Cancer Sun, Stonewall Rising: Chani Nicholas Chats Birth Charts and the Birth of a Movement

The queer queen of astrology aims to uncomplicate the cosmos with her new book, "You Were Born for This."

“I feel so cared for by New York.”

That was how Chani Nicholas, heralded as “the internet’s favorite astrologer” by The New York Times, prefaced her Brooklyn Talks event this Thursday with Books Are Magic at New York’s Brooklyn Museum.

If anyone knows what feeling truly cared for looks like, it’s Nicholas. An accomplished L.A.-based queer astrologer whose work spans decades, Nicholas is the author of You Were Born for This: Astrology for Radical Self-Acceptance, her comprehensive, easy-to-understand astrology guide-workbook hybrid, out now from HarperOne.

She’s also close friends with Tourmaline, an NYC-based activist, filmmaker, and visual artist widely credited with re-inserting Stonewall legends Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson—both queer and trans women of color—back into the mainstream narrative of the momentous 1969 riots.

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Chani Nicholas.

When Nicholas and Tourmaline sat down to chat about their respective work, something divine happened. Synchronicities and connections are two hallmarks of astrological phenomena at work, and true to form, the duo made magic onstage (and in front of a sold-out crowd of almost entirely women and queer folks). Pulling from the expertise outlined in You Were Born for This, Nicholas analyzed aspects of Tourmaline’s natal chart in relation to Sylvia and Marsha’s planetary placements.

Her findings were illuminating: Like Sylvia, Tourmaline’s sun is in Cancer, meaning she experiences a strong impulse to nurture and champion others. It’s no surprise that both women are LGBTQ activists—and that Tourmaline, who also has an ascendant in Libra, tends to seek balance and uplift others, shining the spotlight away from herself. Sylvia, of course, spearheaded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a radical, grassroots activist group that provided direct support to homeless, incarcerated, or otherwise marginalized queer folks in the ’60s and ’70s.

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A poster of Marsha P. Johnson unveiled in May 2019, when NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced new permanent monuments in the works to honor both Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

How do Marsha and Tourmaline connect astrologically? Nicholas highlighted Tourmaline’s Venus in Virgo, which overlaps nicely with Marsha’s Sun in Virgo. The astrology expert also closed out the talk with a clip from Tourmaline’s short film Happy Birthday, Marsha!, which splices together archival footage of the civil rights pioneer and reenactments directed by Tourmaline. How’s that for a full-circle moment, on the eve of a full moon no less?

Before the event organizers opened the floor to questions, Tourmaline took the mic to thank Nicholas for her words, and her work to make astrology accessible to anyone and everyone.

“Everyone has a chart,” she told the crowd, to rapturous applause. “It’s a powerful thing to say, ’You were born for this.’ Literally every single person in this room was born for this.”

It’s safe to say Nicholas wasn’t the only person in the room who got choked up.

You Were Born for This: Astrology for Radical Self-Acceptance is out now.

Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.
@_sammanzella