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Is Zodiac Compatibility Real?

Astrology
Collage photos via Getty Images; Illustrated by Liz Riccardi

It's a lot more complicated than you think

Many a horoscope reader wonders what the most compatible signs are and why. It's hard not to get sucked into a cultural structure that would render us all one-dimensional, easy to read and easy to discount. We've all heard the phrases "opposites attract" and "birds of a feather flock together," and these two opposing ideas seem to come up often enough when the compatibility of sun signs is explored. "Are you a Scorpio? Date your diametric opposite, Taurus. If you make it through alive—it's forever!" Or: "Taurus didn't work, Scorpio? Can't stand all the fighting? Try a Cancer, you're both water signs! Water, wow!" These suggestions, while not altogether badly intentioned, allow the seeker to treat themselves and their beloved as one thing only, their sun sign. But, any astrology enthusiast knows that when a person is born, many planets clamor into place and influence their becoming. From this planetary arrangement, we fashion natal charts, and with natal charts firmly in our grasp, we begin the work of exploration. When two people's natal charts are brought together in the search for compatibility, that is called synastry, a word that simply means "the stars together."

In her 21 Love Poems, Adrienne Rich writes, "If I could let you know— / two women together is a work / nothing in civilization has made simple, / two people together is a work / heroic in its ordinariness," and she isn't wrong. To compare two natal charts, one must examine where the planets and sometimes even asteroids (Chiron and Lilith, for example) were positioned when two different people were born. On each individual chart, these galactic bodies mark transits that aim to influence a person throughout their life. One person's chart can be alive with contradicting forces, moody gods and streaks of luck. Now the Scorpio mentioned above becomes a Scorpio, Sagittarius Ascendant, Sagittarius Venus, Libra Mars and Mercury, Jupiter in Aries with a moon in Taurus. These transits do work on each other, and many a querent spends their life understanding how to harmonize the energies they carry within themselves. Bring another person's chart into the mix, and you've got yourself a beautiful web of influences, synchronicities, and wild divergences in behavior and ideology.

Does that Scorpio still want a Taurus? Perhaps their Taurus moon might feel a sense of resonance with another Taurus, especially if the degrees are close. But, imagine the Taurus who arrives. They are not only a Taurus Sun but also a Leo Ascendant with a Taurus Moon, Taurus Mars, Taurus Mercury, and their Venus is in Cancer. Let's imagine one area of inquiry into their compatibility now. With Venus (the energy one anticipates and desires in intimate connections) in independent, adventure-seeking Sagittarius and Mars (the energy one exerts toward their intended) in smooth-talking indirect Libra, Scorpio might have a lot of trouble with their newfound Taurus. That's because this Taurus has her Venus in Cancer, a transit that expects steadfastness and devotion, and her Mars is in Taurus, a direct and often inflexible energy. It's not impossible for these two to get along—in fact they would make for very good friends—but a romantic relationship would most certainly be "a work heroic in its ordinariness."

After the Sun and moon transits, Mars and Venus positions are considered some of the clearest indicators of compatibility, especially for beginners looking to understand their chart and the charts of their beloveds. But, the more you learn about planets, asteroids, and their influences, the more you look and the more you'll see. Even outer, slower-moving planets can make a big difference—especially when it comes to people born some distance of years apart. It's not always very pleasant, for instance, to have one person's Saturn (the planet of hard-earned lessons) in aspect to another person's moon (the private self, the intimate self). And, you might laugh after a few heartbreaking years of dating Leo dominants (people with lots of Leo in their chart) to find the asteroid Chiron (the wounded healer) positioned squarely in Leo in your chart. However, no singular transit, or planetary position, is the nail in the coffin of a possible love connection. Imagine a world where we come to each other the same: What pleasure, what relief, can there be without tension?

Our natal charts, our transits, the maps to our ever-becoming selves stacked one above the other, reveal who we might have been and what another person can bring out of us. When you sail out on the dark sea of desire and look for love in the stars, querent, don't forget that you, too, steer the wheel. All kinds of love are possible between complicated animals, the kind of love that guides us up the mountain so that we might marvel at the universe, and the kind of love that pushes us off the highest peak.

Photo courtesy of Parkwood Entertainment/Netflix

We're shook and shaking our heads

Awards season is indeed on the horizon. Today the nominees for the 71st annual Emmy Award nominations were announced, crowning the best in television programming over the past year—from June 1, 2018, through May 31, 2019, specifically. For some performers, creators, crews, networks, and fans, this is a time for celebration and congratulations. For others, it's a moment of disappointment; or at the very least, an opportunity to complain a little bit.

Here are my snubs, surprises, and the nominations that I'm so excited about I could scream.

Snub: Tracee Ellis-Ross in 'black-ish'

Three-time Emmy nominee Tracee Ellis-Ross was not nominated for her role in black-ish, and I would like to speak to the manager.

Snub: 'The Masked Singer'

The Masked Singer might seem gimmicky, but it's actually really good and has shaken up the monotony of other singing competition shows. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough for the Emmy voters.

Surprise: 'Surviving R. Kelly'

I was admittedly surprised to see Surviving R. Kelly validated as one of the most impactful docu-series of the year. It has changed the conversation about sexual assault and grooming and added pressure to law enforcement to hold the singer accountable. It was nominated for Best Informational Series or Special.

Snub: Julia Roberts in 'Homecoming'

Julia Roberts stepped off of her well-established film actress pedestal to bring a PODCAST to life, and this is the thanks she gets? She killed it in Homecoming, and yet it didn't get a single nomination.

Surprise: Beyoncé's 'Homecoming'

Speaking of Homecoming, Beyoncé's Netflix documentary about her 2018 Coachella performance—which doubled as a tribute to HBCUs—was nominated for Best Variety Special. All she has to do is win this, snag an Oscar for The Lion King soundtrack, and put Broadway in her GPS, and Beyhive, we have ourselves an EGOT!

Snub: 'Gentleman Jack'

Gentleman Jack didn't get a single nomination. It hasn't even been a full month since Pride, and we're already shitting on gay rights. Wow.

Snub: 'Grace & Frankie'

I know that Grace & Frankie went off the rails a little bit this year, so I get the show being absent from the Best Comedy Series category. But for neither Lily Tomlin or Jane Fonda to be recognized just feels… wrong.

Snub: 'American Horror Story: Apocalypse'

Jessica Lange is that bitch and deserves her nomination for returning to American Horror Story: Apocalypse. But Evan Peters should have received some recognition for wearing that terrible wig while he played a Satan-worshipping tech bro; Sarah Paulson carried the show; and nothing but respect to MY antichrist, Cody Fern.

Snub: 'Haunting of Hill House'

Another horror series that deserved a chance this year was Haunting of Hill House. It was scary as hell, but also a great drama about a family dealing with grief and trauma. It could be that the Emmy voters were too damn terrified to make it to the end, though. Fair.

Surprise: Billy Porter in 'Pose'

Billy Porter got a Lead Actor nomination for Pose, and I can't think of anyone more deserving. I can't wait to see what he wears on award night.

Surprise: Jharrel Jerome In 'When They See Us'

It cannot be understated how much Jharrel Jerome deserves his nomination for Lead Actor in a Limited Drama Series. His performance in Ava DuVernay's When They See Us still haunts me.

Surprise: Kit Harington In 'Game of Thrones'

Kit Harington as Best Actor. IKYFL.

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