Group finds meaning, community in the stars

BRISTOL RESIDENT JILL Allyn Peterson recently started an astrology group in town, which is intended to give seasoned stargazers and other interested community members a space to talk about celestial events and process the world around them.  Photo courtesy of Jill Allyn Peterson

BRISTOL — It can be hard to navigate the world around us, with things like the impacts of an ever-pressing climate crisis and the societal upheaval of a global pandemic further complicating the changes in careers or relationships that mark our daily lives. 

In the midst of so much turbulence, a new astrology group in Bristol is intended to offer Addison County residents another way to process and better understand the shifts in their personal lives and amongst the broader population. 

The meet-up, started by Bristol resident Jill Allyn Peterson, gives seasoned stargazers and other curious community members an opportunity to talk about all things astrology and use the study of celestial events to talk about the world around them while getting to meet new people. 

“It’s a fun way to make sense of things with a diverse group of people, who all have a similar language that’s different from the normal way of sorting out what’s going on,” Peterson said of the group. 

Astrology is a pseudoscientific field of study that interprets the movements and positioning of different planets and stars as having an influence on human activity and the natural world. Subscribers to the study believe the celestial cycles create different types of energy that affect individuals’ experiences, moods and behavior. 

The dozen zodiac signs are a popular element of astrology. Different personality traits and characteristics are attributed to individuals under each sign based on where the sun was positioned when they were born.  

Though, Peterson said, there’s much more to astrology than reading your monthly horoscope. 

“As you dive deeper into astrology, the more you learn and the bigger it gets,” she said. 

Peterson was interested in astrology for several years, though she only recently began diving deeper into the study. Prior to moving to Bristol in 2021, Peterson was involved in an astrology group while living in New York City. 

She found it to be a fun way to better understand current events with a community and decided to replicate the group after relocating to Addison County.

“I have been feeling like there’s this desire to get back out and meet with people,” Peterson said. “I found that (group) to be so fun and helpful, and then there was this feeling that we all need to get together and talk about what’s happening but do it in a different way than what seems to be available.”  

The group has met twice so far, most recently at the end of June. Peterson said discussions at each meeting are loosely structured around a theme. 

The most recent gathering explored the impacts of celestial events slated for this summer. 

“I feel like conversations like this attune me more to themes happening for everyone, and how those themes affect different people,” she said. “It’s a way to appreciate what’s going on and navigate it.” 

Since its origins, astrology has been used to predict earthly events, which Peterson said can offer some comfort to community members. 

“It’s sort of a context and a framing that is both totally ancient and pretty new to the way we’re trained to think about cause and effect, or why something is happening,” she explained. “There’s a sense of being prepared for what might happen and not classifying everything that happens in life the same way.” 

Peterson added that astrology isn’t about finding solutions necessarily, but gives individuals another vehicle for understanding the changes in their lives and in society. 

She said that in an increasingly digitalized world, it can feel like those issues spring up more so than ever. 

“Somebody was saying how 20 years ago, there’d be one crazy thing happening every couple of months and now it feels like we’re just bombarded by crazy news after crazy news,” Peterson said. “I think (it’s helpful) having a way to frame it so that the events of the world aren’t constantly battering you down.” 

The meet-up has thus far attracted a handful of amateur and longtime astrologers from the Bristol area and beyond. The next gathering is slated for August and interested parties can email Peterson at [email protected] or sign up for her newsletter at for more information. 

Peterson said she sees the group as evolving organically in the upcoming months, with future meetings centering on the various astrological expertise of different members and topics of interest to the group’s participants.

“I would love to see a group of people who regularly come together and just have a way to process current events and events in people’s lives,” she said. “It can be hard to open up about what’s going on emotionally or big changes in life. It can provide a vehicle for opening up those conversations.” 

Peterson added that community members don’t need an extensive knowledge of astrology to join the group’s discussions, and that anyone is welcome to stop into future meetings. 

“I’m trying to figure out how to balance not excluding people who are very new to (astrology) and also using it as a way to bring in the expertise of people who have been studying it for a while,” she said. “My goal is to make it as accessible as possible and to do some teaching for people who want to learn more.” 

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