Humankind has forever looked to the stars for answers, whether those questions are about our love lives, financial destinies, or simply what our true nature is. Astrology, which first began as a simple system of predicting seasonal shifts and their effects on our lives, was developed into a system that could foretell everything, give us assurances about the future that nothing else could. The ancient Babylonians developed their own astrological system, and so did the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Indians.
Why Astrology Is Forever…Every major culture and religion in the world—even today—alludes to the movements of the sun, the moon, the constellations, and other heavenly bodies when recommending to their members when and how to conduct their lives. We Indians don’t need to be reminded about the value we place on astrology, because no matter what our religion or region of origin, our lives—from when weddings take place to when we start a journey—are subtly run by astrology and its recommendations. Unless you’re a sceptic, that is.
In recent years, millennials and gen Z have found a new love for astrology, fuelled by social media platforms and memes that reflect the “badass” nature of every astrological sign there is. But yes, Western astrology has emerged as a clear winner in this regard, primarily because it has such a global appeal. While astrologers like Bejan Daruwala were a mainstay of our childhoods, new-age astrologers like Dorothea Lasky and Alex Dimitrov, aka the Astro Poets, have slowly captured our hearts with their hilarious and relatable content.
…And So Is Linda GoodmanBut if there’s an astrologer who has truly revolutionised the way people enjoy and adopt astrology, it’s Linda Goodman. Born Mary Alice Kemerly on April 19, reportedly 1925 (she never wanted to reveal the year she was born in), Goodman was a newspaper reporter, radio writer and broadcaster. The New York Times, in her obituary published in 1995, reveals that she started writing her first book on astrology after a job for her second husband, Sam Goodman, fell through. That’s how the eternally popular Sun Signs was born and published in 1968.
Sun Signs made waves as soon as it was published. It became the first astrology book to make it to the NYT’s Best-Seller List. The two follow-up books to this one, Love Signs (1978) and Star Signs (1988), were equally popular. In 1995, Goodman’s agent had revealed that her books have sold more than 30 million copies, have been translated into 14 languages, and continue to sell thousands of copies each year. Yes, even today. So popular is Goodman in the field of astrology that she still holds a place of authority today, decades after first being published. And all of this, despite not being a “trained” astrologer—just a brilliant writer with a rare passion and belief in astrology.
Everybody Loves Linda – Here’s WhySo, what makes Goodman so popular, especially among women, even today? It’s got to do with her writing style. Since before Nostradamus, astrologers have given their recommendations in the third person—which affords them an amount of mysticism and authority at the same time. But not Goodman. Her works are written in the first person, and she’s as open about her experiences as she is about what you can expect from every sun sign out there. Her works are accessible and relatable at the same time. She also draws heavily from the lives of historical figures and celebrities, which, when added to her sharp and elegant style of writing, makes her books very interesting reads—even if you don’t buy into astrology that wholly.
This style sets Goodman apart from all her peers, and the fact that she managed to do this through books, and not podcasts or videos or memes like current astrologers can do, makes her life’s work and contributions even more remarkable. But there’s one more thing that Goodman managed to do that has managed to win hearts even today: she makes you feel good about yourself.
Here’s a personal example: I first read Sun Signs at the age of 21, and reading the long section on the Capricorn Woman gave my self-confidence a boost. Getting body image issues while growing up isn’t unheard of, and neither is being faulted for being an introvert. Goodman managed to put anxieties regarding both at rest. While not everything she wrote about my nature was true in my case, that’s the sort of thing you have to set aside—this is a book for the masses, not your personal horoscope drawn up by an astrologer sitting in front of you.
But despite this one condition, which every believer understands anyways, Goodman’s works can uplift you, make you feel more comfortable in your skin, and make you feel that someone out there not only understands your quirks, but also thinks they’re the most natural things in the world. That toxic feeling that you sometimes get while talking to an astrologer who says you have a certain fault in your stars or palm lines, or when they say there’s something in life which you won’t be able to or shouldn’t be able to achieve—whether it’s a trip abroad or having a certain career—is absent in Goodman’s works. Instead of setting limitations as per your astrological sign, Goodman focuses on your positives and handles negatives with such panache that you feel hopeful about dealing with adversity rather than feeling hopeless about it. And that, in short, is the reason why women today can still fall in love with Goodman’s works.