For many of us, it’s a rather sweet guilty secret. We don’t exactly plan our love lives according to our horoscopes, but we certainly consult them on the matter. That morning cup of coffee wouldn’t be the same without a quick glance at our star sign — and then at his.
But now that astrology has gone digital, what’s written in our stars has never been more accessible or, it seems, addictive. The global astrology industry is worth an estimated £2billion and has spawned various sub-trends, the latest of which is analysing your birth chart compatibility. Spearheading the obsession is a very sophisticated-looking app called Co-Star, which has been downloaded more than 20 million times. Its success has spawned other apps including Hint, which uses data from Nasa to ‘calculate the relationship between two people’ and has been downloaded more than 25 million times.
Debbie Frank, former astrologer to Princess Diana, says that our birth charts can predict the success of our partnerships. Pictured: Investigative journalist Guy Adams and his wife Katie Adams
So can our birth charts — a precise map of the heavens at the time of our arrival in the world — really dictate how compatible we are? We took three couples and asked Debbie Frank, former astrologer to Princess Diana, to assess them for marital pluses and minuses, weaknesses and strengths.
Were they really destined to be together? Did their charts offer tips to boost their happiness and invigorate their love? And how much of what Debbie told them did they actually recognise in themselves? Read on for the verdicts…
‘Our star signs are completely incompatible’
Investigative journalist Guy Adams, (born 1.40pm, January 14, 1978, in Hong Kong) has been married to Katie Adams (born 9.06am, May 31, 1978, in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria) for 12 years. The couple have three children.
Adam (pictured left) is a disciplined Capricorn, whilst his wife Katie (pictured right) is a much freer Gemini
One of the longest half-hours of my life was spent on the front pew of a village church, nervously fingering my watch as I wondered if my tardy bride had decided to jilt me at the altar.
That was almost 13 years ago, and over the course of our very happy marriage I’ve come to realise that no amount of theatrical key-jangling or throat-clearing will ever improve my beloved Katie’s wayward timekeeping.
She treats lateness as a mild inconvenience. I regard it with abject horror. Given that we now have three children, with the added domestic chaos that entails, I’d be lying if I said these two conflicting world views don’t sometimes cause friction. The scheduling of our bedside alarm clock (I set it early ‘to be on the safe side’, she prefers ‘an extra ten minutes’ sleep’) provides a nightly flashpoint.
A healthy marriage is all about compromise, though. And thanks to the famed astrologer Debbie Frank, we now know our different attitudes to punctuality are something we must learn to live with. For they were written in the stars.
How so? Well, I am a Capricorn, which broadly speaking makes me a disciplined if sometimes miserable old goat, focused on pursuing what Debbie calls a ‘vertiginous climb up the mountain of life’. Katie is a freer, easier, more laid-back Gemini.
‘Capricorn is the sign of time because it’s ruled by Saturn, which is associated with Chronos, the Lord of Time,’ Debbie explains. ‘So you, Guy, are all about schedules, whereas Gemini is often juggling things. Katie wants to be free. Capricorn is a far more serious sign.’
So at first glance it’s bad news: our two star signs are in many ways ‘completely incompatible’.
Psychologically, we inhabit different realms. Gemini is an ‘air sign’, which according to astrological stereotype makes Katie gregarious, bubbly and easily distracted. Capricorn is an ‘earth sign’, which means I’m focused, industrious and a bit dull. I stack dishwashers with military precision. Katie does not. You get the picture.
Debbie knows a fair bit about incompatible couples. She achieved fame in the 1990s as Princess Diana’s personal astrologer, using the stars to help her navigate the breakdown of her relationship with the Prince of Wales. Later, she and Diana became close friends. The Princess was a Cancer. Charles is Scorpio — on paper, a questionable match.
So, we find ourselves asking, does the astrologer who had a ringside seat for perhaps the most famous failed marriage in modern history think our union is doomed? Happily, the answer is … not quite.
Having got the bad news out of the way, Debbie turns surprisingly positive: apparently things get a lot healthier when she probes the detail of our ‘charts’, the complex diagrams capturing the state of the heavens at the exact moment of our births some 44 years ago.
We both, for example, had the moon in Aries ‘within a few degrees’. That, she says, is a ‘major tick in the box’ because lunar position shapes how we behave at home. ‘It tells me what you’re like when no one’s looking and it’s just the two of you, and you are on the same wavelength, so you can have a family and domestic life valuing the same things.’
Elsewhere, Katie has ‘Leo rising’ and I have ‘Taurus rising’. This is also oddly compatible: Leo likes glamour, Taurus likes good food. It may explain why she is an excellent dinner party host but I’m a keen amateur chef who enjoys toiling in the kitchen. Excitingly, our charts also both have ‘Mars in Leo’.
‘This fiery energy you share is your glue, I would say. That’s what makes you an interesting couple and helps you have a fascinating life. You both want to be engaged and create interesting things. There is lots that connects you and gives you a sense of shared purpose.’
