Illustration by Ben Beechener

Thankfully our difference of opinion last week did not break us – as judged by you, it is clear that this is not a serious column. So, one delay due to a stint in isolation later, we are back and better than ever, ready to discuss a truly pressing issue facing our generation – the truth of horoscopes. Are you a confused Pisces wondering when Neptune (your ruler, of course) will next be in ascension? Or do you think people should be held accountable even if their stars are not aligning? Either way, allow yourself to be taken along with us, and see if we change your opinion.

Prosecution – Dearest members of the Jury,

Let’s imagine a scenario for a moment. 

Say you are head over heels in love with a person (Valentine’s Day is coming up, you know…), but you aren’t sure whether it’s going to work out. You want it to. You want assurance that it’s going to: firm commitment that you are not wasting your time. Faced with this extremely serious dilemma, the silly fantastical people among us turn to horoscopes. One quick Google search can prove unequivocally that you and your cheeky link are actually 99% compatible on intellect, 73% on sex, 85% on general good vibes. Or it can prove that you really have no chance whatsoever, that you aren’t “star-crossed lovers” after all. God forbid a Cancer gets with an Aries, the universe might collapse. So, as long as you aren’t a Cancer seeking affection in an Aries, you are great. (Apologies to all the Cancers and Aries’ couples reading this. I’m sure the Defense will suggest that you should break up.) After all, the universe is aligned in such a way that it’s never going to work out. (N.B Horoscopes are a load of rubbish, please don’t act on their advice, trust in your own relationship.)  But is your relationship going to be all fireworky because the stars are eternally in your favor, or because you are just seeing what you want to see? After all, you didn’t look at your sign’s compatibility with every other zodiac symbol. You just constructed the narrative you wanted to read: the one that got you where you needed to be. 

Sure, horoscopes are great, if you are so insecure in yourself that you need some external (made-up) source to validate the way you’re feeling. Have you ever tried turning to a friend? A therapist? A partner? Literally anyone that isn’t a great big ball of blazing gas? I’m not going to speak for you, or insult your intelligence but do you seriously want to be trusting major life choices to some wishy washy ‘you got this’ mantra phrases? If you do – then wow, I am scared. 

Maybe that was mean. I’m sorry. I guess I’m all wound up by the fact that my horoscope told me today to ‘workshop the thoughts swimming around my psyche’. Like, seriously? What does that even mean? 

But that’s just the thing. Horoscopes don’t mean anything. They are just a load of nice-sounding phrases (I mean, who doesn’t want to be told that their ‘ruler is in ascension’?) put together with pretty looking pictures. Aesthetically, horoscopes are a win-win. You can get merch, you can feel validated, you can play matchmaker. But do they really mean anything?  Of course not. Anything that can be found on the back of the loos in St Hilda’s JCR is hardly a valuable source of information on big life choices.

When do people check horoscopes? When they are looking for answers. Feeling down? Check your horoscope. Maybe it will tell you Jupiter looked at you funny last week. Feeling overworked? It’s okay, Mercury is telling you it’s fine to take it easy every once in a while. Horny? Well Venus has you covered for Valentine’s. People never check horoscopes unless they are looking for answers (consciously or unconsciously). Ergo, horoscopes are only there to offer some kind of superficial validation for the choices that are a little too big to make. 

I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be mean. Maybe it’s because Neptune is overcast today? 

Defense – Dearest, darling members of the JooP (yes this is being brought back) 

I know what you’re thinking. Horoscopes are just a load of generic affirmations, warnings or pieces of vague advice that could be applied to anyone and anything. I would like to propose to you a far less cynical and far more convincing account of astrology. However, let me warn you before I begin that what is to come will not be a supportive bolstering of all your poor life decisions – even if Mercury is in retrograde.

Dealing with any crisis is difficult and to be honest, if you were to go to “a friend, a therapist, a partner” could they really help you anymore than your horoscope? You relay to them only your perception of your feelings. They are not inside your head. They don’t know how you actually might be feeling. Their advice will carry as much weight as a horoscope. (n.b we, at The Blue, are not licensed therapists and do not offer an authoritative opinion, I repeat, once again, we cannot afford to get sued) They will tell you what you want to hear, or what they think you need. Horoscopes allow you to process and advise on your own terms. You can decide what is correct and accurate, and what has been misinterpreted or misunderstood. I am not saying stop talking to your friends and going to therapy  and only rely on horoscopes. But I do think it is close-minded of my learned friend to have jumped to such narrow-minded solutions. Yes, horoscopes are not that precise. Yes, we regularly read into them and apply them to our lives as we see fit. But does this make them any less relevant to us as we negotiate our lives?  

Let us take my learned friend’s romantic example. She argues that if we were to be disappointed by the stars, all affection would be lost and our hearts would grow cold. I don’t know about you, but this seems a dreadfully cynical way of looking at a relationship. If some stars not aligning would send you running for the hills, your relationship has bigger problems – or maybe you have commitment issues…However, if you, a Sagittarius, were astrologically destined to be with your other half – an Aquarius, for instance – then why would there be an issue in having that extra reassurance? I agree with the delight that is the Prosecution that if you are secure in yourself and your relationship, you can apply your horoscope, or the characteristics of your star sign, as loosely as you see fit. They should not be the be-all and end-all. They can’t be, as they are fundamentally not precise enough for that. 

Instead I would argue that horoscopes and your star sign are guide posts on which to reflect and find a piece of insight in the chaos that is life. Yes, we read into them and see whatever we want and not everyone born between 21st June and 22nd July is going to be the same (although actually, most Cancers I know are pretty similar – normally hit by all of the feels). But why is there an issue with reading into something and finding comfort? In a world that places less and less importance on religion and divine guidance, I completely understand why people fall on horoscopes to provide them with clarity. People will believe a fitness fad, or the words of politicians, or the empty bolstering of their friends in a crisis. So why shouldn’t they believe in the astrological movement of a big ball of gas? It was here before them. I’m sure it will be here after them. 

I see no reasons why life choices should not be based around horoscopes – they are vague and imprecise and entirely useful. In many respects, I view them like I view flipping a coin. Realistically, you are either pleased or disappointed by the outcome. You just needed an outside force to make the decision for you. Horoscopes are that outside force. You can ignore them or you can use them as justification. Either way they provide you with a deeper insight into what you already wanted. I’m comforted by the fact that no crisis has ever been made worse (unless of course your love-sick tarot card desperation did not elicit the results you wanted – my opposition knows what I am talking about) by consulting the stars. 

So, maybe don’t take the day off when Neptune is in retrograde (the use of “overcast” by my colleague makes a mockery. All opinions of hers should be wiped from the record, as she evidently isn’t taking this seriously), but I see no reason why you shouldn’t do some self-care.

Katharine Spurrier

Beyond her degree, Katharine enjoys reading both social commentary and culture reviews. This provision of both high and low insights helps to inform the articles she has written for The Oxford Blue which range from pop-culture, to literature, to food, and even dipping into sports on occasion.

Jessica Steadman

(somehow) Jess Steadman (she/her) is Editor-in-Chief at The Oxford Blue. She is a second year studying medieval literature at Univ and comes from (mostly) sunny Essex. However, what is much more interesting is that she is Director of our new investigative section, BlueLight. In case she didn't embody the Oxford stereotype enough, she is Captain of the Blues Karate Team and coxes on the Isis.