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Cosmically Speaking,
an essay on the power of astrology
by Holley M. Kholi-Murchison

Shall we start with the elephant in the room?

We can’t begin to have a serious discussion about astrology, if we don’t first discuss why some feel they can’t take astrology seriously.

You may be one of the some referenced above thinking:

“I don’t believe in this stuff.”

“It’s not really science, I need concrete proof.”

“Horoscopes for my prescribed sign are never accurate for me.”

“Astrology is offensive to God.”

And I hear you. There was a point where I questioned it, too. I believe it’s important and healthy for us to interrogate things. Not to debunk them for debunking’s sake, but to seek understanding and from there, make informed choices that hopefully add texture and value to our lives and the lives of those we engage in relationships with.

I started interrogating astrology when I was 13. I had a pretty colorful (read: tumultuous) childhood that awakened my interest in and commitment to self-development fairly early, and astrology helped scratch the itch, if you will. Most mornings on my way to school, I would stop at the bodega across the street from my apartment building, hover over the newspaper rack, scan the table of contents in the New York Daily News, and flip through the pages until I landed in the horoscope section on my Sun sign. Virgo. That’s me.

I would savor every word of the bite-sized insights, searching for myself within them. For me, it was more than a forecast of what the day might hold for me and millions of Virgos around the world. Without a formal understanding of what astrology really was at the time, I intuitively treated the horoscope like part of a Morse code that when interpreted with all of its moving parts, had the potential to reveal a rooted truth that could inspire change or growth within me. I was at least a decade away from learning just how many parts I was missing but the mystery of it was enough to satisfy my teenage curiosity. If what I read didn’t resonate, I critiqued it ungrudgingly, made note of why, and tried again the next day. And when it did resonate, I would invest the 13 cents to buy a copy of the newspaper to bring to school and discuss it at lunch with my best friend Patience, a fellow Virgo who I’m still friends with over 20 years later. When there was mutual resonance, it allowed us the space to get to know each other better and opened up vulnerable dialogue about our desires, shortcomings, insecurities, and sometimes, secrets.

That ritual went on through high school but faded in my college years as I began to explore different outlets for self-discovery. Then in my mid-twenties when I started picking up books like Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication and Linda Goodman’s Star Signs (at the recommendation of my older sister Joy), I found my way back to astrology. And with the advent of Google and Internet speeds faster than the dial-up connection I was limited to in my adolescence, I had the means to dig a little deeper this time around. I couldn’t shake the idea that why we behave in the ways we do as humans is often because of our own unique wiring, innate gifts, and blind spots. It turns out the Sun sign that I was betting all my chips on in the bodega represented just one card in a much more robust hand; my natal (aka birth) chart. We all have one – cities, countries, businesses, and new projects, too. It’s an astrological blueprint of where all the planets and other elements of the solar system were in their journey around the sun, at the exact moment and location you were born. Based on how those elements interact with each other through a number of factors like houses, signs, aspects, and points, your chart can teach you about your personality traits, psychological patterns, karmic lessons, life purpose, ideal career path, and even past lives (perhaps a conversation for another time).

Though I’m not a professional astrologer, as a student of the craft, it has become my go to for getting to know and accept myself, cultivating a spiritual practice, exploring and nurturing my gifts and growing edges, strengthening my relationships, expressing my creativity without inhibition, and thriving in my pursuits.

Like the famed Enneagram and CliftonStrengths assessments that many of us apply to our day-to-day lives and work, I invite you to consider this: what if astrology, too, could be a gateway to your self-actualization and the realization of your creative potential?

Ok, but what exactly is astrology?

Without getting too technical, I see astrology as the language of the cosmos. It helps us understand our place in the universe, and our assignment(s) in this lifetime. Whether knowingly or unknowingly, it is the fabric from which our lives are woven. When we develop even a beginner’s level understanding of it, it empowers us to make more calculated decisions that can enhance or corrupt the human experience (our own and the people our lives are intertwined with).

And none of this is new. Even if varied in its approach – and believe me, there are ongoing debates about its approach – astrology has been practiced globally from ancient African civilizations to China, Medieval Europe to India, and Greece to Rome, dating as far back as the second millennium BCE with countless methods, traditions, and branches developed along the way.

Today there’s an astrological ecosystem of apps (Co-Star and Pattern may sound familiar), books, conferences, communities, podcasts, schools, research societies, federations, and certification programs that exist to help us understand what’s happening in the cosmos, how those happenings influence our experiences here on Earth (as above, so below), and integrate that knowing into our own lives so we can fulfill our individual and collective purpose, be better stewards of the world we’re inhabiting, and live more harmoniously together.

