It was Sunday night over a roast chicken that my friend Alice Bell — 27, ex-Vogue fashion assistant and resident astrologer for the magazine — pulled out her iPhone and demanded three pieces of information from my astro-sceptic boyfriend. “Date, time and place of birth, please.”
These are all you need to create an accurate astrological birth chart on astro.com, designed to show you who you are — past, present and future. Anyone can make one — you just type in the information — but not everyone can read the complex map of lines, circles and shapes.
Alice, who quit her day job to practise astrology full-time last year, can. After having her birth chart read as part of a therapy session in 2016, she started teaching herself through books, the internet and practice on friends (like me). Now she has a waiting list of 18 to 35-year-olds wanting to speak to her, and brands such as H&M pay for her to work at their events.
“My clients are 98 per cent young women,” she tells me. “They always want to know when they are going to find love. The few men that see me want to focus on work and money.”
Not everyone can read the complex map of lines, circles and shapes.
Her usual one-on-one fee is $163. That’s waived for us, which is good news because my boyfriend would never pay for something so woo-woo. Yet even he was impressed (read: slightly disturbed) by how accurate the facts that Alice reeled off about him were; most impressively, the exact date that he and I met.
She read my chart too. Of course, Alice knows me, but we only met a couple of years ago. She didn’t know that I had an awful trip to South America during university or that I spent a lot of happy time in Boston with my mother as a teenager. So when she pointed out terrible chart lines through the former and great ones through the latter it seemed to be more than coincidence.
I wasn’t surprised — I buy into anything spiritual. I’ve got crystals at home and raced to have Alice read my chart when she told me she had learnt how to. Most of my girlfriends share the hobby. As teenagers we would read out to each other the monthly predictions at the back of Cosmopolitan. That developed into a daily exercise through our early twenties as we dealt with heartache, job-hunting and the boiler breaking on the last day of the month (ah, Mercury in retrograde — again!).
Now most of us have had our birth charts read and can tell you exactly what this month’s new moon in Aquarius means (spoiler: it’s all change, people). I like to read my horoscope every day. Co-Star is the go-to app for this; it generates your birth chart, then feeds you daily tailored horoscopes.
She has a waiting list of 18- to 35-year-olds wanting to speak to her, and brands such as H&M pay for her to work at their events.
I’ve even sent friends who are dealing with a personal crisis to Alice. To fans, astrology is akin to therapy, she says, which has made it so popular in my generation. “It gives you reason for your emotions. It explains why you feel a certain way and why your life has taken a certain path. It offers reassurance.”
My friend Hannah, 24, agrees. “The more stressed I am, the more I want to read my horoscope — it gives me a sense of clarity,” she says.
I think it’s because we’re a bunch of control freaks too. We’re often described as being dull, so it stands to reason that we want to know why things are happening in our lives and when they might change. What’s also great about astrology is that things always get better simply because the world turns. There might be a patch of difficulty due to Saturn now, but in a month or so, it will be over.
Of course, what’s best is that birth charts can tell you things you want to hear. Alice predicted when I will get engaged and the date of my wedding. More exciting is that I’d apparently be happiest living in sunny Los Angeles. Then again, wouldn’t we all?