WUSSY is proud to introduce episode three of the Ripe Podcast, hosted and created by Barry Lee. To keep these podcasts as accessible as possible, we will provide you with a transcript of the conversation each week.
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The purpose of Ripe is to share mental health experiences of the LGBTQIA community, which is extremely vast. I'm sharing stories that represent a single individual's path to getting to where they are now. Some might be quite different from your path, and others may reflect the path that you're currently walking on. Please venture into this podcast with an open heart and curious mind. My name is Barry Lee and this is Ripe podcast.
“The thing about astrology that I think is really unique is that it is access to the divine. You can call it God, the universe, and it's non-denominational and it's not judgmental. So many of us have been rejected by religion and our religious upbringings, and astrology just doesn't do that. Astrology is like these pathways to understanding how we are divine and how we are interconnected and our access to God, or spirit, or whatever and it doesn't have any kind of judgments in the same way that religion tends to. So, I think that's a really powerful thing.
I just think that my experience of queer community, and I know that my experience is not all experiences, but we tend to be quite sex-positive and there's a way in the memeiverse of things that astrology is not as opposed ... and I say that as opposed to actual astrology itself, it just tends to be very sex-positive and tongue-in-cheek and funny. So I think there's also just a cultural resonance when you're talking about online popularity of astrology in queer communities. So, there's all those different levels.
My experience as a practitioner is I do work ... the way that I structure my practice and my consultations is very much like therapy. It's kind of like life coach meets therapist, so my experience in that regard is that it is highly therapeutic, and I use it as a tool for therapy. I also think that there is a stage of development that we all go through, or there are many stages of development that we go through that kind of support us in using our minds to uncover and contextualize, and analyze and understand. Astrology is so useful for that stage of development where it's like, ‘Holy shit. You know, I am a Virgo, but also I've got all this fire in my chart and what does that mean about me and what am I?’ You know, like that kind of cognitive investigation into self is what astrology is really good for.
I think the limitations of astrology that a lot of people are not super aware of, or don't really talk about as much, is that the emotional integration, and the work of kind of accountability to the self is really emotional, right? It's emotional work, it is spiritual work, it can be behavioral work and astrology can give you insight, it can give you tools, it can give you kind of like strategies, but it doesn't do the work for you. I think that people can kind of get stuck with astrology, where they collect data, and data, and data, but then they don't integrate and synthesize that data and put it to use, so that's the downside of it.
I, as an astrologer, am really motivated to see people thrive. That's what I'm in it for, and when I see people using a really useful tool and then not realizing, ‘Oh, it's time to put this tool down and pick up another tool, and I'll come back to this tool later,’ when they just kind of were like, ‘Well, it worked for the last two years, so I'm going to keep on using it even though it's not exactly helping me progress,’ then I get concerned. So, I want to encourage people to understand the great potential of astrology, but also it's limitations so that you kind of get the most out of the tool.”
Jessica Lanyadoo is an astrologer and psychic medium based in Oakland, California. I reached out to her after listening to an episode of her own podcast called Ghost of a Podcast, where she talked about her own queer identity and I wanted to see if she was willing to talk more about that, and also managing mental health while being an astrologer and a psychic medium. When I reached out, she immediately said yes and I hope you enjoy.
“I honestly have always been into astrology. I remember being, I don't know, maybe five or six years old and I was Hot Wheeling it with some kids on the block, and I remember really distinctly thinking, ‘Well, I'm a Capricorn and that means that when I get my molars and my wisdom teeth, I'm not going to lose them. I'm going to keep them.’ And it is true that Capricorn and Saturn governs the teeth and the concept of wisdom, and maturity, and aging, and how did my little six year self know that? I have no idea.
I certainly wasn't around astrologers that were talking about it, you know? So, I kind of started with stuff like that, where I just would have these really clear thoughts or attitudes about signs and planets that I just don't think I could have known. That kind of continued so much that my mother, for my twelfth birthday, bought me my first astrology book and I studied that astrology book like it was a bible. It was by this guy named Sidney Omarr who was like ... He had these little scrolls. I'm from Canada. At every supermarket, there was little scroll and it was about your sign and your horoscope for the week, and it was very cheesy. It wasn't like high quality learning material, but I studied that book for years, and I studied it like a bible.
Then when I was 17, I went to an alternative CEGEP, and that alternative CEGEP, there was ... which is in Quebec, we have a two year government funded college program out of high school and called CEGEP. So I studied there with the psych teacher at the regular school, but at the alternative school, he was astrology teacher. He taught a beginning class and at the end of the beginning class, it was like, "Okay, so I'm moving to San Francisco as soon as I'm out of here, and I'm going to be an astrologer." Then I took the intermediate class and I literally packed a backpack. By the time I graduated and moved to San Francisco in 1994, because I was like, "I'm going to be an astrologer," and from there forward, I for the most part was self-taught. I've taken maybe one or two classes ever. I just read books, and studied, and practiced, and read books, and studied, and practiced and then it brought me here.
