BY REBECCA VALLEY
Lately, I've been trying to get to the bottom of a funny habit I picked up in the last few years: treating my anxiety with horoscope columns. Every few months, when work gets overwhelming or I spend too much time thinking about the future or develop a poorly-timed crush, I start to compulsively read my horoscope, and the horoscopes of my loved ones. I find this practice incredibly soothing, in someone else's predictions, I'm finally able to calm the storm in my brain and look within myself for a solution.
Sarah McCarry wrote in her history of astrology for Refinery29 that she "believe[s] in astrology not so much for its ability to tell fortunes, but for its narrative structure — the way it asks me to look at the events of my life as part of a larger pattern of cycles and deaths and rebirths." I've been thinking about horoscopes this way too, not as predictions, but as a way to ask myself the right questions and find some structure for my day. If you look at it this way, astrology becomes similar to meditation, a way to clarify the thoughts in your head and move forward despite the complicated and confusing twists and turns of daily life.
I've included a list of my favorite horoscope columns, the poetic astrological musings that have helped keep me calm. I hope they can guide you toward the right questions, even if they can't always offer up the answer.
Claire Comstock-Gay writes these dreamy, poetic monthly horoscopes for The Toast, and as of a few weeks ago writes a weekly column the NY Mag's The Cut. Favorite line from this week: "The world is heavy with sorrow, and even now, there’s room for sweetness in your life."
I discovered Rob Brezsny in Seattle's independent newspaper The Stranger, but lately it seems like he's showing up everywhere. I love that Brezsny's horoscopes read like vignettes, and are often based around quotes from pop culture or literature. For example, this quote from a few weeks back: "Joan Wasser is a Leo singer-songwriter who is known by her stage name Joan As Police Woman. In her song 'The Magic,' she repeats one of the lyric lines fourteen times: 'I'm looking for the magic.' For two reasons, I propose that we make that your mantra in the coming weeks..."
Galactic Rabbit is a recent discovery, a monthly horoscope column that starts with an essay and then proceeds with lengthy horoscopes (3 or 4 paragraphs, usually) that are meant to convey a feeling the way a poem or flash fiction does. Favorite moment this month: "I have seen you on slow velvet mornings, wrapping up the many old versions of you that you’d let die so something new could be born. When all the planets play with your shadow and shadow you in turn, when it is your birthday month and your rare magic amplifies, how do you direct your power?"
Chani Nicholas is probably the most astrologically-sound column I read. It often starts out with a few paragraphs on retrogrades and moon activity that I don't really understand. But, the horoscopes themselves have these beautiful, powerful mantras hidden inside them, and sometimes that is exactly what I need to get through the day. Here's one from this week: "Take the risk. Revealing ourselves can be a spiritual experience. Telling the world who we really are requires that we have enough faith in ourselves to get through any response we might hear."
Rebecca Valley is a poet & editor from Saint Albans, VT. Her poems have appeared in a number of literary magazines, including Rattle and M Review, and she writes on girlhood and women’s issues for the Girl Museum (including a bimonthly column on girl spies that launched in July 2016). She serves as the poetry editor for The Drowning Gull, and is the founder and editor-in-chief of Drizzle Review, a book review site with a focus on minority authors. During the daylight hours, Rebecca works as a middle school librarian near her home in Olympia, WA.