From an early age, Annabel Gat had her head in the stars. What began with her fifth grade love of astrological quizzes in magazines, soon became a passion for understanding the symbolism and meaning of the planets, and finally turned into job writing horoscopes for Broadly and a YouTube show called Astrology for Days—a career path that she was basically destined for.
“When I realized that I could do this for a living, like give readings and writing horoscopes, I realized that there is clearly nothing else I’m supposed to be doing with my life,” says Gat.
But don’t get this 30-year-old Brooklyn girl mixed up with mystics and mediums. Her days maybe be filled with planets, stars and astrological charts, but she remains entirely down-to-earth.
“I always tell people that astrology is not something to believe in, it’s something to enjoy,” says Gat. “It’s a lens to look at the universe and to me, there’s nothing greater than a coincidence. So if I write a horoscope and it turns out to be “true” that’s like a jackpot.”
With 2016 coming to a close, we called up the astrologer to find out how many of this year’s unfortunate events were written in the stars—and what the heavens say about what’s to come.
How are we as people connected to the planets and the stars?
I don’t think anyone can really give an answer for that. I have no understanding of how the heavens affect us, all that I know is that for hundreds of years, people have been recording when planets have entered a certain sign, and what happened on earth. For example, if we know that during a full moon, situations will come to a climax, during the next full moon, we’ll see if it happens again. So it’s kind of this trial and error thing. The attributes we associate with the signs are the result of meanings being rolled out over hundreds of years. What is amazing about astrology is that it’s one of the most amazing recordings of human history in a way.
You’re an Aries. How has your career helped you understand yourself better?
Aries is the sign of bravery and courage and it’s a fire sign and very confident. I think as an 11-year-old, that was really what I needed to hear. It was such an affirming thing that really boosted my confidence. Of course Aries can also be impulsive, but it has a lot of positive key words that it really soothed my ego in a great way when I was young.
How did you take this from a hobby to a career?
There isn’t really a school for astrology so what you do is usually find teachers or other astrologers who will teach you; there’s a lot of self-study and there are groups everywhere. It’s a study that you really have to immerse yourself in. I also got certified as an astrologer by the International Society for Astrological Research.
What does that certification process involve?
It’s really hard. They say that you should be practicing astrology, meaning not just studying and reading and going to classes but also reading charts and proactively writing, for at least 10 years before you take the test. It’s a six-hour long exam. It doesn’t mean much to the outside world, but within the astrology community, it is a way to gauge how committed someone is.
You specialize in an area of astrology called “horary”—what does that entail?
Normally when we think of astrology, we think of looking at someone’s birth chart and where the planets were when they were born to tell us what their personality is like. Horary astrology is a branch of astrology that looks at questions: like whether you will go on a date this week. If we look at your birth chart, maybe it can tell us, but my method is to pull the chart for the moment you asked the question and that way I can get a very clear “yes” or “no” or gray area. It’s a method of getting more straightforward answers out of a situation.
What types of questions are you most frequently asked?
Am I going to meet someone? Am I going to get married? And, am I going to have children?
Why do you think questions about relationships are more common than questions about work?
We feel in control of our jobs. People come to me about their jobs all the time but they’re not asking if or when something is going to happen, they’re excited about something that has happened. There’s not the same level of uncertainty or feeling like it’s completely out of your hands.
Have you ever gotten a question that you couldn’t answer?
I always try and make it clear that I’m not a psychic; I can’t tell you exact colours, I can’t do spirit contact, I can’t tell you what’s going to happen after you die. There are probably more questions that I can’t answer than questions that I can.
NASA recently declared that there is a 13th zodiac sign called Ophiuchus, which roughly translates to “serpent bearer,” for those born between Nov. 29 and Dec. 17. How does this change things for you?