I hated my facial disfigurement as a kid. Man, did I fucking hate it. I hated it. It was a real source of pain and trauma, and I am grateful for it because there was no way I could have ever aimed for normal or conventional, and it just so happens I'm not a conventional or like, you know. Yeah, I'm just not the most conventional person in town, so it worked out well for me because it was like my face, my body was saying to me, ‘You have to go your own way. There's no other way to go.’
When I was very little, I think I was seven or six or something like that, I had a corrective surgery on my eye. It was supposed to fix it, and I have such a severe case of ptosis of the eye is what it's called, that it didn't fix it and yeah, kids were mean and awful and it sucked. And then, when I was about I think 16, maybe 16 or so, [inaudible 00:08:32], you know, the Canadian medical system allowed me to get it corrected. They told me my eye would be open and I would be awake as they cut into my eyelid, and there was a [inaudible 00:08:46] ... Yeah, super exciting. Like exactly what a teenage girl wants to hear, and that there would be a 75% chance that my eyes would never be the same shape and size. I was like, "That is a hard pass. That is an easy don't have to think twice about it pass," and that is in part because I wasn't being promised good results, it sounded terrifying and painful.
So, there is a part of that which is nothing brave or impressive. It's actually very fair base choice I made. Then, the other part of it is I really would have only had that surgery because I hated my face and I wanted to look normal, and at that age, I was able to say, ‘I don't want to do this because I hate my face. I want to do this for a different reason.’ As I've aged and my eyes are drooping more because FYI your skin gets thin when you age, it is not super chill. So this is why old ass people have wrinkles. We sack.
So since that has started, my experience of going to doctors is that it's kind of turned back up again, doctors saying, ‘Hey, you know, you got this fucked up thing on your face. We can fix it and it's kind of like a facial, like you know, cute thing,’ or whatever and I'm also at the age where a lot of my friends are doing Botox and getting cosmetic surgeries or whatever. My answer, for me, is still the same. It's I can't do it. I can't do it from a place of self-love, so I'm not going to do it at all. If the health problem of it gets worse, I will probably change my mind.
This idea of trying to help somebody who hasn't asked for help, and that kind of dovetails even into talking about how to be a sensitive person or a psychic person. It's like when you're offering help for someone who didn't ask for your help, it's all about you. When you have a facial disfigurement, or when you look really different, people don't know what to look at. They're uncomfortable, and it's about them not being comfortable. It's not about them being concerned for your welfare, and that's okay. I don't think that's evil or anything, but having this has taught me a lot about people and what they will do to pretend that they're okay with things that they're really not okay with, or to not have to feel uncomfortable.
It's been an issue with clients. It's been an issue with strangers. It's never been an issue in terms of dating. One of the many joys of being a queer woman, a little difference goes a long way. I haven't personally found that it's an issue at all. For me, my experience of being queer, and I want to say culturally speaking, I've never been gay, I've been queer. You know, there's a cultural difference there. I haven't found that the people that I've been around in community have been like, ‘Oh, you're different. There's something wrong with you.’ They've been more like, ‘Oh, you're different. There's something interesting about you.’ I mean that's part of what is so wonderful about queerness is that it is not intended to be typical.
Being in tune holds it's own challenges, and one of those challenges can be to navigate your own mental health while you're trying to help and counsel many people. So, I talked with Jessica a bit about how she manages her mental health.
There's a lot of things that I do to navigate my sensitivities. One thing is I am obsessed with boundaries. I'm really obsessed. I don't read for my friends. I don't look at my friends' charts. I've been with my partner for almost seven and a half years, couldn't tell you what the degree of his sun or his ascendant was. I don't know where his Mercury is. I don't pay attention to that because I'm really fixated on minding my own business and engaging with what people show me of them.
So, as a highly sensitive person, it's not my business to manage other people unless they're paying me, or it's on the podcast or something, and that's not like ... you know I know it's very popular to be like, ‘Pay me,’ whatever. That's actually not what I'm trying to say. What I'm trying to say is when a client comes in for a service, or a listener writes in from my podcast, we are in kind of like an agreement that I am going to peek into their dark corners. When I am hanging out with a friend, even if they think they want me to peek into their dark corners, they don't. Or, they do in this mood, but in two months, when they're doing something stupid, they don't want me to anymore.
I think that it's really important to have healthy boundaries, and it is a constant, ongoing practice. I have been getting energy work and energy clearing work done with somebody for, I don't know, almost 15 years, every week. I have a million self-care practices that are spiritual and energy work oriented. So again, this isn't about astrology what I'm naming, it is about me using what I know of my nature based on astrology, and then pairing other tools with it.
