Ancient in origin, astrology can be traced back to the Babylonians who are generally credited with the first organised astrology which they developed alongside astronomy (the two were only later gradually separated into individual fields of study.) Fierce feminists and friends Jessica Lanyadoo and Annabel Gat are accomplished astrologers using social media and the internet to make the art accessible today.¬†Based in San Francisco, Jessica holds Skype sessions with clients as far away from her office as Fiji or Jakarta. Her horoscopes you might have read on STYLECASTER, Oyster or Rookie. Annabel, based in New York, writes daily and monthly¬†horoscopes for VICE’s Broadly. She¬†has written on subjects like¬†the future of One Direction¬†for MTV, and knows you’ve always wanted an¬†astrological breakdown of Games of Thrones characters. Depending on how seriously you take your pop culture, these headlines perhaps belie the years of study, logic and maths that goes into becoming an astrologer. And, while snippets about your sun sign (often mistakenly referred to as ‘star signs’) are fun to decipher, both Annabel and Jessica encourage you to take these with a pinch of salt. Your birth chart is so much more than just your date of birth and Jessica urges her readers to approach these newspaper predictions with a whole lotta common sense.¬†In previous interviews¬†Annabel has explained¬†that astrology is not a belief system: “Do not believe in astrology and definitely don‚Äôt believe in astrologers ‚Äî they are just people. Use astrology as a tool for self discovery but don‚Äôt expect it to save you.” ¬†
It’s this tell it like it is approach that is resonating with people across the net. For the time they spend studying the stars, the duo are hella down to earth, and they won’t dumb things down. Together they run a web series called Astrology for Days¬†where they interpret the position of the planets, but more importantly share a message of¬†self-awareness and self care, touching on issues like gender and depression in a way that is smart, funny and relevant. Both are working to change outdated language and stereotypes in texts about astrology to be more inclusive, and work to promote the achievements¬†of fellow female astrologers.
On her website, in an article titled Astrology: What is it good for?,¬†Jessica writes,¬†”Astrology, when used responsibly, is an excellent tool for understanding people! When dumbed down it can read like generic quackery, but when you stumble upon the real deal it is life affirming and helpful. A real ‚ÄúYou‚Äôre OK, I‚Äôm OK‚Äù kind of thing…It’s dope AF.”
What was your first attraction to astrology?¬†
Jessica: I was never not into astrology! I got my first book on the subject for my 12th birthday, and I studied that thing like it was my job. I don‚Äôt know what pulled me into astrology, but I‚Äôve never had any doubt about what I would do with my life since I found it.
Annabel:¬†Between loving mythology and being interested in exploring myself, astrology was a natural thing for me to explore in middle school, I loved it!
How are you bringing astrology into the 21st century?
Jessica: I have an audio book coming out that I‚Äôm really excited about, called Relationships 101, Your Astrological Guide To Doing Relationships Right. It‚Äôs what I believe will be a very helpful tool for lovers and haters of all persuasions.
Annabel: ¬†One of my favorite astrology books is Linda Goodman‚Äôs Love Signs. It‚Äôs fantastic and I recommend it to all newbie astrologers; however, it‚Äôs so dated around gender roles in relationships. One of the ways I‚Äôm bringing astrology into the 21st century is by updating that kind of language.
The internet plays a role in influencing culture. Have you noticed an influence on the perception of astrology?¬†
The Internet has allowed emerging voices in the field to self-publish, and that has been great for all of us! Now you can read countless blogs and horoscopes, written from all kinds of astrologers, and not just serious books or forecasts in the back of fashion magazines.
Annabel:¬†Yes, on many levels. Because it‚Äôs easier to calculate a chart on a website than by hand, it‚Äôs opened up the study of astrology to many math-phobic people. On another level, the Witch House [music] scene led to a goth revival with led to a renewed interest in the occult and astrology, which certainly is thanks to the internet.
How do you understand astrology‚Äôs relationship with pop culture?¬†
Jessica: Pop culture is meant to amuse people in an engaging way, and while horoscopes do that, the good ones also help, instruct, and support. Horoscopes hit the sweet spot between entertainment and realness, and that‚Äôs a perfect marriage, if I ever heard of one.
Annabel:¬†I love looking at how fads line up with the movement of the planets ‚Äî it‚Äôs so funny how the mythology plays out in pop culture. But, I‚Äôm not sure if that‚Äôs what you‚Äôre asking? Astrology is fun, pop culture is fun ‚Äî combining the two is always hilarious.
