S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate Plus membership.
S2: Came to Hampton. I’m an editorial assistant here at Slate and I’m your host for this season of working the next few episodes are going to be focusing on influencers taking a deep dive into an industry that’s changed from one that was really only understood by Team glued to their phones to one that’s now covered by journals of the New York Times The Atlantic. This week we’re joined by astrologer extraordinaire Charney Nicholas in the past two years astrology has grown from the same ironic millennial mainstay to an industry that brands like Spotify and urban outfitters are trying to cash in on the recent boom has made minor celebrity to astrologers like Cheney who has over a quarter of a million followers between our Twitter and Instagram page. As a lifelong astrologer Jenny is a really great perspective on how social media and the Internet populate astrology.
S3: What’s your name and what do you do. My name is Charney Nicholas. I pause there because you can say my name Charney or honey. Both are correct. I am an astrologer and a writer of astrology mostly.
S4: So you are one of my one of my guests. I was most excited to have on because I’ve been following you for a while but can you start off by telling me how you got started off in astrology. Yeah well first off it’s an honor to be here. Thank you for having me.
S3: I got started off in astrology really young. I had my first reading the first time actually someone looked at my chart and I write about this in the intro of my book that’s coming out in January is I was like 8 years old and this woman just pulled up my chart and made one statement about me and it was so kind of shocking to me that it really stuck with me. The first time I had a full reading I was 12 and my step new step mom might like second step mom’s mother was a Reiki master is and was rarely into astrology and all the other healing arts and she thought it would be a good idea for me and my dad and my step mom and step brother and sister. Her grandkids to get a family astrology reading so I was 12 years old and I we had the reading and it really just changed my life. It was really an important moment for me. It was was pivotal I felt like she was speaking a language that I knew but nobody had ever spoken to me in before and she had written a book and so I got that book and I’ve been studying ever since.
S4: That’s really cool.
S5: I think it’s a really cool way to get involved in I think a lot of people’s first introduction to astrology is very singular. Like it’s all about you. So for you to have it done with your family it seems like really it fits into the way you kind of do astrology.
S3: Yeah it was. You know if you’ve had a lot of different family formations I’ve had a lot of step families and different ways of being in family especially as a young person. I think at least I was always trying to figure out who was who and what was going on. And even though I knew that those people that became part of my inner family for a long time I didn’t know them as siblings. Like we grew up as friends and I knew their mom. She was you know an integral part of my life way before her my dad got together but I didn’t know her as my stepmom and so it was a really helpful way to understand how we’re also how we were also different and how we would take in information and a really specific way or what we would do when things were bothering us or like how we would process our emotions. And I was just sitting there like oh because I was the kid who you know took everything personally and kind of took everything on in the family I think. And you know each one of us had a very distinct role. But it was really good for me to be like oh you’re different than I am. And that clarity was the was the starting point of something for me to really realize that everyone’s made up in a really specific way and astrology is one way to understand that psychology is another way. There’s a lot of different systems understand how we’re kind of composed but it’s really hard as it is as an astrologer when I’m giving a reading to not like somebody really because I see their chart and it’s like here you’re understanding they’re setup Yeah you mean like if you go to some in the neighborhood you meet someone’s family if you like you got to meet somebody who’s like first grade teacher or meet them as a little kid you’d be like Oh I get it.
S6: Yeah yeah. It’s like something you meet people’s moms and you’re like I understand so much more about who you are as a person. Right.
S3: And so that’s how I feel looking at people’s astrology chart and I can be a really judgmental not very nice person not working. And I feel like astrology helps me be a better person because it gives me a lens to to contextualize somebody not in a predetermined kind of way but in a way of like wow you are what you’re working with that every single day. And that’s a challenge.
S6: And and I respect that you know that makes a lot of sense. Yeah. So the first meetings when you were at 12. So how did you were you growing up. You’re like I’m gonna do this for a living. No I absolutely didn’t want to become an astrologer. Oh really. Not at all. Why.
S3: I grew up in a town that was very counter-culture and very it’s a little town of British Columbia. It’s still very counterculture like we don’t. The town doesn’t let in any like McDonald’s does not exist they’re like Burger King and like no chains it’s a very hippie counterculture.
S6: And nobody.
S7: It’s a town that’s a really great place for misfits and folks that obviously didn’t feel like they could fit into like wherever they were from. And then there’s the regional folks which are people that grew up like in the deep mountains of Canada.
S3: And so it’s not a place where anybody has. It’s a place of like entrepreneurs and business owners. And when I was growing up a long long time ago a lot of folks were just there to like party and live their lives outside of any kind of cultural norm. And so as a way of trying to find myself and probably has a way of rebelling I wanted to be. I’ve always been massively counterculture and really rebellious in a way. And then also I’ve I wanted to to be a part of professional society.
S8: Oh so you’re from rebelling against what an office do I was first working girl and being like wow and this job like that was not even remotely in.
S3: Were weren’t I mean of course there were office jobs where I was from but it’s a town of 10000 people. That’s small.
S9: And you know there was a lot of business going on that wasn’t legal and there was a lot of like side hustles that were just as they were.
