My Horoscope Diary: A Week Of Living By The Word Of Shelley Von Strunckel

When I was a teenager, I remember the shiver of excitement I would feel reading Shelley von Strunckel’s horoscopes at the back of The Sunday Times Style magazine.
At a time when everything was still to be discovered, when so much felt unknowable, it was like finding life’s ordnance survey map.
Shelley might hail from Los Angeles but she is Britain’s OG astrologer, securing the first ever horoscopes column in a broadsheet newspaper on this side of the pond. She is our Susan Miller.
I don’t need to tell you that millennials are obsessed with astrology. At this point, a thousand think pieces have been written about it and we know that online and print media publish them daily, weekly and monthly.
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Truth be told, I stopped reading mine recently. Last year, I went through a period of huge upheaval. Nothing made sense and I was desperate for it all to be part of some grand cosmic plan. I found myself reading my horoscope too often and looking for answers. If the one I usually read didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear, I’d find another. It wasn't healthy, I decided, and so I stopped. Cold turkey. Plus, I’d gotten bored of them. Classic Aries.
Recently, however, I’ve become intrigued again. Everyone I know seems to have downloaded astrology app, The Pattern. My friends share their daily Pattern updates on WhatsApp and it’s clear that we are all looking for answers at a time of great personal uncertainty – as we enter our 30s, the decade in which shit gets very real. And there's the small issue of global uncertainty. I mean, have you seen the news?

I call Shelley and ask her what she makes of it all. She tells me that people are wilfully misunderstanding astrology at the moment.

