Yasmin Al-najar explores the intersection between racial injustice and sexual (and reproductive) liberation
Astrology Made Me a Better Person
One Restless writer argues that working out your birth chart can have a positive impact on your life
What do you do when you’re experiencing a ton of big changes in your life and cannot afford therapy? I’m talking earth shattering, all-consuming, dramatic changes all at once. Turn to astrology, of course.
My name is Tara, I’m a Cancer sun, Capricorn moon and Leo rising, and astrology pretty much saved my life. I know what you’re probably thinking, how can studying a bunch of planets possibly help somebody mentally? But when you’ve hit rock bottom and can’t possibly get any lower, you’ll try just about anything.
To say 2016 was the worst year of my life would be an understatement. I started the year with my longest relationships completely breaking down seemingly out of nowhere. Two people I had been friends with for over ten years suddenly vanished from my life. Looking back it was definitely a slow and subtle disintegration, but at the time it came as a shock. We were going through a weird phase where something was up but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. After agreeing to talk it out, I was suddenly met with a flurry of resentment that had been quietly bubbling for years. Not only was I saddened, I was completely dumbfounded and angry.
All of these feelings only heightened when I was made redundant and there was a sudden death in the family shortly after. I hadn’t even begun to process the breakdown of this friendship (nobody tells you friendship breakups are harder than romantic ones), suddenly I was fixated on trying to find a new job and fast, since I just moved in with my long term partner and now had rent due every month. All whilst experiencing life-altering grief for the first time in my life. Talk about bad timing! Months rolled by, and I ignored and failed to process my feelings. When a couple of other relatives died, again very soon after, I started to act out. They say hurt people hurt people and holy shit it’s only now that I can see this is completely true.
All this took place within a turbulent nine months or so. I isolated myself from the people still in my life convinced I’d drive them away somehow. I called support lines, I scribbled down my thoughts furiously on pages so they’d leave my brain, I asked to be added to waitlists for free counselling. I eventually had six sessions of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) via the NHS. Whilst I am incredibly grateful I was able to access this, the CBT only really scratched the surface in terms of guidance I required. It wasn’t until I started reading more about astrology, specifically my own astrological aspects, that I finally started to analyse my behaviour, recognise toxic traits, take some real accountability for my actions and actually grow from all this.
I have always been vaguely aware of astrology; I know being born in mid-July is why I’m a sensitive little crab always in my feelings. I know my sign is considered both the mother and crybaby of the zodiac. I think the fact that I was experiencing such a range of intense emotions that I had no idea how to process is what led me to fill my Instagram feed with accounts dedicated to this pseudoscience. I started off following accounts solely dedicate to my sun sign; it was comforting to see other sensitive souls I could relate to and also interesting to see famous crabs (I just knew Lana Del Rey was one).
In typical cancer fashion, I soon felt attacked by memes and posts that poked fun or gently criticised our habits and characteristics. What do you mean I’m moody, pessimistic, overemotional, and can be a suspicious person? It doesn’t matter that I’ve spent the past few months being exactly all of these things, they shouldn’t say it! I watched heated discussions between signs unfold, fellow cancers rush sideways to defend themselves and soon discovered there is a lot more to astrology than just your sun sign.
When I saw people discussing things like why they relate more to their moon sign or how their mercury overrides their venus, I decided it was time to do my own birth chart. A birth chart, or natal chart, is essentially a snapshot of the sky the moment you were born. Pretty cool, right? There’s a ton of websites that calculate this for you, all you need to do is submit your birthday as well as the time and place you were born. It’ll reveal the precise location of each of the planets and which constellation they occupied the time you were born, and that’s how you find out what your other signs are. As somebody who is obsessed with her menstrual cycle, studying another chart was no big deal. It’s kind of my thing. And the coolest thing about birth charts is how everyone’s chart is unique. Through studying my own, I discovered different aspects of my personality and for the first time in years I started to understand myself.
Most people use their birth charts to help them figure out aspects of their lives such as relationships and careers, but mine helped me see my strengths, weaknesses, triggers, and why I react a certain way to things. Twitter threads by astrology accounts taught me what an underdeveloped sign is and reading more about my other signs helped me pinpoint what I can do differently. Not only did this allow me to stop wallowing and finally take some responsibility for my actions, I also developed a newfound empathy towards myself.
Although this may be an unorthodox way of doing things, it’s definitely helped. It has taken years of hard work but I feel like I have finally processed these unfortunate and sad things that happened to me. I’ve managed to beat a few negative habits, change unfavourable traits and come to accept the ones I cannot change. I’m able to predict how I’m going to react to certain things more accurately and now know what works for me in terms of support. Studying my birth chart has helped me come to terms with these experiences and realise that they were necessary to shape me into the stronger person I am today. Don’t get me wrong, at times it’s been absolutely gruelling. I had to face some real ugly aspects of my personality but it was all worth it as I’ve learned some important lessons and grown so much.
It goes without saying that astrology is no substitute for therapy. Therapy, in the traditional sense, is a fantastic and vital tool. But with limited resources, healing isn’t easy. In a world where healthcare rights are being stripped every day, it’s important to remember that healing and therapy appear in many different forms. What doesn’t work for somebody, may work for another.
I can’t bring myself to imagine the type of person I would be had I continued on that destructive path of grief, self-loathing and denial. This journey was crucial for me and I know that I’m 100% in a better place for a more traditional (and more straight-forward) form of therapy now. So, why not do a birth chart today? There’s no knowing what secrets you could uncover about yourself.