S3: And there was no white professional kind of track that people were on. Yeah. And you know my dad was like a logger then you know went into like air conditioning and he. Anyways so it’s like people figured out how to exist and do things that they wanted to do. But I felt like I didn’t want to be part of that in that way although I was very like artistic. I wanted to be an actor I wanted to be in the arts and then writing was always a thing for me. So I was kind of like brushing up against these two things. So long story short is I you know in my 30s I was like nothing’s working I can’t figure out how to make a living and be happy and I’m so broke and I’ve been broke my whole adult life and I was like I’ll go back to school you know that shit.
S6: Yes I do. I often think about getting an MFA. You know it’s like wow what if I just quit my job and went back to school.
S10: So I dropped out of three grad school programs the other day and I finally was just like nothing else works in my life but astrology.
S3: And so it took me a very long time and a lot of suffering to finally give in to it. And once I did my life just like fell into place and took off and on the way there there was tons of signs like you know falling like led from the sky in front of me and I’d be like That’s weird.
S8: And I was like What am I supposed to do with my life. This sign please show me what to do. Boom you like God I just don’t know.
S4: So how did you kind of turn that turn back into astrology into a career.
S7: It really just told me what to do. I just listened. And you know because I. Because I’ve been doing astrology for so long and I have been charging for readings for a very long time just not making it my soul kind of basic income. But ten years ago you know social media didn’t exist in the way that it does now and an online classes didn’t either and you know that my business model as it is now and as it will become you know it’ll change again massively and because of the technology available. The career I have now didn’t exist then. So the type of astrologer I could be wasn’t ever like a an an exact fit which is another reason why I didn’t like go all in. I’m not somebody who wants to give five readings a day. It’s a really intense kind of life and schedule and some people are set up for it and they’re really good at doing that 1 to 1 to 1 to 1 to 1 2 I know and I love doing it and I do it. And I also need the all the other ways in which I’m in connection with folks and I can’t. You can’t do massive amounts of both you have to kind of pick and choose. But again the being online and being with people teaching and sharing information didn’t exist like it does when I when I was learning astrology when I was 12 when did you start seeing kind of the Internet becoming such.
S3: I’m trying to read an integral part of it is that yeah I think because previously to write horoscopes and get them in front of people you had to be picked up by a major publication and there’s only so many of those and there’s always been tons of astrologers I know we feel like astrology is so popular right. And it is but everything’s popular right now because of the Internet. It’s an echo chamber. Yeah. So there’s always been a ton of us. We might have been more underground than we are now but there has never been democratized outlets like there is now that we weren’t able to just give out our info like we are now. So the internet has completely changed how astrologers are able to talk to people. So you know when the printing press came along and someone made up a sudden sign horoscopes really that’s a very new thing that is not part of astrology is canon. It doesn’t go back more than 100 and some years it is not sun signs have are the focus on the quality of one’s sun sign as in tensely as we focus on it. Thank you means it is really new and it’s really always been about the entirety of the chart and the sun sign is really important because the sun is so important but it’s never been the be all end all of astrology. So with the advent of the printing press then then and the creation of you know a couple of astrologers like oh we kind of folk everyone knows their sun sign I’m assuming this was their logic. Yeah so we can get astrology across to them there is the spiritualist movement right. There was like this whole revival of like say onset Zen counter-culture counter to I think Christianity we could say so if everyone knows are some signs maybe we could write from the perspective of the son and how the transits are impacting that thing because that’s a place in which we can all meet. You don’t need to know an astrologer to know when you were born. Most of us know the day we were born. So that then proliferated astrology through the gateway of Sun science and then of course you know all the books that were written about some signs that are really popular and prominent mostly in like the 60s and 70s. That was another big upheaval of astrologer. Another big like outpouring of interest in astrology. And you can look back and see how many books were were printed around that or like how many book deals were signed. You know that’s geologically around. It’s a pretty big uptick and now we’re in another wave of it. So these so one important thing to remember is that astrology with technology always gets a little bump. That’s a really interesting. I never knew that. And it’s just in for me it’s just a knowledge system. Yeah. Like you know if we can if we can print out pamphlets for the right to vote or anything to do with civil rights or anything to do with feminism anything I can do with any of those topics once we can print information and distribute it then the message goes out and astrology is no different in a way in terms of its message getting people wanting the astrologers wanting the message to get out.
S5: Yeah that makes a lot of sense. But I mean even you bringing up feminism the ways in which technology and kind of democratized messages ends up I don’t say watering down the message but you make it more consumables for the masses. And do you see something like that happening with the strategy especially with the focus on Sun science which I do think that’s what that’s the sign that’s based off the day that you were like. Everyone knows the twelve generally.
S3: Yeah yeah yeah. It has to. It’s just the way it goes when you want to give something to everybody. You have to bring it down to a forum in which everyone can access it makes it accessible. It’s an entry way. But that’s all it’s supposed to be. It’s just supposed to be the gateway drug. Is there some sign that the personality traits that go with it and then you’re supposed to are hopefully those that want more you know go into the rest of their chart slowly bit by bit and start to build an understanding of it.
S4: You mentioned means just now for him.
S5: We got to go back to like I feel like all of the astrology means which is part of the reason why I wanted to have you on this show so much as some of the most followed Instagram accounts I see are just astrology means and most of them aren’t entirely based off of your sense I kind of are very much trafficking in this kind of narrow view of what specific science we like.
