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November 06, 2020
Unholier Than Thou
Screw you, Mercury

In This Episode

This week, Phil is putting his phone down and looking up to the stars. First, he welcomes ABC News anchor and Ten Percent Happier founder Dan Harris to talk about developing mindfulness outside of an oppressive news cycle. After an on-air panic attack, he’s the expert. Next, Chani Nicholas joins to check back in on that finicky Mercury, explain why this week was such a clusterfuck, and if we have anything to look forward to in 2021 (we do).

Show notes:

Check out the Ten Percent Happier podcast and app

Learn more about Chani’s work

 

 

Transcript

 

[clip of Dan Harris] I mean, I think even a cursory glance at human history will suggest that it’s not like a hockey stick graph where it’s just all progress all the time. It’s a little bit more like an EKG.

 

Phillip Picardi: Well, my loves. Here we are. Despite sweeping demonstrations for civil rights, the fact that more than 230,000 Americans have died, the brutal state of our economy, and our laughing stock of a stature in international politics, the 2020 election is, at least as of this recording, still too close to call. And as a white person, I feel it only prudent to ask: white people what the hell is wrong with us? It was hard to prepare an episode for us this week, but luckily our guests today are an astrologer and a journalist, AKA. two people is very much used to dealing with the hypotheticals. Later on, we’ll be welcoming back the lovely Chani Nicolas, astrologer extraordinaire who’s going to try once again to make sense of this moment by using the stars. You may remember Chani’s earlier episode with us, where she warned of communication, messaging and technological issues surrounding the date of November 3rd. So what’s next for this year? Will we ever escape this cosmic hellhole? Chani shares her projections for December 2021 and beyond. But first, we’ll talk to the ABC News anchor and host of the 10 Percent Happier podcast, Dan Harris, who found meaning in spirituality after first-hand reporting some of the most brutal news stories of our time. Dan will share some wisdom about what addiction or immersion in the news cycle does to the soul, and how to have a healthier relationship with the world around us.

 

Phillip Picardi: Dan, thanks for being with me today.

 

Dan Harris: Thanks for having me.

 

Phillip Picardi: It’s quite a daunting week to be talking to a journalist. So I imagine that you’ve just had a real go of it these past 48 hours.

 

Dan Harris: Yeah, you know, I’ve had a real go of it not only as a journalist, but also as an American. So I think we’re all kind of in the same boat of feeling stressed, feeling uncertain, worried about what’s going to happen next for our country. It’s uh—having to explain it to our kids, thinking about the future. It’s, there’s a lot here.

 

Phillip Picardi: Yes, there is a lot here. And I know that you’ve been on the scene for some of what I might call the worst of the worst in terms of bad news, or big news stories that had very large implications for people’s lives. Can you tell me about some of the biggest stories that you’ve covered in your career?

 

Dan Harris: Yeah, this will reveal me to be old, but yes, I have—

 

Phillip Picardi: Old and wise, right, old and wise.

 

Dan Harris: I’m working on the ladder. The former is non-negotiable. I have—as a brief aside, I was giving a talk to the incoming freshmen class at Syracuse University a couple of years ago, afterwards some kids lined up to say hello. I can’t tell you how many of them said, I’ve been watching you my whole life, and that got me really depressed. I’ve been at ABC News for 20 years and so many things happened in that time. 9/11, the war in Afghanistan, the second intifada in Israel, the war in Iraq, presidential elections, mass shootings, earthquakes—you name it. And my job for much of that time was really to be ready to go right at a moment’s notice for months at a time. So I have seen quite a bit.

 

Phillip Picardi: And what happened to you when you were constantly reporting on some of these tragedies?

 

Dan Harris: So after 9/11, when I was younger and quite ambitious, I raised my hand and volunteered to go overseas to cover whatever was going to happen next. And I had never been a combat correspondent, but quickly became one and spent a lot of time in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iraq and so forth, and I kind of got hooked on it, to be honest with you. The combination of the adrenaline and the, I was and am quite idealistic about the power and importance of journalism and bearing witness, and came home from months and months and months, several years really, sort of off and on overseas, and I got depressed, although I didn’t know I was depressed. And I started, I did a very dumb thing, which is I started to self-medicate with recreational drugs, including cocaine. And that culminated in my having a panic attack on the air on an obscure ABC News broadcast called Good Morning America.

