An interest in astrology and a quest for something spiritual led one young woman to the realisation she was bisexual. This is her coming out story.
I’ve always been fascinated by the stars and planets; in fact, by all things magical, mystical and otherworldly. As a child growing up on the Suffolk coast, trips to the beach would end with pockets weighed down with rocks (decorations for my windowsill ‘altar’) and my weekends were spent building fairy houses and concocting ‘potions’ in the garden.
Raised by self-confessed hippies – true “children of the 70s” who came of age when astrology was enjoying a huge swell in popularity – I was never discouraged from searching for answers. Rather, my parents always helped me search for the knowledge I was after.
Early on, they taught me how to recognise the Plough and the Archer in the vast East Anglian sky, brought me books on the constellations, and let me sift through my mum’s love-worn tarot deck. In a family of intermingled religious beliefs, we occasionally went to church for Christmas and Easter (more for my grandma’s sake than ours), but also followed deeply entrenched familial superstitions. Still today, I say hello to sole magpies for luck and throw spilt salt over my left shoulder to ward off evil spirits, just as my mother did and her mother did before her.
Over the years, that childlike fascination developed into a fun hobby. As a teen I swapped the kids’ books for teen magazine horoscope pages and online zodiac compatibility tests; in my early 20s it was for trendy astrology apps like CoStar and The Pattern and astrology memes.
That is until this year – aged 25 and facing a quarter life crisis, an ever-deepening flirtation with depression, questions about my identity that had been gnawing for years, and the global pandemic. Much like everyone else it seems, it felt like my life as I had known it was peeling apart and, like everyone else, I was forced to face it without the steady distractions of work and socialising. Perhaps unsurprisingly then, it only took an Instagram post to change it all.
From an account called @girlandhermoon, it read: ‘[L]isten to the calls of your Soul and take that step, the dots will connect themselves.’ Cheesy I know, but it felt like a lightbulb moment as I read it, back home to sit out lockdown, hunched over my phone in my darkened, childhood bedroom. I signed up straight away, subscribing to @girlandhermoon’s Flow with the Moon membership (monthly astrological and tarot guidance, rituals and ‘soul-based’ work). This, I remember thinking, would answer some of my questions.
I began with the monthly, then weekly ritual work, noting down the month’s moon cycle in a notebook (a brand-new hardback Moleskine for the occasion), alongside my own thoughts and feelings. I added the new and full moon dates to my wall calendar, dusted off the crystals that I had first collected as a child, and I pulled out my mum’s old tarot deck.
In doing the ‘soul work’, I pulled my way through a spring cloudy with fear and uncertainty to a summer of clarity. Quickly, I noticed my journal entries switched from general fear for the pandemic and reflections on the new normal we were living in, to reflections on my own deeper fears and feelings; things that I had shut out or pushed away for ease, like my attraction to women.
Month by month, meditation by meditation, diary entry after another, I slowly began to get accustomed with my sexuality in a way that I had never let myself do before. It was in the pages of that first Moleskine that I used the word ‘bisexual’ in relation to myself for the first time.
For weeks before I had even verbalised it to my friends or family, I poured out the fears and anxieties that had plagued me since I was a pre-teen and crushing on girls at school. It was terrifying at first. This was something that, though I had known deep down for years, I had never truly examined, learning early on as a teen that it didn’t fit in with my early understandings of love, lust and relationships.
What at first scared me, slowly began to settle as summer turned to autumn. Emboldened by my newfound spiritual strength, aided by weekly Zoom chats with my best friends where we delved into our internal lives perhaps more than ever, and long, lockdown walks with my mum, I eased out a confession to those closest to me. In each, I was acknowledging to myself over and over: this was my true self.
Every person I told was as supportive as I anticipated, reaffirming that the fear I had felt was more my own. A burden I had unnecessarily carried for too long – still though, a privilege that not all queer people enjoy.
As for many other queer people, my coming out has happened in stages. I’ve made nervous moves to date both men and women (not an easy feat during lockdown), but despite all the support I’ve received, it’s still been a process messy with tears, anger and confusion.
I’m still new to it all, tentatively enjoying my new-found sense of understanding and self-acceptance. I feel relief for the sense of familiarity and comfort it gives, like finally opening a locked door that has been shut too long.
Reflecting now, astrology did not alone help me come out. It is certainly my coping mechanism – a spiritual framework that I can ascribe meaning to. But it did encourage me to stop, reflect and burrow deeper than I have ever before.
Over a year of unpacking and building myself up again, astrology was my guide. Sure, many people will think it strange that I needed to look so far to understand something very close, but sometimes we need something greater and more powerful like the moon, sun and stars when we’re feeling small and hopeless. Even when that something big is thousands of light years away.
Photos provided by Esther Newman. Hero Image: Getty/Mostafa Ghroz / EyeEm