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Is Astrology The Key To Learning Who You Are?



Every Sunday night around 9:30 p.m., I head to the Astro Poets’ Twitter account. That’s when the astrology duo shares their poetic mini-musings for each astrological sun sign. People cheer (or scream) in the replies, depending on the nature of the tweets. Truthfully, I review my horoscope because I want to add a little extra cosmic validation to my moves. And frankly, sometimes I need a little help adulting.

Astrology is the study of the effect that cosmic bodies have on our lives. According to a 2018 TIME article on zodiac signs and astrology, this practice has roots in China, Egypt, India, and Babylon. As written by Christine Smallwood for The New Yorker in 2019, ancient societies used astrology to help them make decisions, too.  “Astrology helped people decide when to plant crops and go to war, and was used to predict a person’s fate and interpret his character,” Smallwood writes. However, by the 17th century, astrology’s popularity began dwindling. People were more interested in more concrete, socially acceptable forms of science. The study experienced an uptick in the 1970s, due to the increased social acceptance of pseudosciences.

The normalization of astrology continued throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, with some help from Black popular culture. In 1994’s “Big Poppa,” The Notorious B.I.G. called out men who use astrology to try to attract women. Four years later, rap duo OutKast titled their second album, “Aquemini” after a portmanteau of Aquarius and Gemini, Andre 3000’s and Big Boi’s astrological signs, respectively.

Astrology runs through Brandy’s third project, Full Moon, as well. “We can dance if you want, get it crackin’ if you like/Must be a full moon, feel like one of those nights,” the singer crooned over Rodney Jerkins’ production.

This cultural inclusion of the cosmos, as well as the internet, helped astrology explode in the 2000s. Our parents and grandparents are the ones who most recently helped usher in astrology and prop it up to be a valid learning method. As a result, Generation Z is using it as a means of understanding ourselves and the world around us. We’re trying to make informed decisions about a variety of topics, including politics, romance, and self-care.

“Who they attracting with that line, ‘What’s your name, what’s your sign?’” — The Notorious B.I.G.

In late 2018, Katie Fustich worked with Medium on an essay about why astrology became a coping mechanism for people during such dark times. We’re faced with climate change, an ongoing global pandemic, political strife, poverty, joblessness, mental health trials, and that’s not even the half of it.

“You can practice astrology at your own pace, individually or in a group,” Fustich writes. “It bears no central responsibility and lacks a history of violence and destruction; it creates a safe space for self-exploration.”

I don’t always feel comfortable asking for help, or even talking, period. It’s not the worst character flaw in the world, but it does make connecting with others occasionally challenging. Because of this, I look to astrology. I don’t necessarily have to ask for assistance when I’m trying to reach a conclusion about whether I should dump a guy, or if I’m being too analytical.

Another individualized appeal is that astrology feels close enough to me to dissect my habits, yet distant enough for me not to feel manipulated, which happens when loved ones try to offer boundary-crossing guidance. Again, it’s not an end all be all resource, (as it’s a reminder to be a bit more trusting), but it works for me. And it works for a lot of my peers, too.

Sometimes, I’m put off by what seems to be the world’s reliance on astrology. I then analyze my own dependence. I also try to discern whether or not astrology is helping me become a better, more self-aware person. This kind of skepticism is healthy I believe. But all in all, I still follow the Astropoets’ account and I’m pretty excited about our Sunday night dates. I guess that introspection and skepticism is typical of a Scorpio, though.

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Brits in foodie debate after arguing over flavours on wedding crisp wall



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Everyone has differing tastes when it comes to their big day. Some people opt for extravagance whilst others prefer a more low key wedding.

Regardless of taste, people often want their day to be memorable.

And, it seems a new foodie trend has been started in the UK. Forget donut and Prosecco walls, one Reddit user was stunned when they came across a wedding “crisp wall”.

They titled the post: “A crisps wall for a wedding? I’ll take three!”

A picture of a three panelled crisp wall was attached to the post, which included what was thought to be some of the fan favourite potato snacks.

However, the creative decoration has caused a bit of a stir on the online forum as people were not satisfied with the choice of crisps on offer.

In true Brit style, the comment section quickly erupted into a foodie fuelled debate over the selection of crisp flavours.

One person commented: “Very questionable choices in place I must admit!”

Another user added: “No monster munch!?”

Whilst a third person stated: “No T-bone roysters either, what a joke.”

Someone else shared: “Far too many walkers roast chickens on there, poor late comers are gonna be devastated.”

Meanwhile, a fifth person said: “No Hula Hoops? It’s a f***ing travesty.”

However, some people decided to stay out of the crisp debate and questioned why the wall was there in the first place.

One user said: “Plot twist: That was the wedding dinner.”

