You may be thinking: “Did I click out of D Magazine onto some trendy new age lifestyle website?” And “This is Dallas we’re talking about, right?”
I grew up here. I was raised in traditional circles, and shaped by rigorous schools. Since my childhood dream was to please the world by doing whatever it seemed to want from me, that’s what I did. I went to a top university, got married young, and kept climbing: babies, more degrees, volunteering, hosting, public speaking gigs, and on and on and on.
So, for most of my life, I never considered astrology as a serious field, much less a life’s path.
Times have changed, for me and for our community. Attuned to the currents of national trends, I dipped my toe into astrology as a self-help experiment during a period of upheaval, and my life changed, completely.
After three years of intense, round-the-clock study, looking at hundreds of charts with people in a professional practice I drummed up from nowhere out of sheer passion and will, I have come up with a few things I really wish everyone could understand about astrology. If you’re skeptical, I offer that astrology isn’t just a trend you have to tolerate for a while, but an ancient language studied by some of the greatest minds in history that is having a resurgence worth trying to understand and participate in.
I invite you to give a little space to explore the possibility that there might be something here for you. Embrace, please, the idea of the “beginner’s mind.” When you adopt the beginner’s mind, you take on the curiosity, openness, and humility of someone who doesn’t know everything.
And alas, no one knows everything. It’s impossible. Oh, how I’ve tried! I so desperately wanted to be the expert; I think I truly believed that one day I’d know everything, and that I’d then finally feel better about myself. And one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to me has been pulling myself off that meat hook.
Astrology helped me do it, along with so much more.
So, here they are… the 5 things you need to understand about astrology to magnetize its many gifts:
1. The question is not “Is astrology real?” The question is: “Is it helpful?”
That really changes the frame, doesn’t it? When something is helpful, it’s not as threatening or exhausting.
When you focus on things being “real,” you put a big border up and thus prevent a whole lot about the human experience from coming in. We all view movies with a natural suspension of disbelief, but we struggle to turn this on when it concerns our lives. When you go see the movie Jumanji, you don’t sit there thinking, “Well, that could never happen.” No! That would take the fun out of the experience. No, you willingly suspend or halt your disbelief, your tendency to not believe things that don’t make rational sense to you.
Likewise, especially when you’re first approaching astrology, you need to let in some space for mystery, for magic, for enchanting your life with its poetry. This is part of how astrology can re-animate your human experience and help you feel like you’re living in the flow of something greater than what the brain can comprehend. Our ancestors understood this. We have been cut off from it by modern life and cultural programming. It’s never too late to remember.
Within this framework, astrology is neither a belief system, nor a threat to your current one. You can integrate as much or as little of what you understand about astrology as you find it helpful to living the life you want to live.
When I first saw my chart, and began to study it as I taught myself astrology, I felt seen in a way that no human being has ever been able to give me. My chart is… me. There I am, with all my great gifts, and foibles, and needs, and desires, and every single way I’ve been guilty of self-sabotage. To fixate on why and how it could be real, well, that would have prevented me from finally taking responsibility for the evolution I needed to live a more enriching, pleasurable, easeful, and vibrant life.
The gift of understanding #1: The world begins to feel full of new possibilities as its edges become softer and less censored by what we can call the “reality police.”
2. Astrology is both a language and a toolkit.
This one has two parts. First off, astrology is a language. It has a lot of terms that people don’t understand until they learn the language, which can prevent people from accessing it if they aren’t willing to bring a beginner’s mind to learning.
My younger daughter went to Alcuin as a little one, and I dove into learning all I could about Maria Montessori’s philosophy. The concept that really stuck with me is this: A thing doesn’t exist until we give it a name. Quantum theory considers this concept as well. So, the idea is that – for someone of any age – until you frame a concept-form with language, it basically doesn’t exist to you.
I argue that astrology helps you give names to things you already feel and know exist, but may not have known how to talk about before. This is what makes learning astrology, and getting to know your personal natal chart, so profoundly exciting and affirming. You now have words for what you know to be true.
For example, the planet Mars represents our capacity to thrust into life, to be pioneering, to go for what we want with bravado, to give will to our energy to make things happen. It’s also our warrior, and it is the part of us that is aggressive and combative. I was surprised to learn that Mars was my chart ruler because I really dislike arguments and I had been lethargic for years, but I also knew I could send angry texts and lose my temper very quickly if my blood started to boil.
Answering my chart’s call to discover myself through my chart ruler evolved into a running practice to deploy my energy more skillfully. I’ve now run three marathons, and rarely have outbursts like I used to. I could go on and on about how working with the part of myself that is Mars – a concept that didn’t exist until I learned the language for it – has changed my life. The bravado of my work in astrology is part of that journey. My Mars feeds and propels my larger purpose, the part of me that vibrates through my Pisces Sun. Before accessing my Mars, my purpose was stagnant.
Once you start to know the language, which takes time, patience, and a beginner’s mind, you begin to see how the various parts of astrology (signs, planets, energies in the air, the story of your chart) can be woven into the fabric of your lived experience in a practical, relevant, helpful way. Astrology is truly a toolkit, and your chart is a road map within that larger kit.
The gift of understanding #2: You come closer to intuiting the essential truth of your life’s journey and that which is indestructibly beautiful about yourself.
3. The beginning of understanding this is knowing that You Are All 12 Signs!
This was a real mindblower for me (and most newcomers) because pop culture has trained us to just think about Sun Signs. Your chart actually has all twelve signs because it’s a map of the entire sky the moment you were born and the sun was only in one of the twelve signs. Each of the twelve signs is a different part of self and speaks to ways of being a human being, reflected by nature, of which we are a part. Your Moon, your Venus, your Mars, are all in various signs, which bring out particular gifts, blocks, and stories, visible in the chart. Like facets of a crystal, so the signs are all facets of who you are.
