When I signed up for the Astro Twins 'Become Your Own Astrologer' retreat in Tulum, Mexico, I had no idea it would have a profound healing effect on my relationship with my mum. But, looking back, I can absolutely credit lessons I learned that week with us having the sort of mother-daughter relationship now that I never thought would be possible for us.
Like many women, a distance began to develop between my mother and I as I transitioned into my teens. I no longer needed her in the same way, and as my independence grew, I became aware of the differences between us. She was highly emotional and family-oriented; I was adventurous and career-focused. As I grew older, following a path in fashion journalism, her work in the healing space seemed a million miles from the world I now inhabited.
The distance had grown considerably when I moved in with my then boyfriend aged 18. I maintained regular contact with her, but our monthly lunch dates felt like a duty, the conversation mainly revolving around what was going on in her life. There wasn’t much point in my sharing anything from mine, since I felt she wouldn’t understand. Any 'advice' she did have for me felt intrusive, and often landed wide of the mark.
Not that it registered as a problem, the fact we didn’t seem to 'connect'. If anything, I viewed friends who described their mothers as 'my best friend' with suspicion. Was it even healthy to have maintained such strong ties? And it wasn’t as if there was any animosity between us. We were affectionate with each other, and had never had a big bust-up. I would have told anybody who asked that we had a loving relationship.
But things came to a head after I moved to New York in my mid-thirties. Our relationship moved to Skype, further emphasising the lack of connection. And then there was the discomfort of spending three whole days in each others’ company when she came to stay. After one particularly awkward trip, neither of us mentioned another visit. It seemed the physical distance had driven the wedge further between us, and, increasingly, I was saddened by the thought that we’d only grow further apart as the years went by.
It was shortly after this that I signed up for the Astro Twins’ retreat. Having always been fascinated by astrology, I was in the process of setting up my website, The Numinous, an online magazine covering all things esoteric but through a chic and aspirational lifestyle lens. A “Become Your Own Astrologer” retreat in chichi Tulum would make a great story, and I was a fan of the Twins’ down-to-earth approach to the science of the stars.
Before setting off, along with our own time, place and date of birth, we were asked to provide birth details of somebody whose chart we wanted to examine in relation to our own. One of the workshops would focus on astrology as a way to help us get along with anyone 'even that person', as the Twins’ put it. When I emailed my mum to ask for her time of birth, I could tell she was intrigued. As was I.
The workshop in question was on 'Synastry', which involves looking at two birth charts side-by-side. The idea is to compare the position and distance between the planets in your chart and another person’s, the 'aspects' these formed giving clues as to how you relate. In astrology, some aspects suggest harmony and ease, others tension and conflict (studying the aspects planets make to each other being how astrologers read the skies to deliver daily, monthly and annual horoscope forecasts).
There were certain planets to focus on when examining my chart in relationship to my mum’s: The Moon, representing our emotional needs; Mercury, our communication style; Venus, how we give and receive love; Mars, how we express anger; the Sun, our innate personalities; and the North Node, or karmic destiny point. And wouldn’t you know, every aspect between these planets in our charts pointed to friction, the need to compromise, and to make some hard adjustments.
The Twins describe astrology as a tool for 'radical forgiveness', meaning it can help bring some perspective to our relationships with others. Rather than take things personally when somebody else treats us a certain way, we’re able to appreciate the differences between individuals as being somehow “written in the stars.” Not to mention, as valuable opportunities for our personal development.
For example, my Moon being at 20 degrees of Cancer and making an exact 'semi-sextile' aspect to my mother’s Moon at 20 degrees of Gemini, helped explain to me a very succinct difference in our emotional needs. Namely, her need to share every aspect of her emotional life and my need to keep my emotions private. The semi-sextile suggesting that we each had something to learn from (and forgive about) each other’s emotional 'style'. How I chose to use this information was on me.
Sharing my astrological discoveries with my mum was the first step, my new understanding of her emotional and communication needs helping me 'open up' in a different way. And as soon as I did, I felt her love—which I realized I’d been denying myself by shutting her out of my emotional life—flood in. This alone has helped me feel supported by her in ways I never knew I needed.
And over the past three years, brick by brick, we’ve built a new foundation for our relationship that feels solid as the Earth’s core. To the point that when I finished the manuscript for my book Material Girl, Mystical World—which details my transformational journey from working in fashion to creating The Numinous—the first person I wanted to read it was her. It’s even dedicated to 'My Pisces'—referring to both my husband, and my emotional, intuitive, compassionate, and ultimately loving mother.
Material Girl, Mystical World: The Now Age Guide for Chic Seekers and Modern Mystics (£12.99, Harper Thorsons) is out May 4.