When I was 13 my Mum and Dad went to Paris and they brought back for me a little tote bag as a gift. The bag was embroidered in French with the characteristics of a Scorpio (v ahead of it’s time for 2008).
Alas I was not a 13-year-old who any purpose for a bag with which to tote things around, so instead I decided to hang the now prized bag on my door where I could look at it every day. In true Scorpio fashion, I was obsessed with the idea of being understood so well. I felt so seen. Loyal, strong minded, passionate!I couldn’t believe that somehow this tote bag knew me better than some of my closest friends and had managed to boil down the intricacies of my not yet fully formed personality to just a few perfectly selected adjectives. To my little 13-year-old brain it felt like witchcraft and I was hooked on all things zodiac.
I was fascinated by the ways in which star signs organised people into categories. ‘The feelers’, ‘the do-ers’, the water signs and earth signs. How did it all work and work so well? I’d look at people in my life and think yep you’re well and truly a Leo. BUT HOW?! What simple cosmic miracle made someone born in August different from any other person born in May?
As I my savviness with the zodiac grew I became increasingly interested in pairings. Meeting a cute boy and then immediately going home to stalk his birthday only find out that tragically he is in fact a PISCES! Oh, you don’t want to come and see the sunset with me and marvel at the wonder of nature… CLASSIC TAURUS. I would send my flatmates screenshots of their horoscopes with captions like SEE?!?! and OMG HOW DO THEY KNOW?!
I was swept up by the dramatic headlines, ‘this month prepare for romance, karma, chance encounters and financial opportunities’ and the fact that so often those headlines seemed to magically apply to me. I couldn’t fathom the staggering prospect of 12 little zodiac signs being able to predict the future for the entire 7 billion people that wander around this earth.
As my love affair with horoscopes approaches it’s 10 year anniversary I have come to realise that it is far less likely that the spirits are speaking their interplanetary wisdom through the chosen few that happen to work for Elle Magazine and far more realistic to think that perhaps there aren’t so many differences between us as we think. That #relatableaf horoscopes are less divine intervention and more likely the result of some clever clogs with a laptop tapping into some pretty hefty universal emotions to make us nod our heads wildly in unison.
Haters will say that the zodiac signs generalise us, that they don’t leave room for people to have complicated emotions and nuanced characteristics. That by reducing us to single words we’re forced to limit ourselves.
But actually, I think it’s the genius of horoscopes that they group us all together. That they manage to unite us by encapsulating so many emotions that all of us share. Fears about our financial situations, anxiety about our careers, fears about identity, fears about our fears! Tentative dreams about finding love, purpose and happiness. It’s actually comforting to know that we all have moments in life when we feel different. Moments when we feel like our experience of the world is the first to ever exist. Moments when we feel small.
I feel like in recent times the zodiac signs have seeped a little further into mainstream consciousness. Maybe I hang out with too many arts students but I feel like the ~Mercury Retrograde~ earlier in the year really moved the needle on everyone realising that perhaps we aren’t always fully in control of our moods. Whether that is true or not, I feel like a lot of us were in a funk and suddenly we had a great celestial movement to blame it on. Through the comfortable curtain of blaming our problems on the heavens I actually had a lot of good conversations with my friends about said problems, so in a way we were brought together by this bizarre planetary alignment and it worked out for the better. While the naysayers may have their gripes, if I read my horoscope and it helps me to feel not so different from the person next to me then it’s alright by me.
In a world of such turmoil, we’re looking for connections more than ever. Just a shred of evidence to show us that we aren’t all wildly different individuals attempting to inhabit this earth together. That actually our histories, journeys and experiences unite us more than they divide us. That we as humans have so much more to achieve together than apart.
I think that for all their frivolity and ridiculousness the zodiac signs actually do get us a little further over that line. They help us to understand each other, to laugh at each other (among other things Scorpios are also apparently ‘mysterious and ‘sexual’ HA).
Look I’m not an expert in astrology – my knowledge of the cosmos and it’s moving parts only extends as far as what the centaurs from Harry Potter have taught me but I’d like to think that if everyone in the world could see a tiny piece themselves in these 12 signs, if horoscopes are able to articulate the complexities of people and their lives into 12 little categories and somehow we can still read them and understand a little bit more about ourselves and each other by doing so then maybe actually we all have more in common than we think.
And that’s a pretty encouraging thought.