Horoscope cynics, how do you explain this?
Even if you're a sceptic, astrology can be a valuable exercise in retrospective self-awareness
Astrology is beneath me. I mean that literally, not figuratively. You see, in the printed version of this publication, astrologer Linda Shaw's horoscopes appear right beneath my column every week.
Every Sunday, my guy and I perform the exact same one-act play. I even know the script by heart. I enter stage right and join him, wherever he is, with my cup of tea and the Sunday Times. I scan the front cover and do a quick flip through the main body, making a mental note of which articles I'm going to come back to when my tea is a little cooler.
Then I turn to the Lifestyle magazine to admire the cover, and whip to the back page, to this column. Mostly to check that it's really there. Despite this being somewhere in the region of at least my four hundred and somethingest column, I still find it hard to believe that anyone would consider publishing, let alone reading me.
Once the nausea caused by my acute imposter syndrome has subsided, I offer to read our horoscopes out loud. That's when my guy grumbles something in the negative, and either leaves the room or rolls over and inserts headphones so he can drown me out with Moto GP.
At that point, I defiantly read his (not out loud, I'm just quietly defiant, not suicidal), always on the lookout for clues as to why he's so violently opposed to horoscopes, but it never says.
I also scour his blurb for other insights into what I'm in for in our week ahead. Will he still close all our jars so damn tight that I'll never get them open again? Will his whistling be in retrograde, or ascending? And is there anything happening with his Uranus? Just because I'm clearly still seven and so I find that word funny.
But inevitably I never recognise anything familiar in his stars, cos I'm not him and, eternally frustratingly, he refuses to listen up and tell me if it has a ring of truth to it.
Then I read my own horoscope. Always cynically at first, until my suspicions slowly dissolve into disbelief. Wait, Linda, how did you know that? You're right! Finances ARE giving me a headache! And my moral conscience is TOTALLY arguing with the guys in charge right now! And wait, this is crazy, but my career really IS travelling in a new direction, and I really WILL need to know how tough I can be under pressure. And that's not all, Linda, love really HAS begun to lighten the mood. What mad witchcraft is this?
But wait, hang on a minute, my cynicism creeps back in. We're in the midst of Corona-hell, surely EVERYONE'S finances are giving them a headache? And who, other than all the online alcohol delivery services out there, isn't having to look for new opportunities and "pivot" in their careers, or whatever stupid jargon-bingo term we're using for it now.
Then I whip through the other signs to see how gullible I'm being.
Nope, I'm no Gemini. Not either of them. And I recognise nothing personally familiar in Virgo. Thank goodness. I have a few Virgo friends (asterisk, asterisk, who I really love!), but they all tend to straighten up their desks too regularly for me to relate. And, nope, I'm unlikely to be as helpful to the people around me as Linda claims Cancerians are about to be.
Okay, so Libra could be just about anyone, but that's the scales for you, always fair. And thank goodness I'm not Pisces, Linda says you people have misunderstandings coming. Wait, who do I know who's a Pisces? Best to avoid them.
If I'm being honest and cynical, a lot of the money, worried about work or dealing with relationship bits could broadly apply to most people. But with that acknowledged, how do I explain that of all 12 readings, my own was by far the most relevant to my current life and times?
I've always felt astrology has something to offer in the long term as an exercise in retrospective self-awareness. The broad characteristics it turns up are often eerily recognisable over a lifetime (I'm a fire sign to my core), offering areas we can choose to work on for personal growth. But I've never put much confidence in the short-term readings.
Although my life and thoughts are so chaotic at the best of times that any opportunity to have someone tell me how I'm feeling or what to focus on should probably be welcomed. In the same way that I don't think I'm affected by a full moon, but I wouldn't rule out anything that gives me an excuse for a mood or bad behaviour, even when it's far more likely I was just overtired or hangry.
• Follow the author of this article, Paige Nick, on Twitter: @Paigen