 

Dan Harris: Ouch.

 

Phillip Picardi: And if you Google panic attack on television, it will be the first result I believe, you can see it for yourself. And it was, I wasn’t high on the air, but I had according to the shrink I consulted afterwards, I had kind of changed my brain chemistry as a result of intermittent cocaine use, for not even that extended of a period of time. And so that was humiliating and a big wake up call.

 

Phillip Picardi: Oh, and while this was going on, while you were self-medicating and while you were reporting on some of these scenes, I know that you’ve written about how you noticed that your own relationship to empathy or to sympathy had changed, right, like you kind of reported feeling almost numb to what was going on around you despite the fact that you were in this hotbed of tragedy.

 

Dan Harris: Yeah, I mean, a part of me, I think, the story I told myself was that if I let it all in, I couldn’t function. You know, and there were a few moments where I did you get quite upset. I think I mentioned in one of the books I’ve written that I have a memory of standing in a parking lot of a hospital in the West Bank, and they, the Israelis were, had mounted a big multiday military operation and there were a lot of fatalities and the morgue at the hospital is overflowing so they dug a hole in the parking lot and essentially used a fron- end loader to dump in a bunch of bodies. And I was standing next to a guy who saw his son fall into the pit, and he started to wail. And that I remember. I mean, I don’t know anybody who could withstand that. And that—but I think a lot a lot of the time I really just wasn’t thinking much about, either out of selfishness or immaturity or just self-protection, not thinking much about the emotions, because I, there was so much there and I needed to function on deadline in front of lots of people as somebody who was reasonably young at the time.

 

Phillip Picardi: And this panic attack that you suffered on air, would you say that that was sort of a breaking point of sorts for you?

 

Dan Harris: I am of the view, at least in my experience and from what I’ve observed, that life isn’t usually neat and tidy, and that we often need many breaking points. So that was a key one, a very useful bottom, but I’ve had many points in my life subsequently where I’ve had to learn things the hard way.

 

Phillip Picardi: Right. And in in learning things the hard way, I understand that you came to faith even though you formally identified as atheist.

 

Dan Harris: I’d say what I came to is a respectful, robust agnosticism. I am the child of scientists. My parents are left of Trotsky, Harvard atheists. And, you know, I’ve cracked wise many times that I did have a bar mitzvah, but only for the money. So I was not really spiritually inclined. And then what happened was I was assigned by my boss and mentor, a guy named Peter Jennings, but he was a gigantic figure.

 

Phillip Picardi: Absolutely. Yep, a giant.

 

Dan Harris: And so he assigned me to cover faith and spirituality for ABC News. And over the course of that time, I really saw how ignorant I was about these issues. And it really ultimately led me to an embrace of, it’s part of what helped lead me to an embrace of Buddhism. And I would describe myself as a Buddhist, but it’s important for me to clarify that I think Buddhism can be practiced as a religion, and it is by many, many people that I respect. But for me, it’s not something to believe in, it’s something to do. It’s a set of practices that are incredibly transformative, and those practices, many of them are validated by modern science. And so the Buddhists do make some metaphysical claims, but I haven’t seen any evidence for rebirth or enlightenment so I’m respectfully agnostic, but I am not dogmatic.

 

Phillip Picardi: OK, well, in the respectfully agnostic perspective then, can you tell me how your own practice of Buddhism has helped you basically cope with your work and with what you’ve been going through for the past couple of years?

