIN H.: Ohhh your moms sound like fun.

JORDAN: For me, woo woo is something I just grew up with.

ERIN M.: Same! I remember reading my friends their horoscopes from Sassy magazine when we were like, 14. And I got my first tarot deck around that time, too.

ERIN H.: SASSY!

ERIN M.: RIP.

ERIN H.: What about dating? I started seeing someone recently and I just kept having the thought that he was a Leo (which my dad is, and my last serious relationship), so I asked him what his birthday was. And he just looked at me like, “Oh no, not another one…” Ha! (But FYI he was born in August.) Are we driving non-believers crazy with this?

ERIN M.: OK, so with dating I use it as a test. I always bring it up on the first date, because if they are freaked out by it, they are NOT for me.

ERIN H.:  Haha.

JORDAN: I imagine it’s the law of attraction, but most of my close friends are also into astrology. We organize seasonal readings the way some people organize facials. I’m a firm believer in birth chart background checks.

“I’m a firm believer in birth chart background checks.” —Jordan Galloway

ERIN M.: But I find most guys I date are really into it! I’ve had a few of them send me their birth info after our first date so I can run their chart. And I’ve even run compatibility charts while on a date before…it makes for fun conversation.

ERIN H.: Sun/moon/rising, please, sir! Erin M., do you have one of those apps where you plug in DOB, location, etc. and it does it all for you?

ERIN M.: You can just do it on cafeastrology.com—it’s really easy! I have it bookmarked on my phone lol. I will say though, I’ve never NOT dated a guy because of his sign(s). I feel like it’s good info to have, but I take it with a grain of salt.

ERIN H.: Jordan, any deal breakers for you astrologically?

ERIN M.: Yes! Want to hear more about your background checks.

JORDAN: I’m not someone who’s like: “I can’t date Scorpios.” Or, “Our signs aren’t compatible, so: pass.” But I do find that having a deeper understanding of someone’s signs helps me understand a bit how they operate.

Both of the last two guys I’ve gone on dates with were way more open to astrology and woo woo in general—they burn palo santo, volunteered to show me their charts without me even asking, and I could tell they had a general interest in it themselves, which was cool and surprising.

ERIN H.: Dreamboats.

JORDAN: I think it only works as a relationship tool if both people are into it, though. Thoughts?

ERIN H.: Definitely. I would never force-feed someone this info…but if they’re not interested, it leaves a lot of good conversation fodder on the table, which is sad.

ERIN M.: Agreed—my last serious relationship, my ex was NOT into it, and it was just never a topic of discussion with us. And that was fine.

But it is important to me that the person be open-minded about it. Like I went on a date with a guy recently who was telling me how ridiculous he thinks astrology is, and after the date he kept sending me these astro-bashing memes. Needless to say he did not get a second date. (He was a Capricorn, OF COURSE.)

ERIN H.: HAHA. Yeah, curiosity is a more attractive quality than certainty.

ERIN M.: Yes! It’s really a good way to connect if you’re both into it.

ERIN H.: My “gateway drug” was guided meditations based on the lunar calendar: new moon and full moon rituals. They really made me feel like they were attuned to my body and my energy levels—maybe because women are on a monthly cycle, just like the moon is. And that made me more curious about all the other cosmic knowledge, that there was something to it. What was your gateway drug? (I’m hoping it’s all Sassy-related, E…)

JORDAN: When I moved to New York 10 years ago, I had my birth chart read for the first time and it just really opened my mind to the idea that astrology has way more to offer than just your daily horoscope.

ERIN M.: For me it was the AstroTwins course, for sure. It opened me up to the fact that your chart is about so much more than your sun sign, and it explained a lot (e.g. that although I do identify with a lot of Cancerian qualities, there’s a lot more to me than that—but when you add my Pisces rising sign and Leo moon into the mix, it’s so dead-on).

JORDAN: Exactly, Erin M. Sun signs are so overrated (don’t @ me).

ERIN H.: SUN SIGNS ARE SO 2018.

ERIN M.: I agree! I actually don’t read my sun sign horoscope at all—I read for my rising sign
Because it’s more accurate in terms of where the planets actually are in my chart.

JORDAN: My moon and rising are both Leo. And my sun is Virgo. I read both because I feel like it gives me the biggest picture. But if I only had to read one, it’d be my rising sign.

ERIN H.: I also love the complexity of birth charts! You can go back and pull out a million data points to consider. It definitely plays into some kind of latent OCD I have.

JORDAN: Same!

