How to Use Astrology to Figure Out Where You Should Live Next
“It’s Mercury retrograde right now, so make sure you back this up,” says Angel Eyedealism, gesturing to the phone I’m using to record our interview. “Mercury is the trickster, likes to play games. It’s like the planet’s saying, ‘fuck it, going on vacation, bye.’ Basic communication tends to snafu.”
Angel is a longtime figure in Lower Manhattan’s art and music scene. I have never seen her without her color-blocked teal and pink eyeshadow, even now when she’s relaxing in her robe and fuzzy slippers in her apartment. In public, she wear petticoats and elaborate hats. In her spare time, she paints vaginas on furniture. Over the last five or so years, she’s become New York’s premier travel astrologer.
“People come to me when they’re freaking the fuck out,” Angel tells me. “I usually keep a box of Kleenex. Sometimes the person’s mother has just died, or they just went through a divorce. Or they might just have divine wanderlust and want to travel all over the world.”
Angel specializes in relocation astrology, which explores not just where you should move, but when you should move and why -- or maybe why you shouldn’t move at all. It’s not as simple as, “oh, you’re a Capricorn, DC is the city for you.” But if you’re thinking about a change of scenery and have even a vague passing interest in astrology, Angel could very well help you make a move for the better. At least according to the stars and planets and stuff.
How exactly does travel astrology work?
The first thing Angel does during a reading (which can be done over Skype if you’re not local) is cast the client’s birth chart. Your birth chart is basically a snapshot of what the sky looked like above you at the moment you were born; it’s created using the date, location, and time of your birth (down to the minute, if possible). There are websites aplenty that can draw up your chart; apps like TimePassages can give you a detailed interpretation for a cool $0.99.
The specific longitudes and latitudes of your birth chart will reveal, among other things, your Sun sign -- which is the one thing you already know even if you don’t know anything about astrology: that you’re a Leo, a Gemini, a Pisces, whatever. That’s the sign most dominant in your personality, but there’s also your rising sign -- aka your ascendant -- which is kind of like what you’re flavored by. If you’re making potato soup, as Angel puts it, and you add some oregano in it, it’s not oregano soup; it’s potato with a dash of oregano.
“Let’s say you have [in your birth chart] a malefic planet, Saturn, right on your ascendent; that’s a really fucked placement,” Angel says. In astrology, planets deemed malefic (from the Latin maleficus; wicked, harmful) bring misfortune. “It’s like you were born under a black cloud. You can have other good things, but it’s like having Asshole as a rising sign.”
You’re not the same person in New York as you are in Los Angeles.
Your birth chart never changes; if you have Asshole rising, that never goes away. But, according to Angel, it can be offset through relocation. “You want to move them somewhere where Saturn’s out of the way -- instead of right on their rising sign, making them seem harsh and controlling and difficult. Then their whole personal life can open up.”
This is the crux of how travel astrology works. If you were born on the East coast and want to move to Los Angeles, for example, you’d take your birth chart and transpose it to LA -- thousands of miles away, in a different time zone -- and study how the shift in geography impacts the various celestial bodies in your chart. You’re not the same person in New York as you are in Los Angeles, just as you’re not from one job to another or one relationship to another.
You can target certain areas of your life that need a tune-up
You won’t suddenly turn into a fun-loving Libra just because you move to, like, Maryland. The planets and signs in your chart don’t change when you travel, but the “houses” they’re located in do. The Zodiac is a wheel divided into 12 “houses,” each of which corresponds to a different area of your life: sex and dating, friendships and community, job and finances, health and daily routines, etc. (Here’s a full breakdown).
When you relocate, you can strategically move certain celestial bodies into certain houses to improve those parts of your life. So if you’re looking to level up a specific area of your life, like your career -- which is to say, a specific house, like the 10th -- Angel helps you find which locations in which time zones will, according to the dictates of astrology, give you “gravy for the biscuits.” You can test out different locations to see how they treat you, how you’ll be perceived there, what parts of your personality it will tease out or shore up.
