In the “How To” section of Chani Nicholas’ debut astrology book, You Were Born For This, there’s a list of items you’ll need as you make your way through the book. Your birth chart, of course. A journal. Pens and highlighters. Water. Snacks. Already you feel cared for, soothed. The experience of making your way through Nicholas’ astrology guide slash workbook is, at its core, a soothing one. This is not a push notification interrupting your morning telling you not to catch feelings today, or a thread of tweets comparing your sun sign to wigs in Tyler Perry movies. (Hold on, that is brilliant, actually, copyright that.) Nicholas is not interested in making you feel bad because you are a Cancer or an Aquarius— she is interested in giving you the tools to better understand yourself, what you excel at, where you struggle, and why.
“Your birth chart is a snapshot the sky the moment you took your first breath. It marks your arrival here on earth, a celestial blueprint, if you will, that holds the keys to living a life of purpose,” Nicholas tells us. This ethos is echoed in the affirmations and reflection questions that are scattered throughout the book for the reader. Reviewing You Were Born For This isn’t as simple as telling you the writing is beautiful and refreshing (though it is), because I could hand this book to six different people and they would all engage with it in different ways. Think of it as a choose your own adventure for a reflective astrology practice.
The majority of the book is broken down into the “three foundational keys” of your birth chart: your Sun (your life’s purpose), your Moon (your physical and emotional needs), your Ascendant and it’s ruler (your motivation for life). One of my favorite touches of the book are the steps for committing to the process that Nicholas lays out at the start, urging readers to not give their understanding of their chart too much power in how they approach the world. She also asks that you promise to leave room for learning, and to not underestimate the wisdom that your chart can hold. Astrology is another tool for understanding ourselves, but it is not the only tool. To give you a clearer picture of how this book works, and why it works so well, I’m also going to give you a lot of information about my own chart! Buckle up!
Nicholas’ facility with language makes reading about the basics of your chart a delight, even if you are coming to the book with prior knowledge. Here, the planets are “the different characters in the play of our lives. Some seem like they are out to get us, foiling our every plot, while others are supporting our storyline.” The signs have “their own way of functioning, their own signature style,” and the houses are “the sets the where their stories are lived out.” Aspects tell you “which planets challenge you, which are gifting you and which are acting like a unit.” This was the first time learning about aspects really clicked for me— reading about their impact on my chart was incredibly eye opening— and Nicholas makes this information easy for readers to find by providing an interactive birth chart companion piece on her website.
From there, you dive into your sun sign, your life’s purpose. This is the one readers are likely to be most familiar with, this is the sign most folks know, even if they don’t know anything else about astrology. The sun is “your life force,” Nicholas says. For a Taurus like me, it means I “take the rushing, exuberant and unrefined energy of life make use of it.” That’s me, a bull, slow and steady, stubborn and impossible to push or rush. A tendency to become controlling, possessive, stuck in a rut. Each sign is given affirmations and selection of reflection questions. You could choose to journal them as you read, or take them in and go back when you are ready— there isn’t one right way to make your way through this book. I learned that my sun is in the tenth house, the place of public roles and career. “…your personality is used as a vehicle for your profession, or your identity is tied to roles that you occupy in the world,” Nicholas writes. There is another set of reflection questions here— one asks if “public praise seduces me, if I ever seek it out at a cost to my sense of integrity.” There, I simply wrote “HELP ME” in all caps and got a glass of wine.
The web companion is super helpful when it comes to figuring out the aspects to your sign; the relationship between planets. You’ll get lovely, easy to read chart that allows you to click on signs to see the aspects. Behold how my sun relates to the other planets in my chart.
Your moon is the next section, your physical and emotional needs. My moon is in Virgo, a sign that Nicholas tells me “creates safety and belonging by working hard, learning and developing skills.” My love of rituals and emotionally regulating by cleaning and ordering things is due to the location of my moon, so too is my tendency to be overly critical of myself and others. The affirmation that leads me to refill my wine is this: “My emotions don’t have to be understandable to be acceptable.” Huge if true! As with the sun sign, there are a set of reflection questions for your moon and as well as ones for the house your moon is in.
The final key is your ascendant, your motivation in life. It’s usually referred to as your “rising sign,” and it is the most personal sign. “It tells us what gets you going, gets you out of bed and sets you on the quest for life,” Nicholas says. I have a Leo rising, meaning I am “born to be the center of the situation.” Mmm, like sharing my birth chart in a book review, maybe? Of course, it also means I can be obsessed with myself, self absorbed, egomaniacal. “Do you admonish yourself for needing a certain amount of recognition, love, applause or appreciation?” Nicholas asks gently, accurately, devastatingly. Again, there are reflection questions for each rising sign, for the house your rising sign is in, for the planet your rising sign is housed in. You can also read about the other planets in your chart—what they mean for how you communicate (Mercury), how you take action (Mars), or connect (Venus). I learned the following about myself: Mercury is in Gemini, meaning I’m focused on understanding and distributing knowledge. Venus is also in Gemini, so I make connections via banter and social interaction. Mars is in Cancer, making me “a warrior waterlogged,” and “prone to passive-aggressive tactics.” This is all incredibly accurate. There is a ton of information here, so I’d urge readers to go slowly, and revisit the reflection questions often.
There is so much in this book, so much to think about, so much to wrestle with. I have sat down with it multiple times now, working through more of the reflection questions each time, getting more comfortable with feeling so clearly seen. I can’t wait for this book to become battered, to lose the book jacket and stain the cover. I can’t wait to lug it with me when I move, to reach for it when I meet someone new. If you are someone who likes astrology, who wants to know more about it, run, don’t walk to your closest bookstore. If you are someone who is curious about astrology, again I say: run, don’t walk. Even if you are someone who thinks astrology is not for you, I’ll say it again: run don’t walk. There is something for everyone in this book, it’s just waiting for you to find it.