Astrology is having a moment. Whether it’s wearing one’s sun sign on a sweatshirt or sharing memes related to astrological attributes, people are invested in what their birth time, place, and date dictate. For so long, mainstream astrologers have delivered heteronormative versions of horoscopes, with women’s magazines offering readers hints on when they might Mr. Right or daily newspapers delivering vague one-sentence sentiments that echo the most unimaginative of fortune cookies.
Enter Chani Nicholas.
Nicholas has become the go-to guide for queer, trans, feminist, and other marginalized people looking for a more inclusive and radical astrologer to read the stars and signs. Her approach is less providing a foreboding fate and more of an exploration on what opportunities individuals have to embrace certain aspects of themselves and the world they are a part of; a chance to consider themselves as part of a larger solar system.
“I’m somebody who is really interested in the process that we’re in as people,” Nicholas tells INTO. “And so I’m always trying to absorb — or I’m always in a process of absorbing what’s coming at us and then where that’s landing for us, and what it might be speaking to psychologically, spiritually, individually, collectively in terms of our justice movements; in terms of what is a response that is needed from us.”
Nicholas’s reach on social media and her own website (which gives fans an opportunity to engage with Nicholas in workshops, classes, and personal readings) has given her a platform to not only help individuals with their own questions, but provide helpful and healing thoughts and projections to the general public.
Nicholas has been interested in astrology since she was 12, saying it’s “just part of [her] makeup”; that the way she thinks about what’s going in on the world comes through not just her own queer, feminist lens, but through an astrological one.
“There’s something that happens in the sky and then I’m looking to see what’s happening on earth and with ourselves,” she says. “So I’m always looking to see what’s the correlation, what meaning might we make at this moment and given the pain or the difficulty of it, how might we give it context, if that’s what’s called for, or just give our experience of it some compassion and some space and some room to exist.”
Because astrology has long been adopted by others as mostly straight, white, and many times, inaccessible, Nicholas’s highly-specific approach has brought disenfranchised people either back to astrology, or to astrology for the first time.
“I think what astrology understands, and what queers have been fighting for for so long is that there is an individual expression of each of us,” she says. “And gender is a many varied thing, and there are as many expressions of gender as there are stars in the sky, as there are moments in time, and astrology knows that we are all an amulet of a moment of time. We are the constellation of the crystallization of a specific moment in the solar system, in the galaxy, in the cosmos. And so we are imbued with the property that that moment and each of us is incredibly unique because of that.”
Because of that, Nicholas says astrology is unequivocally queer.
“As queers, we’ve always been saying…there are so many ways to love and there are so many ways to express one’s gender that we needn’t be hung up on any two ways because the universe is infinite and human beings are literally made up of stardust and we are infinite in our expressions and our creative capacity and each moment has its own specific astrological template and each human also has that, and so there’s just so many ways to be yourself and the universe is infinitely creative and so are we.”
Tonight, Nicholas will be honored alongside Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza, the late writer/activist Jeanne Cordova, and Malkia Cyril by the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice at their 2018 Fueling the Frontlines Gala. Astraea supports LGBTQ human rights organizations around the world, focusing on racial, economic, social, and gender justice, especially as it pertains to LGBTQ people, and Nicholas’s work is right in line. Outside of uplifting LGBTQs and related issues in her work, she also uses her reach to promote these same organizations, ideals, and work. That work is what makes her feel successful in having cultivated this career path for herself, one that is both very personal and political.
“It feels like a responsibility that I am incredibly grateful that I have, and also I’m always looking toward how I’m using what I’m using and if it’s being the greatest service that it can be,” Nicholas says. “I feel a really deep relationship with my work and I feel a really deep relationship with a lot of the people I work with.”
Nicholas has a book coming out next month and while she doesn’t want to say exactly what it is about, You Were Born For This will likely continue her work to help uncover and develop an individual’s approach to finding one’s self, and finding a way in an evolving (or, some would argue, devolving) world. Nicholas provides hope and cautious optimism through her contextualizations; a challenge to a reader instead of a validation or forecast. She works with those who follow her work, engaging in constant conversation with those who have become faithful followers, whether they simply read her posts or choose to participate further.
“I’m in a really beautiful conversation with thousands of people every year,” she says. “I am the recipient of these extraordinary stories of how people have been using and working with the astrology for self-discovery and healing. I feel like it’s an incredible blessing to be in communication with so many people in so many diverse professions through my one profession. It feels like relationship building in a really resonant way.”
Image via Getty