Discover the world of highly sensitive people and the fascinating realm of astrology through an insightful MysticMag interview with Fernanda Paiva. As an expert astrologer and advocate for sensitivity, Fernanda sheds light on her journey and approaches that empower personal growth.
To someone hearing the term for the first time, can you describe who and what highly sensitive people are?
The term “highly sensitive people” has been coined by psychologist Elaine Aron. She started doing research in the early 90s. HSPs account for 15-20% of the world’s population, so because there are so many people, it’s considered a trait. Obviously, sensitivity is always a spectrum, so some people will be more sensitive, and some will be less sensitive, even depending on the day, etc. However, the HSPs are a specific group of people that will process information more intensely, being more powerfully affected by stimuli.
Let’s say you go into a crowded room. Most people will have a filter of sorts between all the noise and all the things that are going on, but a highly sensitive person will often be easily overwhelmed because they don’t have that kind of filter.
High sensitivity is also known as sensory processing sensitivity. It has to do with how we process stimuli, information, etc. Within the group of HSPs, we also have empaths – people who have very strong intuition and tend to feel and carry other people’s emotions in their own bodies. Under the umbrella of neurodiversity, the brains of HSPs and Empaths function in a slightly different way from most people.
The trouble is sensitivity doesn’t seem to be very valued in our society. We are told that we must ‘toughen up’ or that we’re too sensitive as if it’s a flaw. You can’t really be sensitive and feel emotions in public without feeling judged or inadequate. Sensitivity is treated like it’s something to be ashamed of.
But being an HSP or an Empath also brings many qualities, including a tremendous ability to feel empathy, great creativity, a strong connection with a sense of purpose, and a genuine desire to help others, to name a few.
How did you get into astrology and what sparked your interest in the field?
I think I’ve always been interested in astrology, ever since my childhood in Brazil. My favorite cartoons were related to planets and the stars. Also, thanks to sun sign horoscopes, I got in touch with it very early. However, I never thought it would be something that I could follow as a profession. It was only when I moved to London in 2008 that I started researching the field a little bit more deeply, getting in touch with English-speaking sources, and seeing that there were astrology schools available, etc. It really opened my perspective, and I decided to take it seriously in 2012.
Before that, I thought I wanted to be a filmmaker, but all I was doing was reading things about astrology and going deeper into the subject. That’s when I enrolled in the London School of Astrology. After that, the rest was history, really. I just kept doing more and more, and I recently finished my Masters’ degree in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology at the University of Wales. I really followed that path and never looked back.
What is the Constructive Astrology method?
One of the ways in which we can think about astrology is that it’s a language. It’s a symbolic language that you can use to interpret and to find meaning. It’s a way of mining meaning in our reality, in our relationships, and in our psyches. We can attribute all sorts of different meanings to different things. We can talk about Saturn as the planet of karma, the planet of hard lessons, or the planet of mastery. It’s never just one exact thing, the astrological symbols are multivalent and reflective of many different potentials.
I guess because I’m heavily influenced by Western traditions, I strongly believe in free will, so in my view, we always have choices. It’s not written in the stars in a way that there’s nothing you can do about it. You can always do something; you can always choose and apply your choices and your responses to situations.
In that light, constructive astrology is a method that considers the life that we want to build and how we can work with the astrological symbols in order to achieve it, rather than approaching the symbols in a fearmongering way. I don’t believe in interpretations like “Oh you’ve got Saturn in the second house, now you’re going to be poor for the rest of your life”. It’s not about that. Saturn in the second house can also be about you becoming a master or an authority figure, and that’s the way that you’re going to make your money.
There are different ways of looking into it. It’s not an exact science. Astrology has all of these different layers, so I choose to work in a more constructive way because I want to inspire people. I want to help people to see the best in themselves and to feel that they have the volition to act and create the things they want the most. I want my clients to feel supported in making choices in their lives rather than succumbing to self-fulfilling prophecies. So, as the name already denotes, my method is about working with astrology in a constructive way, which will always be unique to and prioritize each client’s needs.
You also offer mentorship services and private lessons. What can you tell me about that part of your work?
I love this part of my work very much because astrology is my passion! It’s a real treat to get to teach and mentor people who are all at different stages of their learning journey.
I also absolutely love to spend as much time as I can thinking and talking about astrology, as well as researching new information. I do talks and events, as well as speaking at conferences on the topic. There are so many things that I can do on this more educational side of it. I’m giving a talk in October about ‘Astrology for Empaths and HSP’s’, and in December I’m planning a workshop about astrology, shamans, and the inner healer in us.
Recently I’ve also added an element of coaching to my practice, as well. I just finished the training on coaching highly sensitive people at the Highly Sensitive Human Academy and I’m adding that to my mentorship program. The idea is to use astrology and work with a specific goal for personal growth that my client has on an ongoing basis rather than it being a one-off session.
Sometimes just one consultation is enough, and a person gets the insight they are looking for. However, sometimes they need reinforcement. It’s said that it takes 21 days for you to build a habit and 90 days to change your life. I think that my coaching and mentorship are in line with that.
I also have a YouTube channel, called Hitchhiking Stars Fernanda Paiva Astrology, where I share all sorts of interesting astrological information, and I just really love it. To explore and make a good living talking about a subject that you love is just amazing, and it helps empower other people to understand and to ask questions, too. It’s great, a very exciting and gratifying part of my work.
What is your favorite part of your profession?
There are a few things that are my favorites about my profession. One is that I love astrology because it uses both sides of the brain, so on one hand I must research and investigate planetary positions, degrees, where the sun is, etc. using my analytical faculties. And on the other hand, I also need to use my imagination. The way I bring an astrology chart together and create interpretations also involves the other side of the brain, the more intuitive side. I also think that I work with a very beautiful canvas. I’m using the sky to bring meaning into people’s lives. That’s quite amazing.
The last thing that I want to bring up is that my work is about inspiring people. The ability to use astrology as a means, a language, and a tool to help people create change and improve their lives. I can help them understand themselves better by also gaining an awareness of their personal cycles. In a way, it’s like nature. We’ve got winter and we’ve got summer, and it’s the same with your life. There will be periods in your life when there will be winter. It will be a time to go inwards, an internal new beginning. It’s so great to see the relief in people’s eyes when they have an insight and understand that they’re going through something. It’s like giving them a license to be themselves. It’s one of the most important inspiring things about my work – inspiring people, helping them to lead a happier life, and really feeling that I can make a difference.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I just would like to encourage people to watch the sky and pay attention to the moon a little bit more. It really provides us with an easy way to navigate our lives and to not feel so isolated and alone. It is a great reminder that life is cyclic, that we’re all interconnected, navigating these different cycles together.
To learn more about Fernanda and her work, you can visit her website at www.fernandapaiva.co