In Conversation with Esmé Weijun Wang: On Self-Taught Astrology & Planning by the Stars

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If you don't already know Esmé from her debut novel The Border of Paradise and her other writings on mental illness and working with limitations, allow me to introduce you to your new favorite person.

Beyond her impressive literary resume (she won the 2016 Graywolf Nonfiction Prize for her upcoming book, The Collected Schizophrenias), Esmé Weijun Wang is one of the warmest people you'll ever meet. We've worked together in many capacities over the last few years, and I've often wondered how she uses astrology in her life, both professional and personal. Lucky for us, she was gracious enough to answer my questions here, where you can read them! Here's what she had to say about learning astrology, planning by the stars, and creating a spiritual practice.

Astrologically, Esmé has a Gemini sun, Taurus moon, and Capricorn rising. I attribute her inimitable sense of style to a combination of classic Capricorn glamour and a well-placed Venus in Leo. 


A: For those who are new to your work, can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?

E: I'm primarily known as a novelist and essayist—I'm the author of the novel The Border of Paradise, which has received some critical acclaim, and the winner of the 2016 Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, which means that I'm currently under contract to write an essay collection about schizophrenia. I also freelance for publications, including Elle, Lenny, Hazlitt, and Catapult.

On top of that, I run a small business at that provides resources for ambitious creatives living with limitations. I teach classes, make online courses and programs, and write blog posts and e-books. 


A: What was it that first drew you to astrology? Were there any specific goals or desires you were hoping to achieve by using it?

E: I was drawn to astrology because life is wild and weird and I like structure. I was seeking a framework for my life and for the universe, and astrology provides that for me.


A: You have an extensive academic background. Has that influenced your experience of astrology and the sacred arts, and if so, how?

E: Mostly, it means that I love thoroughness and erudition when it comes to any form of the sacred arts, which is in part why I love Briana Saussy's work so much. Same with Jessa Crispin. They're both incredibly smart and well-read, and that clearly informs their work.


A: Astrology is, most often, used as a planning tool. Do you use astrology to time events, and if so, how?

E: I do consult an ephemeris occasionally and keep track of what sign the moon is in daily, but I tend to consult folks like you when I have something that could use some expert scheduling. Signing a contract, for example, is something that I'd prefer to do on a day that seems astrologically sound. 


A: How would you describe your comfort level with astrology? In what ways has that changed since you started exploring the sacred arts?

E: I'm a neophyte. I use astrology, as I said before, but I go to experts if I need to get a sense of the astrological weather. Having said that, using your product, Elemental Astrology, taught me a lot about how to read a natal chart—I've done it for a few people now, just for fun. 


A: What resources or practices have you found to be most helpful in learning astrology?

E: Elemental Astrology is a great tool, and I'm not just saying that because it's your product! I also use Ezzie Spencer's Lunar Abundance practice. Finally, I refer to the Llewellyn Daily Planetary Guide, as well as the Llewellyn Calendar.


A: Now that you’ve learned how to read the stars, what does your astrology practice look like? Do you find yourself using it more as a mundane or spiritual tool?

E: My astrological practice is heavily moon-based at the moment; I track the moon phases and keep an eye on what sign the moon is in. If I do any rituals, they'll inevitably happen on the New Moon or Full Moon. I'd probably call these practices spiritual in natureI'm a seeker, and am perpetually reading spiritual texts from a variety of faiths (I spent a year researching Catholicism)—but am far from being able to say what my spiritual beliefs are with any certainty.

When I use astrologers such as yourself to plan with, astrology then feels like a more mundane tool. I check with you the way I'd check a weather forecast before going on a trip. I like knowing when retrogrades are happening. I like knowing what planetary occurrences—a Saturn return, for example—lend themselves to certain considerations or questions.