How To Read Someone You've Just Met, According To An Astrologer

Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
Every astrologer I've met in person has "read" me. That is to say, they've made an educated guess as to what my various signs are based on the first impression I give.
"You're something dark — a Scorpio?"
(Nope.)
"You're a Capricorn, there's no question."
(Yes!)
"I see Capricorn for the sun, but the rising is totally different. Pisces, maybe?"
(Exactly!)
The first question that enters my mind is, How can they do that? But the second is, How can I do that?
This kind of guessing game is common among astro fans online, with Reddit discussion threads calling on users to guess each other's signs based on anything from photos to facial expressions to music preferences. There's even a WikiHow article meant to teach readers how to identify astrological traits in others. If you take the time to learn about how the 12 signs of the Zodiac really behave (and go beyond their broad stereotypes), you stand a chance at guessing an acquaintance's sign correctly, too. But are there any tricks that pros use to get it right?
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Astrologer Colin Bedell tells Refinery29 that he'll usually pay attention to eye contact. Water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces), he says, will be deeply focused and fire signs (Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius) will often hold direct eye contact with him. On the other hand, "air sign [Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius] eyes dart from corner to corner, but they’re data-downloading, so they have to," Bedell says. And finally, earth signs (Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn) won't always hold his gaze or appear to be listening, but they are — "because earth energy is buried within," he says.

If you take the time to learn about how the 12 signs of the Zodiac really behave (and go beyond their broad stereotypes), you stand a chance at guessing an acquaintance's sign correctly.

Bedell is quick to add that, if you're making your guess based on little more than an assumption or something you've heard about this person, kindly don't. "Let others show you who they are first," he says. "Stay open to undiscovered astrological virtues, too, as opposed to enforcing confirmation bias." So, if you've never gotten along with, say, a Sagittarius, and you meet someone who rubs you the wrong way, you may feel justified in assuming they're a Sagittarius, but that wouldn't be fair to them — or the general population of Sags, for that matter.
As helpful as these tips may be, your ability to identify astrological traits in others depends on your own sign, too. "As a Gemini, I can’t intuit [others'] signs from their body language," Bedell tells us. "But I can get close to their energy from their word choice, sentence structure, spoken rhythm, and their listening practices." In other words, since Geminis are ruled by Mercury, the planet of communication, they tend to pay more attention to verbal cues than other signs do.
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This logic can be applied to any sign: If you're an action-oriented, Mars-ruled Aries, you're probably better off looking at someone's body language than listening closely to their conversational style. Or, if you're an intuitive and empathetic Pisces, you might have an easier time guessing someone's sign based on how they express their emotions. So think about what your strengths are, and take an approach that works for you.
All of this being said, Bedell doesn't think people should get too caught up in guessing other people's signs. There's no hard-and-fast-rule for how to do it, so it often comes down to having years of study and experience with the Zodiac — and even then you can get it wrong. "It’s all about observing the context of the time and the space to see who’s energy is most appropriate," Bedell says.
But hey, if you meet someone who's texting nonstop and saying "hi" to everyone who passes by, why not ask them if they're an ultra-social Libra? You might just blow their mind.
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