I call Shelley and ask her what she makes of it all. She tells me that people are wilfully misunderstanding astrology at the moment.
She says: "The point of this isn’t just outer events, but understanding the degree to which your inner understanding of yourself, your world and those around you shapes seemingly random events in your life."
Do go on...
"One tricky but crucial point is the old way of describing all of this, some say 'You are this way BECAUSE you are an Aries' which creates a passive paradigm, one I don’t support. I operate from the context that we 'choose' to be born under a sign whose characteristics suit our plans, lessons – and challenges. It’s the same with Mercury retrograde, the full moon or, in one’s own chart – these trigger events for us to deal with as thoughtful, increasingly powerful, self-aware individuals."
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Shelley is clear that for her, astrology is about looking at the stars but then "shifting the power away from the heavens and in the direction of the individual". She points out that not all of her colleagues share this view but as she sees it, "many of us have days when we long to have something/somebody else to blame...but down that road lies a powerless relationship with our own circumstances and with the world. However, it really is an individual choice."
Armed with this information I ask Shelley to do my personal chart and tell her that I will follow it for a week, applying this reading of astrology to every day’s horoscope.
Here’s what happened.
MONDAY
You’ve no objection to change. In fact, when life’s too predictable, you’ll create your own excitement or find a new challenge. Ordinarily, that works. Now, however, you’re urged to focus on life’s joys. True, it may mean waiting a while. Still, what’s coming your way is as stunning as it’ll be unexpected.
Guilty as charged. I do often feel hemmed in by routine and I embrace change, I relish it. It gives me a rush. I clearly remember sitting in the suburban Wetherspoons of my south London hometown and saying to a now very ex-boyfriend that he was "afraid of change".
One of the main challenges in my early adult life has been embracing stability. This has eased off as I’ve aged so these days it’s more likely you’ll find me in the bath rather than doing something reckless like texting someone saved in my phone under "DO NOT TEXT", resolving to leave a perfectly good job and/or relationship because I’m a bit bored or deciding to drive to Cornwall at 9pm on a Tuesday.
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Today, I do feel a bit stagnant. My biggest fear is strangulation by routine, finding myself desolate, Revolutionary Road style, in a loveless marriage while being overwhelmed daily by banality. So this urge to focus on "life’s joys" isn’t such a bad thing for me to take heed of.
I’m supposed to be going to a work event at parliament this evening but I’m exhausted. The news is making me miserable and I’ve been working really hard recently to finish a book which, I think, you could probably file under "things I have taken on when I’ve needed a challenge".
So I’m going to cancel all of my plans and go home.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine texted me and asked if I wanted wine he had going to waste. He’s from LA but his grandad, who died recently, lived in London and had lots of wine. I said yes of course and all 25 bottles of it arrived via Uber. Knowing nothing about wine, I google it and some turns out to be worth more than £100 a bottle.
When is the right time to open a £100 bottle of wine? I get home, run a bath, light a candle and decide that now is that time.
In the bath, I sit in near darkness and try to "focus on life’s joys". Am I doing it right? Is this what that looks like? This is probably the closest I’ve come in a long time.
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TUESDAY
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Usually, you’re the first to explore new ideas. However, actually making changes is another matter, something you want to undertake when, and in the manner, you decide. However, with the current eclipse triggering changes from the foundation upward, you’re better off getting involved and responding to changes as they arise.
I’m due to meet Shelley today at 4pm for a private consultation. Before we meet, she texts me her address and tells me there is a partial lunar eclipse in Capricorn today. It’s all about recognising your current reality and responsibilities, asking what your long-term goals look like and whether you’re happy with the way your life is going.
I have a busy day, which is the norm. At 3pm I set off, knowing I’m not going to be on time. It’s almost payday and, true to form, I’m not only running late but also seriously low on funds. One of the changes I am trying to make at the moment is to spend less and budget more.
Hurtling out of the door to get to Shelley’s apartment, my instinct is to order an Uber. Then I stop and think: Respond to changes as they arise.
I have an opportunity here. I’m at a crossroads, literally and metaphorically, as I’m standing between two merging streets by Old Street station. I could pay for a taxi or I could get the Tube. I take a deep breath and walk underground. In the end, I’m only 15 minutes late and I’ve saved approximately £13.50.
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WEDNESDAY
As a fire sign, you have a low boredom threshold. While that means you’re superb at juggling a range of tasks, challenges and intriguing events, if things don’t work out, you’ll often lose interest. Be wary of doing that now. Things may be moving slowly but the outcome will be thrilling.
I feel as though I’m really being dragged by the universe this week. I am an Aries. I get bored easily. But I’m trying to be more patient, okay?
For the last year and a bit I’ve been writing a book. It has been brilliant but testing at times because it’s a long, drawn-out process that has required prolonged periods of sitting. Writing a book is like being on a long haul flight for months. You’re excited and you know where you’re going but you just want to be there. Now.
I go to the gym to lift weights at 7.45am. I used to be allergic to exercise and over the last year the realisation that I’m someone who actually enjoys it enough to get up early and make time for it has been a revelation.
I deadlift 60kg. A year ago I struggled with less than half of that. It was frustrating, I just wanted to get straight to the heavy lifting, but that’s not how our bodies work. You have to repeat the same lifts over and over again, gradually increasing the weight. It makes me think, sometimes there are no shortcuts. Sometimes, you just have to stay focused and have faith that you will get to where you want to be eventually.
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THURSDAY
It’s worth reminding you that while the current planetary emphasis is on how and where you live and work, your ruling planet Mars is accenting life’s joys. Yes, that means finding ways to balance the two. And, ideally, every day. Impossible as that seems, focus on it. You’ll become very good at it.
I am smack bang in the middle of a very busy time at the moment. And I don’t know whether it has anything to do with Mars, but I have been thinking a lot about how I can better appreciate "life’s joys" because I have (finally) secured a stable home for myself and forged a career I’m fulfilled by.
Taking time to indulge in joy every day sounds so simple and yet I find it incredibly hard to do. My friend Flik makes beautiful objects with the specific intention of creating things that are a joy to hold rather than serve a purpose. At the moment, she’s working on Japanese-inspired stones wrapped in cane using traditional basketry methods.
She gave me one recently, and it’s beside my bed. I decide, in the interests of research, to sit and look at it for a bit without feeling guilty about the fact I’m not doing anything else. I study the stone’s imperfections and the way the cane has been woven together.
This has to be the least me thing I’ve ever done. Maybe this is all a bit Eat Pray Love but it’s sort of working for me and...I think…I am enjoying doing almost nothing?
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FRIDAY
This is a tricky week during a period of unsettling but ultimately worthwhile change. Not surprisingly, most everybody is on edge, including you. The fact is, being short-tempered about situations you can’t control achieves nothing. When dealing with these matters, go with the flow and focus on what you can shape or reorganise.
I get up early today to go and interview Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London. I decide to treat myself to an Uber because I have been good and not taken one all week.
In the car, I’m reading today’s horoscope on my phone when I realise that I am feeling very anxious. I think a lot of it is down to the news. We don’t need astrology to tell us that our entire country is on edge right now – on the edge of Brexit with a new prime minister and on the edge of some sort of complete collapse and rebirth which, whether we like it or not, we’re all being forced to participate in.
I have recently been feeling frustrated by it all, finding myself wanting to tap out. So I suppose that focusing on what I can control and shape is pretty sound advice. I’m going to start with booking a much-needed holiday because I have some time off coming up and I’ve yet to organise anything.
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SATURDAY
While everybody complains about the confusion triggered by Mercury’s retrograde cycle, which continues until 1st August, it has its virtues. One is that because so much is in transition anyway, often others will agree to changes that previously they’ve turned down flat. Try it. You’ll be amazed how flexible their attitude is.
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Mercury is in retrograde. This is not a drill. Everyone panic. Quick, post a meme about it.
One of the things Shelley said to me is that astrology is not about allowing the stars and planets to make decisions for you. As she sees it, that’s a misunderstanding of how to use your horoscope. It’s more about being aware of what might or could happen.
I feel like I’m going through a big transition.
I’m going to a friend’s house for a barbecue this evening but I’ve got somewhere else I need to be afterwards. I know from experience that this particular friend hates it when I double book. I decide to tell her upfront that I’m coming for a bit and then leaving to go elsewhere. I make it clear that I’ve put in the effort to show up. I am genuinely amazed by how flexible she is being.
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SUNDAY
It’s not that you’ve been secretive. That’s not your style. Rather, there are a number of issues you’ve sidestepped because the gulf between your views and those of others is so wide, achieving an accord seems hopeless. At least begin discussing these matters. You’ll be amazed how well things go.
Hmmmm. It’s true. It’s very unlike me to keep secrets. I’m terrible at it. I am unable to be anything other than completely honest and, frankly, sometimes that gets me into trouble.
Recently, there have been some big questions that I need to ask of family members, which I have been totally avoiding because I’ve been unable to see a way that we could possibly ever agree.
In the spirit of staying true to my horoscope, I decide to go for a long walk on Hackney Marshes, which is the closest thing to the countryside where I live. I call my mum while I’m walking and start to tell her about what’s going on and what I’ve been thinking.
She surprises me by agreeing with me which, I have to say, might be the first time in my life that’s ever happened. Maybe we all have more power over our own lives than we like to acknowledge. After all, Shelley has a point: it’s much easier to blame someone or something else – whether that’s your mum or Mercury is besides the point.
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