 

Dan Harris: A key thing is meditation. You know, there are many kinds of meditation, but the kind of practice called mindfulness meditation, which is—I actually practiced several forms, but I’ll talk about mindfulness for a second. And it is, you know, the instructions are reasonably simple. You sit, try to feel your breath coming in and going out, usually you pick one spot like your nose or your chest, your belly, and then you’re going to get distracted a million times, a million times. And this is the moment when a lot of people think, oh, I can’t do this. I can’t quote unquote “clear my mind.” I’m a failed meditator. You know, deuces. But in fact, the moment that you notice how chaotic your mind is and then start again and again and again, that is the key moment. First of all, it’s like a bicep curl for your brain. And the results, you know, the results show up on the brain scans of meditators—by doing this practice, you are systematically rewiring the parts of your brain associated in particular with focus, but also self-awareness, stress, compassion. And the self-awareness part of this is really key because when you see your inner cacophony, it has less of a chance of owning you. And that goes right to what you were driving me towards, which is how do you cope with these big events? Well, one way to cope with the roller coaster of our lives is to not be yanked around by the nonstop conversation you are having with yourself. And what meditation, does this simple sort of secular exercise for your brain, is it engineer is a deliberate repeated collision between you and this inner noise, so that when you have more self-awareness, otherwise known as mindfulness, you can instead of just being yanked around by the malevolent puppeteer of your thinking or of your ego, you can make wiser decisions.

 

Phillip Picardi: I have tried meditating many times and I always get an itch on the same part of my nose that I can never resist itching. But you’ve inspired me to keep going and to push through the itch.

 

Dan Harris: Can I say a word about the itch?

 

Phillip Picardi: Yeah, please.

 

Dan Harris: OK, so actually that’s really good practice. So one of the things that you do in meditation is, you know, physical discomfort will arise and actually it’s really useful to just watch it. Watch what happens in your mind, watch the stories you’re telling about yourself, about you’re a failed meditator, this is never going to go away. And this is uncomfortable, but it’s a great way to change your relationship to discomfort in your life, which is unavoidable. Like we’re all going to have discomfort. These bodies are unreliable and not built to last and so can you change your relationship to this fact of life? And you know to me that, yes, that may sound sort of unappetizing on some level, but just kind of think about it like exercise. If you go to the gym and you’re not panting or sweating, you are cheating, you know? It’s it’s supposed to be a little bit uncomfortable. And, that is, meditation isn’t a bubble bath. It really is exercise for your brain. And if you sit and find yourself and just sort of bulletproof bliss, then you’re either enlightened or you’re dead. And so I would recommend you keep going with it and have a different relationship to the itch because that itch can change your relationship to everything.

 

Phillip Picardi: OK, so this itch quickly becoming a metaphor for what I have been dying to ask you about, which is really like can we talk about the itch in terms of it being the news cycle? I am wondering from your perspective what you think our relationship to the news cycle is, and what role you think it does play on our psyche, and if you think you’ve seen a trend towards it becoming more harmful than beneficial?

 

Dan Harris: Oh, man, I have a bunch of things to say about this, and I’ll try to not overwhelm you and to keep it practical. First, I do think that you need to be careful and titrate your news consumption. And I say this as a news professional. I think it’s incredibly important to be engaged and informed, but you don’t want to be overwhelmed because what good are you doing when you get overwhelmed, to anybody, to yourself, to your relationships, to the country? So this is one of the big jobs of our time, to develop a healthier relationship. I think we think we have more agency than we think we do when we’re holding this phone in our hands and, you know, I can stop looking at Instagram at any time. You are contending with supercomputers and brilliant designers on the other end of that.

 

Phillip Picardi: Yes.

 

Dan Harris: And so it isn’t a level playing field. And so to know that, look, this is going to require some intentionality in order to cut yourself off. It also should tell you something that a lot of the people who work at these tech companies won’t let their kids use the products they’re designing. And so I’m not a Luddite. I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever be on social media. I used, I don’t really, I use a little bit on Instagram—although I deleted it from my phone—and I use a little bit of Twitter, which I don’t find personally that problematic just in terms of my own consumption. But, you know, so I’m not anti-social media. I just think you got to be careful.

 

Phillip Picardi: Now moving forward to the next four years, I wonder, based on, you know, your own experience, what is your advice to people in order to retain a sense of feeling that things are going to be OK or feeling that they do have control over something or that they can look towards their own spirituality? Like, what is the the thing that, you know, you hold above all, no matter what the outcome is?

