I followed a different horoscope every day for a week and it bullshat on my soul
Hopes&Fears challenged a spiritually cynical writer to live by a different horoscope every day for a week. This is his story.
I hate it when people tell me I am a typical Sagittarius. First of all, I see through your facade and can tell when you're calling me a jerk. Secondly, being born in December isn’t why I am a jerk. Chemical imbalances and a childhood that primed me to be defensive is why I am a jerk. It has offended me to imply that the reason I get so defensive is related to astrology, because that erases my experiences from my personality while also taking credit for them. Oh really? My Mars is in Aries? Get bent.
But hey, maybe I am wrong! Maybe there is something to this. For the week leading up to my 27th birthday, I tried to live my life taking cues from my horoscope.
December 8th, 2015
Sinking into the depths of your feelings may be necessary to release a negative charge that has turned into an unhealthy anchor. You might assume you can just cut an emotional tie that binds you and be free of it once and for all — but it’s never quite that simple. This unconventional strategy isn’t about making a quick escape; instead, seek ways to add more passion into your life. Fortunately, you receive more cosmic inspiration today by irrepressible Uranus as it invites you to explore life’s mysteries. Spontaneous expression is your friend.
I woke up to a text from my sister asking how I felt about starting physical therapy later that day. I have two bulging discs in my neck. I understand that experiencing emotions is an important part of living a rich and fulfilling life and all that bullshit, but talking about my feelings is not going to fix my neck. Making art. Going on dates. Watching Toy Story 3. These are all things that can only be done properly while fully immersed in emotion—which there is a time and place for—but if left out all the time emotions risk being tripped over. Until I need to rewatch the last episode of The Office and have a good cry, I will keep my emotional side in a safe place until I need to use it, like a hammer.
I have never done physical therapy because I’ve never been this injured before. The doctor asked how I hurt my neck, so I said “I dunno” while avoiding eye contact, as if telling the truth might prompt him to call my mother. The session was alienating and consisted of repeated movements that seemed incapable of fixing my spine. I started to feel anxious before I reminded myself that feelings equal hammer, and assured myself that circling my head with my hand will be an adept substitute for invasive surgery.
When I left the office, I went left instead of right. This was my spontaneous expression. There was a park a few blocks from my apartment, and in the entire year I have lived in this neighborhood I have never explored it. Past its border are dirt trails that lead to these giant cliffs directly above Harlem River Drive. From up there, I could see empty beer bottles and a few used condoms, but I could also see the Hudson River, Yankee Stadium, and a cityscape of The Bronx that is more short grey buildings than tall shiny ones, and yet is just as beautiful. It is a shame that it took me so long to get out there, but I felt more calm than regret.
December 9th, 2015
Your feelings may be hurt today as unkind words are thrown at you by someone who’s trying to manipulate your loyalties. Normally, you would laugh, let this negativity go and move on. However, the Moon’s return to your sign heightens your sensitivity, inspiring you to respond with sincerity even while maintaining a non-judgmental attitude. Meanwhile, Mercury shifts into a cautious Capricorn tonight, teaching you an important lesson about the virtue of patience if you’re willing to listen.
Doing bookkeeping for an arts nonprofit isn’t exactly the backstabbing primetime soap opera world my horoscope had predicted for the day, which is exactly why I like doing accounting. It is objective. Numbers are numbers. However, it can get emotional. A rent invoice was accidentally sent to someone who was moving out at the end of the month, and they wrote me an email asking if I was keeping their deposit. My horoscope felt inaccurate, but I was possibly being closed-mind and should have looked harder. It seems as if this is something I should not be trying to look for, as I believe it is better to be vulnerable to manipulation than it is to live in fear and second guess the intentions of those close to you.
Once the sun started to go down I closed my laptop and got on the floor to do my physical therapy. Being injured is a constant urgence. It is pain, your body telling you something is wrong and you need to fix it immediately, and you carry it with you everywhere all day. It’s not crippling, but the pain is like a metronome in the back of my neck keeping time and never allowing me to be in silence.
I set an alarm on my phone for an hour and put it away to focus on my stretches and little movements. My favorite is the one from yesterday that I mentioned earlier when I rotate my hand around my head. It reminds me of when a cartoon character gets hit with an anvil, and instead of death they get a parade of birds circling their face. Doing this, I thought about whether or not someone was plotting to take advantage of my emotions, or what lessons of patience doing accounting could have taught me. It seemed vague and, overall, my day seemed inconsequential.