By consciously connecting to every facet, then, you wake up and speak to the part of you that is that sign. This feels like breathing fresh life into parts of self that you avoid, feel you lack, or otherwise don’t do enough.
Here’s the deal: one of the greatest obstacles you have to contentment is that you fall too quickly, too soon, into playing only a handful of roles in your life. Your chart tells another story. Astrology tells another story. When you learn the teachings of each of the planets and signs, you start to embody their unique tools. This is a big thing I do for myself and others, and it changes lives.
One of the ways I bring this concept into my life in a routine way is by working with the lunar cycle year-round. Lunar cycles begin at the new moon, when the sun and moon are in the same sign in the sky. Thus, you can consider each new moon an initiation into that sign’s teachings for you. A new moon in Aquarius wakes up the part of you that is Aquarius, and so on. At each new moon, I journal, create ritual, and set intentions for the coming 28 days to help me embody that sign and live it in a way that will help me evolve.
At the end of 12 months, it’s possible then to feel like you’ve reconnected to all parts of yourself. Working with the moon now sets the rhythm of my life, which not only brings me into intimacy with more parts of me, but also gives much more momentum to my goals.
The gift of understanding #3: You allow yourself to expand into all corners of your being and live in more radiant flow.
4. Astrology is neutral, and thus all signs, planets, and charts are neutral.
There is no good or bad. We can have compassion for ourselves for wanting to assign good and bad to things because we were all raised with the binary and taught to embrace dualities. This is not how I practice astrology, and I encourage you to avoid astrologers who do.
Rather, there are skillful and not skillful expressions of astrology. Everything plays on a spectrum here. You express your Leo, or act your Moon, or handle the current energies, in ways falling somewhere along the line of skillful and not skillful.
What’s the difference? To be “not skillful” means to be operating from a fear-based perspective, which tends to gnarl signs and planets into their more wraith-like iterations.
From a Jungian perspective, you can call this your “shadow” material: the ways in which you act unconsciously from your triggers, insecurities, fears, desire to control or manipulate, and otherwise more repressed parts of self. Skillful expressions mean playing the sign or planet or astrological energies to their potential.
I don’t believe in banishing our shadow parts of self. Rather, I encourage people to ask their shadow what is wanted to be before it turned shadow.
Example: Capricorn, when expressed skillfully, is about self-mastery, discipline, and concentration for the purpose of dedicating your good work to what you want to build in the world. However, the part of us that is Capricorn is often programmed to think “good work” means something like being perfect, following rules and traditions to the book, and controlling the room with our authority. The Cap in each of you can be quite stiff and tyrannical as it struggles for perfection. Do you feel that part of you as you read this?
So, what does your shadow want to be in this case? You want to be appreciated for your hard work and achievement. So, to heal the shadow, you give your Capricorn self the opportunity to re-write the rules and traditions to best express the fact that YOU are the author of your own life. When you stop ceding the script to other author-masters, you can give your good work to what YOU care about without trying to be perfect or exhausting yourself for external validation.
This has been huge for me (Moon in Cap here!), and it all pivots around the fear of doing it wrong. That’s what you have to let go.
So, we play things skillfully or not skillfully in astrology, and this is wildly helpful.
The gift of understanding #4: There is no “scary” astrology just as there is no “bad” part of you to banish; instead, there is simply the commitment to getting more skillful at being a human being.
5. You have to receive astrology intuitively, not analytically.
If you’ve stayed with me this long, chances are that my words are lighting things up for you intuitively, not analytically. Maybe both.
We have two radio antennae for receiving and making information: the analytical brain and the intuitive mind. When you try to receive things analytically, you are trying to process, categorize, memorize, and make logical everything you hear. This is exhausting and not at all helpful. Why not? Because you’re leveling all the information to the same degree of importance and thus missing out on what’s just for you in that moment.
When you listen intuitively, you feel, sense, and then know what is here for you. You trust that you will come to what you most need and then leave the rest behind. It’s about attunement. “This is for me. This is not for me. I know what I need from this.”
While some people are more gifted than others, we are all intuitive. Tapping into and growing my intuition has changed my life more than anything actually, even more than astrology. Learning to trust that I have my own answers underneath the nattering on of other people’s opinions and my own anxious thoughts has given me more self-trust and self-esteem. Our answers come to us intuitively once we’ve learned to quiet the analyzer. We sense and we know. It’s about tuning in, noticing, and following the essence of that energetic truth.
The gift of understanding #5: Having the confidence that you can receive astrological horoscopes, forecasts, and readings (as well as any advice from anyone ever) without the risk of having your power taken away.
So, on an intuitive level, I invite you to now notice how you feel about astrology compared to how you felt about it before reading this. What did you learn here? What concepts will you now commit to weaving into your life? What are your questions? What are your concerns? Let’s talk about it!
If you’re willing to play with me, and explore the possibility that learning more about astrology or your chart might be helpful, please follow me at @brittenlarue on Instagram and subscribe to my newsletter. I’d love to hear from you personally as well! You can contact me directly here. For help with setting intentions and visioning 2020, please check out my workbook Seeding the Year.
Britten LaRue is a Dallas native and Hockaday graduate with an MA in Art History from SMU. She is a life coach working from the perspective of alternative healing traditions, and blends astrology, the tarot, energy healing, shamanic journeying, and guided meditations to help clients de-program from unhelpful conditioning and remember their indestructible, beautiful, primal essence. Britten blends her academic standards for excellence with the wisdom of her life experience, including grief, trauma, addiction, motherhood, sexuality, and divorce.