S3: Mm hmm. Yeah. I think that when you give people a mix of entertainment shock value self reflection and a little bit of love sprinkled in there every once in a while.
S10: But we love you too.
S3: It’s really alluring and I think that seemingly for now at least we can’t get enough of it. And so you know we’re kind of recycling the same content there’s only so many things you can say about Virgo or Capricorn or because it’s really just that one archetype. But we seem to be thirsty and not hydrated.
S10: I don’t know it’s like this.
S11: It’s endless because what it does then as it intersects with pop culture and moments in pop culture. And so you’re like oh now I can look at it through the lens of K Pop and now I can look at it through the lens of jello and I can look you can look through it through all these different lenses and everyone’s like do me do drag me and give me attention when I’ve done you know I don’t I’m not good at making astrology names but when I’ve attempted you know people get really mad if you don’t get to their side quick enough.
S4: Everybody just wants information about themselves. That’s why astrology is so popular. So you’re saying about how people are using kind of astrology to read as meaning in some moments and I’ve seen that more and more with people looking at the astrological chart of a character that they love or even at. We did the astrology chart of a star is born. It’s like this would be a fun like piece of content. Right. Why do you think that in this moment right now astrology seems to kind of hold the influence that it does. It’s a good question but I want to just go back and say that’s what astrology is. It’s reading a moment in time so anything that’s born a movie a book when you lose something it all has a chart. And that’s that’s always how is not always. But that’s really how astrology has been used mostly.
S3: So human beings are one thing but you anything has an astrology chart that has a moment of conception. I’d be interested to see what time you used for a Star is Born premiere of the movie.
S4: There was definitely a debate about between that the day that I think Bradley Cooper said that he sold the movie like there was Yeah there’s there’s a lot of different Shah. Exactly. So I think we did end up choosing the premiere but there was definitely a back in forth. I think that when you which one which date we should use. Yeah but I think the premiere was them easily verifiable. Yeah we.
S3: Yeah there’s just great story about. Well we all watched it happen. But there’s a great astrological component to moonlight and the Oscars. So the Oscars if you remember happened on a full full moon lunar eclipse in Pisces and Pisces Of course the sign of oceans and water and moonlight of course is drenched in this gorgeous moonlight. And also a lot of water imagery. So it’s a full moon then a water sign. But the thing about that eclipse now I gotta remember eclipses are when light is eclipse something is overshadowed something is hidden and then something gets revealed. Not only was that very poetically although painfully played out on stage their moment was overshadowed and eclipsed by whatever that other movie was at. But the the asteroid Kyran c h i r o n was conjuncture that eclipse. And if you remember the main character’s name was Sharon C H I.
S8: Oh and blowing my mind.
S3: And I think it was very Jenkins you said who I’ve heard. I don’t know if it was an A in an interview so please forgive me if I’m wrong but I think that the character because Kiran is the wounded healer and she’s known as a wounded healer in the movie and I I’m pretty sure Barry Jenkins weaved in that astrology or that mythology excuse me into that character’s kind of name or at least the archetype of that wounded healer. So when you look at the moments of things that’s what we want to do with astrology we’re like oh how is this being framed astrologer Cami. Can the astrology of this moment give me a context for what is happening and to go back to your question. It’s a long road around that’s why it’s so popular right now. We are living in a time of incredible chaos where it feels like the violence is at a really big kind of Crest or high. And we know that at least you know you and Iris are on this piece of the earth in this land. We know that violence has been here from the get go and not well from the beginning of what we call the United States. And so we know that this isn’t anything new and this is what’s under underlying the actual creation of this country. But it feels like with the person that is supposedly running the country mixed with like environmental collapse and crisis that we’re at a moment where we all understand that we have no idea how we’re gonna get through if we’re gonna get through what it means to get through. We have dug herself into a place that humanity’s never been in before. And so we’re at a moment of complete unknowns and a lot of chaotic events are happening every day. I mean now we’re like used to the kind of upheaval that comes down through the presidency like you remember when it was shocking.
S8: I kind of miss it. You’re like Oh my God. I can’t go on.
S6: Now you’re just like I don’t even care what you do today. You did something you know I can’t. Yeah what happened with them.
S3: I got to get on with my day so to relate that back to the conversation I was having with my teacher Dimitri George. I asked her you know I was like I’d get this question all the time what do you think about it. She was like well you know astrologers have always had this conversation. Why was astrology not as prolific or not used in the same way in Egypt when in ancient Egypt when side by side in Mesopotamia it was growing it was becoming it was forming it was huge. It was used by the rulers it was like in everything. And if you look at ancient Egypt although it wasn’t like an equitable society but it was really steady not a lot changed. You had pharaohs. They were god they lived. And then they died and then another one came.
S3: Because in what we call Western astrology where it comes from is that part of the earth what we now call like Iraq but also obviously influenced by all these different cultures as the trading routes opened up and everybody was talking to each other but both places have you know huge swaths of sky not a lot of clouds and a lot of like you know snow like they had good visibility. And so if they both had great visibility with the sky why they weren’t they both use and they were so close. Well Mesopotamia was in constant chaos and was being over the ruler ships and the continent. This person then in that culture and then this and then that and it was like this big confluence of events. And so in our conversation to me sure George was saying you know maybe astrology gets really popular when we need it when there’s a lot of upheaval. Humans are like What. Yeah. How do we make sense of this. What’s the meaning of this. And you. There is a meaning maybe for everything and maybe definitely astrology is not it can give us context but then hopefully it can inform our choices hopefully it can remind us to be kind of conscious of the space and time that we’re in and that we do have we are in a pocket and a moment that looks archetype Billy like this but we have agency within that.