ERIN H.: Okay, last q…We’re not the only ones who’ve gotten into astrology in recent years. Why do you think it is so popular right now? Chaotic politics? Stressful work lives? Weird dating-app-fueled social lives? All of the above?

ERIN M.: I do feel like it gives people a feeling of control in a world that’s so chaotic—politically, technologically, etc.

JORDAN: For example, my Mars and Venus are both in my first house, and that makes a lot of sense to me because your first house is your house of self and I definitely feel that duality of feminine and masculine energy for sure.

ERIN M.: Love that, Jordan! And it’s nice to feel connected to something ancient and based in nature when we’re chained to our phones and computers all day.

I do feel like it gives people a feeling of control in a world that’s so chaotic—politically, technologically, etc.” —Erin Magner

JORDAN: I do feel like there’s a greater desire to deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us, and astrology is a great tool for helping you to connect to how you’re feeling and your emotions. It’s like a prompt to make you turn inward and reflect/analyze your feelings.

ERIN H.: Yeah, it feels shame-free to me. Like, “Oh yeah, I do have that tendency” (whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing). And it’s not about figuring out why it’s that way—it focuses you on how you’re going to proceed. Like, after therapy, break out your birth chart and get to work!

JORDAN: I feel like people want to feel more empowered and assured in their feelings and opinions because they can’t trust what’s being fed to them from a lot of outside sources, so they’re looking for ways to tap into their own intuition and use it to contextualize their lives, which astrology can help with.

ERIN M.: THIS. So so sooo true.

ERIN H.: When things are crazy, your intuition and your intellect is what you have ultimately.

ERIN M.: I do sometimes worry about making excuses for our behavior, though, based on our astrology—like the other day, I was having a conversation with someone about my tendency to be a diva in certain work-related situations, and said something like, “That’s my Leo moon.” But then I had to check myself and be like, no, you have the power to make a different choice and be more diplomatic.

JORDAN: My dad always quotes Rudyard Kipling to me, and I feel like it’s applicable to the times and the increased interest in inner work: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.”

ERIN H.: Awwww that’s a great dad quote. Mr. Galloway ftw.

JORDAN: It’s about being an adult, but I feel like that’s the goal so many people (or at least I’m) aiming for with my astrology practice and other practices like meditation and mindfulness.
Maybe dad quotes are the new dad jokes. It’s life goals. But also so much easier to do when you know yourself.

ERIN H.: Haha. Prepare for a lot of quotes from Shawshank Redemption then.

ERIN M.: LOL

JORDAN: Hahahaha

ERIN H.: I love that you both brought up self-sufficiency and responsibility in all this. I feel like that’s what people fear, that astrology is just about finding excuses for your BS. (But seriously, Scorpios, get it together…)

JORDAN: Ugh, Scorpios.

“We need more emotional intelligence! Yes. And every other kind.” —Erin Hanafy

ERIN H.: Any final thoughts?

JORDAN: I’m honestly excited to see astrology going more mainstream because I feel like, to your point, Erin H., it’s really a tool for understanding yourself better, not something that you’re supposed to blindly following verbatim—and any real healer will tell you that. The more access people have to ways to figure their own stuff out the more emotionally intelligent we’ll be as a whole. But my final, final thought is: God, I would love to get a hold of a few people’s birth charts…

ERIN H.: We need more emotional intelligence! Yes. And every other kind.

JORDAN: Like, for example, I feel like you should have to offer it up—as well as your tax return info—when running for president. Just saying…

ERIN H.: Haha. Galloway-Magner 2020.

ERIN M.: Ditto! And if astrology doesn’t resonate with you, there are so many other tools out there now to get to know yourself—I’ve been getting really into Human Design (which is like a woo-woo version of Myers-Briggs) for that same purpose, and it’s really changing the way I operate. They’re all connected to each other but all have something different to offer, which is really cool.

JORDAN: I feel the same way. Astrology, tarot, numerology: I use them all in tandem.

ERIN H.: Ohhh I’m into Human Design, too. FYI, Jordan…Erin M. and I are the same “type” on that as well. We’re basically the NYC-LA versions of each other! (I wish.)

ERIN M.: We actually are, Erin~!

JORDAN: This makes perfect sense to me.

ERIN H.: So, thank you, thank you for sharing all your knowledge today. As Well+Good’s resident astro queens, I”m sure you two could talk about this all day, but I’ll let you get back to work so you can sprinkle your magical fairy dust on some copy. And I’m going to go check my rising sign horoscope…

As we reach the midpoint of winter (yes, we are almost there!), that’s a big deal astrologically. Here’s what you need to know about Imbolc 2019. And here’s the year in numerology—more fodder for your iCal!

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