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.
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.