Roughly a decade ago, Autostraddle got born into the world out of Riese’s NYC apartment — the same one interns would later overtake, that Laneia would stay in, that so much queer digital media history would be made in. Like all things Autostraddle, our first day was haphazard and also a triumph, as detailed in Riese’s Birthday Issue Letter From The Editor:
Ten years ago — on March 8th, 2009 specifically — Carly came over to my apartment on Claremont between 124th and 125th. I asked her to bring wine ’cause Alex and I’d been working on the website all day with Tess (she built it), so we wouldn’t have time to go out. According to my email, I was trying to figure out if anybody had heard of this VJ named Ruby Rose from Australia. Crystal could maybe get an interview if we wanted her to, but nobody had, so we didn’t.
Ten years later, we have survived missing out on that first interview with Ruby Rose and so much else; it’s remarkable that we’ve been here long enough to put together this Birthday Issue looking back. For the last week of this issue, beloved astrologer Chani Nicholas has graced us with a reading of Autostraddle’s birth chart, looking at what the stars were doing the minute we came into the world and what they’re telling us now.
Autostraddle was born with a waxing gibbous moon, which means that the moon was almost full. This lunar phase gives the chart a feeling of expectancy. It’s like a pregnant body that’s about to give birth — the contractions haven’t yet begun but they’re going to any second. There’s a feeling in the chart and possibly the company itself of being on this precipice of greatness accompanied with a deep desire to fulfill a great mission. This lunar phase also has a heightened awareness of what is missing, what it needs to get right.
Autostraddle’s waxing, gibbous moon in Leo is in the 12th house. The moon in Leo is not alone, however; it sits with the asteroid Sappho, poet from the isle of Lesbos.
I repeat, the moon is sitting with the asteroid Sappho of Lesbos. It’s not a tight conjunction (they are 11° apart) but given the nature of the publication, I’m going to run with it.
The moon in Leo wants to self-express and unpacks the life purpose of the company through being dramatic, funny, lovable, and playful. In the 12th house much of the daily life of the company happens behind the scenes and possibly wants to help express what has formerly had to remain hidden, locked away or made invisible. With Sappho, the moon waxes poetic about all things on lovely on Lesbos.
In the first house we find Ceres, Goddess of the Grain, and Saturn, the Stern Sister. This combination is very nourishing and nurturing, but in a specific, analytical and structured way. Saturn in Virgo wants things to be better than right, it wants them to be precisely perfect.
The progressed lunar phase that you’re in now, which is an astrological timing technique, tells us about the stage of growth that you are currently in. Right now you are in the third quarter phase. What that means is that it’s been important for the last couple of years to really get very clear on what it is you have to keep and what to let go of — there’s a refining that’s happening now that the future of the company itself depends on.
Autostraddle’s chart has a Virgo Ascendant. The ascendant or rising sign means speaks to the impression that the company wants to make upon the world; it’s what it wants to be known for, and is its motivation for existing. The rising sign, the ascendant, is the part of the chart that is most personal part of it.
Having Virgo rising means that the impression that you want to make upon the world is one of being correct, of being on point, being precise and being really skilled and able to give out information — because Virgo’s ruled by Mercury, give out information that feels useful and practical to people.
The main motivation for the publication is to be known as an entity that is critically savvy, is intelligent, known for its skill — also because Saturn is there, it wants to be really rigorous about that without being too limiting to the creativity of the organization. Ceres in the first house wants to be incredibly nourishing and giving. For Autostraddle, I think what it signifies that kind of care-giving identity, but one accompanied by an unrelenting critique. Your ability to have an incredibly precise point of view is part of your brand. The ability to pick out what’s wrong is really heightened in the chart because the ascendant’s what the chart wants to be known for: being nourishing, nurturing, exacting, critical and really useful.
Ceres is also an asteroid whose myth is all about death and renewal and regeneration. And so there might also feel like there’s these periods of that big overhaul of death and rebirth that the company goes through. Then the ruler of the ascendant, the planet that steers the direction of the life of the organization is in the seventh house of marriage, and relationships, so it’s important to commit to the right partnerships.
