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An Astrological Guide to Relationships, Politics and Other Earthbound Problems

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Oakland astrologer Jessica Lanyadoo's new book looks at 'Real Relationships' through an inclusive and LGBTQ-friendly lens. (Anna Alexia Basile)

My introduction to the zodiac came from beloved Puerto Rican astrologer Walter Mercado. With his enigmatic persona, colorful capes and extravagant jewelry that sparkled as he read the stars, Mercado hypnotized me from the TV screen as a young girl. At the time, all I knew about my birth chart was that my sun was in Gemini, and that many saw my sign as volatile, flip-flopping and two-faced. 

Yet that stereotype never derailed me from faithfully watching Mercado on Spanish TV to find out what the stars had in store for Geminis like myself. It wasn’t until years later, when I started reading horoscopes in newspapers, magazines and online, that I began to understand that our sun sign is only a fraction of the astrological clues that can help us navigate who we are and how we relate to our friends, family and love interests.

'Astrology for Real Relationships' by Jessica Lanyadoo and T. Greenaway.
‘Astrology for Real Relationships’ by Jessica Lanyadoo and T. Greenaway.

In her new book, Astrology for Real Relationships: Understanding You, Me, and How We All Get Along, Oakland astrologer and psychic medium Jessica Lanyadoo gives readers an easy-to-read breakdown in three key sections: friends and chosen family, hanging out and dating, and long-term relationships. For Lanyadoo, it was important to make the book inclusive to all, including those who live outside of the gender binary, and to forego the idea that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Astrology for Real Relationships, written in collaboration with journalist and editor T. Greenaway, takes an LGBTQ-friendly approach, and analyzes the sometimes confusing aspects of birth charts—like how each of the 12 houses affect our approaches to money, intimacy, self-care and more—in a straightforward way. 

“I wanted to create an astrological and very cute textbook that would hold space for the complexity of our own nature, and also the complexity of how we relate to people we choose to relate to,” Lanyadoo tells me in a recent interview. 

Lanyadoo is well known in the Bay Area: she was the resident astrologer at the San Francisco Bay Guardian from 2003 until the weekly paper folded in 2014. Since, Lanyadoo has grown an international audience. She’s the host of the advice show Ghost of a Podcast, and writes horoscopes for the women’s lifestyle websites Girlboss here in the United States and Chatelaine in Canada. 


Before immersing myself in Lanyadoo’s book, I pulled up my birth chart on the free generator on her website. After finding out that I’m a quadruple Gemini, and three-times Sagittarius, I had questions—and with Lanyadoo’s help, I got clear answers. “The placement of the moon tells you about your emotions, the placement of Neptune tells you about your ideals, and where Mercury falls on your chart offers insight about your mind and your thoughts,” a passage in the book reads.

Lanyadoo believes that aside influencing our interactions with others, the planets also rule our surroundings and what goes on in the world. When it comes to Pluto, the book explains that it is the planet that “governs our fight-or-flight mechanisms, destruction and healing, compulsive feelings, manic impulses, and the actions that come from them.” Considering the current state of our political climate, it is impossible to read this section and not think of the current administration in the White House. 

I asked Lanyadoo what’s going on with Pluto at the moment. 

“On the 12th of January we went though this massive and very important transit called Saturn in conjunction to Pluto,” Lanyadoo explains. “There will be a few other transits with Pluto happening in 2020. And, then, in 2021, we are going to the Pluto return to the United States of America. This is a massive transit, and yes, we are going through major Plutonian themes.” In other words, we as a society are going to be confronted with our wrongdoings and the work ahead to fix them. 

The stars can also help us understand history, Lanyadoo says, and how it relates to the present. “The last time that planet Uranus was transiting through the sign Taurus, which is happening right now, was when we had Hitler,” she says. “And again, we are seeing a rise in authoritarianism.” 

Yet Astrology for Real Relationships is not all darkness and destruction, and in light of Valentine’s Day coming up, I ask Lanyadoo about what the planets have in store for us single folks and hopeless romantics.

“I’m a big believer in following the flow of your life. If what you are trying to do is to fill a void, not a very successful motive,” she explains. “But if you are actually open to getting to know someone new, and willing to do the work and having healthy boundaries, then yes.” 

Astrology can help us figure things out, but Lanyadoo emphasizes the need to take care of our inner self first before anything else. She offers some guidance as to what is in store for 2020: “Venus is going retrograde from May 13 to June 25, not terribly long. But, we also have it happening from September through November 13 with Mars going retrograde.” 

These two planets impact dating, she explains, because they affect the way we relate to others and the love we are choosing. “This [retrograde] can be a really powerful time for making the time to do an internal adjustment we need in order to get the external outcome we desire.”

As with the customizable approach in her book, Lanyadoo reminds us, “Astrology is a tool.”

How we use it is up to us.

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