Assistant Opinions Editor
A few years ago, during one of those hazy nights at bars where you meet instant best friends in a bathroom line, two girls struck conversation with me and a friend. Then, I worked at a job I hated, drinking heavily on weekends and not at all trying to make sense of what those experiences meant or said about me. Nevertheless, it was when I started to get more deeply acquainted with Astrology. I had recently done my birth chart with a generic website that, allegedly, has some good reputation in the field. As well as reading Susan Miller’s “Astrology Zone” horoscopes religiously, sometimes more than once.
While we were in line, the subject of star signs was brought up. I went off on talking about rising signs and moons, the only information I knew off the top of my head, but the conversation was brought to a grinding halt when one of the girls interrupted to say their sign was the moon, and the other one promptly agreed. I was just as phony as they were, the knowledge I had was a little deeper than theirs, but I still know very little.
Years, and a million astrology meme accounts later, “moons” and “risings” became almost common knowledge among circles of strangers at bars. Lately, people seem to know not only their star sign and its average characteristics, but others’ star sign clichés as well. For instance, how Leos like to show off, or Capricorns are cold, etc. Phrases like these have become mundane small talk, even for those who don’t even consider themselves astrology believers. So why is culture, once again, drawn to this pseudoscience?
The oldest evidence of zodiac related objects, according to Livescience, is 2200 years old, found in a cave in Croatia. Since then, historically, we know about the holy wars and the erasure of fringe beliefs to strengthen Christian ideals. Yet, somehow after hundreds of years, specifically in the 1800s, horoscopes made their way back into private group conversations, and in the beginning of the 1900s started being published in Newspapers. Popularity grew, and by 1930 the Sunday Express went as far as publishing the birth chart of princess Margaret Rose.
Since then, it became more popular and reached its first pinnacle by the 1960s, with the New Age movement. Along with Indian and Chinese philosophy, horoscope signs became popular and even entered pop culture, as the fifth dimension sung to the coming “Age of Aquarius”. Yet from the 80s on, astrology seemed to have been exiled to the back of magazines and taken a back seat in pop culture, with few exceptions, something that changed over the last 6 years.
Meme accounts and videos, showing the “Rick and Morty version of each astrological sign”, or “which The Office character are you based on your star sign” attracts online audience engagement and shares, the biggest currency at the moment. Ramifications to this practice created Instagram accounts dedicated to a single star sign. Callie Beusman, senior editor at Broadly then, reported that traffic for the site’s horoscopes grew exponentially in 2017, getting 150% more traffic that year.
A study done in 1982 by psychologist Graham Tyson, showed that most of the people who consulted with astrologers did it in relationship to stressors involving their social roles and personal relationships. According to the American Psychological Association, Millennials report the highest stress rate of the current generations and coincidentally are at the center of this cultural boom. Pretty much confirming that, in these times of uncertainty, sometimes people just want a gameplan or a perspective that whatever they are going through will pass. A sense of transiency that sometimes gets raptured by the stressors of an over-stimulated daily life.
Humans are narrative creatures, for the better or worse. We are trapped in our space time and sentenced to conclusions based on standpoints we already have. Every person has their own view of reality by an assimilation process that is unique and speaks to their past experiences. Because of this, some distance is required to interpret mental processes and really ask ourselves why we fall into certain behavioral patterns. This contemplative approach, of analyzing life’s experiences and identifying negative patterns, isn’t easy to maintain in a world that is constantly throwing distraction our way.
There are a myriad of reasons why people seek astrology. I have done two birth chart maps, one numerology consultation and am still unsure if I believe any of it. What I took from the experiences I had was that these were tools to make sense of present and past experiences. They helped me see myself from a certain distance and understand that sometimes the narratives I told myself weren’t as set in stone as I thought. Astrology helped me understand the opportunities of learning from past events, and although I don’t think it should be paramount to everyone, I still re-read my birth chart and learn things from it.