Another person commented: “I don’t understand it but I like it.”

Someone else joked: “I’m divorced, but part of me wants to get married again just so I could do this.”

Let us know in the comments what crisps you would have chosen for the wall!

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I thought I would be crucified and my baby’s arrival was linked to the ‘Second Coming’



EXCITED to bring her newborn baby home, Katherine Shaw knew she was in for some sleepless nights.

The special educational needs (SEN) teacher had a normal pregnancy and welcomed baby Jude at 7.49am on 24 April 2020, at the height of the coronavirus lockdown.

The 31-year-old and her husband Matt, 34, brought Jude home later that afternoon and like most new parents, they faced sleepless nights.

Although Katherine was struggling, she thought it was normal at the time.

Katherine, from Shrewsbury, Shropshire has now revealed how just a week after giving birth she experienced a psychotic episode.

She tells how postpartum psychosis led her to be convinced she was “the second coming” and she thought she would trigger a Noah’s Ark style flood by flushing the toilet.

“It came on really quickly and escalated – in just 10 minutes I went from feeling like myself to becoming a shaking wrek”, she said.

Katherine said that in the first few days after Jude arrived, she was unable to switch off and sleep soundly.

She explained: “I didn’t have negative thoughts at this point but my brain was very active and wanted to be busy all the time.

“On reflection, I feel this may have been some sort of mania in the build up to the psychotic episode.”

When Jude was a week old, Katherine and her family started to notice something was seriously wrong.

Katherine said she felt as though her thoughts were racing and said to deal with this she tried to write them down on her phone, but felt as though she couldn’t type quick enough.

She added: “I didn’t tell anyone but very quickly, they turned into delusions.

“I believed tapping my phone rapidly would transfer the thoughts from my head into my phone, and I thought rubbing my hands or tapping on myself quickly would slow down time.

“I began thinking about God creating the world in seven days and believed I could now understand how he did it.

“I started to think I was the second coming and Jude’s birth was linked to this.

“I was unable to swallow my food and was convinced if I flushed the toilet it would trigger a Noah’s Ark type situation.”

What is postpartum psychosis?

POSTPARTUM psychosis (otherwise known as puerperal psychosis or postnatal psychosis) is a mental illness which can affect any new mother – and could cause her to harm herself, or her baby.

t should be treated as a medical emergency – and can get rapidly worse if not treated.

In the worst cases, psychosis could cause a new mum to harm her baby or herself.

The two main symptoms are hallucinations, seeing or hearing things which aren’t there, and delusions, having thoughts or beliefs that are unlikely to be true (e.g. that you’ve won the lottery).

What to look out for:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • High mood/mania: talking too quickly, feeling ‘on top of the world’ or being more sociable than normal
  • Low mood/depression: being withdrawn, tearful, anxious, irritable, and having low energy levels, loss of appetite and trouble sleeping
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Paranoia
  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Severe confusion

When her family noticed her behaviour, they tried to help her sleep while they sought advice from the hospital.

Husband Matt drove her to hospital while Katherine’s mum stayed at home with Jude.

During the car journey, Katherine deteriorated.

She said: “I believed the car was going to crash and we would die. I then started to believe the things that happened to Jesus would happen to me – betrayal, disbelief, crucifixion.”

At the time Covid rules were still in place, but Matt was given special permission to stay with his wife at the hospital.

She agreed to take medication and tried to sleep, while Matt lay beside her.

When she awoke the next day she said she felt confused and still had some ‘strange beliefs’.

She added: “After a few days, eventually I was calm enough to be discharged back home with the support of the crisis team.”


In the months that followed Katherine continued to struggle with her mental health and had panic attacks.

She also lost her appetite, had blurry vision and experienced mood swings.

“I felt numb and spaced out, I had constant anxiety, difficulty concentrating and intrusive thoughts that constantly controlled, tormented and haunted my mind.

“Although I had my family around me every step of the way I felt so alone in what was happening to me. I was petrified, it felt never-ending”, Katherine said.

In mid-July Katherine decided to admit herself to Brockington Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) in Stafford, meaning Jude was able to come with her.

She spent four months at the hospital receiving treatment and said her ‘heart ached’ when she had to leave her husband, but that on the surface she was ‘numb’.

She said: “I found myself watching the clock all day every day and, due to Covid, visits were restricted to three times a week for just one hour per visit.

“All of the staff I encountered through my illness were just outstanding people. I couldn’t have wished for nicer people to care for me.

“Unfortunately the facilities did not provide a nurturing environment to support healthy recovery.

“As a teacher, being led to an out-of-date playroom with donated toys and poster paints and being told I could do some sort of art made me feel like I was a child in a bad early years foundation stage setting.”