S4: And what do we want to do with it. I see this kind of rise as you mentioned it. Astrology rose in the 60s as well and now which. All right. Look at what was happening in the 60s. Yeah exactly.
S5: But also it’s kind of at the same time that Christianity and like modernize like organized religion kind of goes out of sway with like younger people. And so I see that happening now. A lot of my friends who are really into astrology is not necessarily atheists but they’re definitely moving away from the organized religion of their parents.
S3: Don’t you think that’s generation generation like who the house bit into. I mean of course there’s definitely cultural pockets where people are like into their religion their religion. But I think as like a cultural norm we’ve been moving away from like dogmatic religious beliefs for decades and decades now.
S4: Yeah I definitely feel that.
S5: But I guess a lot of my friends were all like kind of young black kids in the city and organized religion is very much a part of what my parents grew up with and my grandparents grew up with and it’s not as dogmatic in some ways but in some ways like the black church is very important. And so I see a lot of my friends who grew up in the black church kind of turning towards astrology. Most of the stars that kind of ironic. And then there’s this way in which it becomes very serious like interlaced into your daily life. Yeah. And so those the way that people are trying to make meaning about turning to things they find are like oppressive or have all these negative connotations mixed up in it.
S3: Yeah. I think that we’re yearning for things that help us to mark time. And I think religion is really good at helping us to mark time through the holidays we celebrate and through the different rites of passage we go through ritually during a course of a life and even into death like we need those ways I think as humans most of us need to be able to mark important moments with community in a way that feels full of spiritual sustenance and astrology can give us some of that understanding that following the moon or you know having these things I don’t know if it has all of that I do feel like if you’re somebody who needs that traditional structure which I actually really love then we need to.
S5: Have places where we all feel accepted and that kind of zooming in to micro reading a chart. I feel like most people do not understand how that actually works. And obviously astrology is like a field that requires a certain amount of studying and understanding things.
S8: So is how how basically it works.
S3: A lot of effort you know like you have to really work it. You have to work with it. You have to study it. For some people it’s really simple in a way because it’s just a language and it’s a language once you if the language makes sense to you it’s like it makes kind of an impression on your brain and you can absorb it automatically in a way because it’s symbolic. And I worked that way for a really long time. It’s how I worked when I was more of a modern astrologer. I understood the archetypes and understood the kind of feelings of things that would go a lot of my intuition. And I think I did a lot of good work. And also I never felt really grounded in it until I learned the traditional principles that are just being kind of recovered over the past like 20 30 years because we lost a lot of our we lost our old tradition because I had it when it kind of essentially went underground for a really really long time. And because of all of the different ways in which astrology has been shunned and you know astrologers of witches and you know all that yeah within Christianity it’s been really rough.
S10: It’s not been so much fun.
S3: And so there’s been ways in which it’s had to be pushed down that comes back up and push down again and so we lost it. There was this huge break in the tradition and modern astrology came about and it really got interwoven. Some might say conflated with like union principles of psychotherapy and understanding the chart as a map of your psyche which is very different than traditional astrology which sees it as a map of your life. So it’s much less about your personality and much more about the structure of your life and the ways in which your life is laid out and where you’ll have an easy time when you have difficulty. The road map of your life again in the ancient traditions. They weren’t really like. So you have a really hard time with it.
S11: Are you going to live or die or is your brother going to take all your pressing issue. Yes. Are you gonna marry. Is your kids going to live like those kinds of things.
S7: And so that’s what traditional astrology is kind of based in like whereas it good whereas it bad whereas it hardware is it easy. Are you going to be able to do this thing called life. And so I went I went back and learned those kind of more foundational techniques and philosophies and frameworks it really grounded and cemented my way of working with the chart. And so now through you know worth studying with Dimitri George for years kind of one and one I feel like I’ve got a much better understanding of how we’ve always looked at the planets and how we’ve related to the ways in which they show up and appear to us in the sky which is astrology. So you mentioned House Journal so it takes a long time. You got to pick your road. There’s many astrology use I that’s where we get confused. There’s not one astrology right there’s so many different teachings and there’s so many different ways of looking at a chart. Some people go in through Pluto and some people go in through Venus. You know it’s like some people going through these there’s hope there’s like uranium astrology there’s all these different types of astrology. And then there’s like astrology from India from China. There’s astrology there’s Mayan astrology there’s all these different ways of actually conceptually understanding the sky. So you had to pick a system I think and learn it thoroughly before you start adding into other things.
S4: So that’s just me. Got your chart read theoretically by your chart could be read multiple different ways. Yes. Different people. Yeah and people really freak out.
S8: Oh God they freak out.
