UPDATE: This article has hit some very particular nerves with some very particular people, including a couple hasty, self-righteous ones who think I’m talking about my own clients. No: I’m not talking about clients. I’m talking about the very real thing I address later in this article, which is one of the reasons I warn people not to ask for birth data from people immediately.
I guess since a lot of people didn’t teach themselves astrology, they don’t know that you can actually get birth data from people you’re dating or meeting socially, but this is very real thing you can do, and this is a very real thing other astrologers do but don’t necessarily admit.
And it’s particularly bothersome to me that some astrologers in particular might shame other astrologers for their shortcomings or for being human. There are many other professions in which transference is something that is discussed in order for professionals to understand it and to keep it from happening. I was recently shamed by another astrologer for this (even though that’s not what I’m writing about), which is absolutely unprofessional and just straight-up self-absorbed and myopic. I have written about how much I hate the fascism of woo, and this is part of it, because when we can’t be real people, we can’t do this kind of work, and you all know I hate Karencraft and the Karenization of astrology.
I also had a story about Sodom and Gomorrah that seems to have really hit a nerve. Every time I hit that nerve, a qanon believer catches COVID, and never one to pass up an opportunity for a mitzvah, I made it its own post here.
Onward to the article:
Okay, maybe not all astrologers, but most of us, I think.
Okay, some of us. At least once.
Here’s a uniquely astrological problem, and don’t even try to tell me that this has never happened to you at least once, because if you’re an astrologer, whether you’re an amateur or a professional, whether you’ve been at this for one year or twenty years, you’ve done this very thing:
Falling in love with a birth chart.
And a lot of us do this before we even meet the person in real life, before we even know anything about them, their story, the particular paths they’ve chosen to express and use their inborn cosmic energies? But then we create a narrative in our heads of varying intricacy and intimacy depending on the strengths of our imaginations and our capacities for obsession, as well the story we need to tell ourselves at the moment.
And a lot of times, the narrative we tell ourselves when we create a love affair with a chart has nothing to do with actual personhood, but everything to do with the story we want to have come true.
But then you use your powers for very subjective reasons. Even if you do this for a living full-time, you still apply your astrological insights to yourself and your relationships. You read your own charts, you determine how transits will affect you personally, and you also (yes you do!) look at charts and compare them with your own.
And when you find something that connects, you take notice.
I just can’t.
Maybe it’s the Sagittarius Sun in me that has to feel like she’s doing the chasing in some way. Maybe it’s the Aries Moon who needs physical attraction first. Maybe it’s the Venus in Capricorn who is terrified to shit where she eats, lest the world find out all her secrets (seriously. When I was in high school, I wouldn’t even date guys in high school or in my high school for fear that if/when we broke up, everyone would end up knowing everything about me. And I also figured something was surely wrong with them for liking me. Anyway.).
But I have become smitten with the charts of men I have just met. I have obsessed over the charts of men I have never met and may never meet because while I was working on something else, I just happened to notice how — amazingly — his chart resonates with mine in one way or another, and he also just happens to seem like the thing I want for myself right at that time.
Uncanny, right? Sure it is. Not my own machination, right?
And this type of thing I know other astrologers have done.
And sometimes we take this to a scary degree, depending on our capacity for idealism/delusion, and base a relationship on our own self-serving analysis of romantic compatibility.
There’s a reason Indian matchmakers hire outside counsel to do the astrological analysis. It’s really a similar thing to being a lawyer, because like a lawyer, the astrologer who represents herself has a fool for a client.
So I got that going for me on both sides.
The best case scenario is when there are objectively a lot of reasons to think that this is a loveable person, someone you can be in a relationship with because there’s some things that are pretty simple, pretty obvious, like conjunctions or house overlays.
The worst is when we are hunting for something in the chart that just isn’t there in reality because you’re put yourself into a shoe (a chart) that doesn’t fit. Sometimes, we misinterpret or a misread a chart (screwing up the birth time). Often though, we cling to one or two things, strong or tenuous, and try to make the rest work. We also usually ignore big giant red flags that, if it was a client asking about synastry or a composite aspect or placement between the charts, we’d tell them to run, not look back, lest we have to turn them into pillars of salt.
But we do this anyway.
When you wish upon a star…
One of the things you learn as an astrologer is that shit’s just gonna happen anyway. I don’t read my daily horoscope anymore. To be fair, I don’t write them any more either, but I don’t read them either, because the day is going to happen anyway, and now my days happen with such urgency that I don’t have time to wonder what fate will bring my way. I already know these days: lots of little fires to put out from my computer at home, and my possibly not doing my hair, and me definitely not wearing actual pants. When something odd happens, I’ll go back and check for interesting transits, but I don’t bothering planning around astrology, even during Mercury retrograde.
I don’t think that, when I’m going to attempt dating again, or whatever I will do that substitutes for those job-interviews-for-sex-partner events that I generally don’t like, that I’m going to want to see a birth chart right away.
I don’t want to substitute the chart for the person.