The big question, of course, is whether there is anything in this. To the rational among us (including me), the notion that a person’s character is formed by the position of the stars and moon at their birth is at best questionable and at worst abject nonsense. To Katie, an avid reader of newspaper horoscopes, things are more nuanced.
Debbie explains: ‘There are many things we believe in that are not evidence-based — such as love, for instance. We don’t ask. We believe in it. We know it’s true but there’s no scientific evidence for it.’
Wherever you stand, Debbie says talking about astrology can help all couples, since it forces partners to become more self-aware. She even provides occasional readings for honeymooners, via a tie-up with the Four Seasons hotel chain.
‘People say there’s no point when you’ve just tied the knot, but actually the opposite is true,’ she says. ‘It’s about looking at the connection between you and identifying any potential issues for your life ahead. It gives you more awareness. In a way, it’s like couples’ therapy.’
With a following wind, it may even persuade Katie to be a touch more punctual… and make me just a little more patient.
‘Ron, the ultimate sceptic, was hanging on every word’
Author and twice married mother-of-one Linda Kelsey (born 4pm, April 15, 1952) has been with osteopath, divorcee and father-of-two Ron Marx (born 2.30am, June 8, 1954) for 14 years.
Author Linda Kelsey (pictured right) is an extrovert Aries as is her partner Ron Marx (pictured left) who is Gemini
My first job, at the age of 18, involved typing up the horoscopes for Good Housekeeping magazine and checking them for grammar and spelling. I did this for three years.
If I didn’t get the astrology bug then, it was unlikely ever to happen, though I do admit to a period between marriages when I read the newspaper — just for fun, mind you — to see how my love life might pan out as I dated with varying degrees of success and failure.
I’ve been with my partner, Ron, for the past 14 years and, as in all relationships, there are peaks, troughs and blips. Sometimes I do question our compatibility and the different ways we approach life’s challenges. On one thing we do agree, though — astrology is more well-plotted make-believe than anything to be taken seriously.
So here we are engaged in a Zoom call with Debbie Frank, who has mapped our birth charts for compatibility, with our cynicism radars on full alert.
Debbie asserts that there is often a series of tick boxes in people’s minds when it comes to assessing whether they are suited to one another, but that as individuals we’re a lot more complicated than that. Instead, she says, we are built up of many, often contradictory, layers. So far, so sensible, though I’m not sure what it has to do with the relative positions of the sun, moon and planets. Hmmm…
As an Aries, which is a fire sign, I have masses of extroverted energy, says Debbie. Ronny, as a Gemini, which is an air sign, is also considered extrovert, but when you delve a little deeper into his individual chart, based on the day and time he was born, there’s so much water he’s practically swimming in it. So we are definitely coming at things from a different elemental base.
While I am apparently all systems go, excited about new propositions and where they might lead, Ronny tends to be ‘a little bit gentler’ and less gung-ho. ‘Let’s book a holiday to Rome/ throw a party/fit double glazing to save on energy bills,’ I might say.
Ronny will immediately look worried. I’ll get busy organising while he’s concerned about the cost of the trip/ the guest list / whether new windows will do the trick.
Unlike the average Gemini, for him everything comes from the emotions and is about something feeling right. I have a rather more rational perspective, she says — and I have to admit this is probably true.
So far, Debbie is pretty much on track. When it comes to compatibility, she says two people might get on well if they go out for dinner or meet at a party, but what counts is what goes on at home over the long term. With my moon in Capricorn and Ronny’s in Virgo, there’s a down-to-earth feeling about the two of us in the domestic realm. Debbie thinks we might enjoy walking together, pottering about and making lovely food. How right she is. We enjoy all three, though of course so do many couples: it’s not exactly a blinding insight.
But then comes a clincher. ‘Ronny, because of that moon-in-Virgo thing, you are very consumed with thoughts. I don’t think that mind of yours ever switches off.’ I turn to look at Ronny, the astrocynic, and he is staring at the screen with rapt attention.
Things are taking a really interesting turn: Ronny has indeed always been a deep thinker.
On the other hand, apparently my life’s work is to manage my feelings. This is uncomfortably close to the truth because despite my rational approach and seeming ease at decision-making, I have spent much of my life repressing my emotions. There is a further contradiction that affects our relationship, says Debbie, because while I insist on being independent and free, at the same time there is a strong desire to be stable, secure and committed. This is spot-on. I have always fiercely felt the need to not merge, to be an individual. I don’t even like the word ‘couple’ — and yet intimate relationships are what fortify and fulfil me.
Linda says that she’s not a convert but her mind has been opened to the ‘possibilities of what is widely regarded as a pseudo-science’
While I’m more future-oriented, Debbie continues, and take on new things quickly and with relish, Ronny tends to be more nostalgic and focused on the past. I simply can’t argue with any of this.
Debbie is interested in the ‘union of souls’. In our case, she sees that for both of us there is a ‘healing element’ to our relationship. This, of course, makes sense since we have both had former marriages, Ronny one; me two. So we have lived full lives and experienced lots of hurt.
