Editor's note: Andrea Hannah is teaching a virtual workshop on our online members' area at 5pm on 27 April 2022. In this astrology workshop for beginners, Andrea will bust myths about pop astrology and the zodiac signs, and discuss the celestial bodies and how they can influence your writing practice to help you create to your fullest potential. Cynics welcome!
Salon membership is just £12 per year on top of a regular print subscription, and with dozens of events slated in the coming months, it's the best money you'll spend on your writing this year. Join here!
There are a lot of reasons to be sceptical of astrology. From the vague horoscopes in the back of cheap gossip magazines to self-proclaimed astrologers tweeting that every Aries is about to inherit a small fortune, it can be hard to trust the stars to tell you, well, anything. But even if you’re a lifelong cynic, embracing the cosmos can still help your writing by shining a light on your strengths and weaknesses and teaching you how to leverage both to improve your craft.
At its core, astrology is simply another language: a translation of planetary movements to create meaning and understanding in our lives. It’s the language of ourselves, as told through the filter of the zodiac. And, like all language, it’s at its best when it peels back our surface layers to show us something profound about who we are.
And it’s not like this practice is new, although the astro-boom on the internet in the past five years would have us believe otherwise. In truth, astrology has been a well-respected science and art throughout history – one that was undertaken by scholars and scientists like Galileo Galilei. Its known origin dates back thousands of years, although some historians think the moon cycle may have been tracked even earlier. All this is to say: as a form of language, astrology has managed to shed light on our values, motivation, and creativity for millennia.
Asking the right questions
The first question most writers ask during a private astrology consultation is this: ‘Are the stars aligned for me to publish my work?’
It’s a valid question, one I asked myself often during a seven-year dry spell between book contracts. In fact, it’s that very question that led me deeper into the sacred arts. But after studying the stars for over a decade, and through hundreds of private consultations with writers, I’ve come to realise we’ve all been asking the wrong question when it comes to our cosmic blueprint. What we should be asking is: ‘What can the stars tell me about who I am as a writer – and a person?’
The beauty of astrology is that once we gain these insights, we can then choose what to do with that information. For example, if I read a writer’s natal chart and discover that there isn’t much stable and structured Capricorn energy, we can brainstorm ways to build a solid routine and a series of rituals to help ground them, in turn making them feel prepared to write. Writers can learn to leverage their cosmic strengths, bring to light unconscious weaknesses, and then actively change course to create the kind of radical art they’ve always wanted to make.
By the time a writer has come to me, they’ve probably experienced a few artistic disappointments, whether a smattering of rejection letters, a cutting critique from a reader, or just the overwhelming sense of ‘Is this worth it?’
Writing – particularly for publication – can often feel a bit like being a dead leaf caught in a windstorm. But the planets aren’t as precarious as the wind. They’re methodical, patient, plodding and predictable. And so once you know the language they speak, you can leverage their placements and movements to help you create lasting change in your writing life. The real question has never been whether the stars will allow us to have writing success: it’s whether we’ll allow ourselves to have it.
Your own star chart
To get a sense of our day-to-day beliefs, preferences and potential pitfalls, we look to the celestial bodies closest to us. The inner planets – Mercury, Venus, Mars – reflect our communication style, values and motivation. The luminaries – our sun and moon – represent both our external and internal lives. Put all of these puzzle pieces of information together and you can create a pretty solid blueprint of how you tick as a human and writer, then use that information to create the writing life you’ve always wanted.
To get started, you’ll need your date and location of birth, as well as your exact time of birth. You can pull up a free natal chart at a number of sites, including astro.com and astro-charts.com. Look for your sun, moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars, and which of the 12 zodiac signs each celestial body falls under. You can read up on the generalities of your planet’s signs anywhere on the internet, but this is where we’ll unpack how each of these planets affects you as a writer.
In traditional astrology, your sun sign is shorthand for your personality and the ways in which you express yourself to the world. As a writer, the sun represents how you provide life to your audience. What is it about your work that reaches out and warms your readers? What about it encourages them to unfurl themselves from the soil and grow?
Maybe, as a Gemini sun, you offer inventive stories that pique their curiosity. As a Pisces sun, your enchanting, lyrical writing may act as a portal for readers to escape reality. The options are endless, really, and require a bit of reflection.
Our moon doesn’t have its own source of light; it reflects sunlight on its craterous surface, giving us the illusion of the phases. Similarly, the moon represents our inner life, or the parts of us we feel deeply yet remain unseen. While our sun sign is how we light up our readers, the moon is how we satisfy ourselves in our creative work. It represents that deep yearning we feel to express, explore and connect. The zodiac sign our moon falls in gives us a hint into how we can find more emotional satisfaction in our work.
As a Scorpio moon, you may be someone who loves to write about the darker side of life: the parts of ourselves we hide in the shadows. If your moon is in fiery Aries, however, you may thrive when writing strong, bold characters or by pioneering new ways of thinking.
As the fastest moving planet in our solar system, Mercury represents the lightning-quick speed in which ideas and people can move. It’s our planet of communication, thinking and movement. It rules writing, listening, speaking, travel, technology and more. That’s why you’ll often see memes about Mercury retrograde – the three-week period that occurs multiple times a year where Mercury appears to be moving backwards in the night sky. It rules so much of daily modern life that its retrograde period has become something to fear.
I’ll be real with you: Mercury retrograde can be challenging, especially if it activates other aspects in your chart. That said, we also get a say in how we handle the way we communicate with the world as writers and creatives. Your Mercury sign shows how you can be more conscious with your communication, which will help you keep on writing during retrograde periods.
In traditional astrology, Venus is our planet of love and beauty, and that still holds true when looking at it through the lens of writing. Venus is like a magnet, attracting experiences that reflect our deepest values while giving us the opportunity to put them on display. The zodiac sign of your Venus gives you a hint as to how to present your work so that it’s most appealing – to both you and your reader. A Venus in effervescent Gemini may signal a writer who can show off their skills with quick-witted dialogue, while a Venus in earthy Taurus may give you the nod to write exposition that engages the reader’s senses.
Mars is the planet of war and aggression, but it also represents our motivation and willpower. Understanding your Mars sign keys you into your personal power – both where it comes from and how you can access it. You know that fire-in-the-belly feeling you get when you really have to buckle down and get something done? That’s Mars in action, and you can access that power at any time.
ANDREA HANNAH is an author and astrologer based in the US. She teaches courses on understanding the creative process through the esoteric, and her work has appeared in Bustle, Elite Daily, Thrive Global, HuffPost and more. She is the author of the upcoming book, Maker’s Guide to Magic: How to Use Tarot, Astrology and Other Oracles to Unlock Your Creativity (Macmillan, 2023). You can find her on socials @andeehannah and www.andreahannah.com.