My interest in horoscopes probably falls somewhere in the “slightly above average” category. I rarely pass up an opportunity to check the outlook for my sign (hardcore Virgo) when I have a newspaper in hand, and I love finding myself in any situation involving a group of people sharing passing knowledge of astrology and the way it affects who we date, how we act and who we can tolerate as friends (not to mention which Kardashian you are and what kind of juice you should be drinking!).

Virgo that I am, I tend to be a little hypercritical and pretty intent on getting the facts, so I decided to run a little astrological experiment to give some added context to my general interest in horoscopes. For expert input, I looked to Katie Sweetman, a New York-based consulting astrologer and psychic medium who created Empowering Astrology.


Not all horoscopes are created equal

Katie and I discussed the plan — to look up my horoscope each night and take notes on how the predictions compared to the actual events of my day. While I had initially decided to use a popular, easily accessible horoscope site for my experiment, she recommended that I also look to a higher-quality source. I had already learned something new — not all daily horoscopes are created equal.

Lower-quality horoscopes are often found in newspapers and on websites or apps that aren’t associated with particular astrologers. Trained astrologers who attach their name to the horoscopes they publish can often be counted on for higher-quality insights. Separating the good from the bad in the astrology world, though, often comes down to a gut feeling. “It’s pretty quick to see who is tapping into something powerful and who is being fortune cookie vague,” Katie says.

It’s all about the planets

As Katie explains it, astrology is based on looking at different layers of time according to the locations of the planets. Astrologers who write horoscopes are essentially analyzing planetary placement from the perspective of each sign and writing a sound byte to capture the experiences of EVERYONE born within that sign. The challenge comes with trying to capture such a wide range of people into such a short blurb.

“Daily horoscopes tend to be more successful at the emotional level than the external level, because experiences are different for everyone across lifestyles,” Katie says. “Daily horoscopes really speak to the inner core of what might be happening in someone’s life.”

Thanks to Katie’s suggestions, I slightly adjusted the plan for my experiment and decided to consult with both low- and high-quality horoscopes. Looking back on three weeks worth of notes, her insights were spot-on.

Woman sitting at table in home reading newspaper

Horoscope vs. Reality

While the lower-quality sites often made specific predictions that never came to fruition (e.g., I would be receiving a lot of party invitations, I would be compromising my global vision at work), the higher-quality sites that Katie recommended spoke to bigger picture states of mind and moods. These daily horoscopes tended to be less wordy and more general, and it was there that I started to see more parallels with my “real” life experience.

During my experiment, there were only two days for which the (higher-quality) astrological outlook and my real life were completely different, mostly because the horoscopes on those days were so vague. Throughout my three-week experiment, the horoscopes almost always resonated with my actual experience. Here are a few examples across the three weeks:

Horoscope:“The moon is in fellow Earth sign Taurus, sending you good vibes throughout the day — especially around your relationships. Go out and have fun tonight. Let yourself be a little bad. The lord of the underworld, Pluto, has got your back.”

Reality: On this Sunday morning, what I’d planned as a fairly low-key brunch with my best friend turned into a full day of drinking Bloody Marys and Champagne. Pluto definitely had my back — I didn’t have so much as a headache when I woke up the next morning.

Horoscope: “You’re in a social mood this evening, thanks to the Moon entering Cancer and lighting up the friendship and community sector of your chart. This is a nice change from being your usual hermit self.”

Reality: I would hardly call myself a hermit, but as a full-time writer who works from home, I do find myself alone quite a bit. On the day of this horoscope, I happened to be out and about more than usual conducting interviews, and as the cherry on top of a social day, I caught up with a former colleague over dinner.

Horoscope:“Intense emotions flare up for you to deal with this morning, Virgo. Lunchtime isn’t much easier; expect confusing conversation with your partners. Fortunately, tonight’s cozy — the Moon in Leo is sending you dreamy vibes.”

Reality: True to this prediction, I spent the morning slightly at odds with my husband. That evening, I had a great time cooking dinner with him, after which we talked for a few hours about how grateful we are for the events of this year — super cozy!

Ultimately, regardless of how “accurate” a horoscope may be, Katie encourages us to take control of our own destinies — regardless of what’s predicted online or in the newspaper. “Play with astrology,” she says. “It’s a language — an ancient one — and like all languages, it evolves. Just don’t use it to box yourself in or cede your power away.”

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(Photos via Getty)