Cure Coronavirus Stress With New Astrology Books


In “A Diary of the Year of the Plague,” which covers the bubonic plague epidemic in 1665, Daniel Defoe notes that before the epidemic struck, “people… were more dependent than ever on prophecies and Astrological conjurations, dreams and stories of old women. they were before or since.

Some 350 years later, history turned and repeated itself: in the years leading up to our current situation, America revived occult practices such as lithotherapy, tarot reading and, of course, astrology. The New York Times and the Atlantic both covered the resurgence of astrology in 2018; the New Yorker followed in 2019. I myself published an article in BuzzFeed on the subject in 2017.

From these stories emerged a consensus on the modern appeal of astrology: Even before COVID-19, we lived in unpredictable times, and astrology superimposes an interpretive framework on the chaos of existence. Plus, the personality typing is very memorable, as demonstrated by Instagram accounts like Not All Geminis.

But for its practitioners, astrology is more than just a pop culture phenomenon, a joke to throw when things don’t go your way (why is Mercury still in retrograde?). It is also difficult to monetize online. And so, some of the internet’s most prominent astrologers have gone beyond their tweets, posting books on what astrology means to them and what they think it can mean to us.

None of these books try to predict the future, nor do they offer the cheerful and easily refuted claims that horoscopes often make. Instead, they mostly focus on astrology as a tool for self-reflection, which seems fitting for a time where we’re all basically trapped with ourselves. Who are we and who do we want to be? Three recent books by modern astrologers seek new ways of approaching these questions.

The most accessible is “Astro Poets: Your Guides to the Zodiac” by Dorothea Lasky and Alex Dimitrov, published in October. Lasky and Dimitrov have created a Twitter account under the handle @poets-astrologers since 2016, sending surreal horoscopes, astrology jokes and poetry recommendations to their more than 600,000 subscribers.

Chani Nicholas, author of “You were born for this”.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

“Astro poets” Walking in Familiar Ground: Much of the emphasis is on sun signs – that’s what people mean when they ask “What’s your sign?” – offering a general overview of personality types before going into detail on the types of friends, lovers and texting they are. (“Gemini: I’m crying. Pisces: FINALLY !!!”)

His tone is intimate and chatty; the book sometimes feels more like an exercise in merry-casting shadows than an attempt at a coherent argument – much less meaningful. Of Virgos’ reluctance to believe in astrology, Dimitrov writes with disdain, “I mean, these people probably have three life insurance plans by the age of twenty-five. They probably chose their place of burial. … No wonder the mystic is uncontrollable and terrifying to them.

“Astro poets” is perfectly entertaining without being overwhelmingly insightful, and that doesn’t do much to counter the idea that astrology is a game played by narcissists and navelists.

“Madame Clairevoyante’s guide to the stars: astrology, our icons and ourselves”, by Claire Comstock-Gay, takes a more thoughtful approach. There are 12 essays on how signs manifest as diverse archetypes; references range from classical culture to popular culture with a distinctly millennial bent – from Leslie Feinberg, author of the queer classic “Stone Butch Blues”, to the Olsen twins and Rock.

In the introduction, Comstock-Gay, who has made horoscopes for various publications under the Madame Clairevoyante name since 2013, writes that she spent much of her youth being skeptical of astrology: she didn’t see herself in the fiery and funny descriptions of her. sun sign, Sagittarius, and so she rejected the whole system. It wasn’t until she discovered other aspects of her chart that she began to see astrology as capable of nuance and inflection rather than blunt and general assertions.

“I had once thought of astrology as a system for pushing our wild and unmanageable selves into broad and simplistic categories,” she writes. “But what I saw then … is that astrology offered the exact opposite: a space to explore the complexity, to explain the contradiction.”

Comstock-Gay spends the rest of the book on these contradictions, noting, for example, that charming Libras make good celebrities – but that if we look beyond their attractive surfaces, they also provide us with an opportunity to rethink our trend. to devalue celebrities as aerial heads. . (Libra is an air sign, naturally.)

She uses Cardi B as an example: a woman who rose to fame partly on the basis of her looks, but then skillfully used her platform to champion progressive political causes. Kim Kardashian, also Libra, has gone from sex tape stardom to studying law and advocating for criminal justice reform. There is no reason to equate beauty with lack of seriousness; you reject Kim, Cardi and the uses and meanings of the spell at your own risk, argues Comstock-Gay.

If it gets you hooked and wants to learn more about your own theme, the next natural step would be Chani Nicholas’ “You were born for this: Astrology for Radical Self-Acceptance”. Nicholas is a career astrologer with a broad platform. She curates monthly horoscope playlists for Spotify, is a resident astrologer for O: The Oprah Magazine, and maintains a horoscope newsletter with tens of thousands of subscribers.

Nicholas’ astrology is explicitly militant: it urges readers to view his horoscopes not just as a personal balm, but as a call to action, which befits a time when the cult of individuality seems particularly frivolous. “Astrology reminds us that we are exactly as we are meant to be,” she writes, “for good reason. On purpose and with a purpose that we have to experience if we are to feel any kind of fulfillment.”

“You were born for this” can be a little intimidating: it’s a workbook, with exercises requiring you to check your birth chart online and do some serious cross-checking. One of the reasons why the most popular astrology stays on the surface is that once you dive in, it gets pretty complex pretty quickly, and it can be hard not to feel like you’re enveloped in headaches and minutiae while you sail. trines and squares, planets and signs.

If you’re up for the job, however, and interested in the results, this can be a unique opportunity for soul-searching. Nicholas does not insist that the stars have fixed us with a singular personality type at birth; rather, it encourages us to use astrology as a tool that can deepen our understanding of our place in the world.

Nicholas has said in interviews that sometimes she wished people would read astrology a little less. “I don’t want people to need me, honestly,” she said when we discussed my article in 2017. “I don’t think it’s healthy to be obsessed with what’s going on. go through the sky everyday. Just go live your life. It’s okay! “

Which seems to be the most relevant message for those of us living into 2020: your life is going to happen to you no matter what. The stars may be able to give you some advice, but they can’t tell us what happens next.

Romanoff is a writer and author of several novels for young adults.

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