There's like two major things. One is astrology has oriented me towards self-acceptance because my chart is my chart is my chart. I am never going to have a different chart. I am a total boner killer. I'm triple Capricorn, sun, moon and rising. I am a pain in the ass. I'm never going to be anything other than that. I'm just a Capricorn and so when I came to a place where I was like, ‘Okay, so I'm going to accept this about myself, that this is what I am.’ Once I started to accept that whatever aspects I have in my chart, it helped me to kind of deepen my self-esteem because you can only work within your chart, aka your nature. That's it. You know, you get the one chart.
I really find that relieving because you can only work with what you got, you know what I mean? It's like if somebody gives you two colors of paint, well you can mix them, you could use them on their own, there's a lot of options, but there's only so many options within those two colors of paint, right? That, to me, is actually really like it's calming for my anxious nature. So there's that and then there's also transit astrology. So for me, knowing what's coming, what the spiritual lesson is, what the opportunity is, what the kind of like risks are, and then the finite period of time that it's lasting for, it brings me so much use. It really helps me.
I'm not happy all the time. I'm not calm all the time. I don't make good choices all the time, and I try to hold a lot of latitude for my mistakes and I don't mean like letting myself off the hook, but it is about being able to understand that for as long as we're alive, we're fucking up, and for as long as we're alive, we're going to have shitting transits, and those shitty transits are going to kick our asses and make us feel like we're shitty or life is shitty and so fucking be it, you know what I mean? Like it's just kind of like that's the path.
It's interesting, since I started doing my own podcasts, I've gotten the feedback from a lot of people that I'm positive. They're like, ‘Oh, you're so positive.’ Every time people say that, I'm stunned because I am incredibly not positive, but what I am interested in is being constructive.
So, I'm like ‘Life sucks. Life is tragic. Everything hurts and this is what we're going to do about it,’ right? So I'm not a positive person, but I am a constructive person because I feel like well, if we're going to be here, let's just do what we got to do and how can I leverage this to the best of my ability to get the most positive out of it, you know? And that, astrology really helps facilitate doing that.”
Social media has really helped to popularize astrology. Jessica talks about the pros and cons about that popularity, as well as the meme culture behind astrology.
I am very concerned about children. I don't have children, I don't want children, I'm not a parent. I am grateful every day that I don't have children. However, I think about kids all the time and I think about children's welfare all the time. Something that I'm really concerned about is that kids are posting images of themselves through really vulnerable developmental phases and there's a stage of development where young people don't have fully cultivated empathy yet, you know? Even people, you know, kids who are empathetic, aka psychic, it's like a human development thing, right? Like kids are mean to each other and they're mean to themselves.
So social media is an incredibly destructive tool in that regard. I think comparing yourself to others is something everybody copes with, but when you're a kid, it's incredibly destructive. You simply cannot have the tools yet. No matter how mature you are, no matter how great your parents are, I mean there is a limit to the tools that you can have when you're a teenager. So, I think about that a lot and I have grave concerns about it, and the kind of things that resonate with truly young people are not necessarily the best and highest quality things, right? So that is a deep concern that I hold and I don't have any kind of solution around it, but I think about it a lot.
But then the thing about social media, I mean I have been in private practice for many years before social media was a thing, and I've only really come to social media in the past couple, few years, so maybe I'm a bit of a late adopter to it. It really confused me for a while, but I really like being able to offer free and accessible services to people who never could or would get a reading from me. That is really important to me. I consider it to be part of the service that I feel called to provide and I really, I deeply, deeply value being able to do that.
I also value being able to model healthy boundaries by saying no to people, honestly. So, I don't always enjoy the process of people being like, ‘Give me a free reading. Tell how that directly impacts my chart,’ you know, but at the same time, I think that social media is a space for young people, right?
I'm in my mid 40s and I am not exactly a young person anymore, and I am happy to be able to share space and be like, ‘Hey, this is what a boundary is. This is respectful conduct.’ I'm not saying that that's like an old person thing, not a young person thing, but I mean the whole point of aging is hopefully you accrue actually and integrate skills, right?
So I feel a sense of kind of responsibility and opportunity in that with social media, but the other thing I should say is that I am kind of on alert for a serious backlash to astrology because of how much kind of stereotypical jokey and unvetted astrology content there is on social media. Unfortunately, it only serves to reinforce the kind of popular idea that astrology is vague, general, inaccurate and not real. So, it is what it is, what it is.
I don't want somebody who's not an expert explaining it to me. You know, I'm such a fucking Capricorn that that's just me and a lot of people would disagree, and I know that because many of those people who disagree are my friends. A lot of times the social media accounts that have the highest engagement are really just stereotypes and jokes. I love jokes, and astrology stereotypes are funny, but they don't do anything for the cause of astrology being a more acceptable and accessible tool for people. As astrology is my life's work, it kind of is a big deal to me.
I do my best to keep this podcast under 30 minutes. I really struggled a lot, and this was a good struggle to condense as much of this conversation with Jessica that I had as possible, and so I decided that there will be two episodes with Jessica. So, you just heard part one and next week, there will be part two. Jessica dives more into her own queer identity and talks even more about astrology stuff.