How to Make a Hater Like Astrology

Photo-Illustration: Eugenia Loli

Astrology is slowly winning the war against the haters. I have no statistics or studies to back this up, but it feels true. Five years ago, if I wanted to talk about the Virgo who was currently throwing me off a bridge, I couldn’t just bring it up. I’d have to heft a whole lot of skepticism into my voice and placate my audience with vigorous eye-rolling before I could begin. Without this initial performance of doubt, many people were inclined to scoff and hate.

It’s easier these days, but the war is still on. We pause now to honor those members of the opposition forces who take time out of their busy days online in order to proclaim that astrology is not a fact, before going back to arguing that all the rapes on Game of Thrones are historically accurate. Their efforts notwithstanding, talking about star signs is one of the few undimmed bright spots of 2017, and we must be permitted to do it wherever and whenever we can. How do we win? Well, I’ll tell you.

1. Trojan Horse

Begin by listening to your opponent’s various tedious arguments against astrology. (This is especially effective when dealing with an angry, older person or a Capricorn.) Be stealthy and patient. When the Aquarius sitting opposite says that there is no scientific basis for any of this, just smile. When your new Gemini boyfriend — all the best with that, by the way — looks at you from under lowered brows and asks if you seriously believe this stuff, shrug. Bide your time.

Next, baiting. Bring up his or her star sign in critical tones. Withhold all positive reinforcement. Watch as the Virgo you have chosen to marry re-stacks the dishwasher after you’ve already done it, and point out how typical this is. It will make them mad at first. Keep it up. Exclaim to your Leo brother that of course Madonna is a Leo — just look how obsessed she is with her own hair. Needle your Cancer bestie by asking her if she ever gets tears in her eyes when she thinks about how sad some chapters of her own memoir are going to be. When your Taurus girlfriend is stalling by the front door, reluctant for some reason to leave the house even though she is ready, as are you, point out that this behavior is archetypal.

Neg them to breaking point, and then it’s flattery time. Your opponent will be so relieved! Who would ever want to be a Virgo if all a Virgo did was complain about your filing system? Who would ever want to be an Aries if all they did was shout and have an ego? Brush all that away as if it never even happened. Tell your Leo brother that Madonna is right to be proud of that mighty head of hair. They will all fall in line, delighted.

NB NB: Trojan Horse works for every sign except Scorpios, who respond unpredictably to naked flattery, and would rather be feared than loved.

2. The Sound of Music Effect

There are those who reject astrology because they say it is pseudoscience, and there are those who reject it on vaguer principles. This second group doesn’t bother coming up with any arguments against why it’s not real, they just think it sucks and that’s the end of it. They don’t like the general aesthetic. This is how I feel about musicals. I don’t want to argue about it, or explain why the thought of Cats has made me furious since I was a young child; I just want to hate all musicals, particularly Annie. I say this out loud, though, and it starts to sound a bit strange. All musicals? Even The Sound of Music? Even though musicals make others so happy? Explain.

The point is that I can’t. As soon as I start, I begin to sound insane even to myself, and it’s only a matter of time before I’m humming “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” A similar approach can be used with people who energetically hate astrology for no specific reason. They are weakest where they seem most strong. Ask them to explain why, and they immediately show signs of strain. It’s stupid? Everything happening in the world is stupid. It doesn’t make any sense? Show me on a map where something does.

Soon, they will conclude out loud that it is harmless. Next, they’ll say “So, am I like, an Aries?” They will put air-quotes around “Aries.” Ignore this. It’s just a matter of time before you get an email with the subject line “This is actually pretty accurate,” and a link to Susan Miller’s Aries horoscope for September.

3. The Parable of Lucy

Lucy: a dog with a powerful energy. Take all the most intense dogs you have ever known, every dog who cannot be still even when she is asleep and must run through her dreams making scratching noises on the floor, every Border Collie and terrier with a lot on their plates at the moment, every digger of holes and tireless fetcher of sticks, and you have some idea of what Lucy was like. She was the distilled essence of a dog with the jitters.

Most of my family did not worry about this too much. She was a very happy dog, overall. She just had too much zest. My mom, however, had concerns. What if Lucy was sad, and all that hopping around and following my dad lovingly from room to room was a cry for help?

Enter the dog psychic in her sensible shoes. Her visit started well — she explained that neurotic dogs needed more pats than usual, and that they liked having their tails squeezed when they were anxious about the future. And then, she explained that the real reason Lucy was so worried all the time was that she, Lucy the dog, had in a previous life been the mother of my dad, Richard the man. Yes. They had been separated in a natural disaster, and Lucy had spent several subsequent lives attempting to track down her only son. Now she had found him, and so it was all too understandable that she would freak out whenever my dad left the room. Yes? There was nothing to be done about the past, but the way to make her feel better about things now was for my dad to say “I’M LEAVING NOW LUCY BUT I PROMISE I’M COMING BACK” whenever he left the house, and also to get her some crystals and a purple blanket. Okay?

Outlandish! Nonsensical! We all tried to dismiss it from our minds. Over the next few months, though, I’d see one of my parents regaling their friends with this absurd story, and I’d look over to my brother and he’d have a distressed expression on his face and I’d know he was thinking the same thing as me: What if it’s true. You’re thinking it as well. You’re thinking: I hope they got her that blanket.

 We did. We knew it was madness, but the seed of doubt had been planted, so we did. She swallowed or buried all the crystals straight away, but she liked her purple blanket and she LOVED it when my dad yelled reassuringly at her as he left the house.

There are simpler ways of describing how someone can simultaneously hold two contradictory views in their mind, but the Parable of Lucy is fun to tell. It is also a good way of drowning out the diminishing cries of those who continue to insist that astrology is bullshit. If you are at all moved by the story of Lucy the dog being so happy with her purple blanket and the attention of my dad, then you are not allowed to complain when someone starts talking about what a Pisces someone is. If you are unmoved, then you have no feelings at all.

How to Make a Hater Like Astrology