S3: They’re like because there’s also a different health system. So the houses in the chart are the places where the planets are. It’s basically essentially a map of the sky and there’s different ways of seeing how the houses are so I could look at your chart and see your son in the first house and someone else would see it in the 12th house. And those are two very different interpretations and people just like which is right. Like the book. They can both be right. You have to understand what the astrologer where this astrologer is coming from and their point of view. You don’t have to fully understand it. You have to understand that they’re coming from a point of view. So listen and take in the information and see if it resonates. And another astrologer will come from another point of view. I’ve had my read chart read by a million different people and they’ve all been really helpful and yet they’ve all seen my chart in really different ways. So don’t get so hung up on what you think your chart is. In a way you have to get down to the specifics of it but you also have to understand that it’s it’s okay to see your chart in different ways. It’s like going to different types of therapy. You can see yourself from a young man’s standpoint you can see yourself from a cognitive behavioral standpoint. You can see yourself from all these different things or you can get a palm reading or you can get you know numerology done like all these different ways of understanding yourself so don’t get freaked out.
S4: I feel like that kind of ambiguity is what lends a lot of people towards viewing astrology with this. That’s bullshit. Yeah.
S5: Mind frame it even feels like now when like absurdity is kind of the language of the Internet people still view astrology with this kind of unique disdain.
S9: Why do you think that is I don’t really know if I care.
S3: Also you know like head on now has they’re afraid because they don’t understand. Like I’ve never spoken to somebody who has to stay in for astrology that even remotely understands what it actually is. And young to mention him yet again is famous for being one of those people and then learning astrology and then being like oh this is actually really cool. And it’s a whole map of the psyche and then he really kind of shifted that some aspect of the trajectory of modern astrology especially in this part of the world. So you know that’s I I don’t care I don’t care if you like it I don’t care if you hate it. I don’t. It’s like Do it do you find what works for you. I just want everyone to have access to the spaces that they find healing and reflective and challenging and really healthy ways and affirming and healthy ways. And I just want us to heal. I want us to all have equal access to healing. I want there to be healing justice. If astrology is part of that for you. Great. Find an astrologer of 20 that you like and go for it. And if it’s not just go find a meditation class or something that you like.
S8: Go do what you want.
S7: Go do something that is going to push you to be a more self-aware human and something that helps you to understand your responsibility to the rest of the living things in your life. And from here forward to many generations. And I just I just want that to work for people.
S5: You mentioned just just now and I’ve noticed and like a lot of your astrology readings and your horoscopes you like justice is very much a part of your framework. That’s not something I’ve ever encountered. I don’t know how common it is because I’m very much like a novice to astrology but that’s really interesting to me.
S7: Yeah. You know like I. Am a somebody who is in it I’m not an activist by trade but I am definitely one by heart.
S3: I think that there is so much injustice in the world and the systems we live within are so cruel and set up to only help a specific type of person and the kind of pain and suffering that that has always created is immeasurable. And if I may not speak about the human condition there is no speaking about being a human without saying we don’t all walk down the street and experience the same thing. We’re not all set up to have an equal opportunity and unless I can be freely open about how I feel that impacts human beings or my limited understanding of how that might impact other people then I’m not interested in doing it. So I was never interested in being a political although I don’t believe there’s any such thing as being a. Yeah. Yeah. When I started writing astrology I was like no one is going to like this because everyone is into astrology doesn’t want to talk about politics or doesn’t wanna talk about systemic violence or injustice and much to my surprise I underestimated queer culture.
S7: I think it was really well received and I was shocked because I thought people that were you know really involved in active activism and or or at least in the academics of you know systems and structures societally and otherwise wouldn’t care about astrology. And so yeah I was really shocked that anybody cared. What is your normal day look like chaos.
S9: Oh panic.
S7: We were just my wife and I were just talking about this. It was like yesterday I was like You know I just realized like it’s never gonna get slower. Like if we if we actually go and do all the things that we’re talking and we’re actively building towards. It’s just gonna get more stressful. And she was like Do you find it stressful. And she was like stress to me is really bad. And I was like well stress to me is like not bad or good but it’s just intense like an intensity that forces you to grow. So that’s basically what my days are. I wake up and I say to myself you should exercise now just to make sure you do it today. And then I think it’s 8:00. I read a post on social media. What is the astrology today what names do I have. What have I created. What do I have. And then I do that and that usually takes me to nine sometimes ten o’clock. Oh it’s such a huge part of my day making sure I’m getting everything correct and my thoughts formed and sometimes it’s quick and sometimes it’s not. So anywhere from eight to 10 if I’m posting that day I’ll do that. And then sometimes I get addicted to like what is it you know all that stuff. Once you open your phone you’re like Why do I come here.
S9: It’s like they’re free to something exactly like the refrigerator.
S3: And so sometimes I spend the first two hours in the morning during that getting lost and then depending on my workloads I have courses once a month the New Moon courses which I record which are days of recording those each month I have days of of writing horoscopes for myself.
S7: I write for Spotify for the cosmic playlist. We do with them. I also pick songs with them for the playlists for each sign each month. I write something for O magazine online for each season that the same goes into so Labor season is next. And so depending on all that. And then I have to have meetings with my director of operations I have to make sure we can get my wife she’s run the national nonprofit called free from. And she’s there doing incredible things. But she’s also part of the business and so sometimes I have to pull her. It’s hard to see if I can get 20 minutes to make these decisions of things that we’re doing. We’re just finishing the last last last last last final edit of the book that I’ve been writing for the past couple of years.