 

Dan Harris: Self-care is actually crucial in this environment. So I’m all for this sort of superficial end of the self-care spectrum: take a bubble bath. A buddy of mine who I was talking to last night was turning off the election results and getting into a bath and watching John Wick. So, great. Do that. Mani-pedis, Netflix, whatever it is, I’m all for that. But I also would argue for a lot of the stuff that’s kind of like eating your vegetables: meditation, getting enough sleep, exercise or movement if you’re able, psychotherapy, if you think you need it, access to nature is incredibly important. And then finally—and there are more things I could say but let me just end on this, because I think it is extremely important and it goes back to our discussion about social media—having actual relationships with actual human beings. Harder to do in the era of social distancing, but even more important, because we were in a loneliness pandemic before we entered the coronavirus pandemic. People do not have robust enough relationships in their life. And it can, this can be romantic relationships, friendships, family—investing in those will never be a waste of time. And if you feel like you don’t have them on offer, one great way to go and make them is to sign up to do service. This kind of self-care, understood as a, the whole spectrum, from the superficial to the really substantial, is so important for us to maintain our resiliency so that we can be in the fight in whatever way in which we want to be in the fight. And by the way, this will impact not only how you engage with the great issues of the day, but it will just vastly improved your actual life.

 

Phillip Picardi: And am I to understand that a lot of what you’re offering us today in this interview is a product of your practicing Buddhism?

 

Dan Harris: Practicing Buddhism, but I also have done an enormous amount of, spent an enormous amount of time as a journalist looking at human flourishing generally. And so it’s just, I’ve been confronted with the evidence all the time of how we can make ourselves happier and saner. And so to the best of my limited ability as a flawed human being, I try to apply this in my own life. I am not perfect—perfection is not on offer here—but it has vastly improved my life to the extent to which I’m capable to practice what I preach.

 

Phillip Picardi: Dan, my last question for you is perhaps the hokiest pokiest one of all, but I do have to ask, because you have had a career with a front row seat to some of the biggest news stories of our time and with that experience, and also your own personal life experience, I think you could offer a unique perspective here. It’s so easy to watch these results come in. It’s so easy to, even if Joe Biden wins, to even see how many people voted for Donald Trump and to feel a complete sense of hopelessness or despondency. And I’m wondering, from your perspective, looking at the world as it stands right now, do you still have hope?

 

Dan Harris: I do. Definitely. This is not Pollyanna hope. I mean, I think even a cursory glance at human history will suggest that it’s not like a hockey stick graph where it’s just all progress all the time. It’s a little bit more like an EKG. But I do think now is a time for us to triple-down again on trying to have a deeper understanding of people with whom we disagree. Doesn’t mean you have to drop your principles, doesn’t mean you have to stop fighting, doesn’t mean you have to cave in any way, doesn’t mean you have to invite people over for dinner or give them money—but to really try to step out of your information bubble. To vary your media diet. And to do some wider range of reading, because we occupy the same land together. We are, you know, we are in this together whether we like it or not. And so I really admire the work of groups like Braver Angels who have spent a lot of time creating these sort of interesting encounter sessions between reds and blues. The guy who organized who, you know, sort of orchestrated their approach happens to be a couples’ counselor, which I think is amazing. And he very, I think, and this is the last thing I’ll say about this, he really, really stresses that it’s not about dropping, as I said before, your core values, it’s about reaching what he calls accurate disagreement. And I think that as a goal, accurate disagreement, is really a great North Star for us as a country. Because no matter how this thing shakes out, it’s obvious that it’s close. And in Washington, they’re going to have to figure out how to share power, most likely. And we, as people who live in the same country together, need to be able to get along. And again, we don’t need to give up on our core beliefs to do this, but a certain amount, to the extent that you think you can take it in, of understanding and civility, will not only lower the temperature in the country, but I believe in my own experience of having done some of this work myself, It calms me down, too.