She explained that there were no alternative therapies available alongside medication.

Katherine added: “I would like to have seen CBT; massage or acupuncture; exercise such as a gym and swimming pool; art, music or movement therapy and mindfulness.

“If we were lucky we had a short walk around the hospital grounds with a member of staff.”


A year after leaving the hospital Katherine has recovered and returned to work in April.

She said it took a while as a family to heal from what happened and that it had been a ‘traumatic experience’.

“Now we have settled down into family life and we have been able to enjoy normal things that at one point I never believed I would ever do again.”

Katherine is working with Action on Postpartum Psychosis to raise awareness of the condition, particularly among expectant and new parents.

She said: “Talking to others always has helped a lot. It has allowed me to process and come to terms with things.

“I spent a long time during my recovery being cross that no one talks about what could happen to you postpartum until you are in it and suffering.

“Talking has also helped me help others offering words of advice and comfort to friends that have had a hard time or been ill postpartum mental health.

“Talking doesn’t make anything go away or stop but it does make you realise you will one day find yourself again and most importantly you are not crazy or alone in the awful things you have had to experience.”  

A spokesperson for Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are currently undertaking a significant refurbishment of the ward, including creating more open plan spaces and increasing the amount of natural light.

“We have also been able to develop and increase our offer of therapeutic activities with the employment of a dedicated occupational therapy assistant.

“With the support of the Trust’s Arts for Health team the programme has recently included music and movement sessions and a range of art activities including work with clay. The unit has also recently received Quality Network for Perinatal Health Services accreditation from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.”

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How Rebecca Hall’s family history inspired new film Passing



How Rebecca Hall’s family history inspired new film Passing: Actor turned director reveals how her US opera singer mother Maria Ewing and grandfather who were both biracial ‘passed’ themselves off as white

  • Rebecca Hall, 39, makes her directorial debut with black and white film Passing
  • Tells the story of two light-skinned Black women who ‘pass’ as white in the US 
  • Hall explained her connection to the subject through her own biracial history
  • Her maternal grandfather Norman Isaac Ewing ‘passed’ as white, she revealed
  • Hall’s mother is the biracial opera singer Maria Ewing, Sir Peter Hall’s third wife 

Director Rebecca Hall has revealed how her family’s own complex biracial history inspired her directorial debut, Passing, about two light-skinned Black women who ‘pass’ as white.

Hall, 39, is the daughter of white British director Sir Peter Hall and Detroit-born opera singer Maria Ewing, 71, whose mother was white Dutch and father was of African American, and possibly Sioux Native American and white European descent.

Like the characters in Passing, Hall’s maternal grandfather Norman Isaac Ewing spent his life ‘passing’ as a white man and raised his children, including Maria, as white. 

‘He was almost definitely African American. I say he passed for white; there was no language for that within even my family… it was it was mysterious even for [my mother] and complicated for her,’ Hall said in an interview with Screen Daily. 

Rebecca Hall has revealed how her family’s own biracial history inspired her directorial debut, Passing, about two light-skinned Black women who ‘pass’ as white. Pictured, Rebecca in 2010 with her mother, opera singer Maria Ewing, whose mother was white Dutch and father was of African American, and possibly Sioux Native American and white European descent

Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson in Passing as Clare and Irene, two light-skin Black women who both ‘pass’ – intentionally and unintentionally – as white in 1920s New York

‘I then dug a little deeper, and it became very clear that he was white passing. And more than that, it was likely that his parents were also both white passing. And I started thinking more and more about the legacy of passing in a family.’ 

Martha J. Cutter, an associate professor of English at Kent State University, argues racial passing originated in advertisements offering rewards for captured runaway slaves in the US in the mid-18th century. 

It was uncommon for those who ran away from slavery to be described as being able ‘to pass’ or to ‘pass for’ white, almost white or Native American. 

Passing was threatening because it could ‘challenge’ the rationale for slavery: that Black people were ‘inferior’ to white. An individual’s ability to ‘appear’ white while ‘being’ Black destabilised this racist argument. 

The theme was explored in Nella Larsen’s 1929 novella, Passing, on which Hall’s film is based.  

It centres on the friendship of Irene (Tessa Thompson) and Clare (Ruth Negga), two light-skin Black women who both ‘pass’ – intentionally and unintentionally – as white in 1920s New York. 

Rebecca described her grandfather’s ‘passing’ as something that was ‘known and not known’. Adapting Passing for the screen was a way of processing her own complicated family history. Pictured, Rebecca as a baby with her mother Maria and father, director Sir Peter Hall 

Like the characters in Passing, Hall’s maternal grandfather Norman Isaac Ewing spent his life ‘passing’ as a white man and raised his children as white. Pictured, Maria with Rebecca

The pair reconnect in a chance encounter at a whites-only hotel during the Harlem Renaissance. It is Irene’s first attempt at passing, while Clare has done it for her entire life, even marrying a white racist who is unaware of his own wife’s heritage.

