Let it be said: horoscopes are great. They are better than fortune cookies because they are less random and never come accompanied by a bill or wrapped in a stale biscuit you feel obliged to eat. They require a mental workout, too, because to truly enjoy them, you must use selective reasoning—take what sounds good and ditch the rest. Being a Scorpio, I once read that I am either totally obsessive or entirely disengaged. And so it is when I’m reading my fortune—anything to do with love or luck is duly noted, but any mention of finances or the workplace and I glaze over.
I should point out that I don’t make (or plan to make) any life decisions based on astrological predictions, but I think horoscopes are amusing to read and can be, at times, startlingly accurate. For example, this summer I had the misfortune of having my beautiful silver and blue bicycle stolen. I suppose I had it coming, living in Montreal, but the cunning thieves did me the favour of ripping the basket off and leaving it for me, broken, on the curbside. That week, my horoscope in the Montreal Mirror recounted a Chinese proverb about a man whose horse was stolen. The moral of the story was that sometimes bad luck is actually good luck in disguise. Is it coincidence that Rob Brezsny of Freewill Astrology wrote about theft in that horoscope? Maybe. But I don’t ever look a gift horse in the mouth. That week I found $20 on the street.
I like to know if the person I’m dating is a Gemini (warning!) or Libra (yawn) or Leo (please shut up). Finding out someone’s sign is not that hard and what you do with this information is up to you.
So while I am a little bit superstitious, and yes, I do believe in ghosts, most people who know me would call me a levelheaded and reasonable individual. My professors respect me and my friends value my advice. Still, I like to know if the person I’m dating is a Gemini (warning!) or Libra (yawn) or Leo (please shut up). Finding out someone’s sign is not that hard and what you do with this information is up to you. Hardcore star-followers may have books on this kind of thing; others (like me, although I do have one book) might like to keep a casual mental log. I would never nip the bud of a relationship with someone because of their sign, but if things didn’t work out, I might look back with retroactive knowingness and think, “It just wasn’t in the stars.” You really do learn things this way, such as why a Scorpio should never date a Scorpio (especially for three years). Eventually, if you date enough, you’ll get to know your way around the Zodiac—although hopefully you won’t have to go all the way around.
Sure, some people think astrology is a whole lot of hooey. Once, I was reading the morning paper with my friend Jenna. “Do you want your horoscope?” I asked, ready to launch into Capricorn’s fortune. “Don’t you dare,” replied Jenna. An extremely practical law student with the brains of C.J. from The West Wing and the style of Jackie O., Jenna can also be fun and frivolous, so I was surprised that she had no time for horoscopes (we were at work, after all). “They’re bullshit,” she said without looking up. I don’t think she judged me, but I do know that she would not entertain my theories on why it never works out with me and Geminis.
The thing is, it never does. How else to explain the fact that the past three guys I have been seriously into (not to mention my male roommate and current best friend) have fallen under the rubric of old Gemini? And how unfortunate for me that Scorpios are destined to be drawn to these rogues and cheaters and heartbreakers of the astrological charts! (Not always, of course, but often.) Geminis are also charming and buy you drinks, so you can’t blame yourself too much—but you can look before you jump.
I have realized recently how many people are into horoscopes. It’s not just me and women who wear peasant skirts and elaborate earrings and have split ends.
I have realized recently how many people are into horoscopes. It’s not just me and women who wear peasant skirts and elaborate earrings and have split ends. I know very scientific and reasonable people who read their daily fortunes—engineers and chess players and doctors-to-be. Living in the age of the Internet, I guess it has never been so easy. You can have your horoscope emailed to you daily by sites with names like Swoon; even the BBC offers web ’scopes. The thing about horoscopes is that you have to find a good one. I think there are a couple of general rules for judging if a horoscope is worth reading. Number one: Go for the straight goods—who really cares what constellations Uranus is circling? What you really want to know is if you’ll meet a handsome stranger this week on the bus. My advice is to ditch any fortune that gets too planetary; you’ll get bogged down in the several moons of Jupiter. Number two: Go for one that’s smart. I am currently very happy with my weekly dose of Rob Brezsny’s Freewill Astrology. These horoscopes are funny, if occasionally mean, and consistently, strikingly accurate (like when he said that Scorpios are like an oasis in a frozen tundra—of course we are!). I like Brezsny because he writes things like, “Scorpio! Get your head out of your ass!”
These days, reading your horoscope is hip again. Stella Starksy and Quinn Cox are happening astrologers who are predicting all over town—from Wallpaper to the New York Times. HarperCollins just published a tome by these two called Sextrology: The Astrology of Sex and the Sexes. The book separates every sign into its male and female counterparts, and then into subsequent gay/straight/in-between categories. Flipping through the pages, you can see that Starsky and Cox make some very specific claims: the Cancer man is restlessly apologetic in bed and the Leo woman has a sinewy neck. Some of these brave claims you can laugh at, some of them you can compare to your friends and yourself (“That’s just like me!” or “This is so fucked up and not like me at all!”). But the best parts of the book are the “romantic compatibility” blurbs for each sign, gender and sexuality. Some of these are dead on (based on an informal study using me and my ex-boyfriends as a sample group), others may roam in uncharted territory, but they are worth the trip.
The book can always be tucked away for some time in the future in case things don’t work out. But if they do, I probably won’t have time for all this—I’ll be too busy seeing stars.