What does all of this have to do with self-actualization and creative potential? One of my favorite colloquialisms comes to mind: “If you knew better, you’d do better.” Thanks to the coaching of brilliant Black, queer, and women astrologers who I’ve sought counsel from since 2015, I’m constantly learning how to decode and apply insights from my natal chart to design and live out a Divine life where I’m equipped to surmount barriers that might otherwise inhibit me from becoming the most outstanding version of myself. These barriers have come in all shapes and sizes – some real, some imagined – like in 2017 when I was on the fence about writing my first book. I found myself shadow boxing with imposter syndrome, dodging the psychological jabs and right hooks of not good enough.

More than two decades removed from my cafeteria horoscope chats with Patience, I turned to my natal chart for clarity. I’m totally paraphrasing here but essentially, it said:

“Hey, you see these two spots right here (pointing to Mercury, the planet of communication, learning, and mental processes, and my Sun sign Virgo, known for organization, attention to detail, creating systems and processes, and the capacity to both create and carry out a plan)? The way they’re cozied up next to each other is a fantastic sign. I’ll save all the details for another time, but it means the universe has primed you to be naturally gifted at storytelling, a precise communicator, and a remarkable teacher that uses intellect to be of service to the world.

Got it? OK great. Next, take a look over here. See how Pluto is hanging out in this section? Yup, right in your third house, just waiting on you to pick up a pen and share your communication discoveries with the world. Now go write that damn book.”

My chart was absolutely right. From the time I learned how to read, I’ve been obsessed with storytelling, communication and language, seeing them as conduits for human connection across difference. I’ve always been a tactile learner and lover of systems, and structures that help with application and retention. So with a looming manuscript deadline from my publisher, sobbing my way through self-doubt, I buckled down and wrote the book. And it changed the trajectory of my life and career. I ended up spending the next three years traveling around the world speaking, creating content that’s served more than 200,000 people, and teaching my book’s methodology to help multihyphenates uncover, shape, and champion their stories and bold ideas with confidence and authenticity.

Of course, a published book is one of the sexier examples of how the application of astrology has manifested tangible results in my life. And still, looking past the material fruits of my cosmically-informed decisions, it continues to be a mirror for reflecting my potential back to me and a compass for navigating growing pains. When I take inventory of my lived experience – personally, professionally, and relationally – whether I’ve flourished, stumbled, or suffered, I’ve found evidence of it in my natal chart, every single time. I find that to be pretty damn awe-inspiring. It’s like the feeling when you check your GPS (or map, if analog is your thing) to make sure you didn’t miss your turn and realize you’re still going the right way. And in the moments where you do miss your exit, new routes emerge to get you back on track even if it means arriving a little later than you hoped.

Ok, so what next?

There’s an old mystic adage referenced in one of my favorite astrology books: “Seek ye not in the world for that which you have not found within yourself.”

My advice for “what next” is simple. Make a list of burning questions you want to explore about yourself and your creative path, get a copy of your natal chart online (there are quite a few websites that calculate them for free), and go within. As you spend time studying your chart, reflect on the patterns it brings to light and what choices you can make to uphold or undo them if unraveling feels necessary. But most importantly, turn the answers that your questions reveal into action. Is there a bold leap to take? A wrong turn you made? A new path to forge?

We’re privileged to be alive in a time where, even in spite of glaring global inequities, we still have access to tools for honing and contributing our creative gifts in ways that can both fulfill us and catalyze change. Future (and past) generations are counting on us to find our way. And if we’re willing to listen to the wisdom of the cosmos, I have a feeling we’ll be just fine. Wishing you a brilliant journey.

Holley M. Kholi-Murchison is an author, entrepreneur, and strategist. Her body of work explores the convergence of communication, culture, and continuing education to create opportunities for historically marginalized voices to thrive and fulfill their potential.

Through her creative studio and consultancy, Oratory Glory, she creates content, experiences and products that help multi-hyphenates champion their unique skills, talents, and ideas. She is also a partner at HOLI. Brands, a think tank conducting research and curating programming and content that prepares women, PoC (particularly Black, Indigenous, and Latinx), and LGBTQI communities to self-actualize.

If you liked this piece, Holley recommends you try... Ashleigh D. Johnson's weekly ZORAscope column

Colin Bedell – Queer Cosmos: The Astrology of Queer Identities & Relationships

Mecca Woods – Astrology for Happiness and Success

David Pond – Astrology & Relationships

Literally is WePresent’s slowly expanding library of written commissions by some of the best writers in the world. The hand-drawn typography on this page was created by Carmi Grau.

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