Hall explained she was recommended Passing by a friend about 10 years ago, when she was considering her own racial identity, and the privileges she was afforded as a white-presenting person. 

‘I began to think about how racial passing is representative of the American dream, in the sense that you can be self-made and turn yourself into something else, but also representative of the lie at the center of the American dream, which is that you only get to [participate] if your complexion is a certain color,’ she told the LA Times.

‘And as I started thinking more about that, I started wanting to know more and see how I sit in relation to that.’

Norman Isaac Ewing was born c. 1892-1894 to John William Ewing and Hattie Norman, who are both reportedly described in U.S. Census records as ‘mulatto’, an outdated term used to describe a child born to a Black person and a white person.

On the 1910 U.S. Census, Norman’s race is listed as ‘mulatto’. In 1920 he describes himself as ‘Native American Indian’.

Norman married Hermina Maria Veraar, who was born in Amsterdam, in 1938 in Ontario, Canada. The couple settled in the US and welcomed four daughters, Norma Koleta, Carol Pankratz, Frances Ewing and Maria Ewing.

Maria, pictured, met Sir Peter at Glyndebourne in the late 1970s. He directed her as Carmen and as Salome, whose Dance Of The Seven Veils left her totally naked on stage

Norman died in 1968, when Maria was a teenager, and Hermina died in 2004, aged 88. 

Maria graduated from Finney High School, Detroit, in 1968 and made her professional debut just eight years later in a Metropolitan Opera production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.

She met Sir Peter at Glyndebourne in 1979. He directed her as Carmen and as Salome, whose Dance Of The Seven Veils left her totally naked on stage, and fell ‘madly in love’, despite being married to his second wife Jacky at the time. 

Jacky and he were divorced in 1981, and in 1982 he married Maria, who that same year gave birth to their daughter, Rebecca.

Hall was to write of his third marriage: ‘We were together for ten years of passion, highs and lows, excitement and despair. It was a turbulent life, gloriously happy and acutely miserable.’

But by 1988, he had fallen in love yet again with the theatre’s press officer, Nicki Frei. She became his fourth and final wife when he was 60 and she 30. 

Rebecca with her father Sir Peter Hall in 2006. Sir Peter, who married four times, died in 2017

Rebecca first starting her family’s heritage when she was in her mid-20s.

I went through a stage of really bringing it into a room and being surprised by the reaction that I got and also confused by the reaction, which varied,’ she told Screen Daily.

‘Some people would be accepting, and a lot of people just would laugh and find it hilarious. And I’d always be like, “What does that say about you that you find that so funny? What’s funny about it? Because I look like an English rose and that’s funny to you because you have an absolute idea about what blackness is?” 

‘All these things start to percolate and you’re like this walking paradox.’

In a separate interview, Rebecca described her grandfather’s ‘passing’ as something that was ‘known and not known’. Adapting Passing for the screen was a way of processing her own complicated family history.

‘I don’t think that I really had language for passing. It was such a difficult area of conversation in my family,’ explained Rebecca in an interview with Variety. 

Rebecca with her mother Maria Ewing and Leslie Caron, Sir Peter’s first wife, at his funeral

‘It was a question of, maybe my grandfather and maybe his parents [were Black], maybe this, maybe that, maybe it was something else, we don’t really know. It wasn’t framed as this choice.

‘I don’t think I understood the truth of [passing] until I read the book. And then I had a context for it that made sense and slotted everything together in relation to all of the snippets of information I had about my family.’ 

It was a long journey to get the film made, with producers Nina Yang Bongiovi and Forest Whitaker, of Significant Productions, initially sceptical about Hall’s suitability to tell the story. 

‘I was a little hesitant because what we do as a production company is champion filmmakers of colour,’ Bongiovi told Variety. ‘Our mission is to lift up underrepresented voices. 

‘So I told her, “I don’t know if it’s right for a Caucasian woman to tell a story about Black women who can pass. 

‘And when she told me that her [maternal side of the family] is African American but have been passing for generations, I almost fell off my chair. I was like, Wow, this actually makes her such a perfect filmmaker to tell the story.’

Hall said her mother was ‘incredibly moved’ when she saw the film for the first time.

‘There were a lot of tears,’ she said. ‘She said that she felt her father would have been released by it on some level because he was never able to talk about it. This has given our family an ability to not feel like there’s something that’s hidden.’

Passing is screening in a limited number of cinemas in the UK and US.

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