“Have you ever gone somewhere and it’s just like, everything’s working out and I’m the toast of the town?”
“If they haven’t gotten laid in 17 years, that’s a problem!” Angel says. “Let’s move that person somewhere where some juicy bits like Venus or Mars or Jupiter move into the 5th House, the house of fun and games.”
Maybe you were born with a lot of energy, like Mercury, in your 12th House (“the house of ‘leave me the fuck alone”). You can see what locations would nudge it into your First House (the house of “your personality, socializing, how you roll at the party”). Suddenly, Angel says, you might find you’re more open, more outgoing, more comfortable engaging people. “Have you ever gone somewhere and it’s just like, oh my god, everything’s working out and I’m the toast of the town?”
Angel says a key area to focus on is your 4th house, since that’s the one that governs “home.” And if you want to shop cool places to help guide your search, we’ve got guides aplenty: small cities, cheap cities, cheap beach cities, countries that are easy to move to, and even some places that will literally pay you to move there.
What goes down during a reading?
A full reading with Angel usually takes about three hours. She’ll read the planets in each of your 12 houses, followed by the aspects (the angles formed between planets). Then, a secondary “progress chart” takes your birth chart and tracks it incrementally -- every couple of years up to the present day -- which teases out patterns, and allows her to do some predictive astrology. Past trends are projected forward, so Angel can identify specific periods of time down the road that might be critical for certain areas of your life. She also takes into consideration transits -- what’s happening in the sky above us right now, i.e. that Jupiter’s headed to this point, or Neptune’s just arrived at that one. (“Sometimes you’re just freaking out because of transits, and moving isn’t actually the answer.”)
There’s some pretty involved software that calculates all this -- none of which makes me believe in astrology, but all of which is fun. Birth charts and transits can be rendered by hand if you’ve an affinity for math and a great deal of leisure time, but these days astrologers like Angel do their work through a handful of different astrocartography programs like New Matrix Horizons.
Astrology is without scientific merit, but we don’t choose travel destinations based on science.
Your reading doesn’t have to just be about moving to a place -- you can get them for when you’re visiting somewhere, or even just trying to pick which country to vacation in. According to Angel, it can be especially powerful to travel on your solar return (your birthday) and demi-solar return (half-birthday). Beyond that, there’s not much in the way of one-size-fits-all advice. You don’t want to put a malefic planet right on an angle. You don’t want to go somewhere at the wrong time; timing is everything in astrology. There might be places that will be good to you, Angel says, but not if transiting Pluto is about to hit a major hub or something. Anecdotes follow about clients who disregarded this advice when planning their vacations and were promptly mugged.
So how much of this is bullshit?
“Oh my God, you’ve got soooooooo much going on in your 12th House,” Angel says as she examines my birth chart. “The house of psychology, there’s a ton of shit in there, holy fuck.” Pretty much everything on my chart turns out to be clustered forebodingly into that single house, like a giant celestial pizza on which the toppings have slid onto one slice.
I do not subscribe to astrology -- I’d only ever heard Capricorns described as practical and organized and so forth, which would be the opposite of my Personal Brand if I had one of those. But there’s not much point denying that honor/ambition/duty/achievement “strongly flavored” by psychology/mental illness/memory is very on the nose for me. We talked about ways in which I was different in LA (where I went to college) from how I am now in New York, which were sort of applicable, but also I think just symptoms of growing up.
As it turned out, my phone did glitch and the first half of the recording from our interview spontaneously self-destructed. Feel free to ascribe this to the Mercury retrograde if you wish (but for what it’s worth, Mercury is in retrograde like 20% of the time).
Astrology is without scientific merit, but then again, we don’t choose travel destinations based on science. We travel based on instincts and emotional responses, because we feel like in a different place we can be a different person.
“Sometimes people go through their whole life feeling that nobody even sees them. And nobody does, really,” Angel says. “You could be a pet rock, never social, really hate that about yourself and want to change. But you go to a new location and you’re talking all the time, you’re relating. All of a sudden, everybody sees you.”