Venus rules the second house, so rules how the publication makes money, and also rules the ninth house of publishing. Venus in Aries is in the sign of its detriment, meaning that Venus is in a sign that means it functions in an opposite way.
Venus in Aries signifies doing gender in a different way than what is expected of it. Because Venus rules how the company makes money, it’s important that Autostraddle speak to those Venus types (women, femmes, non-binary folx) who feel devalued by the societal norms of gender that they are forced to exist within. It’s also important to let the voice of the “other,” the Voice of Venus in Aries, speak.
The way in which Autostraddle supports itself is by honoring the Venus archetypes that aren’t appreciated in the world; queer, bisexual, and lesbian women, femmes, trans and non-binary folx. Autostraddle’s Venus is also retrograde, and in Aries this gives it a feeling of surviving great odds. This is a Venus on the battlefield, going through intense situations — the strength is there, no doubt, but I wonder where’s the ability to relax and feel into one’s own abundance? And what does abundance for Autostraddle look like? What would it mean for the organization itself to work on its communal perception of bounty, pleasure, joy, and ease?
Venus, retrograde and in Aries, is in the eighth house of shared resources, mental anguish, grants, loans, and inheritances. If I’m not mistaken, one of the ways in which you have been funded was through a grant from the Chicana lesbian activist and philanthropist, Jeanne Córdova? (Editor’s note: yes, we were!) This very much falls into the symbolic interpretation of receiving money from a person whom herself was a Venus retrograde in Aries archetype.
The ninth house of publishing is ruled by Venus. In your ninth of publishing is Vesta, and Vesta is the goddess of dedication, devotion, and investment. There’s a feeling of being very dedicated to either forces of wisdom or information that are that are secret or sacred — Vesta is the asteroid of temple priestesses. There’s this need to keep the flame alive, to have a certain type of spiritual or philosophical wisdom. If we look to the ruler of that, Venus in Aries, and it’s retrograde and it’s the eighth house — the publishing and the resources that that the publishing requires go back to those collaborative efforts that need to be made. I could see that resources and resource development is a place of challenge, because Venus is kind of compromised and she’s retrograde, so there’s a feeling of going into the underworld and going to the brink or to the edge in terms of finances and then coming back again.
Autostraddle has Saturn on the ascendant and Saturn is the taskmaster — Saturn is rigorous, Saturn is disciplined, Saturn is definitive. There’s this desire to deliver the Virgoan information — something that is specific and curated in a way that feels useful to folks —and having Saturn right on the ascendant feels great responsibility and a weight to do so properly. It also can be really scrutinizing, Saturn in the first house, so the publication itself might be known for being able to delineate what it wants to be and what it doesn’t want to be. Having a specific point of view is very appropriate and necessary for Saturn in Virgo in the first house.
One of the bigger transits that you’re going through is having Saturn moving through your fifth house of creative self-expression. There’s a big theme of wanting to tighten the ways in which you’ve been utilizing the creative resources of the company itself and bring it into a greater form and structure. It’s been happening since the end of 2017, when this pattern went into place, and so it’s like all of 2018 and 2019 thus far.
There’s been a need, astrologically speaking, to keep understanding the ways in which the machine itself needs to be constructed in order for it to run efficiently and to be utilizing people’s creative resources in the best of ways.
What’s happening right now is that Uranus is going back into Taurus. It was there from May 2018 to November 2018, and it just went back in. Taurus is your ninth house of publishing, so it feels like there’s this really new energy coming in. There’s something that you’re being asked to do even more differently than you already do — I don’t know if that’s possible. A new piece of technology, a new change to the game or change to the industry, a way to be online that engages your audience in a way that feels like, “Ooh, that’s new and different, and like a little jarring.”
It feels like you need to grab people’s attention in a different way or from a different angle, and it does feel like there wants to be some change to the way in which you’re publishing and/or the longer kind of trajectory of the company itself — a new element being introduced into it. If there’s a change that’s a little unforeseen that’s coming, that’s going to help to change whatever it is.
Thank you to Chani for this look at our past and present, and thank you to everyone taking us into the future, whatever the stars hold for us.