 

Phillip Picardi: OK, well, thank you so much, Dan, for joining me today. I really appreciate it.

 

Dan Harris: Great questions. Thanks for having me on, Phillip.

 

Phillip Picardi: I love what Dan said about building a healthier relationship with how we digest the news. But one thing I’ve watched as vigilantly as The New York Times needle this year has been, well, my horoscope. You may remember I had Chani Nicholas on this podcast earlier this season, in the episode titled An Astrologers Guide to the Apocalypse. Back then, Chani predicted technological difficulties and communication errors come November 3rd. She was right. She also said that we were facing down not the end of the world, but the end of a world. I fear once again, she’s right about that, too. Naturally, it felt only fitting to invite Chani back to explain what we have to look forward to and dread for the rest of the year and the beginning of 2021. Chani, thanks for joining me again.

 

Chani Nicholas: Thank you for having me.

 

Phillip Picardi: Of course. OK, so let’s maybe do a brief recap of what you predicted about astrology as it comes to this election earlier this season on Unholier Than Thou. That conversation you mentioned an asteroid named Wuhan, a Mercury gone retrograde right before Election Day, Mars being just out of control chaotic and some other shit. Can you please refresh our memories about what you were anticipating for around this time back in June when we first spoke?

 

Chani Nicholas: Yes. So like a lot of astrologers, I was looking at September, October and November with a full-on grimace as I looked at the weather because Mercury stationed direct yesterday, and back in 2000 on election night Mercury Station direct at roughly the same exact degree of Libra. So they’re both, Mercury, at late degree of Libra stationing direct on both very of course, every election is pivotal, but both elections have a little extra weight to them, it feels like. And so when Mercury stations direct, when it changes direction, Mercury is a planet of communication and it’s literally the planet of counting and tallying and selling and distributing information. So as we were going into the election, we could see that there was going to be problems with the fact that we had a pandemic, there was going to be possible problems with mail-in ballots. We didn’t know, this is an unprecedented election because of the ways in which we can and cannot be in communication with one another. So because the planet of communication was stationing direct on the day, that communication is incredibly important, it was really obvious that there was going to be delays in getting the data that we need.

 

Phillip Picardi: So for the uninitiated, if you could explain what Mercury retrograde means, because I think people know it’s a bad thing, but I don’t think they know exactly what that means.

 

Chani Nicholas: Right. So every Mercury retrograde isn’t, quote unquote “bad” but it does mean that there’s going to be something that goes a little awry with communications or selling things or like money, anybody who, you know, does sells, buys, trades or distributes information, there’s going to be some kind of complication. But not all Mercury retrogrades are made the same. This one that we are just getting out of was incredibly complicated because as the planet stations or changes direction or appears to change direction, it slows everything down. But this particular retrograde Mercury was stationing retrograde in an exact square. So a conflict to the planet Saturn, which is a planet known for delays and obstacles and challenges and difficulties. Saturn is slow and dim and is heavy and so putting that kind of weight on an already slowly moving planet that has to do with communications just compounded the fact that this wasn’t going to be an easy or straightforward night to get answers.

 

Phillip Picardi: Right. And then to clarify, you said that this astrology was similar in scope to the year 2000. Just to refresh our listeners’ memories, that was the “I demand a recount” election of Bush v. Gore.

 

Chani Nicholas: Yeah. Which is couldn’t be more Mercury changing directions, I demand a recount. So the whole idea of having to go back over information is what Mercury retrograde is about. And when it stations direct, it’s not that everything’s over, it’s like when you have to back up and then you stop and then you go forward again in a car. There’s that moment where you have to come to a full stop before you can change direction and that’s the moment that we’re in with the planet of communication yesterday, today, tomorrow, for the next couple of days, really, it’s very, very slow. It’s just moving in a different direction, again, it’s just getting started.

 

Phillip Picardi: On our last conversation, you were predicting the end of a world, but not the end of the world.

 

Chani Nicholas: Not to be dramatic.

