Luck, Astrology, and Cliches (Stephanie Kuehnert)

Happy Friday the 13th!!! My favorite day of the year because I was BORN on Friday the 13th so I get to claim it as my lucky day... At least that is what I heard somewhere... or maybe I made it up? Either way I am claiming it because I can use all the luck I can get, especially after Mercury Retrograde, which just ended on Wednesday, thank goodness!

Blaming Mercury Retrograde seems to have become more and more of a thing in recent years--at least it is on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. On the flipside, I also see a lot of people (like my husband) rolling their eyes, shaking their heads, and saying that they are sick of people who put so much weight into astrology. I may be pushing the boundaries by talking about this as a cliché , but hey this is YA Outside the Lines, and also much as I love and adore and believe in astrology (see my Literally The Best Thing Ever: Astrology piece on Rookie for proof of that!), I am aware that I am reducing situations and my own personality to a cliché sometimes when I talk about it. For example, I am a proud Cancer and I've got all the moodiness, sensitivity and homebody-tendencies to go with it. Occasionally during those moody bouts, I will say, "Ugh, I'm being such a Cancer." For the most part, I comment on this to snap myself out of it, but sometimes I do use it as an excuse to wallow. Similarly, I like to have Mercury Retrograde as a scapegoat. 

However, I try not to oversimplify. That’s what creates a stereotype or cliché—boiling it down to ALL CANCERS ARE MOODY ALL THE TIME or NOTHING GOOD CAN HAPPEN IN MERCURY RETROGRADE EVER. I actually moved across the country during Mercury Retrograde, which I will admit COMPLETELY TERRIFIED ME. I thought for sure the car would break down or all our stuff would break or something. There were a couple of hiccups, but compared to what COULD happen in a cross-country move, it was really nothing. How do I explain this and my belief in Mercury Retrograde? For one, I did a lot of careful planning before the Retrograde period (and whether or not the Retrograde is real, I thank my paranoia for making me extra vigilant). For two, I was making this move to re-invent and re-invigorate my life and that’s the kind of stuff that Mercury Retrograde is actually all about, at least according to this article, which I quite enjoyed. Well, either that or it’s my born-on-Friday-the-13th bad luck reversal thing kicking in. I also did sell my memoir while Mercury was in retrograde (though my agent and I have an agreement about avoiding actual contract signing if we can help it. She shares my feelings about astrology and signs from the Universe in general; one of many reasons we work so well together.)

Basically, the way I keep myself from being crippled by superstition or clichés is by making sure not to pin EVERYTHING on them. I believe in good luck when I think it will give me the energy I need. I use the idea of bad luck when I do need to vent or blame a string of unfortunate, miserable things on something, but then I try to reframe it either by using a situation like Mercury Retrograde as a way to really WORK on my communication and planning so things don’t go wrong or taking the time to reflect, rejuvenate and revise. I will say that astrological clichés are one of my favorite writing tools, though. When I’m building a character, I always figure out their sign and it helps me figure out what their strongest personality traits are and what matters to them.

What about you? Do you believe in this stuff and use it to explain/justify everything? Think it’s clichéd or have stereotypes about people who do? Or do you take an approach like mine?

Now I’m off to enjoy my lucky day—and I did just Google that superstition. Apparently there are a couple of beliefs floating around: if you were born on Friday the 13th, you are either unlucky for life OR Friday the 13th is your lucky day. I’m choosing the latter, so I’ll be sending an application for a writer’s residency in today. If it’s not too cliché to ask, cross your fingers for me!


  1. I'm sort of addicted to horoscopes. Love thinking about them as cliches...


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