December 10th, 2015
Sun in Sagittarius square Chiron in Pisces; Mercury enters Capricorn
The Sun represents our identity. Chiron represents the wound that will never heal but that can constantly inform us. Painfully present in this moment in time is the archetype of the wounded self gone awry.
What makes someone pick up a gun and harm others? What is happening in us when we think violence is the only answer or the only way through the pain we feel? What wound are we carrying, each one of us, that could make us cause harm. Each of us carries with us the potential to heal and the potential to harm. None of us are exempt from this. None of us are above this.
All of us have the responsibility to extend ourselves to help, love and create space for justice in our lives, in our communities and in our world. If we can choose the path of healing, if we are able to make that choice, this is the time to choose it.
Later in the month (December 19th) Mercury will conjoin Pluto and square Uranus (December 20th). This means that there is a lot of revolutionary, revealing and deepening communications to come. Stay tuned…
After receiving multiple recommendations, I decided to try out astrology guru Chani Nicholas's predictions. His are more communal as opposed to individualist, so instead of personal divination it is an analysis of the sky’s influence on the world.
That night, I was to have dinner with Sara. Sara had recently moved back to New York when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She was living in Detroit and working as a photographer until a year ago when her body mysteriously started to turn on her. We were best friends in high school, and now we are both in New York worrying about our bodies slowly falling apart, although her ailments are far more serious and not self-inflicted from trying to lift weights with her neck.
Multiple sclerosis can’t be cured, only managed. Sara was telling me what foods help inflammation and what foods make it worse, to which I responded with “Oh, very interesting I should see if that helps with my spine,” as I shoved a burrito into my mouth and ordered a side of nachos. After dinner I went to the gym, because I guess I was curious to see what it would be like to have a pre-workout of Mexican food, an espresso, and 2 light beers.
I exercised until it hurt too much. Not the numbing endorphin-filled good pain that a trip to the gym can provide, but a sharp pain. The doctor had said exercising was fine, but here I was in pain unsure if I was being a baby or if I was trap bar shrugging myself into a wheelchair. So I went home and collapsed to my floor somewhat voluntarily in an attempt to do some physical therapy, which I neglected to do prior to the gym because Mexican food. After about the halfway mark I stopped.
Chani’s horoscope focused on the permeating negativity in our world and ended on a hopeful note of healing. I want to heal, but what is that? I still do not even know if I can get my spine back to normal. All the things a younger me would call “healing,” I now call “maintenance.”
December 11th, 2015
Finding no solace in a lot of the overarching charts, I decided to delve into my birth chart, another concept that was suggested to me by several friends. Everyone was happy that I was opening up, but their suggestions were that I follow an elaborate chart derived from the year, time of day, latitude and longitude of my birth. It made me feel like how I felt in high school when I would say I listened to Sonic Youth, and then someone on a message board would tell me that what I really needed to hear was this weird record of saxophone screeching from 1978.
I have no idea what the fuck I am supposed to do with this, or how to use it while going Christmas shopping. Grocery shopping. Answering emails on my phone. Reading a book on the subway. A guy got on my train in the 10 nonstop minutes between 125th and 59th and started talking about conspiracies. 9/11. AIDS. The moon landing. Kennedy getting shot. The Constitution. They’re all connected, apparently, though I don’t get how.
December 12th, 2015
If a peaceful day of rest was on your agenda today, Sagittarius, you better get out your eraser and revise a few things. Although your day may start out casually with a calm and settled tone, it can quickly become quite hectic and demanding. Even though you may not have thought you wanted a quiet day, you will quickly become drawn into the events and activities that happen. This is good because an opportunity is coming your way that will require your enthusiasm and your stamina. By tomorrow, you may be able to get some of that rest you were planning on.
DailyHoroscope iOS app
I had a very busy day planned the night before, down to the half hour. But my day started with me sleeping in two hours and then not getting out of bed until I had been away for another three. At first, I thought I was hungover, but I quickly realized that I haven’t drank alcohol in days and that I was actually paralyzingly depressed, which is actually a lot like being hungover in some ways; it’s often a coming out party for the things you thought you could keep in your stomach when you went to bed.
I was supposed to see my friends. I didn’t. I was supposed to get some work done. I didn’t. I was supposed to do my therapy, and that is two days in a row now that I had skipped it. There was also a bus I was supposed to catch as my leftover schedule from last night had me leaving right after midnight to catch a bus to my mother’s house to go Christmas tree shopping in the morning with her and my sister. There is a farm in upstate New York my family goes to every year to pick up our Christmas tree. Generally, I dislike farms. I think if humans were made to stay in nature we wouldn’t have left it in the first place. If my species has evolved to the point where wheat gluten has become the new ipecac syrup then maybe it would best if we all just stayed in Manhattan. It used to be my father’s job to complain about Christmas and temper everyone’s enthusiasm, but now it is mine.