 

Phillip Picardi: Not to be dramatic. But that if things went according to plan, you were saying that it would be a chance for us to really critically make a show of ending patriarchal power structures. Now, obviously, we are choosing between two very old white men for the presidency so, so cynically we could say, of course, this, but that wasn’t about the election, but this election has felt like a referendum. Joe Biden has called it the battle for the soul of a nation. Do you feel like that astrology is intact? Do you feel like we’re heading towards a positive moment, or do you think that more or less things will stay the same as they’ve been over the past four years?

 

Chani Nicholas: Well, I think that, that the astrology that I’m talking about is Jupiter conjunct Saturn in Aquarius in December, and it signals a closing of a big chapter and an opening of a new one. And so I spent a lot of, you know, last year, this year saying it all depends on how we end this cycle and begin a new one. And so, no, you know, by December, we’re not going to be able to dismantle white supremacy, patriarchy, but the astrology at the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 and all through 2021 and 2022 is very much about systems change. And so, and the beginning of 2021 is very much about the power of the collective and what the collective can do.

 

Phillip Picardi: I have to say, I think we’ve been talking about astrology for the past six months. This is the first time I’ve heard some sort of good news come out of your mouth. So, so you’re are you feeling hopeful about what you’re seeing from the stars for 2021?

 

Chani Nicholas: I feel like it’s going to be a lot of change to the structures that we have, that we’ve taken for granted or that we’ve relied on. And so for some people, that’s going to be really exciting. And for some people that’s going to be really alarming, I think. And so I do feel, I was looking at the astrology of the first couple months of 2021 one more in depth lately, And I did, against my better judgment, feel hopeful because there’s quite a few really nice things that are happening. And I did have these moments of like maybe we’ll like come together in some kind of way and really understand the power that we have as a collective. Like I did feel that from looking at everything. And I’m also really, really reticent to look away from the incredible problems that this country has always had and are being uprooted and that really need us to witness them and grapple with them and not shy away from them.

 

Phillip Picardi: Are there any key astrological dates you kind of want people to mark or look to as they begin to plan for their lives in the next few to six months to a year?

 

Chani Nicholas: Oh, wow. OK. Definitely December 19th, 20th, 21st. Those are some really interesting days. Those are the days that signal this shift in from one cycle to the next. And there is, I do feel like there’s a real positive mark in those moments. What I’m really looking forward to, and it’s not clean, like it’s not like, oh, yeah, everything’s OK and everything is fantastic, but there’s some really interesting stuff that’s happening the first couple of weeks of February. The thing with 2021’s astrology is there’s some really beautiful signatures that happen and they’re mixed up with demanding that we, that we change again, the structures that don’t work, that aren’t helping us get anywhere. So it’s not that it’s easy, but there is a lot of really, I think, beautiful and exciting changes that are coming. And a lot of them happen again in this first part of the year of January, February. And it’s a really exciting time for people that have stuff in Aquarius. But there is this feeling of the collective, the maybe even, I’m reticent to say unity, but there’s some, it does feel like a movement happens throughout the last bit of January and February.

 

Phillip Picardi: And that’s interesting because you could definitely say that this election has very much showcased, not that there is a broad referendum against Donald Trump or of the Republican Party, which I think many Democrats are hoping for, but instead, maybe a key takeaway here is that the grassroots movements still need a lot of tending to and those are the important places where we affect change.

 

Chani Nicholas: Yeah.

 

Phillip Picardi: That change is not over. Change is really just beginning, right?

 

Chani Nicholas: Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s a great point that I think there will be that feeling of a groundswell no matter what’s happening. But it does feel like there’s a positive, like coming together and some something that helps us unify for a fairly big change. And it’s the beginning of it. But there’s something specific that happens in February that feels important.

 

Phillip Picardi: I remember you said, looking back on 2020, that you knew that it wasn’t going to be a harmonious year, you know, like you could look back on it and while you can’t predict per se say, the scope of an international pandemic or the American political system, any astrologer you would have asked said, no, we’re in for a doozy of a year.

 

Chani Nicholas: Yeah.

 

Phillip Picardi: So I have to ask, is 2021 a similar situation, or are you just kind of giving you the crazy sound bites?

