I’ve been quite open about all things mental health since I got my very first therapy diagnosis in 2015. Before that point, I had never found the words to describe things I’d felt and experienced, and truly didn’t understand what the word “anxiety” meant. That changed quickly.
Since then, I’ve been regularly seeing a psychiatrist/psychotherapist who has absolutely changed my life. His approach to healing the mind through talk therapy (and frequent nudges to do more yoga) has given me so much more confidence, and the faculties to manage a life’s worth of anxiety. But even my therapist knows that our work is just one piece of the big mental health puzzle, and encourages me to pursue all sorts of avenues to keep a well-rounded regimen for my brain.
That has led me to so many practices and tools, including meditation, earthing, long walks, acupuncture, reading, and most recently, a new kind of therapist.
When I first met Shannon Aganza, she seemed to immediately “get me.” She understood me in a way that not many people had before. In terms of therapists, this was ideal. Not only did she understand my nature, the way I perceive the world, and how I interact with people, but she also seemed to instantly grasp the intricacies of some of my most personal (and challenging relationships), and was able to provide context on how to better manage them.
She learned all of this not from talking to me, but from my birth chart. My astrology chart.
Shannon spent roughly three hours chatting with me on that first day together. In a room filled with crystals — tall sprays of amethyst in the fireplace, a huge smoothed chunk of lapis lazuli on the table — it felt ancient and energetic and mystical and wonderful. It felt alive with energy I hadn’t quite felt before. Yet simultaneously, it did not feel like Madame Leota in the spooky crystal ball telling me about my ominous future.
I had never been into astrology before, honestly. I didn’t get it, I didn’t feel like I connected to my sun sign, and I had never met anyone credible to really explain it to me. Then I met Shannon, and was opened up to this incredible world of math and science, space and stars, timing and flow.
And it was hard not to take her seriously.
During our first meeting together, with no context or background provided by me, she had echoed some of the exact messages my psychiatrist had told me mere hours prior.
My psychiatrist had known me for almost four years at that point. Shannon knew me for 30 minutes.
She looked at my chart and the chart of another person — one troubling relationship that I’d struggled with for a long, long time. “Don’t strive for great or perfect,” she advised me. “Strive for neutral. In this case, neutral is great!” Suddenly some of the messages my clinical therapist had been giving me started to click, all because of this new, additional context coming in from a new angle.
Since then, Shannon has become a mentor and friend, and astrology (including her contextualizing of it) has become part of my spiritual wellness, and a therapy component of my mental health hygiene. It helps to put things into perspective, helps me to go with the flow a lot more in certain situations, helps me ground, and shifts the way I look at certain relationships and interactions. It has served as an incredible counterpart to the clinical therapy I still receive on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.
“I hear ‘That’s exactly what my therapist said!!’ over and over from my clients,” Shannon told me when we last chatted (so clearly, I’m not the first person to have had that reaction). “That’s also how I get clients sometimes — from their therapists. I’ve been lucky enough to work with several therapists [and their patients], one in particular for over 20 years.” By working together, Shannon said she and the therapist “fill in the gaps” for the patients (the patients, of course, know that the astrologer and therapist are talking to one another). Their teamwork allows for a synergy between these complementary therapies, leading to a better result for the patient. “There’s something psychological about being able to accept something, or being validated on something [via your astrology].”
In this case, she explained that someone will get pieces of information from a therapist—who has known them for months if not years—and then meet Shannon for the first time and get years of information in a couple hours. “People think, ‘Here’s this random person who doesn’t know anything about me at all, and they just unpacked all of this information.’” That alone can be extremely validating for a client, especially one who isn’t particularly experienced with, or familiar with, astrology (read: me).
But this is sensitive stuff. “It’s very important as an astrologer to be very sensitive, completely loving, kind, and compassionate when giving the information to help a person better understand themselves,” she said. “That’s the thing with astrology; we’re able to go in and see it all.” The “all” she’s referring to is the chart.
Essentially, by looking at a birth chart, a skilled astrologer can get the kind of information a therapist would work for years trying to uncover.
“We see a person’s nature, their way of being. And we always see more than we say — that’s where the therapy comes in!”
Shannon explained that the chart divulges all this intimate information, but she’s careful to only reveal little bits and pieces at a time so as to not overwhelm a person. “We see it all, but nobody wants to see every nook and cranny of their inner workings all at once. You can only process so much!”
Think of your astrological birth chart as a lab report, of sorts, giving a download of your mind’s inner workings. It’s basically a patient's “cheat sheet” for therapists. Imagine if your therapist knew the intricacies of the way your brain works — the way you respond to relationships, the way you view yourself and the world, the way you communicate, the way you react to new information — before you even opened your mouth.
This is what she says is the best use of therapy and astrology working hand in hand to support someone’s mental and emotional health. “The birth chart is a diagnostic tool to look at patterns that are there; the therapist can then give you the tools to work it out.”
And it perhaps goes without saying, but this kind of astrology is not your daily-horoscope-in-the-newspaper, sun sign kind of astrology.
“With that you only get a little bit of information,” Shannon said. This is why it’s important to look at the bigger picture, and to work with a practiced astrologer you trust. This is vulnerable, significant, personal information after all!
“When you look at the whole chart, that’s where the real information is,” she said. “It’s like integrative health; it's the same concept or principle when looking at a chart. You’re integrating all these patterns and energies at work.” This is to say — don’t base any of this off the very limited information of “your sign.”
From personal experience, I can say that getting to know myself better (via astrology work with Shannon) has helped me to focus on problem areas and patterns (as well as strengths!) to do deep work on my mental and emotional health. If you have no idea where to start, try getting your free astrology birth chart online, and browse around Instagram to get to know different astrologers before reaching out. There’s so much you can learn from them, and it just might be your new favorite part of your mental health routine.
Great write up!! Love Shannon. ❤️Everything you said is spot on about Shannon and her work. I’ve had the opportunity to do a few sessions with her over the past few years and it’s life changing. Thanks for sharing :)