My experience with newspapers started back in 2007, when my classmates and I produced a weekly four-page Word document and shamelessly distributed it to all 62 people in our grade. If I recall correctly, our stories centered on topics like “How to Shave Your Legs” and bitter reviews of assigned books. That said, my newspaper experience didn’t really start there because under no circumstances could what we made have been considered a newspaper.
But I was relatively proud of my own contribution to the weekly content, which was the inarguably divine horoscopes. The use of sentimental intangibles has always been my favorite mode of decision-making and is often prioritized over rational thought. I have never delved into letting the mystical actually dictate my actions or choices, but it doesn’t hurt to have a horoscope tell you that you’ll come onto a large sum of money or a new love interest soon. I’ll look for signs and signals from the cosmos or elsewhere that I’m on the right track. In the words of Michael Scott, “I am not superstituous. I am a little stitious.”
The movements of the stars and their governance over us have been on my mind because my lone remaining Natural Science requirement compelled me to take Intro to Astronomy. It appeared to be one of few options that would fill the requirement and simultaneously blow my mind. And, perhaps, give me a chance to put a tiny bit of informedness behind predictions should I take up an astrology column again.
In actuality, the predictions I wrote were completely made up, down to the bizarre punctuation habits I utilized as a 12-year-old. And upon writing them I had the capacity to realize that there was nothing stopping any such horoscope writer from being as aimless with their divinations as a sentimental seventh grader. There may in fact be true psychics or at least people with an educated ability to read astronomy and apply the lore of certain star positions. But from that point on I have assumed that the horoscopes provided in the back of Cosmo or Buzzfeed or strange posts on Facebook have been guided by forces little more than a minimum word count.
All superstitions require some choice on the part of a believer to engage in the superstition invented by believers past. You can theoretically straight-ticket vote to believe in everything unprovable and save yourself the trouble of cherry-picking among any legend, urban or ancient or found in a middle school tabloid. But this would make one’s life a bit too tedious—every grain of salt spilled, every set lucky numbers on fortune cookies, every planet in retrograde would stop us in our tracks and turn us around toward where the heavens gently tell us to go. Instead, we each have our own handful of beliefs, our grains of salt, to adhere to for advice and guidance, in order to make a little more sense of the way things go.
Take Mercury, for example. Mercury goes into retrograde four times a year and gives humans a brief scapegoat for their trials at the given times. Scientifically, the retrograde means that Mercury is passing Earth in its orbit and appears to move backwards as it floats on by. Internet lore declares this means that things will go very wrong under this astrological condition, as the planet rules clear thinking and communication. There’s even a way for you to find the source of all your misfortune: ismercuryinretrograde.com. Having a bad breakup? It’s not you—it’s Mercury.
There is no reason that we have to accept any of these superstitions as truths, other than a desire to engage in the spookiness of unknowable forces. We do it because it’s fun. And just because the signs don’t have to be true doesn’t mean they can’t still guide us. We’re given an archetype in our zodiac sign that we’re supposed to embody, and I like the thought of having the tenacity and zest of a Leo no matter how timidly I pass a given day. You’re not going to win the lottery anyway, so you might as well plug in your fortune cookie numbers and admit to their potential power. You only have to be a little stitous to put your faith in the nebulous, and there’s not much to lose.
Georgia Parke is a Trinity senior and Recess Editor.