 

Chani Nicholas: I mean, I don’t know how rosy I’ve been, but 2021 is is markedly different. 2020 was marked by a Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn, which is all about contraction and all about stripping everything down to the core and to the skeletal system and getting to know the bare bones. It’s going without. It’s a lot of not having. And we’re moving into a very, very Aquarian kind of moment, which is much more about social innovation, communications technology, but also again this feeling of weight. If there’s a groundswell of us, if there’s a grassroots movement, we can actually affect change collectively. We cannot do it as well ever individually. And so it’s much more focused on the people and how we as a people come together and the kinds of change that we as a people want to make.

 

Phillip Picardi: Now, I have a slightly more philosophical question for you, which is, you know, Mercury retrograde, everyone’s like, OK, everything’s going to go to shit and I’m going to brace myself for the worst. My question is, if the astrology is bad or if it’s less than ideal, let’s say, can we still lead good lives? Can good things still happen to us?

 

Chani Nicholas: Yes, absolutely. It’s really about the quality of our connections. It’s about the ways in which we choose to spend our days. It’s about how we are able to reflect on our mistakes and on our learning curves and on the ways in which we impact the world around us. You know, the world is not an easy place to live in. And so, you know, astrology that’s difficult, just mirrors that it’s difficult to be human and we have a lot of work to do. And it would be really great to recreate the world so that bad astrology doesn’t end up feeling as catastrophic as it tends to reflect for us, like not reflecting these massively catastrophic events for humans. It’d be great if bad astrology just meant like a little bit of a bummer day instead of the collapse of democracy or the planet itself. So we want to, like, move towards like, hey, let’s have a different world so that, you know, not great astrology lands with us in a way different way.

 

Phillip Picardi: Yes, absolutely. Well, I know that a lot of people who are listening may not believe in astrology, and they’re going to think that maybe you and me are both quacks or crazy for believing in the stars, and to all of those people I would like to say: you’re homophobic. But in the spirit of unity, Chani—

 

Chani Nicholas: Yeah.

 

Phillip Picardi: What words of wisdom would you offer to the people who are skeptical of astrology? Are there universal lessons in the practice of astrology that maybe feel similar to many of our other world religions?

 

Chani Nicholas: I think that, you know, if astrology doesn’t work for you, then don’t pay it any mind. Just move towards the systems of wisdom and knowledge that give your life meaningful context.

 

Phillip Picardi: Yeah. So in other words, if it works for some people, please let us have nice things. You can go have your nice things, and shut the fuck up about it.

 

Chani Nicholas: Yeah.

 

Phillip Picardi: Thank you. Great. Any last thoughts on rituals, crystals, tinctures—the witchy things to keep us protected, healthy and safe heading into 2021?

 

Chani Nicholas: Yeah, I think it’s just really important to have as many key small daily rituals that you can fit into your life that do not feel overwhelming, that do not feel like a burden, and that do not feel like added stress, that you can just fold into your morning routine, to your evening routine that really do help you to unplug in any kind of way. And I think that doing things that are really simple and repetitive are really helpful in terms of like your meditation practice or the, you know, teas you drink or the rituals that you do. If the more, the easier that they can fold into your life and the less you have to think about them, the more you’re going to practice them.

 

Phillip Picardi: Chani, thank you so much for coming back and I will gird my loins until December 19th.

 

Chani Nicholas: Wonderful.

 

Phillip Picardi: Thanks Chani.

 

Chani Nicholas: Thanks for having me.

 

Phillip Picardi: Well, folks, that’s all for our show today. Take care of yourselves. Count every vote. De-platform Trump’s lawyers and brace yourselves for the future. Nothing worth fighting for comes each, including our democracy. I’ll see you back here next week.

 

Unholier Than Thou is a Crooked Media Productions. Brian Semel is our associate producer and Sydney Rapp is our assistant producer, with production support from Reuben Davis. The theme song is by Taka Yasuzawa, and the show is executive produced by me, Lyra Smith and Sarah Geismer. Thanks for listening.