‘Even if things sometimes have an edge’ — they do Debbie, they do — ‘you will never feel quite so comfortable with anyone else.’
I turn to Ronny and we smile and nod. I am impressed. So is Ronny, especially when Debbie tells him he is ‘a rare man’ and highly emotionally intelligent. Scepticism aside, it’s uncanny.
Debbie has looked at our birth charts, interpreted them and somehow encapsulated many attributes of our relationship. I’m not quite a convert but my mind has been opened to the possibilities of what is widely regarded as a pseudo-science.
It has provided a welcome reminder of why Ronny and I are together, and may be worth referring to next time we go through a growly patch.
‘You’re the driving force, but Andy loves that in you’
Writer Suzanne Duckett (born 1.47pm, April 17, 1972, Glasgow) has been married to event producer Andy Friedlander (born 9.23pm, December 22, 1973, Luton) for 25 years. They have one daughter.
Writer Suzanne Duckett (pictured right) is an Aries alpha female and her husband Andy Friedlander (pictured left) is a Capricorn
I have always read my horoscope and those of my ex-boyfriends, even after we split up (perfectly normal, no?). I’m fascinated by astrology — so much so that I even have a ‘Moon Editor’ on my wellness website Onolla, who teaches self-care rituals depending on which phase the moon is in.
So I jumped at the chance to find out what Debbie would unearth about my relationship with my husband Andy by reading our charts. Not because I have concerns about our compatibility (I don’t think the best astrologer in the world can truly gauge the compatibility of a 25-year-long relationship) but because it’s an excellent form of inspiration for keeping a marriage in tip-top form.
That snapshot of the cosmos at the moment of your birth, a circular chart with symbols and lines all over it, is a road map for life, if you like. Or ‘a map of the psyche’, as Debbie puts it. ‘Contained within it are all the layers, contradictions, needs, talents and challenges that unfold over a lifetime.’
Debbie comes with impeccable credentials and I can see why. She read our individual and couple star birth chart with such accuracy, you’d think she knew us already.
Apparently my alpha female Sun excites his Rambo-like male Mars!
First we gave her the date, time and place of our births, then Debbie kicked off her consultation by telling us that when Andy, a Capricorn, was born, Mars was in Aries, but when I was born, the sun was in Aries, which means ‘your alpha female sun excites his Rambo-like male Mars’ and makes for a dynamic pairing. If things get tumultuous at work or with family, says Debbie, we feel it at the same time — this is completely true, and has helped to foster a feeling that we ‘get’ each other.
‘You see, Suzanne, you’re an Aries — you go fast, fast, fast,’ Debbie purrs. ‘You’re the driving force. Add in Leo rising and you are totally front-of-house. You love mixing and mingling with the great and the good. You’re creative.
‘Some guys can’t handle that but Andy loves that in you, and while he’s also an extrovert he’s an earthy, grounded Capricorn, so not jealous or possessive.’
Aha, this explains why I could be flirting outrageously with the actor Tom Hardy at my local pub — he is local and I’ve tried — and Andy wouldn’t bat an eyelid.
Debbie also armed me with some information I have every intention of using to my advantage. Apparently Andy has a natural ability to ‘be of service to others, fixing things’. Good to know I can add to his DIY list without feeling guilty.
Has Debbie detected any weak spots in our relationship? ‘There really aren’t many,’ she says, though she does have one key insight to keep our relationship fresh. ‘Your engagement with the world is crucial,’ she says. ‘You are the opposite of the pipe-and-slippers couple and need lots of movement and travel.’ Which is absolutely right and one of the reasons why, as a couple, we were hit so hard by the pandemic.
Debbie tells us the hidden formula for a woman’s emotional needs lies in the location of her moon and Venus. Andy promises to be more aware of them, while having ‘no idea where they are’.
‘Their placements are in the chart,’ explains Debbie. ‘In Suzanne’s case they are both in the communication sign of Gemini. This means she needs to talk in order to process her feelings. She needs a meeting of minds, an exchange of ideas, so keep your lines of communication open at all times to make Suzanne happy.’
Suzanne was happy with what Debbie had to say about her and Andy noting that ‘he needs a good laugh and to lighten up when he’s stressed’
What about his needs? Andy raises an eyebrow at his apparently opposing Sagittarian characteristics of playboy and priest. ‘Andy’s Moon and Mercury are in Sagittarius,’ says Debbie.
‘The most playful of signs offsets the more serious side of his Capricorn sun. I call Sagittarius the sign of the playboy and the priest because they can be both playful and soulful.’
Basically, he needs a good laugh and to lighten up when he’s stressed. Noted.
So would Debbie put us together?
‘Oh yes!’ she says. ‘You are a great resource for each other.
We walk away feeling rather smug and pleased with ourselves.
- What’s Your Soul Sign? Astrology For Waking Up, Transforming And Living A High-Vibe Life, by Debbie Frank, is out now (Hay House, £12.99).