S3: Congrats. Thank you. So lately it’s been like getting you know sending galleys out and doing all that kind of thing and planning the book tour and all of that and then that’ll come out January 7th and then they’ll be the book tour and so you know I just want to Australia to do press for cosmic playlists that Spotify is launching there. So all that to say things change a lot day to day but there’s the regular work writing work that I have to get done.
S4: The regular recording work I have to get done and all the emails and requests and interviews that kind of stuff day to day. So tell me a little bit more about the cosmic playlist. How did that partnership happen.
S7: You know that I was approached by them and I was like How is this never been a thing before. And they were like No we know and I was like This is obvious like and genius and I am like a pop culture addict and a lot of ways. And it’s it’s ridiculous to say because who is it for. But like me that music and mix tapes and playlists have always been a huge part of my life. And so it just felt like a really fun way to extend the horoscope. So the playlists are like are like musical horoscopes so they’re not necessarily about the sign that we’re talking about they’re about the astrology that’s happening in that month for that sign and they’re trying to pick songs that correlate with the ask logical themes that are going on for that sign and you’re not supposed to like every single thing on a playlist.
S4: But it’s just generally the theme or the town. Hey how long does that take you I feel like making playlists or well it always was like I’m going to do this very fast it’s gonna be cute little thing and then five hours later I’m like oh what song.
S8: What did I.
S3: So I partner with them. So I’ve got people that are you know do you play this for a living at Spotify that worked with me. So I pick five to 15 songs a playlist. What I do every day is as I’m scrolling through every social media outlet that I’m scrolling through if somebody mentions a new artist then I want to know somebody that I know who I like or appreciate or think their taste is good then I’m always like Who is that. Or like musical reviews or what have you. So I’m always looking for the new thing. People send me music a lot and so I’ve been really fortunate to be able to help new up and coming artists especially like queer artists trans artists folks that might not get might not have a lot of money for press or have a record deal or whatever but are making great music and just putting it out and it’s up on Spotify. And if it fits with the theme of a month for I’ve got 12 different playlists to fit so they cover everything so if it’s a good song then I’m really excited to be able to curate things for people that they might not hear and to help you know names kind of get some recognition and get bumped up on the listeners. Listeners are like like you want your song Listen to your life. So you want a web you war.
S10: I did. We did yeah Spotify. Yeah. Yeah. It was amazing. It was really yeah it was a really amazing moment.
S5: So do you see more brands kind of in this moment as the strategy has gotten more popular then you see more brands kind of trying to incorporate or find ways to incorporate astrology don’t you.
S8: Yeah I do.
S3: It’ll and it’ll you know it’ll go away. We’re having a moment and it’s you know it’s not bad for astrologers like we definitely are benefiting off of the popularity of the moment. And I think what the moment will reveal is the quality of the knowledge that people have or don’t have and the intent that each of us has. Like you know me and all the colleagues that I have that I know well I’ve been studying astrology for decades and didn’t make money off of it for a lot of those years. But we did it because it’s something that is like a kind of possession for lack of a better word. I think when you discover your passion or your purpose it feels like this thing is demanding to be known by you and you are in. You can either refuse it and it will probably not work out very well for you or you can accept it and it’ll move through you in a way. And so the astrologers that I know that’s the case it’s like we had something kind of woke up in us and it was like we needed to know this system and then we just told everybody about it and it wasn’t about it being popular or even appreciated.
S11: Although I always felt like it was appreciated. Like I remember being in like my first college situation at 20 being like so today the moon is like teaching people you know always being like well you learn that. And so I’m like look back at the decade of my life. I’m like I’ve always been doing this even though I didn’t think I wanted to do it as a profession.
S3: So I think that the popularity and how brands want to capitalize and make money off of it is just what happens inside of capitalism and capitalism tends to ruin a lot of things but it can’t actually ruin astrology because it’s astrology and all good things are bigger than capitalism.
S5: So one of the things kind of come up in these interviews is the way in which social media and the Internet at large have democratized fame basically. And how that allows people who normally wouldn’t have access to this kind of social capital to prosper. But it also gives room for exploitation basically. Do you see that happening with astrology where for the novice they wouldn’t necessarily know how to check the credentials are like to know whether someone’s been studying this for X many years.
S3: It’s okay. You know it’s like if someone doesn’t really know what they’re talking about there there’s not going to. You can’t go very far. You have to really understand the dynamics of each little piece of a chart to actually go into somebodies life. So are there going to always be people in every situation that are trying to take advantage of the popularity of a moment of a thing. Yeah. And is that I feel like that’s pretty obvious who’s in it for what. And that’s also just what happens. So no I don’t think it’s that deep. You know it’s like it’s it’s not. I don’t thing it’s infringing on Amy’s human rights or anything. If a star and if an astrologer is going to do damage just the same way that a therapist is going to do damage or a doctor is going to do damage or a lawyer is going to do damage or you know someone who’s giving counsel in some way is going to do damage. And so that’s just going to happen because of humans. But if someone can only talk about one thing when there’s a multitude of things behind that one thing then they’re operating at that level. But it works for them so good for them you know. Yeah yeah yeah.
S4: So you’re talking a bit about your new moon courses and kind of the different ways that you’re kind of diversifying your business it seems like. How often do you just read charts on a daily basis they’re like other people’s charts.
