So, everyone here knows that I work at an astrology startup for my day-job, right?
When my food blog is quiet and my newsletter is a day late (ahem, today), it’s usually because I have been in sprint mode at the astrology startup and the words are slow to arrive because they’ve been spent elsewhere.
While I don’t market myself as a practicing astrologer, I do know a lot about astrology, more than the average bear. I helped edit and launch a book on astrology; we also built an online astrology chart tool; I currently am waist-deep in a bigger project I’ll tell you more about later.
But my gripe is this. Too often, astrology is framed from the perspective of personal astrology -- a glassy-mirrored lake that one looks at their reflection in.
The individualistic framing of astrology as something that only speaks to you is not factually incorrect. Knowing your birth chart is certainly a solo affair. When used correctly, the birth chart offers a map of your life, with some shortcuts and clues to what may be hard for you, or what your gifts might be, or particular topics you’re drawn to.
When used incorrectly, astrology is used to abdicate personal responsibility onto the stars. No, Mercury isn’t retrograde, you’re just disorganized.
But personal astrology is not the whole story. The thing that I love about astrology is that, outside of personal astrology, astrology is basically a handy guide and workbook to the cycles that we are in as a community. Collectively. Societally. Astrology, to me, is best when you zoom out of your own personal drama and use it as a tool to empathize with others.
More than a study of our own personal tendencies, astrology is a study of time. It’s a study of cycles. It’s a study of the human condition within these cycles. There are no puppet strings coming down from the planets controlling or affecting your behavior -- we all have free will. It’s just a study of archetypes that we all as human beings get to experience.
I guess I love astrology for the same reason I love food: because they both are meditations on the fleeting nature of seasons.
They’re both celebration of moments, knowing good moments give way to dull moments, and banal moments eventually offer joyous moments.
It keeps me optimistic.
Without sounding too stoned, it reminds me that we’re connected to generations before us, who also looked up at the constellations in the sky, and tried to make sense of why we’re here. We have been looking up to the sky as long as humans have walked the earth. And, we have associated plants and foods ripening during certain months with what human themes might also be blossoming or ending at that time for more than 5,000 years.
And, I would argue, that food and astrology are inextricably connected.
Over the course of a year, starting with the springtime as the beginning, we associate the harvest and the foods we savor with trends as human beings. As the Sun begins to shine for more hours of the day after the spring equinox, and soft herbs and spring fruits begin to break through the soil, we have Aries and Taurus season -- the time of new beginnings and settling into the abundance of the springtime. It’s no surprise that we associate Aries with being forthright, assertive, and going first - it’s when foods appear again.
As Gemini season gives way to the summer, days peak in length. We get peaches and tomatoes and corn and zucchini and melons, we have Cancer and Leo season - the time of celebrating the ripeness of summer and initiating connections and shining as bright as you can.
As summer yields to fall, we harvest and prepare for the winter seasons with Virgo and Libra season, making sure that we have what we need for colder months. Of course, Virgo is associated with preparedness and harvest; there is a certain joy in the back-to-school pencil-sharpening preparedness of the fall.
As we move forth into the fall and the waning daylight, Scorpio and Sagittarius season are represented often by a cornucopia of autumnal foods like pumpkins and squashes - foods that stay edible over long periods of time.
And then as the days get abruptly short, we make due with what we have during Capricorn and Aquarius season and set intentions for the coming six months at the winter solstice, knowing that after Pisces season, the springtime will return again and more celebratory times will return.
How we nourish ourselves evolves with the moods and times we’re in. There are times when we are able to celebrate with a beautiful salad and a gorgeous roast and a perfect cake, and there are times when simple, basic foods sustain us.
We know that we’ll get through a tough time. Or if it’s a joyful time, we know that the joy of the moment won’t last forever, but we can savor it.
We celebrate tomato and peach season just as long as we endure kale and potato season.
Zooming out beyond the movement of the Sun through the signs, we see longer-term themes when we look at how planets with slower orbits - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune - travel through signs.
Last year we had Jupiter in Sagittarius -- a good year of an abundance of ideas and creativity and expansion. This year we have Jupiter in Capricorn -- a tougher year of limitations, struggles, and a pruning of the plants that blossomed last year.
A couple of months ago, in late May/early June, Saturn was in Aquarius while Mars was in Pisces -- and we saw the beginning of an important cultural uprising around the Black Lives Matter movement. The last time Saturn was in Aquarius and Mars was in Pisces? 1991 -- when apartheid was dismantled in South Africa and there were the riots here in LA.
We’re in cycles. History might not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.
Inspiration waxes and wanes. Foods come into season, and then out. Hard times feel really hard, but then joy comes along.
Within all of these cycles, we know there’s a beginning, middle, and an end. This incredibly tough time that started last winter will continue through the beginning of 2021. It may be hard, but we will get through it.
After all, even in the short, dark days of winter, we still get the thrill of citrus season.