It's easy to spot psychic medium and astrologer Jessica Lanyadoo across the crowded cafe. Lanyadoo's bright red glasses match her lipstick shade, and her neon yellow nails match her equally vivid kicks. A gold tooth on the right asymmetrically mirrors the gold Venus symbol embossed on a tooth on the left side. When I bring this up, the no-bullshit mystical advice-giver tells me that she finds her outfit that day a bit staid. "To me, it's just common sense to match your glasses to your lipstick," she says matter-of-factly.
If you're not one of Lanyadoo's many clients who she counsels one-on-one, you may know her from her popular podcast, Ghost of a Podcast, or her recently released, highly organized yet playfully colorful book, Astrology for Real Relationships: Understanding You, Me, and How We All Get Along. It was when the triple Capricorn's book tour brought her to the laid-back witch haven of the Pacific Northwest from Oakland, California, that NYLON got the opportunity to sit down with the multitalented mystical life coach to ask about the heavens, the earth, and how we all fit into it. Read the interview, below.
You've been an astrologer for 20 years. Why write a book now?
I never really wanted to write a book. I never really wanted to write horoscopes [Lanyadoo was an astrologer for the San Francisco Bay Guardian and an astrology columnist for various publications]. I don't really love the process of writing. I love talking, which is why I dictated the book to [co-author] T. Greenway. I have many talks that could be the nucleus of a book. [These days there is] a lot more access to real astrological data, and I wanted to create a textbook. I like practical tools, and they needed a modern update.
Your weekly Ghost of a Podcast (GOAP) is also only a couple years old. What prompted you to start that?
I had a very small segment on the first Girlboss podcast, but I am a condor; I have a big wingspan, let me flap my wings. Also, I knew what was coming astrologically—the Saturn Pluto conjunction that just happened on January 12 and other things that are meaningful in terms of the direction of the United States and politics—and I felt a real sense of calling to support people, in cultivating emotional intelligence, to make difficult choices, the right choices, even when no one's looking. We are in a divisive time, and it will require that we all understand that we are a part of, have a role to play in this collective. Then it becomes a little clearer on what we need to do, as individuals. My hope for GOAP is that it inspires emotional health and responsibility for how we engage with ourselves and others. It's very personal, but I also like to connect to the social, political, which I don't see as separate things.
The podcast is very political, with a very progressive and definite stance, and yet, you also seem to embody such a universal healing quality. How do you think you are able to encompass those dualities?
I didn't start out with a book or a podcast or anything particularly public. I started counseling people in 1995, and by 1999, it was my full-time job. To be of service to someone, I believe, you have to accept them for who they are and where they're coming from; empower them to make the best choices from there. I counsel people who have political views diametrically opposed to mine.
Is that difficult for you?
No. It's not. I don't need us to be the same—I need us to be our best in this moment. And some days, some lifetimes, your best is terrible, and sometimes your vision of the best is really different from mine. I will certainly engage people in ways that I think are important, but my values are mine, and you can see that in my birth chart. I understand that we are all seeing life through our own birth chart, the veil of individuality. This is also why I think it's dangerous, if inevitable, that when we're learning astrology, we use our personal experience to demarcate what astrology is. [When you do this,] you're missing something essential: You're only able to see the people in your personal life through what is in your birth chart and how they are stimulating it for better or worse.
Happily, on the podcast, I get to speak my values when, in a one-on-one session, that's not appropriate.
What in your chart has made you a better astrologer?
That's difficult to answer due to the personal blind spots I just talked about. I can give you natal aspects that incline me to be a good astrologer, but the real thing that makes me a good astrologer is that I have been studying weekly since 1992 and I have counseled thousands of people. In the beginning, I would research each client for two hours. I would experiment with different ways of applying knowledge. Practice, practice, study. I'm always getting better. I counsel people with the tools of astrology. Not every astrologer does that, but that's my approach.
Do you seek out astrological counseling yourself? If so, do you like to see someone you're close to or someone less subjective?
