The first major heartbreak of my life came at the hands of an Aries man, and with all the wisdom of a sixteen-year-old girl, I made a solemn vow to never let a male Aries into my heart again. At that age, standing on the precipice of womanhood, it’s second nature to grasp at any available tools in an attempt to understand what in the absolute hell is going on in your changing mind and body. Casual astrology was something that was always present in my home growing up, so it felt natural for me — an unbearably dramatic teenager obsessed with musical theatre — to channel my despair into seeking answers from the stars.
Initially, what that really looked like for me was flipping to the back half of any magazine I could get my hands on, landing where the horoscopes lived, and frantically scanning the page for Leo Woman and Aries Man. I wanted to draw a clear line between us, to understand how it fell apart, and to make sure I knew how to save myself from making the same mistake again. Every tiny blurb I read in my mom’s copies of Cosmo or People or First For Women validated the breakdown in the relationship.
Every dusty and dated book I pulled off the shelf, usually written by some middle-aged, nefarious-looking man, enlightened me to the fact that I’m this way because I’m a Leo, and he’s that way because he’s an Aries, and the ancient cosmos have doomed us from the beginning of all time. Eventually, my very shallow and misguided understanding of astrology transformed into something that has changed my life for the better in so many ways, and I can see that in an effort to better understand myself and my relationships with others (my crushes), I leaned into the astrological profile I felt I’d been assigned (crazy and insane) and sought out partners I thought would accept it, turning a blind eye to anyone else.
Like a blessing from the heavens themselves, The Astrology Of Love & Sex by Annabel Gat (Chronicle Books) arrived this summer to flip everything you think you know about the way the signs flirt, hook up and love upside down. Annabel is a certified astrologer, tarot reader, horoscope columnist for VICE, and the Senior Astrologer for their new app, Astro Guide. Her long journey with astrology has always been leading up to writing this book exploring love and romance between the signs.
“I would go to the astrology section of the bookstore when I was first studying astrology and pick up these compatibility books that I loved and thought were awesome,” Gat remembered. “I was like ‘One day, I’m going to write one that’s even better, cooler, smarter, and even more inclusive.’ And I did! It’s something I always wanted to do; I was really inspired by the things I was reading and wanted to make something that was my own.”
Gat’s new book breaks down all twelve signs, with sections devoted to first impressions, flirting techniques, dating style, relationship approach, and of course, sex. What turns each sign on (and off), getting kinky, and how to best explore that aspect of relationships together — nothing is left out. “The book is definitely very sexy!” Annabel laughed. “I think you can extrapolate everything I write to apply for any relationship, but it’s definitely a really sex-and-seduction-heavy book. I don’t think people are afraid to use their imagination, I hope the book will give people good insight into how the signs communicate and how they like to be seen — that’s important in any kind of relationship!”
The book also includes a section about what astrology is (and isn’t!), how compatibility actually works, the importance of consent, and an extremely good quiz about what sign you should date (maybe I’m a little biased given my quiz results, which confirmed that my ultimate sweetheart perfect Cancer angel and I are meant to be). With gorgeous, inclusive, full-color illustrations by Jess Rotter, this book, like astrology, is for everyone. “Some of the most popular astrology books are from decades ago, so they’re written in ways that are so sexist by today’s standards,” Gat explained. “It was a joy to not to do that, and part of my drive in writing the book was to write something that’s updated, and isn’t assuming certain rigid gender roles.” No Leo Woman/Aries Man binaries here, it’s 2019!
Astrology is as ubiquitous and accessible as ever — even one quick scroll through my Instagram explore page or Twitter feed serves up a bevy of Geminis Be Like memes and The 12 Signs As Pictures Of Lizzo threads. I cackle at these memes and tweets and group text them to my single girlfriends and say shit like, “Ma’am, I explicitly told you this would happen with a Capricorn.” I love to see it and feel seen, but sometimes I wonder if pop astrology is leading anyone to feel like exploring a relationship with a certain sign is off limits because of what they see online.
“Even back five or six or more years ago, before astrology was as popular as it is today, people were still thinking that they were incompatible with other signs, and it’s simply not true!” Gat reiterated. “There’s really no such thing as incompatibility. There are difficult aspects in synastry, but those difficult aspects can be overcome, and the whole point of astrology, to me, is that it’s a tool for self-reflection and self knowledge, and for growth and transformation.”
It’s never been easier to share and access personal information than it is now, in our digital age, but ironically, this constant access can also be isolating. Sometimes I wonder if the major moment astrology is having, especially with people around my age, is similar to that desperate, pre-teen instinct to understand who we are and how to connect on a level that’s deep and primal and real. I don’t think I’m overstating it to say that some days it feels like the world is ending, and times are pretty bleak! We want the right person next to us if it all comes crashing down, and even if it doesn’t, we want them to be there anyway.
Despite all this, Gat is optimistic. “There are always going to be problems in life, and the goal isn’t to say ‘Oh, there’s a problem there, let’s completely avoid it,” she said.“It’s ‘well, there’s a problem there so let’s hear it, let’s explore it, let’s see what kind of transformation can be brought in.’” In that case, why wouldn’t you want to get to know the person you’re attracted to in any way you can? The Astrology Of Love & Sex is the perfect book if you’re open to the possibility of exploring what intimacy can look like with any sign, and the perfect place to start if you’re not quite there yet.
When I get even older than I am now and inevitably become the surrogate cool and fun weirdo aunt to the children of all of my friends, I cannot wait to have this book on hand to gently nudge them into a better cosmic understanding what they’re going through than some health class PowerPoint ever could. At least emotionally.
Goddess bless, I’m twice the age I was when I first started to make myself smaller in order to fit inside the Leo Woman I was told to be. My relationship with astrology has deepened enough to have given me the knowledge that not only am I more than just my Sun sign — but so are other people — and a relationship with any of the other signs on the wheel is worth exploring if I’m living and loving from an authentic place.
The more confidence and power I find in learning about astrology on a serious level, the more eager I am to see that energy reflected back to me in books and resources I’m consuming. The Astrology Of Love & Sex is the modern astrology for our modern age I had been so desperately seeking, the way my friends and I love and fight and fuck on the deepest, most ancient level.
When reading this book, I flipped to the Leo & Aries page just for old time’s sake, curious to see if the two signs really are too doomed to ever find love together. It confirmed what I already knew, what I learned over time, which is that of course they’re not doomed, there’s no curse. It’s just that I was little baby teenager, with a whole life of loving and learning ahead of me. I’m so grateful for the opportunity.