S3: I have a couple readings a week usually depending on the time and depending on what’s going on depending on who’s calling me and asking me for stuff. I’ve got you know a waitlist that’s a couple of years long. And because I don’t do you know five six readings a day it’ll probably be like that. And it’s not a way it’s just not a healthy for me use of my time to do tons and tons and tons of readings but I’m always reading people’s charts because people that are doing the courses with me will be like I don’t understand this and then I’ll look at their chart and I’ll be like a b c d e f g also Q W and then Z to A little bit. And so I’m always like taking these snapshots of people’s charts and reading them with them really quickly. And so in that way I do like thousands of different readings a year just not in like full hour long sessions. Yeah but I’ll be like Oh is this and this and this happening and then I’ll get the information up that cause that and that and this try this and this and this and then we can kind of you know put the puzzle together in a more immediate way.
S5: Tell me a little bit more about the courses. How did the idea come to you and then how does this kind of work.
S3: I think because there is a point where early on where people could book their own reading online with me like if I would just open up the spaces in my calendar again books and just go in and book it and I got booked up like eight months in advance and I felt like I was losing my life.
S7: It’s like Oh my God what if I need a vacation or like I didn’t know the structure in and I was just like this is absurd. And I had to just close my calendar and I was like there’s gotta be a way to be in touch with more people where it’s like me doing this much work and being able to talk to this you know times X more many people and then you know we laugh about it all the time.
S10: Like my first online thing was like a class where people like dial then I did like a I did like a winter solstice ritual like alive.
S3: And it was just nerve wracking because we didn’t know if everybody could hear me and like it was like this whole thing but it was very like 1988. And then I think the next one we delivered it.
S7: Online and we delivered it in an effort that we must deliver and Dropbox.
S3: We sold Eventbrite tickets to it and then I was like oh I just had to deliver content and I was doing the themes of the new moon and then I started giving people readings for their sign. And so it just kind of evolved into what it is now. Yeah. Just through like ideas. My wife and I really like We’re very entrepreneurial in spirit and will kind of try anything if it seems like a good idea. And while we’re good at risking a lot.
S4: So what’s one of the ideas are you’ve tried that haven’t worked Mm hmm. Or is there one in life or just in this business.
S9: I mean you can do it. Go. Getting my masters meant marriage and family therapy did not work. It was the antithesis of working. You know nothing in the business hasn’t worked.
S3: There was early things that I did that I didn’t make evergreen that I wish I would have in a way. I just learned a lot on the go. So anything that didn’t quite work we just tweaked the next time. Now we’ve just been in this process I’ve been in this process with the people that have been doing this work with me for years. I’m just refining and refining and refining and trying to get the information is like clearance instinct and deliverables possible. And like I said there’ll be a lot of different ways in which we do that in 2020. And we’re just always looking for like the next way to innovate with it with technology with the information in a way that feels still like soulful and deep and useful. I really want the information to be practical and useful to people because if it’s not I’m kind of like what’s the point. We don’t need to know more things but I think that we need to have experiences that we’re yearning for experiences and the experience of what it what it means to recognize and understand what’s happening in our life as being like exactly what supposed to. And so it helps us to feel connected to something less alone and frightened.
S8: That’s what we ought to be on a little less alone and Fred.
S5: Yeah. So I mean I’m sure you can’t tell me too much about what’s coming up in the future but are there some like projects working on. Are you really excited about in 2020. Yeah innovation Yeah.
S3: Yeah we’ve got so I mean we’ve got so much on the go and it’s all behind the scenes work right now. So it’s we’re just like every day like wow we’re doing this thing. OK.
S11: I wonder how we’re going to actually do it.
S3: But okay we’re just doing it and I think everybody that works in the business with me has that kind of like go big or go home kind of spirit. And so we want to keep things fresh and we want to keep things exciting and we want to keep things really interactive. So the book is a first big thing to happen in January and then we’ll be launching other things after that cool.
S4: Yeah. So when did you kind of make the decision to staff up. I know you have a director of operations.
S3: Yeah I mean we’ve had a lot of different variations of staff that either they were like work your inboxes too crazy for me I don’t want this or they weren’t what they were hired for the business grows so rapidly and and changes so much and so it’s been it really has been in a business sense like having a newborn and then all of a sudden it’s a toddler you’re like Oh my God it’s walking.
S8: We need to we need the baby.
S11: Baby you were not that was not your job okay. But now we need you.
S3: So we’ve had to really grow and there’s been growing pains and there’s been it’s you know I started off as an astrologer not as a as the head of a business. So I’ve had to really grow myself into taking on that role. And it’s an incredible opportunity. I don’t have children and I don’t plan on having children. So I know that all of my staff all of my growth edges all of the ways in which I need to develop as a human instead of being worked out with a child. I assume that’s worked out with the people in my life and my business. And so my business is my child in that way. And I’m I’m trying always to be like OK what do you need. Now what books do you need like school supplies. What do you need to go off and do the thing that you want to do. Because it’s it’s not me. You know like I serve it and I give it what I can and then it has its own life like people have their own relationship with the work and it has nothing to do with me. You know like at people I don’t know you. I’m so glad that something in this resonates with you and you found it helpful. But that’s the work’s relationship with you. I’m just like part of that you know thing that gets it there but so I just want to keep being facilitating that. And as we grow you know be We’re always like looking for great talent and people to hire and to help us move the things on the I have like a five year business plan. We do yeah. I don’t know past then you know it’s kind of like huh. And I don’t know what will happen after we do the next kind of leg of things then we’ll really it’s like OK it’ll be I think it’ll be a whole different beast anyway.
