Horoscope Guru Colin Bedell on Witches, Geminis, and Learning to Love Mercury Retrograde

For Cosmopolitan horoscope writer Colin Bedell, understanding the centuries-old practice of astrology isn’t just a fun party trick—it’s a way of life.

In his new book, Queer Cosmos: The Astrology of Queer Identities & Relationships, the gay Gemini pairs the latest insights from relational theory with his insightful, easy-to-understand astrological expertise. Gone are the days of unnecessarily gendered horoscopes or compatibility readings for couples; Queer Cosmos eschews gender norms and pronoun-specific insights in favor of a more inclusive reimagining of relational astrology.

NewNowNext recently spoke to Bedell in anticipation of the book’s release.

Hi, Colin! When did you first become interested in astrology?

I started really studying the system and learning the conversation when I was 12. My mother had read Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs, and she was just always speaking about it in the house. It was a part of my vocabulary, really. And then when I was around 11 or 12 years old, I had a crush on somebody, and she goes, “Oh, just ask them for their birthday and then you can get a gift for them.” So I found out the crush’s birthday, and the next thing I know, I’m learning about what the gemstone is for Aquarians.

When did you transition from a hobbyist to a professional astrologer?

It was out of necessity, really. My best friend, who is a queer woman, and I decided to offer different conversations about astrology. Her name is Christina Mui, and we founded @QueerCosmos [on Instagram] in 2017. That was June 6, 2017, and then two weeks later, I was fired from my day job. Hence, the necessity.

Wow. There are certifications astrologers can obtain that have been described as “metaphysical SATs.” Do you believe they’re necessary to pursue a career in astrology?

Honestly, I was just like, “Yo, fuck it. I don’t want to do anything else.” I’d been talking about it for years. I’d been supported by other colleagues in the field who had said, “It’s time—just swan-dive into it.” That’s really when I started, in June 2017. Fortunately, the editors at Cosmopolitan magazine offered me a horoscope position that following August. And in November, I was offered my first literary contract.

Queer Cosmos offers a pretty comprehensive introduction to different aspects of one’s natal astrological chart. Was the book written with total beginners in mind, or did you gear it toward astrology enthusiasts?

I tried to make it more accessible and introductory, because one of the cornerstone notions I have is if it is not accessible to the poor, it is neither radical nor revolutionary. With a lot of astrological information, I think it could be extremely intellectually inaccessible, and that has a lot of classist undertones.

Do you have a favorite section or chapter of the book?

Probably the introduction of the relationship compatibility section. I realized after I was finished with the book that the field of relational astrology has become my new favorite [niche]. I was excited to just reframe conversations like What is love? What are apologies? What is forgiveness? We use these words all the time, but what do they actually mean? And what do they look like in practice?

What would you say to astrology newbies who are skeptical but curious?

I don’t think metaphysics and research are mortal enemies. I think we can hold space for both, you know? What are the empiricists saying about this information? And what preexisting astrological theories support that research? Like, let’s put them together, because it is growing polarization—believing in “this or that,” “either/or,” binary thinking—that got us here. I’d like to bridge that gap a little bit more. Of course, it’s going to be vulnerable and tricky, and we’ll drop the ball a little bit. But, hey, we’re trying.

What do you hope readers will take away from Queer Cosmos?

It’s actually something [Belgian psychotherapist] Esther Perel’s work is constantly instilling—it’s that the quality of our life is determined by the quality of our relationships. Those are not my words, but [having readers understand] that would really make me happy. And I think queer people have such a fucking phenomenal vantage point for this, because the minute we came out of the closet, we were then allowed the space to reimagine and restructure relationship norms, intimacy, connection.

Astrology is having a moment in popular culture, particularly among LGBTQ people. Why do you think queer people look to the stars for guidance?

There are fascinating cultural theories and research about how queer people have always loved witches—this idea of people using their “otherness” as a source of power, and also leading this double identity. The witch passes as normal, but she’s carrying these really strong magical powers. I think queer people can subconsciously gravitate towards metaphysics, because we know that there are otherworldly powers that we can claim for our identity. Also, there’s a real beauty in the fact that [astrology] speaks to many different articulations of identity beyond a centralized notion of sex, sexuality, and gender.

Cleis Press

We’re both Geminis, so we’re acutely aware of the bad rap our sun sign gets. What’s your response to the deluge of anti-Gemini sentiment?

Oh, my God. How much time do you have? [Laughs]

For this conversation? All the time in the world.

Every zodiac sign stands for something, and Gemini stands for change, connection, and conversation. The four scariest words anybody can hear are “We need to talk.” People love fixed, rigid, linear, simplistic, binary, either/or, this-or-that, black-and-white thinking. Geminis are black, white, and every color of the rainbow. Like, hello?!

As of writing, Mercury is stationed retrograde, which is one of the most feared astrological phenomena out there. Even RuPaul is wary of Mercury retrograde! Do you have any survival tips for this period of time?

This year, we’ve all had Mercury retrograde in the three water signs. So emotionality, intuition, subconscious—things like that are coming to the surface. And each Mercury retrograde provides a jewel of wisdom. It’s really just a matter of, What parts of my emotionality, my intuition, my imagination have I shoved back to the metaphorical closet? What unresolved things am I ignoring, distracting, denying, numbing? How am I resolving it? How am I integrating it? And then, How can I move forward with this wisdom?

Easy there. You’re starting to sound pretty pro-Mercury retrograde.

I love Mercury retrogrades. Honestly. I think they’re fantastic! [Laughs] They’re fun. They’re enchanting. They’re surprising. It shows that we don’t have control of anything. So just take your hands off the steering wheel.

Queer Cosmos is out November 12 through Cleis Press.

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

@_sammanzella


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