You know how there are illustrations of the constellations that you can find on old plates from the 19th century and stuff like that? Ophiuchus is there. Not all constellations are zodiac signs even though all of the zodiac signs are based on constellations. We’ve always known Ophiuchus was there, but it was a purposeful decision not to include it. I won’t be using Ophiuchus in my calendar; however, there are some astrologers who, long before this NASA announcement, did work with Ophiuchus. Astrology is all about archetypes, so really, you can use whatever you want. Many astrologers also use hypothetical planets!
In NASA’s statement, they also say that astrology isn’t science and that it hasn’t been shown that it can be used to predict the future or people’s personalities based on when they were born. What is your response to that criticism?
They’re right. There is no proof.
So what space does astrology fill then? It’s not a science, but what is it?
It’s like saying that you shouldn’t read Game of Thrones because it isn’t real. It’s the same thing. It’s a way of looking at the world, it’s mythology, it’s one of the most interesting artifacts of human history. Astrology has tremendous value because we’ve been using it for so long. But astrology is not a science and you can’t predict the future with it. You can have fun trying to make predictions, but that’s what it is, fun.
Looking back at 2016, were there any signs that it was going to be such an, um, “eventful” year?
There is no way to predict the future but there are certain years where there are more difficult aspects than others. There were certainly signs that this was going to be a notable year, that there was going to be a climax of some kind, but there was really no way to know if it was going to be good or bad. For example, for those who voted for Donald Trump, this may have been the best year ever. A lot of it has to do with your perspective.
According to your Broadly horoscopes for December, Mercury turns retrograde this month. For those who don’t know, what does that mean and why does it matter?
All of the planets other than the sun and the moon can turn retrograde, and basically when that happens, from our perspective on earth—and it’s just an optical illusion, it’s not really happening—they slow down and appear to move backwards. Mercury is all about communication, technology, networking and making things work, so if it’s stopping and going backward then communication isn’t happening as usual. It’s not a good time to purchase electronics or plane tickets; there are going to be delays.
Dang, that’s not great for the holiday season.
Exactly. Travelling during the holidays might be more stressful, but it’s also one of those things, because as NASA said, it’s not a science, I hope it’s not going to ruin anyone’s idea of what the month is going to be.
Looking forward, are there significant events for 2017 that we should be aware of?
I’m interested to see what happens with the Venus retrograde in Aries from March 4 to April 15. Venus is our planet of love, money, beauty and harmony. It’s really the planet of worth. So when it’s retrograde, the love goddess Venus might not be into cuddling or spending money. She might be more or less affectionate. Venus will be in Aries, and Aries is the warrior and the badass, so Venus in Aries is already kind of awkward anyway. When it’s retrograde, I don’t know what that’s going to mean, but for the entire month and a half that that is happening, we’re going to see a reversal around what is important to us. I think this will also manifest politically and socially as well.
How can people make the most out of their horoscope?
Get a calendar and jot down the dates that [astrologers] say are going to be important. Draw a heart if it’s about love or a dollar sign if it’s about money, and see if it actually happens. See what kind of patterns emerge. I don’t know where these patterns come from, I don’t know if it’s the planets that are doing it to us, but patterns do emerge in our lives and they can be a grounding thing to interact with—as long as you don’t get too attached to whether or not the patterns are going to manifest for you.
How has your job changed your outlook on life?
Because I know when certain cycles are going to begin and end, I can’t help but feel like things are going to be over at a certain time and I have to keep myself from believing that. For example, in 2023 and 2024, Pluto is going to start leaving Capricorn and enter Aquarius. That is a major end to a planetary cycle, so I’m feeling like in about eight years from now, we’re going to see huge changes in society. But even though I’m seeing it that way, I have to remember that even though an astrological planetary cycle is ending, again, I can’t predict the future. When you’re an astrologer, you think of things that way, and you have to stay down-to-earth about it.
Zodiac Style: 15 Snake Picks For Your New Sign, Ophiuchus
Just How Much is that Wellness Life Costing You?
How Did Lainey’s Year of the Monkey Predictions Pan Out?
Crystals for Beginners: An Intro to the Millennial Obsession