Mani was only 16 years old when she discovered her gift of channelling at a Christian camp. "When I went home I told my mum, she told me that she also receives messages," she remembers. "About a year ago, I started integrating astrology with these other spiritual gifts: channeling, intuitive knowledge, and dream interpretation. After that I found the spiritual community, and I realised that I’m not the only one.”
Mani is part of a community of Black women astrologers who have been using social media to grow the Black astrology and spirituality movement. Like many trends popularised by social media and pop culture, astrology has been sterilised and sanitised in its marketing. In tandem with the Black Lives Matter movement, there have been more community calls to promote Black astrologers and attract Black clients.
For Black women who grow up in the church, astrology is often seen as dangerous because of its ties to superstition. Like Mani, Miami-based astrologer and intimacy doula, Six, was brought up in the church, but was encouraged to question the messages she heard. “What I found is that religion is a very powerful tool to understand the world around you,” Six says. “I don’t think that [Black] people have abandoned what religion gave them. People are still looking for community. They are still looking for something to believe in. I just don’t think that people are satisfied with who was giving out the lessons.”
Intuitive astrologer Kesaine Walker claims astrology is in fact a part of Black culture. While European cultures are usually credited with creating astrology, Walker says the practice dates back to ancient African civilisation, specifically the Dogon, a tribe of Egyptian descent whose astrological awareness dates back to 3200 B.C.
“I think that religious beliefs and lack of exposure and knowledge of astrology and its relevance within Black history plays a huge role in Black women being reluctant to embrace astrology,” Walker says. “However, these practices are starting to become further accepted as more Black women are creating and running healing spaces all over the world.”
Despite the practice having its roots in Black culture, the majority of astrologers in the Western world are white – particularly those who are popular online and have a large social reach – since those who determine what’s valid in the astrology community are slow to recognise astrologers who practice differently. The qualifiers to entry are many: astrological mentors are hard to find, certification can be difficult and expensive to attain, and most publications have just one legacy astrologer. In a community that seems to be inclusive and welcoming on the surface, this gatekeeping is reflective of the larger patterns of exclusion in America.
Anti-Blackness is globally pervasive and the astrology community, despite its “love and light” marketing, is no different. “We hear that you have to go get this certification and this is the only way that you’re valid. Who is actually determining those things?” asks Six. “When this whole entire system is set up to essentially validate you based off of whiteness and Americanness, it doesn’t just shut out Black people, it shuts out anything that is not American or white.”
Jaadee Sykes has racked up an enthusiastic following online in her three years of practicing astrology, and her more well known clients include musicians Kehlani and SZA. She specialises in horary astrology, a practice where clients send her a question and she reads the astrological chart of the time the question was sent to provide answers. Sykes received a particularly accurate horary reading about a health issue she was facing, which motivated her to learn more about the practice. Sykes is intentional about helping Black women by offering readings free of charge when she can.
“I try to counsel Black women,” Sykes says. “I get hundreds of requests a day, and I do charge. However, if I read a message in my DMs, and I see that they need my help, they’re lost, and they don’t have anyone else to go to, who am I not to be able to take ten minutes to help them? That’s how I see myself serving Black women – taking the time out of my day to do things that don’t take anything off of my back to give the whole world to somebody else.”
Black women have always had to look out for each other. We’re often our own biggest cheerleaders, and the healing that happens in Black communities is often done by the hands of Black women. Walker, like many other practitioners, is currently providing free or donation-based weekly Reiki meditation sessions in which Black women come together to heal. “I find that Black women come to me specifically because it’s rare to see someone who looks like us working in this field, and they’re looking for someone who can relate to our daily struggles," she says. "I provide comfort for Black women to breathe and just be, even if it's just for an hour.”
Astrology has gained momentum in recent years, partly because it offers hope in an increasingly tumultuous world. It's now clear that it offers a path towards introspection and healing for Black women who often feel like they’re denied that freedom. As Six says, “I don’t think people really ask Black women a lot of questions. I think astrology allows Black women a space to feel cared about in a way I don’t think historically we’ve gotten to feel in a very long time.”
It is increasingly evident that Black women are tired of fighting workplace inequality, systematic racism, and societal injustice. We are providers and protectors of our families, and we’re expected to prioritise the needs of others before our own. Walker encapsulates that familiar weight on our shoulders when she says, “We often hold space for others, and forget to hold space and care for ourselves in the process. We’re coming home to ourselves by connecting to our Indigenous culture and doing the deep healing work that was passed down from our ancestors."
"I think some of us are awakening to the fact that taking care of and healing ourselves is a radical act – it’s how we take our power back.”