Why is it important to you to make astrology accessible?
Jessica: I‚Äôm interested in sneak-attacking high-value, self-help healing concepts into fun, easy to digest tidbits. Astrology isn‚Äôt a belief system, and it doesn‚Äôt have any one set of spiritual values that it espouses. It‚Äôs a tool that works really well, and the more tools that people have to live well, the better we all are.
Annabel:¬†Hmm‚Ä¶ I don‚Äôt think I want to make astrology too accessible. I want to make it accessible enough that a newbie‚Äôs interest is piqued, then I want them to go nuts researching their birth chart on their own‚Äî making your own discoveries about yourself is the best¬†part of this! I wouldn‚Äôt want to take that away from anyone.
How did you find each other and decide to work together?
Jessica: Ahhhh; the Promance of a lifetime!
We met in a swimming pool at an astrology conference and adored each other on the spot. As our friendship grew, we discovered that we shared values as astrologers and feminists, and so coming together on Astrology For Days was a natural progression.
Annabel: The conference was at a hotel that had a waterslide. We were the only two cool people there who enjoyed the waterslide, so we naturally formed an alliance.
Could you speak about the ties between feminism and astrology and the work you‚Äôve both done to promote inclusivity in the practise?
Jessica: I work full-time with clients from all over the world, and my values as a feminist allow me to read charts without outdated assumptions around gender or sexuality. Some men need an emotional connection to have good sex, and some women can hit it and quit it, and that 411 is in the birth chart! I’ve lectured extensively, including speaking at both of the Queer Astrology Conferences in San Francisco, and have found that my feminist lens has allowed me to speak more authentically to the felt experience that people have and not just their ideas about themselves.
Annabel:¬†If a man likes astrology, he is eccentric, if a woman likes astrology, she‚Äôs not taken very seriously‚Äî both in, and outside, the astrology community. I started a group called the Hypatia Group that celebrates women identified astrologers, both professional and students of astrology‚Äî community is so important.
If we gaze into the future of the human race it‚Äôs not far until we see humans living on Mars or other planets, what do you imagine this could mean for us astrologically? What could Earth being retrograde mean?¬†
Jessica: I‚Äôm such a Capricorn that I‚Äôm lacking in imagination on this; Annabel?
Annabel:¬†Your location at your time of birth is a huge factor in your natal chart, so being born on a different planet would certainly shake things up! We could use a heliocentric chart for whatever other planet we‚Äôre living on in this solar system and retrogrades don‚Äôt exist in heliocentric charts.
What are you asked most? And if you were Google, what would you number one search result for this be?¬†
Jessica: I don‚Äôt have a single question that I‚Äôm asked most, but the top few are about love ‚Äì how to get it or keep it going strong ‚Äì and questions about relationships in general, mental health, or how to manage anxiety or depression, how to map out a career path, and issues relating to bereavement.¬† I work with so many people that the Qs I run into run¬†the gamut, but at the end of the day, everyone wants to know how they can avoid pain and attain whatever it is that they think will make them happy.
Annabel:¬†Q: ‚ÄúDo you really believe in astrology?‚Äù A: ‚ÄúAstrology isn‚Äôt a religion or something to ‚Äúbelieve‚Äù in, it‚Äôs an art and a way to look at the world.”
What would you say is the best app for communicating online for each sun sign?¬†
Aries ‚Äì Tumbler because getting lost down the rabbit hole is super exciting!
Taurus ‚Äì Pinterest to visually organize all the food and things they‚Äôre gonna buy one day
Gemini ‚Äì Twitter; it‚Äôs so energizing and wordy!
Cancer ‚Äì Facebook cuz your whole family is on it. Hi Grandma!
Leo ‚Äì YouTube. Lookit me ma, I‚Äôm on TV!
Virgo ‚Äì plain old email is just fine
Libra ‚Äì Pinterest to make mood boards for everything
Scorpio ‚Äì Snapchat cuz it disappears & u get to be secretive
Sagittarius¬†‚ÄìInstagram because it‚Äôs so visionary!
Capricorn– LinkedIn; you‚Äôd better work-work-work-work-work
Aquarius¬†‚Äì Facebook because of all the groups
Pisces ‚Äì Instagram ‚Äì look at all the pretty pics!