How Astrology Helped Me Come to Terms with Aging
When I asked Nate Caradog, the human soul behind Soul Friend Astrology, what makes astrology a useful tool for learning oneself, he answered, “The illness finds the medicine. The illness seeks after the medicine.” In my case, the illness might be turning 26, the age I once considered to be the true marker of adulthood (one year after most brains finish developing, and the year I become responsible for my own healthcare). On the month of my birth, I sought out an antidote for the pestering question, “After living for a quarter century, what should I know about myself?
In attempt to gift myself with self knowledge, I sought out a diviner. My thinking here was: I’m not sure who I am and I definitely don’t know what I’m doing, so maybe someone else better tell me. So I found myself knocking on the door of the moon roof. Nate acted as my guide, a translator of the cosmos.
My Relationship to Astrology
Astrology became a hobby of mine within the past four or five years. I like astrology Instagram accounts like NotAllGeminis and Cogey, and I like speculating on the charts of new acquaintances and my favorite fictional characters. I’ve tried my hand at satirical horoscopes. Nate offered insight into our culture’s recent spike in astrological interest. He attributed this to a desire to reconnect with the world outside of the strictly human one, saying “astrology is the kind of divinatory system that roots us back to nature.” Astrology allows the seeker to follow a path through the sky’s garden of stars and gain self discovery along the way.
I’m reminded of a documentary that suggested one of the dangers of light pollution is how it hides the stars from us (Saving the Dark, available on Youtube). We need the stars not only to remind us that we are small, but also to remind us of our positioning. Astrology is all about the positioning. In a way, questions about positioning led me to my consultation with Nate.
But astrologically speaking, I was asking myself the wrong question. Instead of: Who am I? Perhaps I should have been asking: what is my place among everything else? My place in the world has changed in the years I left childhood and became someone others might interpret as an adult. Astrology offers an opportunity to learn about myself by looking outside of myself. Perhaps my preoccupation with my identity is too steeped in self-interest to benefit me, and instead, it helps to look outward, and note how the outside forces and I come into contact with one another.
The Quantitative Becomes Qualitative
“Astrology situates you in a particular place and time that has a particular quality.” What we might have previously understood as quantitative, a mathematical equation, becomes qualitative through an astrological lens. A kind of translation happens between the numbers and equations that are necessary to make astrological determinations, and on the other side of that translation is the qualitative understanding, the understanding that provides a partial answer to my question: what is my role here?
Perhaps my role could be fluid, or subject to change. The cosmos don’t abide by numbers, my age makes no difference to them. The planetary cycles aren’t influenced by my or society’s ideas of what I should be doing or how I should define myself, they just keep moving. Maybe 26 should be the year I make peace with the idea that not all movement and change demands qualification, and that learning myself can be an ongoing process.
Awareness of the positions of those faraway spheres offers orientation. Nate said, “A lot of folks first get into astrology out of some kind of curiosity.” My astrological curiosity centered myself, but astrology offers a degree of elevation. It allows us a chance to see ourselves from a universal viewpoint. Nate pointed out that many of his clients seek him out in reference to one particular event in their lives— a breakup, a job change, etc. and he sometimes uses astrology to help them understand that the event is a passing one. My age is passing, and who I am at this age is also passing, likely subject to change.
An Invitation to Curiosity
Nate went on to say that when something in an astrological chart is significantly impeding, it's the job of the astrologer to “bear witness to the experiences of other people, as we are observing nature as a way to situate a person within their own unfolding story.” Nate pointed out the ability of astrology to give people the permission to be the way they are without having to fit within the expectations of perhaps more obvious factors such as family, religion and predominant culture. I realized that I could take my chart reading as less of a single answer and more of an invitation, an opportunity to transcend the labels I’ve always worked with and tap into unnamed or new curiosities.
A natal chart reading interprets the positions of celestial bodies at the time of one’s birth. Different individuals have the power to inhabit and grow into their charts in their own particular ways. Astrology offers a narrative in which I can situate. A story in which I can find pieces of my character to form the greater whole.
At first the narrative explained to me by Nate disarmed me because it looked differently from the one I had always known: the tropical zodiac. Nate’s readings evoke the sidereal zodiac. And yet, I realized I could find myself in the sky he showed me as well. I recognized my familiar Leo rising, to which I’ve attributed my good hair, and experienced something new in hearing Nate speak on my Pisces moon, which offers an explanation for the connection I feel with the ocean.
A new interpretation offered a new opportunity. Perhaps choosing to interpret different parts of my life differently, such as my career trajectory, can do the same. If I choose to interpret age 26 as another year of curiosity and discovery, perhaps I can relieve myself of some of the pressure I put on the age previously.
Holding Onto Change
The knowledge imparted to me in the first month of my 26th year reminded me that the self is but a piece of discovery. How strange that the stars can give me a way to feel more grounded. Like the celestials we see in the sky, and the nature of time itself, the knowledge I hold about myself doesn’t have to be static.
Like Nate said, “You never finish learning astrology… the more you learn, the more things click into place.” I think such is is true for the self, too. While I could use my age as a way of quantifying myself and measuring my accomplishments in relation to the years I’ve lived, perhaps it's more helpful to count the lessons learned or the hopes gained. What do I need to know about myself? That I'm still growing, still moving, still learning.