S5: Do you have like a chart for your business like a name is a different thing.
S3: No because there was no real I mean you mean for like change clothes dot com. I don’t think I do because I had a different blogspot. I had a blog spot.
S6: Oh that’s that’s very back thanks for the people who yell at me for using text like five.
S11: So that’s where I started writing those horoscopes.
S6: God I took them all down so you can’t find them.
S9: So just go back. You like so bad. Has anybody added. It was just a nightmare.
S7: So yeah I don’t. There was no specific start start but we will have a chart. We have a chart for the book launch that we didn’t pick it because we don’t get to do that.
S8: I think my publishers would have been like look I have had enough and this is the last hurrah. Would you pick this specific time that was the book.
S12: Absolutely. Are you kidding me.
S3: We pick times as much as we can. What would you have picked. Well you it’s more about like what’s available at that time. Do you have to pick a thing where the ruler of the ascendant isn’t a really good place and hopefully aspects or aspects by or is Venus and Jupiter and then you get the moon and a really good sign and good house and also aspects by Venus and Jupiter at least. So you don’t want anything to harm those things and that’s a really hard setup to get. So like every month. Al Hunt for those charts for people and give them to them but be like OK there is at 3:00 in the morning is a really good time to send an e-mail. Yes schedule something you know and we might make my wife runs her nonprofit as much as she can. I got astrology.
S6: So you know it seems like there’s a lot of math involved in this with like the there’s a lot of like there’s a lot of that it’s it’s it’s it’s code it’s really like OK if this is there than this if that is there then this if this is leading the thing then this is what the data is gonna be.
S3: So it’s really not that different in a way that’s why I like once you pick it up you’re like oh it’s kind of easy okay. I think it’s simple in a lot of ways it’s really deep but astrology is actually like well these are the rules and if you follow them you can probably get some good information. Okay. You know. Yeah.
S4: You know nuanced as you go on but what’s something that people don’t understand about your job that you wish that they did.
S3: I don’t know what people don’t understand about my job honestly. I think that I am. I know that I’m a really picky precise kind of person and so I I take a long time to write the horoscopes. Like it’s probably too long. I don’t know. An astrologer that takes us. Not that I’m. I’m not special in it. I’m just like God.
S9: Everyone else must do this in such a better way than I do because there’s no way people spend as much time in sentence in a goddamn horoscope.
S7: Maybe that astrologers are going to say like I’m just gonna give it to my community. They think that what people don’t understand is how geeky an academic and how big a nerds most astrologers are like the astrologers I know you know learn Ancient Greek to translate attacks so that they can decode what someone was saying in a very un poetic non like very sometimes ill constructed sentences that are really like kind of.
S3: Not even that interesting but you have to like go through 70 pages to get the one thing that’s like going to you know oh my god this is what they’re talking about. And then like a astrologers or academics like astrologers astrologers I think the ones that are really invested in the way astrology works I think in a lot of ways some of us are counselors more than academics. Some of us are academics more than counselors and both are really necessary and really beautiful ways of working with the system. But I think mostly that’s what I was blown away by. Like getting into astrology astrological community is like wow everyone is like could be a professor of a lot of different things. History language science like there’s there’s a lot of studying of not only astrology but ancient history that goes into understanding what it is we’re doing. If you want to do that aspect of astrology but I think that that’s really there and I think that that’s what’s misunderstood. Like I always say I don’t care if you believe in astrology or not but you might find it interesting to understand the history of it because it’s literally woven into everything we talk about in terms of science religion and most cultures. Like Jesus was born and a couple of wise men followed a star in the sky and found him.
S8: I think those first I think they knew maybe and Shakespeare full of astrological lingo.
S3: Star crossed lovers. Yeah Summer Nights dreams and it’s not that it was like everyone was obsessed with what it meant to be a Leo. It’s that again we lived within this these mythologies of the sun and moon those are our ancient gods those are ancient creators. That’s how we understood time how to travel and figure out where the fixed stars were and how to follow them. I mean we needed. We had a deep relationship with the sky. Again it’s not about being obsessed with somebody whose astrological makeup but we we needed the sky to figure out what time it was. And so we were always in relationship every culture on the planet in relationship with what was going on when we could see it.
S5: That makes a lot of sense does not really surprise me.
S3: They’re all scholars like yeah yeah yeah but I think people just think we are people that are real astrology critics think that astrologers are charlatans and thieves. Yeah.
S8: Yeah. Just go. We have a few Google books here.
S4: Well thank you so much. Thank you so much for having me. Yeah.
S2: That’s it for this episode of Working. Thanks so much for listening. I’m your host Rachel Hampton. Special thank you to Justin D right for the add music. Thank you so much. Our producer Jasmine Molly. Please remember to rate review and subscribe on Apple podcast. And if you have any questions or feedback you can reach us at working at Slate that can. Join us next week for another episode. Series.