First Person: Joan Porte, astrologer and author

Photograph by Jonathan Timmes

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Interview by Amanda Long

I remember in high school buying a book about astrology, about the “sun signs,” the ones we, in the West, are obsessed with. There was a lot about me that didn’t fit into those quickie horoscopes in the newspaper. I’d studied enough about astrology to know that. Think of all the Scorpios who’ve ever been born and will be born. How can they all
have the same horoscope every day? I knew a piece was missing; I just didn’t know what it was.

So I did what I was supposed to. I got a BA in political science. I did “real things” you’re supposed to do. I was always searching, even if I wasn’t completely aware of the forces at work.

What’s funny is that I literally was always moving. I’m a fidgeter. I can’t sit still. I can’t shut up. My mother called me the talking machine. Lots of nervous energy. I found outlets for it. I was a PAC director in Washington — that’s a job that keeps you busy. I was a travel agent, helping others go places.

About 14 years ago, I found that missing piece. A friend invited me to hear Adam Gainsburg speak about karmic astrology and past lives. I took classes and opened myself up to my past life. Yes, I know this can sound a bit hooey, but when it feels right and when it lines up with what you know to be true about yourself, you keep listening. For example, when I was younger, Gemini men were always coming my way, and it was always bad news. I don’t get along with Geminis. Turns out, I was a Gemini in a past life. And guess what Geminis do? They fidget. They talk. They go, go, go. Knowing that truly helped me better understand myself. That’s what astrology can do. It can’t tell you the future. I can’t predict what my clients will do. I believe in free will. I give you the information; you make your own choices.

Astrology is like the weather: You can’t change the fact that it’s going to rain, but you can grab your umbrella and put on a coat.

For me to be able to say — to my friend who is an astrophysicist, to my sister who is a devout Catholic, to anyone really — that this is what I believe, that’s big. For me not to dismiss my beliefs as silly, when I see someone roll their eyes, how can’t that be a good thing?

I believe the planets exert forces on us. I believe we are all made of energy. I believe I am an astrologer. I believe in who I am. That’s a huge step.

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