The person you vibe with is someone you probably already have pretty good synastry with, probably a good composite chart with. too. The person you find yourself smitten with definitely has some planets conjunct your angles or planets. If it’s mutual, then it will show up in the synastry.
Now, this is not to say that if I happen to get a hold of a really great birth chart that I won’t make a fool of myself in front of someone who has no idea why I suddenly have interest, because that is guaranteed to happen because by nature, I am a foolish person. I am an incredibly foolish person who wants things to work out just as I thought they would.
No different from any other fool, I guess, and astrology takes all types, even clowns like me.
Why we fall in love with astrological charts
The good news is that if you’ve done this, you’re a decent enough astrologer to read around an entire natal chart and synthesize it. You understand what an entire chart does, how it works, and the foundation it creates for a personality.
But what a chart cannot tell you is anything about the other really important stuff, like the culture they grew up in, the socioeconomic circumstances that gave them more or less options and opportunities to become who they actually are, what they actually, truly look like (and you may not actually know this at all from social media), and all the baggage they’re bringing into the present. Sure, you could, if you have the time and interest, look at their progressions and transits from birth until this moment to figure out what may have happened to them, their blessings and losses, their traumas and their triumphs, but I really don’t think anyone can tell for certain.
Even still, there’s reasons why we may over-identify with an astrological chart.
The Power of Astrology is a thing.
Even for those of us who are in the most denial of our basest instincts can’t ignore the fact that being able to gain insight into a person’s past, present, future, motivation, needs, desires, and longings isn’t powerful. We can learn a lot about the blueprint of a human being based on their astrological chart. Reading and astrological chart doesn’t require that you meet someone, that you be attractive or interesting to them, or that you even have a shot of catching their interests. All you need is their birth data (and even if that’s incomplete, if you’re patient/obsessive enough, you can cobble together an accurate-ish natal chart via rectification if you know enough about their life history and are willing to do the math).
There’s something very safe about reading an astrological chart and determining what you think of someone. It’s also very easy to be sympathetic to someone whose chart resonates with your own. It’s an entirely different thing to interact with those people. I tell you, doing readings for strangers can be a precarious thing, because as powerful as you are alone, behind the computer, you’re no longer the god once you’re working with the living, breathing human that is built up from the blueprint of the chart. That’s a scary thing, isn’t it? It can be. But if you consider that becoming obsessed with another person is about power (Pluto) and avoiding powerlessness (Pluto), yet succumbing to your own crushing desire (also Pluto), it makes sense that you may feel that you connect with a chart in a way that is normally reserved for real life people, especially when you’re doing this stuff quite often.
So, when you ask someone for their birthdate and time to see if you’re compatible, what you’re actually asking is if you can find out if you can be attracted to their birth chart.
But if you can fall in love with a chart, you’re a good astrologer.
Or at least have a crush on a chart or obsess over a chart. This only becomes possible once you’re able to synthesize a chart and understand enough of it to built a picture of the entire person in your head. It’s not enough to know that their Mars is conjunct your Venus, or that their ascendant is trine your ascendant or that your Moon is in their 5th house, etc., etc. That can be like “oh wow!” but not necessarily a reason to treat the chart as if it were a person.
It’s usually more, OR it’s a very specific, very certain aspect that gets you like a fish hook, because that’s the part of you that wants to be liked most.
But that is very much a part of it — you like them because they seem like they would very much like you, even if there’s no reason to think that in reality, it would work.
It’s not just the synastry, but the chart itself, that informs you of who the person is. It’s not just synastry or natal charts, but the composites. Granted, you may be simply picking and choosing things you like while ignoring obvious red flags, but you’d have to be able to find these things and figure out how important they are to you and to the other person in order to create in your head what is essentially a romance with a cut-up circle with symbols on it.
What are you learning about yourself?
Limerence is primarily a form of self-expression in just about any form, including when you become infatuated with an object attached to a person, even if it’s a theoretical object. Despite what we tend to say — that the astrological chart IS the person — it really isn’t. It’s the essence of a person, the blueprint. It does not inform you of all the other circumstances affecting a person that creates all the other stuff. For example, easy Venus/Saturn aspects can be myriad of things, from growing up with money to having one’s ambition supported early on. Or, it could be really nice bone structure. It doesn’t have to be all these things, though it can be all these things. We know that it’s easier to be successful with really nice bone structure, and that people tend to grow up prettier when they have more money because they’re less stressed, have better nutrition, more leisure time, better quality sleep, and cleaner, healthier living environments. We also know that teachers and adults tend to favor prettier children, which makes them feel supported and as if success is within reach. And we also know that if you’re rich, you can buy bone structure.
But it really depends on the adult a person becomes, because Venus trine Saturn can also be a useless person who lives off the bounty of their parents and ancestors, and Venus sextile Saturn can be someone who grows up to learn that they can use their good looks to their advantage but not necessarily have the ambition to match.
And these things you may not know from the birth chart alone.
And if you really want, you can do a progressed chart to see what has happened through someone’s life, and you may be right much of the time. You can look at all the transits and determine what sort of major life events have occurred. From there, you could very sculpt yourself an astrological Galatea of your own.