I primarily consult with psychics, but I do have some friends who are astrologers, who I consult with when I'm going through a moment, but it's a little like listening to your favorite song on repeat—after a while, you're like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know."
I consult with astrologers when I am in fear. Because I'm not objective. I put a lot of effort into not looking forward, but I know the math, so I can't help it. But it's a fool's errand to overthink the future. Too many things change that are outside of our control. When we are catastrophizing the future, we're not in the present. We can only take care of our future selves from this present moment.
You always talk up your pessimism, and yet the podcast is not depressing. Why do you think that is?
I don't pretend that the rose has no thorns. The practice of naming succinctly can be soothing. Even when the world is burning, I at least am honest in agreeing that, yeah, it is. Don't minimize it. The practice of being seen and validated is underestimated.
The other part is I don't let my fear be contagious. I have my own traumas and worldview but strive to be constructive and make use of problems and come to healing. I don't shy away from trauma. I step into it with presence. It's constructive to extrapolate meaning and start to see actions, no matter how small. It empowers me to keep going.
You're a big personality with bold fashion choices. Tell me about them.
I don't know that there's much to tell but have a bunch of Aquarius intercept my first house. Years ago, writer Michelle Tea once told me, when you have Venus in Aquarius or in the first house, sometimes you leave the house looking like a damn clown, and she was right. What I consider to be a subtle look is not what other people consider subtle. I'm just comfortable in color, but I don't look at a lot of fashion magazines. I know I have a garish aesthetic, but I don't think of it that way. When I feel like myself, I feel contained. I really like to feel like myself. I work from home, so I can wear whatever I want and people just think, "She's witchy, okay…"
I'll say one other thing, which is a little bit more real. I have ptosis of the eye, and it means they're asymmetrical. I've got a facial deformity. I had the option through Canadian Medicare to have it surgically corrected, and I chose against it. When I made that choice at 16, shortly before I came out, I decided I'm just going to lean into who I am because I'm never going to be anything other than "off." Literally, my face is unconventional, and I have more peace accepting that.
You and other prominent queer astrologers and astrology-adjacent folks—Chani Nicholas, Astro Poets etc.—have seen a recent rise to fame somewhat in parallel. Do you think this is the dawning of the age of the queer astrologer? If so, why now?
Accessibility. [With new technologies,] the math can be done for you now. You don't have to study it to use it. Another part is that we're living in trying times, people are anxious and weary, so when systems have failed them, they don't want to turn to organized religion. So how do you access the divine? Find belonging and a greater pattern? Astrology offers that without being denominational. You can bring your own value system, religion or lack of religion, to it. That has mass appeal.
Queer women have always been pretty down with astrology. It's a cultural value, and we have often been turned away from traditional religion and community, so this is one place we turn. Also because we can track it. It's really validating to have something that is both spiritual and evidentiary. Women talk. We've talked to each other for generations.
There's an exciting wave of people of color and queer people making a seat at the table for themselves. In combination with OG astrologers, [it has gained legitimacy and mass appeal].
This is also a difficult time in history. Every time I say that I think, When wasn't, but honestly, with the climate crisis and other things in the news, we really are living in a time. I am of the conviction that every single person is alive at this moment for a reason. I believe in the dignity of people I hate. I don't want to get too woo, but I believe that acts of cruelty come from a deep soul pain, and I can have compassion and empathy for people for are abusive, cruel, even tyrannical, without accepting their behavior. It's healthy to label your enemy as such, but it's not the only truth.
What projects are next?
I'm so in the moment of this book, so I don't know what's next, but I am excited to record the audio version of my book. [One of the reasons I try new types of projects is] I want to make myself accessible to people who might not otherwise be into astrology or have progressive politics. Lots of astrologers like to keep it apolitical. That's not who I am, but I like to keep my Instagram light with memes, you know, candy candy candy... brussel sprouts, organically foraged greens…
Give the people what they want, but, more importantly, what they need.
Astrology for Real Relationships: Understanding You, Me, and How We All Get Along is available for purchase now.