Astrology is having a moment, a second coming, or is it the third, fourth, fifth, sixth ……(you get the point) It’s a practice that has been around in various forms for thousands of years and will be around for thousands more yet and even when its not a ‘thing’ not trendy or relevant there will always be the daily horoscopes, just look at the back pages of any magazine.
Something has changed though, something that has occurred in the last five years that has given it an edginess, a relevance for this time and place, millennials have taken astrology under their wings and are running, there is no longer a stigma attached, no cliché or joke element, the practice has grabbed a foothold in our online culture particularly with young people.
Traffic for online horoscopes has grown exponentially, a typical post on a horoscope site is now getting 150% more traffic than in 2017, 150% in a single year? That’s growth on an epic scale, perhaps because astrology is just so perfectly suited for the Internet age? There’s an endless depth of astrological info to plumb if you feel like falling down a Google research hole.
So the purpose of a horoscope you may be asking, well they are designed to give you information about what the planets are doing right now and in the future and how what they are doing well and can affect you on a personal level. Astrology expresses complex ideas about personality, life cycles and relationship patterns. Fully-fledged astrology provides a powerful vocabulary to capture not only personality and temperament but also life’s challenges and opportunities.
People tend to turn to astrology in times of stress, particularly stress that is linked to an individual’s social role and his or her relationships or lack of. At times of stress, people are prepared to use astrology as a coping device even though under low-stress conditions those people may not put much stock in it. Perhaps this link to stress is an explanation of the resurgence of astrology? Millennials are officially the most stressed generation, the news often deals with political infighting, climate change, global crisis and the constant threat of war and if stress makes astrology look shinier then it’s not surprising there seems to be more drawn to it now. Astrology offers those in crisis the comfort of imagining a better future. A combination of stress and uncertainty about the future is an ailment for which astrology can seem like the perfect balm.
People are tiring from a life lived so intensely, fatigue from ebooks, dating apps and social media, they are craving something else. Astrology is a language of symbols that describes those parts of the human experience that we don’t necessarily have equations, numbers and explanations for. We are increasingly turning to unreality as a form of escape. What emerges is an appreciation for magic and spirituality, the knowingly unreal and the intangible aspects of our lives that defy big data and the ultra-transparency of the web. It has become generally less acceptable to just arbitrarily shit on things like ‘that’s not rational’ or ‘that’s stupid because that’s not fact’.
But a sincere interest in astrology doesn’t mean people are abandoning rationality for more mystical beliefs, people may say they do not believe in astrology but still identify with their zodiac sign. They may like to read their horoscope but don’t change their behaviour based on what it says. We take astrology seriously but we don’t necessarily believe in it, it’s a tool for self-reflection, not a religion or a science but a way to look at the world and a way to think about things.
It might be that Millennials are more comfortable living in the borderlands between scepticism and belief because they have spent so much of their lives online, in another space that is real and unreal at the same time. That so many people find astrology meaningful is a reminder that something doesn’t have to be real to feel true. If the ‘astrology is fake but its true’ stance seems paradoxical perhaps the paradox is what’s attractive?.
To understand astrology’s appeal is to get comfortable with paradoxes, it feels simultaneously cosmic and personal, spiritual and logical, ineffable and concrete, real and unreal. It can be a relief in a time of division, freeing, in a time that values black and white, to look for the answers in the grey.
About the writer
Sally Kirchell is a part-time Art Director at Canvas Prints Australia and co-founder of Personalised Art site, Beyond a Word, a mother of 2, a parent to 3 dogs, a keen writer, traveller and photographer and a women that needs a holiday with lots of margaritas after juggling all these things.