What you can’t do is create a real live, breathing person from the chart, and the older the chart owner is, the harder it is. Once you get to the age of 30, you can’t really create a human in your mind based entirely on a natal chart. But you do it anyway in the superlab of your brain because you’re adding parts.
Astrologers are not entirely objective, and no one is. It’s not a crime. It’s just that you can’t process something, laying stones without the mortar, and the only one you have is the one you create from itty bitty tiny bits of broken down stones from various thoughts, experiences, visions, and dreams. These are the actual things you use to make sense of the world.
For example, if you see a clear blue sky, you may think “it’s a sunny day,” and you may also think “it will be warm” because it’s spring, or “it will be extra cold” because it’s winter. The fact that the sky is blue without clouds is just a fact; that it could be sunny or the temperature will be a certain way is based on your experiences with blue skies and your geographic location. So, when you see something like that someone’s Sun is conjunct your Venus, you may think “this person will like me because he/she embodies the things I find attractive.” And often, this one is true, depending on the sign, of course, and your own experiences, of course.
For example, I find that people with the Sun at 0 degrees Capricorn generally like me…after a while, because it’s Capricorn energy, or they’ll wait a long time to let me know, because it’s Capricorn energy. Me? Obviously it’s not that big of an issue for a Capricorn Venus to continue to quietly prove themselves useful or important to someone else over the long haul.
On the other hand, you may think “His/her Sun is conjunct my Moon, so I instinctually understand them, and they naturally seem to relate to my feelings.” Yet, I don’t often get along with people who have the Sun at 0 Aries. There is tension, and it may have to do with the harsh aspects to my Moon, but familiarity is not the first feeling between me and someone with the Sun in early Aries: it’s competition, and it’s not necessarily friendly, either. That is so Aries.
Because if I’m being honest with myself, that Venus wants to be loved without having to take down even one brick of her high walls, and that Moon just wants you to get the fuck out of the way, and neither a pure Capricornian Sun or pure Aries Sun respond positively to my lost-child, doesn’t-want-to-argue, probably-is-into-weird-shit-like-astrology Pisces rising expression when they first meet me.
This is what I have learned from expecting certain things from other people’s natal charts and not getting the thing I expected.
How long does it last? Or, what do you do when you find out you don’t actually like them IRL that much?
The interesting thing about limerence is that it really only lasts as long as you need it to last. If you remember Romeo and Juliet, Romeo began the play pining away for Rosaline as if his life was completely over because she didn’t return his affections. That was all out the window as soon as he saw a more forbidden fruit: Juliet. He certainly wasn’t in love with Rosaline, and it’s safe to say that he wasn’t really in love with Juliet, not in any real, enduring sense. His crush on Rosaline lasted only as long as he didn’t know about Juliet, and it’s safe to say that his crush on Juliet only lasted as long as it needed to last, too, because the play needed to end on a sad note because it’s a tragedy (although if, when he went to the crypt and discovered an even more forbidden fruit — Paris — and the two started going at it on Juliet’s tomb like it’s July on Fire Island, I would appreciate the play more, honestly).
The stages of hard, cruel reality setting in:
At first, it’s the cognitive dissonance. How could this person be such a dick? They must be very sweet on the inside. Nope, still a dick. Maybe there’s more I just don’t have an opportunity to see. I’ll wait. Oh God, it just gets worse. Surely, the more I get to know him/her, the more all this good stuff in the chart is going to shine through. Holy shit, I must be the world’s worst fucking astrologer.
After cognitive dissonance comes disappointment. Why can’t they show positive expressions of this placement/aspect/point? Why did I waste my time fucking around with this chart when I could have fucked around with a real person?
Why can’t I find someone to love me? I will be forever alone.
Then, after disappointment comes one of two things:
- distraction by a shinier, pretty natal chart, or (gasp!) a *real life person*
If you don’t get distracted by a real person or some other astrological chart that you find better suits you, you start doing forensics to figure out what went wrong. This is when you start actually looking at the harsh inter-chart aspects, house overlays, progressions, transits, and all the other things in a more neutral light to figure out what went wrong, as in, why couldn’t I make this thing work, or why is fate so cruel? Or why am I so crazy?
And then, after forensics, this, the finally thing happens:
You actually come out a better astrologer.
No, really. Now you understand something that you didn’t before, and the mortar of your mind is enriched with both the experience and the analysis, and you’re now much better informed the next time you decide to fall in love with a birth chart. I mean, come on: you’re not going to avoid doing this shit again, but you are going to be pickier about what you want in an ideal natal chart, so you have that going for you.
And that’s progress, growth, and evolution, right?
Okay great. Now what the fuck was the point of this essay, Miriam? Seriously.
Seriously? Just to let you know that you’re not alone, you weird little astrology nerd, sitting around creating and destroying relationships on your laptop and in your mind. That’s all, really.
Just to let you know you’re not alone in your weirdness.
Just to check and see if maybe I’m not alone in mine.
I’m not, right?
Questions? Email me.