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‘It’s time to go within’: Astrologer Alice Bell on getting started with astrology, retrogrades, and what’s in store for the rest of the year

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent hours doom-scrolling astrology apps like Co-Star, just to be left with swirling thoughts of: “What does mercury in retrograde *really* mean? Why do I always date people with the same star sign as me? Is there I can never make it work with leos?” Luckily, here to answer all of our sun, moon, rising, and retrograde questions is astrologer, author, and British Vogue’s resident horoscope writer Alice Bell.

Despite being introduced to birth charts by a therapist in 2016, Alice first became captivated with astrology while working as a Fashion Assistant for British Vogue in 2018. “It just shows that like you're meant to find stuff like this when the timing's right, you can't force astrology on anyone,” she tells MIRROR WATER, explaining how her entrance to astrology was using horoscopes to predict her relationships. “I became obsessed with looking at my horoscope.” Fast forward through ten months of in-depth astrological research, and Alice had dropped from her fashion journalism career to launch a full-time astrology business.

Today, the astrologer has launched her first-ever book, titled Trust Your Timing – an explorative guidebook on using your birth chart to navigate your love life and find your authentic self. “I went back to what had gotten me into astrology in the first place, which was understanding why I was so crazy with dating and like why I got super obsessed with guys,” she explains with a laugh. “Career has always come more easily for me than my love life, so that was always like a difficulty that astrology really helped me to understand better.” She adds: “It’s about building more self awareness there so you could go about your love life differently.”

Now, speaking to MIRROR WATER, Alice tells us how the stars affect our love pairings, tips on getting started in astrology, what mercury in retrograde really means, and what’s in store for the rest of the year. Read more below.

MIRROR WATER: First, can you please walk me through astrology’s relationship with love pairings? In a technical sense, why are some star signs better matches than others?

Alice Bell: If you're trying to understand your approach to dating or why you may have certain behaviours or patterns in your love life, there are specific parts of the chart to look at and the planets revolve around that are the moon, Venus and Mars, and then certain houses of your birth chart too. You also have 12 houses and the seventh, the fifth, and the eighth tend to refer back to more relationship-oriented themes. It gets complex, but if you look at all those different aspects, you get a picture of, “Okay, this is why I may date a certain way.”

MIRROR WATER: Are there better love pairings than others? Is there any truth to people who say things like “I can’t date Virgos!” or Leos or Aries, etc.? 

Alice Bell: I would not look at it like, “My sign is not compatible with that person.” It's so much more complex than that. You have to [compare] your whole chart with someone else's whole chart and look at how all the planets line up with theirs. Instead, there are certain aspects I see a lot with long term couples, like someone having the same moon sign as someone's air sign or someone's sun sign. But, it's not as black and white as, “This sign doesn't work with this one.”

MIRROR WATER: Can you break down the idea of Mercury in retrograde for us? I hear this a few times every year and can never really grasp what to expect. What’s the real meaning and what’s its effect on us? 

Alice Bell: Mercury is the planet of communication, so it has to deal with all those small details related to communication, travel, and how you're getting your ideas across. When it's retrograde, that stuff tends to get a little confusing – maybe there are recurring thoughts about a certain conversation you need to have with someone that you've been avoiding or there's hiccups with like your daily commute or your travel plans or there's just miscommunications that you're encountering with people. 

That's why you tend to hear from exes or like old friends during Mercury in retrograde, it puts you in a reflection mode and is a period of slowing down. I feel like people use Mercury retrograde to blame all their problems. It's more like a return to things you left off in the past and forgot about or just like reflecting on your next steps, but don’t take action right now.

MIRROR WATER: What’s in store for the rest of the year, astrology-wise? Are there any important events that we should be preparing for?

Alice Bell: This summer was huge on retrogrades. Venus retrograde finally lifted on September 3rd, and then Mercury retrograde lifted on September 15th.

We're going into the second half of September with way more energy – you can finally move ahead with new projects and new ideas. Then, we get to eclipse season in October – on the 14th is a solar eclipse in Libra, and October 28th is a lunar eclipse in Taurus. Eclipses typically take place twice a year and set you off on a new six month chapter – there tends to be bigger changes or a shift in mindset that takes place during eclipse seasons, endings and beginnings. 

Then, December 13 to January 1 is going to be Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius and Capricorn. Holiday time might be a bit chaotic again, but then we start off on January 1 with Mercury done in retrograde, so time to get into action. It's great for new beginnings going into the new year!

MIRROR WATER: Can you tell us more about the Venus retrograde that’s just ended? 

Alice Bell: Venus has been retrograde since July 22nd. It happens for 40 days, and it only occurs every year and a half, so it's more major when it happens. While Mercury is all about communication, Venus is all about relationships, personal style, creativity, and finances, so those areas of your life are up for inspection during a Venus retrograde. This is why you may have heard of huge celebrity breakups happening. It meant people going through relationship changes, but it doesn't necessarily have to be bad.

Lately, researching your full chart – rather than just sun – has become more popular.
Is it possible to relate more to your moon or rising signs? 

Alice Bell: The qualities associated with rising and moon signs tend to come a little bit more easily to you – moon signs embody early childhood habits, which is how you emotionally react to things without thinking, whereas the sun is the identity you're growing into over the course of your lifetime. That can sometimes feel uncomfortable because it's challenging to learn and grow and improve and work towards developing those sun sign traits more, which is why when you're younger, you might not feel as much like your sun sign. 

MIRROR WATER: What advice would you give to someone who’s learning about astrology for the first time? Is Co-Star okay to look into? Or what about magazine-style horoscopes? 

Alice Bell: I'm not a fan of Co-Star, but the app Chani is great for seeing your circular chart pulled up – like what planets are in what houses. I also love and – those are my favourites for entering in your birth information. Then also my book, because the first section of it is like, “This is what your birth chart is, these are the signs, these are the planets.”

MIRROR WATER: What do you think are any misconceptions about astrology or horoscopes? 

Alice Bell: I would say a big one is people saying: “Oh, my horoscope doesn't make sense, so astrology is not accurate.” Everyone that has the same sign is not gonna have the same week, it’s more complex than that. First off, you should be reading horoscopes for your rising sign, not your sun sign, because the way they're written is, “I'm bringing the sign I'm talking about to the first house,” so it's the rising of the chart. Then I'm seeing where the planets are in the sky this week, and if you look at the rising, that's the same as if you were to go to an astrologer. I would tell you: “These are the transits happening, and this is what to watch out for moving forward.”

Follow Alice Bell here, and shop her book Trust Your Timing here.
Meanwhile, find out what’s going on astrologically this week here.