We need astrology books by black astrologers, authors
Left: Photographed by Schaun Champion; Right: Courtesy of Mecca Woods
I have always been a fan of astrology. I don’t remember exactly when I found out I was a Sagittarius, but I have flashes of memories of myself as a kid in the public library and the excitement I felt whenever I encountered everything. which could tell me more about my zodiac sign. Although I didn’t start studying astrology in earnest until I hit my 30s, I have always been fascinated by how astrology has given us star-based language to help us define life. down here.
When I first started exploring the field, I never thought I would be able to turn my interest in astrology into a full-fledged career, and this was largely related to the stigma around astrology. . It has long been viewed as a pseudoscience by skeptics, and in some religious spheres within the black community, it is viewed as a tool for the dark forces rather than the art form and tool for self- development that it is. Another reason: there were not many BIPOCs (to my knowledge) in the field. This was a glaring problem when I started training as a professional astrologer. Lots of books, research, lectures, history, etc. which became the basis of my studies were written by white astrologers.
Two of the rare exceptions are Black Sun Signs and Black love signs, by Thelma Balfour, published in 1996 and 1999. These books marked the first time I encountered something astrology related written by someone like me, with someone like me in mind.
I remember being introduced to Mrs. Balfour’s books by a friend of mine who lived near me. We were around 19 or 20 and spent hours going through the pages, talking about the boys we had a crush on, and whether their zodiac signs were compatible with ours. We read aloud the sections of our signs, chuckling in agreement about which parts had her, a Taurus, and me, a Sagittarius, up to a T. Although I did get to one. point where I religiously read my horoscopes. in all the newspapers and magazines that published them, it wasn’t until I came across his books that astrology became accessible to me.
Fast forward about 18 years and I’m a professional astrologer working on my first book, Astrology for happiness and success. I knew there had been a dearth of mainstream astrology books published by black people, let alone black astrologers. However, what I didn’t know was that my book would be the first mainstream astrology book to be published by a black astrologer. in more than a decade.
A little history: Thanks to the astrologer and the researcher (and my friend!) Demetrios BagleySupporting, researching and documenting the contributions of BIPOC astrologers in the field, I learned that traditional astrology books by black authors were scarce. In 1996, Vibrations of the Soul: Astrology for African Americans, by George Davis and Gilda Matthews, was most likely the first astrology book written by black authors for black readers, supported by a major publishing house. Before that, in 1995, Signs of mental illness: an astrological and psychiatric breakthrough, by Dr. Mitchell E. Gibson, was published by Llewellyn Worldwide, one of the largest and oldest New Age publishers in North America. In April 1996, Balfour’s Black Sun Signs became the first book written by a black female astrologer to be published by one of the five largest publishing houses, followed by Black love signs in 1999. That same year, Llewellyn released Basil Fearrington The new way to learn astrology.
Then it took five years until Astrology Uncut: A Street-Smart Guide to the Stars, written by journalists Rob Marriott and Sonya Magett, was published in 2004. And then… mainstream publishers basically stopped publishing black authored astrology books. (Note, although the authors of both Soul vibrations and Uncut astrology are black, it is not clear – and most likely unlikely – whether any of them were professional astrologers. It is also difficult to say how many black astrologers have published self-published or small press titles over the past 20 years or so, as there is not much documentation available to the public.)
When Astrology for happiness and success was published in 2018, I not only found myself breaking barriers as the first black female astrologer to be published by a mainstream editor after a gap of almost 15 years, but I was also the first female astrologer black to write an astrology book for a more General Audience. I know I couldn’t be where I am without my predecessors, and I credit the work of black astrologers who came before me in making astrology accessible and my career possible. I also realize the importance of publishing books tailored specifically to the black community.
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If black astrologers like Thelma Balfour hadn’t made room for themselves in a predominantly white field, I probably wouldn’t have found the courage (let alone the interest) to make room for myself as well. I was drawn to astrology by a burning curiosity to find out more about myself and how I could create the life I wanted. I became an astrologer because I wanted to help others tap into their own power and use it to create the life they wanted. While I haven’t taken a direct or linear path to where I am today, knowing that there were Blacks before me to lay the groundwork was validation.
I would like to think that I am doing my part to make astrology accessible and accessible to people like me, although at the same time, I also want people outside of the black community to be able to see themselves represented in my work. I often think of it as someone who grew up black in America, as someone who knew at a very young age that she had always wanted to be a writer. While Blackness in America is an experience in itself, it is still an American experience. While being black – period – is an experience in itself, it’s still a human experience.
As an astrologer, my job is to translate human experience through the prism of the cosmos. And to me, that’s why a gap of almost 15 years in mainstream books published by black astrologers is unacceptable. Although I’m happy to report that besides mine Cosmic coloring books series, there have been a handful of black astrologer books published since my book came out (like Aquarius, by Taylor Moon, and Pisces, by Shakirah Tabourn, part of a 12-book series devoted to each sign of the zodiac), this is not enough.
The publishing industry can and must do better. My hope is that as more black people and marginalized people continue to enter the field of astrology, it will continue to increase the demand for more books by us, for us and for all. world too.
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