Can an astrologer tell you everything you need to know about love?

Illustration: Emily Flake

Like most New Yorkers, I’ve gone to therapists sporadically throughout my life. But before researching this column, I had only met one astrologer. Although I enjoyed astrology—in a very unserious way—I’d only used it to superstitiously check if a new crush’s love sign was compatible.

Six astrologers later (see next page), it’s not even a contest. If you never follow another piece of my advice, I’m begging you, take this one: Call one of these women. Screw Chicken Soup! This is massage for your soul.

Forget the stupid 15-word horoscopes in back of the paper—that’s not astrology; that’s a fortune cookie. These women are the real deal, the kind of astrologers who map out detailed birth charts, mathematically plotting each degree and planet, studying the chart with the intensity of Talmudic scholars. They’re more akin to spiritual guides. And haven’t you always sort of wanted one?

I didn’t expect enlightenment (I’m an atheist), but in the midst of my research, which spanned a few months, I went through a horrific breakup and a mini-existential crisis. And suddenly, a spiritual guide didn’t seem so extraneous anymore.

While it arguably felt more revelatory because I’m in the middle of a cathartic transformation, each of these women spoke with astonishing clarity about career, family and love. Perhaps because they were unburdened by emotional proximity, they had insights that eluded even my closest friends and family.

“We have one hour to do what a therapist does in two years,” says Shelley Ackerman.

Except, unlike traditional therapy, I felt an overwhelming warmth and certainty that was very reassuring. They observed so actively, I felt as if they were, well, reading my mind!

“Astrology is about awareness,” Ackerman explains. “I don’t call myself a psychic”; although from the accuracy of her reading with me, she might as well have been. “I’m very intuitive.”

These women get it. They didn’t answer my questions with more questions (“So you got dumped. How do you feel about that?”). They answered with wisdom and guidance. They call themselves counselors, but I think of them as chiropractors—they took my psyche and cracked it back into alignment.

But can mapping the stars and the planets really give them special prescience? I don’t know. What I do know is that when I talked with these women, I felt better.

I entered Ann Johnson’s Central Park West apartment overwhelmed with anxiety, and I left calmer than I’d been in weeks. I got off the phone with Kyle King and found my head clear, my breathing even, my sleep more sound. When I’d finished speaking with Rose, I felt lighter and more optimistic about my love life.

In every single case, I left happier than I was when I walked in. And isn’t that what we’re all searching for in therapy anyway?


Julia’s black book

Ann Johnson

Kathleen Deyo

Shelley Ackerman

Kyle King

Rose “The East Village Astrologer”
(E 9th St between First and Second Aves,

Jackie Barrett

E-mail her at

See previous Julia Allison on Dating