At around midnight I found myself cursing two guys dressed up as Santa Claus as they stole the only available cab from me. I settled in a bar a few blocks away, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a miniature room and eighty drunken Santa Clauses. A famous seasonal bar crawl, SantaCon, was that day, and I sat at the bar until close. Sure, maybe some of those people are kind and charitable, yet I would safely bet that if you feel comfortable dressing as Santa and being drunk in public then you probably are not the type of person who feels comfortable lending some of their agency to the stars and Universe.
SantaCon makes me feel as if I am being haunted by the ghost of Christmas Past, and it has taken the form of dudes whose body language makes me feel uncomfortable. Since getting myself to do anything today took so long I decided to pull an overnight as opposed to go back to my apartment and wake-up early. I will make it upstate.
December 13th, 2015
Others may assume that you are in a bad mood today because you are so focused on your work. To others you may appear to be cold or gruff or out of sorts, and you may have to respond to many questions about that. If you react in a way that conveys interruption or frustration or impatience, you will only score what they already think. If you take a moment to react thoughtfully, though, others will catch on to your diligent efforts and your concentrated mindset and will leave you in your business.
DailyHoroscope iOS app
I leave the bar at 5 in the morning with pain shooting down my back and arms all over again. The bus back to my mother’s didn’t get there until noon, so I took an earlier bus to the halfway point and attempted to hitchhike the rest of the way back. I have done this before, but only at an hour with an abundance of stoned teenagers on the road, which, from my research, makes up 100% demographic of people who pick up hitchhikers. There weren't too many of them in upstate New York on a Sunday morning, so I tried to sober up on the shoulder of the Orange Turnpike with some coffee until eventually calling for a ride.
Hours later and still having not slept, I dragged the tree into the house and fit it into the mount, which involved a lot more sawing and wrenching then I remember from watching my father do it. I remember he would get down on his knees and then back to his feet through groans and gritted teeth. When I was growing up, all the men in my life laboured when they moved. They said this is what happens when you get older. They said this is what happens when you do stupid shit when you are younger. I am still unclear if these two warnings are actually the same.
I never thought this would be me, but I feel crippled by the weight of my own idiocracy, and all the things it has done to my body, and every decision I make coming with the additional question of, “Will this make it better or worse?” For example, putting all my weight on one elbow and both my knees while twisting my torso so I am upside down so I can better wrench in a Christmas tree: better or worse?
When I was done, my mother commented that I grunted and swore as much as my father did when he did work around the house. Fantastic.
December 14th, 2015
If you review a certain memory too many times, you could wind up playing the “what if” game incessantly. There is no shortage of answers to the question “what might have been?” The problem with that, thought, is that we have no way of knowing how things would have worked out if only this or that or the other had not happened the way it did. Don’t drive yourself crazy going over something you have no power to change. Leave the past in the past today, and focus on the present and the future. That’s where your moment of shining abundance and great prosperity is waiting.
DailyHoroscope iOS app
My neck was much worse. My entire upper back felt so tense I couldn’t tell if my posture was straight or hunched over. My hands felt weird, as I was unable to tell if it was from my spine or just fear. My day was spent propped up my pillows in bed trying not to move as I worked on my laptop. The next day was my 27th birthday.
The future feels different than it used to. It always felt like the present but with more; my life continuing to get better or worse depending on my mood at the time. For the first time, the future feels like a deterioration, as if my age is a time bomb, and I am worried that instead of an explosion, a sight, it will open up limply to reveal a handwritten note reading “bang” as if I am some shitty Batman villain. It would be nice to go into this scary new future with some faith, any faith, to keep me company.
I went into this experiment hoping that it would open me up to a world less literal and utilitarian than the one I am used to. Maybe I did it wrong and I should have looked for meaning harder. I hope it isn’t the case that I am too closed-minded to learn anything, but if that isn’t the case then what I am left with? I don’t want to be right, because if the person who knows best is me, then I am left right where I am now, injured in bed huddled around a laptop under my covers as if this is how a healthy person lives their life. There is either something or nothing, and I really want there to be something, but so far all I can believe is there is nothing. But if I am to leave the past in the past, as suggested, then I am going to have to go against what I have always believed.
Edited and produced by Mike Sheffield