Aliza Kelly’s relationship with astrology runs deep ― all the way back to her first days on earth. When she was born, her uncle, who was also an astrologer, calculated her birth chart by hand.
So when she began pursuing a career in astrology in 2013, none of her friends or family members were all that surprised. “They were like, ‘You’ve been asking all of our signs for as long as anyone can remember,’” she said. “Needless to say, when I decided to start a dating app based on astrology in 2013, it didn’t feel shocking or weird. It felt like the natural order of my career.”
In 2013 she co-founded an astrology-based dating app but wasn’t yet a full-on astrologer. She and another founder connected with Broadly astrologer Annabel Gat, who advised on their app. A friendship and a mentorship quickly blossomed. Kelly was soon taking Gat’s classes, reading up on as much information about astrology as she could get her hands on and training intensely to become an astrologer. She dove in trying to figure out how to combine something she loves with something lucrative, and the work paid off.
Today, in addition to a biweekly column for Allure, Kelly hosts seminars and videos and has published three books, including one connecting astrology and mixology. Who better, then, to tell us what it looks like to make a living by reading charts and studying the stars?
HuffPost spoke to her about why we’re so interested in astrology right now, how a good horoscope is constructed, what to look out for when seeking the work of an astrologer and more.
“The week I decided to call myself an astrologer is the same week [Allure] contacted me to do their horoscopes. I tell a lot of my clients that in order for them to manifest something, they need to be specific and they need to say it out loud. A big part of manifestation is to be very clear about your intentions. You can’t be wishy-washy. I had done hundreds of charts, but when I started exploring putting a price on that reading and experience was the same week I got a random e-mail [from the magazine].
“The fact that I have been able to support myself exclusively doing astrology the past few years is remarkable to me, I feel so grateful. But I think it’s also a reflection of when you feel like you know what you love to do and nothing is going to stop you, you have to commit to it.”
On how the 2016 election has affected astrology’s popularity
“In 2013, it was like pulling teeth to try to get astrology content somewhere. The stigma surrounding it was that it was for your freaky aunt who had a beaded entry into her bedazzled hallway. It was so retro and kitschy. Fast-forward to 2016, when we have an election that really throws people off balance. I think, as a society, we start to realize that there really isn’t grounding on earth and that there actually could be some more answers if we look up and stop trying to rationalize everything going on in our own world, start exploring alternative ways of thinking about things.”
On being wary of social media
“Given how popular social media has made astrology right now, some people are making amazing astrology memes. That does not mean they are astrologers. I have spent countless hours investing in becoming an astrologer. At a certain point, I was taking classes four nights a week. It’s a little dangerous, especially if you’re paying someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”
On how a good horoscope is formed
“How an astrologer writes a horoscope is that they look at this thing called an ephemeris, a table that shows the position of every single planet in the sky each day. A daily horoscope looks at where the moon is in relation to Saturn on this given day. A monthly horoscope, you’re going to see the most important milestones of what happens over the course of the month. From there we know the planets as well as the signs have certain expressions and energies, so we create these algorithms between putting the planet with the sign and seeing what relationship and connection they are making to other planets and those signs. What differentiates a good astrologer from a great one is someone who can figure out how to make that information relatable and relevant, not just these ‘So what?’ ideas.”
On ways the connection between planets and signs has played out in pop culture
“In October 2017, Jupiter, which is the planet of expansion and abundance, which sort of enlarges whatever it touches, moved into the sign of Scorpio, which is associated with the underworld and secrets and sex. That occurred the same week the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke. Over the course of that year, we saw all these secrets being enlarged and exposed. When Jupiter went into retrograde was around the time all the celebrities wore black to the Golden Globes, and we were like, ‘Wait, is this what this is about? It has to be about making change.’ ... When we attribute cosmic movement to things that happen in our society, we can really watch them unfold before our eyes.”
“I don’t spend much time talking to people who are skeptical of astrology. I’m not their target audience. [Laughs.] In society we have been told that if something can’t be proven, if something isn’t physically real or a statement hasn’t been made, then it doesn’t exist. I find that to be complete BS and ultimately prohibitive of people’s emotions, how different people are and how we move through the world. In the question of if astrology is real, it doesn’t really matter. If it’s a vocabulary that makes sense and can be used to create empathy for oneself and others, then it works.
“When we talk about astrology, we’re talking about thousands of years of exploration and study, history and academics. We can say all of it is rubbish, and some people do. But others, like myself, take a lot of credence in the fact that this is something that would literally connect us to the Babylonians if we traveled back in time 5,000 years. There are not a lot of things we could talk to our ancient ancestors about, but if we talked to them about what it’s like to be an Aries, they would understand ― and they would agree.”
On why we care about astrology as it pertains to dating
“When you start dating someone, the first thing you wonder is if your sign matches. I think we want to understand things that feel abstract and vague. And I think, especially for very curious people, they want to know if there is some greater force and purpose behind both good and shitty relationships.”
On making astrology more accessible
“My book was the first big project I had where I felt super-excited to find a great gateway between astrology and something fun and relatable. I’m not an asshole — I know people need to be able to enter astrology without it being super-pretentious and academic. For me, I started reading astrology back when I wanted to know if my Libra boyfriend at the time and I were compatible. For other people, cocktails are just as good an entry point — whatever someone can connect to that is real and based in truth but that doesn’t make them feel shut out.”
On advice for burgeoning astrologers
“Work with an astrologer. Apprentice for someone who is the real deal that you can either take private classes with or who can recommend certain books and workshops. There are a ton of webinars available you can join for, like, 10 bucks. Just make sure you’re working with people, and don’t believe everything you read on the internet.”
On astrology red flags
“If someone thinks cusps [falling between two astrological signs because your birthday is at the beginning or end of a given sign] are real, they don’t know what they’re talking about. There is no such thing. The sun can only be in one sign or the other. In the 1930s horoscopes became so popular after Pluto was discovered, and at first, there was a real astrologer doing sun sign horoscopes, but they were getting so much traction that newspapers started hiring staff writers. One would say Aug. 23 is Virgo. Another would say Aug. 22. People who read between publications would be like, ‘Wait, what the fuck am I? A Leo or a Virgo?’ So to account for the margin of error, it was just easier to say you’re on the cusp. But no way. It just does not exist.”