Millennials have taken it and run with it. Many people I spoke to for this piece said they had a sense that the stigma attached to astrology, while it still exists, had receded as the practice has grabbed a foothold in online culture, especially for young people. In some ways, astrology is perfectly suited for the internet age.
But the system has its own sort of logic. Astrology ascribes meaning to the placement of the sun, the moon, and the planets within 12 sections of the sky—the signs of the zodiac. What horoscopes are supposed to do is give you information about what the planets are doing right now, and in the future, and how all that affects each sign.
I have to make sense of those conversations that are happening each month for you.
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Astrology expresses complex ideas about personality, life cycles, and relationship patterns through the shorthand of the planets and zodiac symbols. And that shorthand works well online, where symbols and shorthand are often baked into communication. To the extent that one simply learns this vocabulary, it may be appealing as a rich way of representing not explaining or predicting human experiences and life events, and identifying some possible paths of coping.
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People tend to turn to astrology in times of stress. According to American Psychological Association survey data, since , Millennials have been the most stressed generation, and also the generation most likely to say their stress has increased in the past year since Millennials and Gen Xers have been significantly more stressed than older generations since And Americans as a whole have seen increased stress because of the political tumult since the presidential election.
Fifty-six percent of people said reading the news stresses them out, and Millennials and Gen Xers were significantly more likely than older people to say so. Lately that news often deals with political infighting, climate change, global crises, and the threat of nuclear war. On September 6, the day after the Trump administration announced it was rescinding DACA—the deferred-action protection program for undocumented immigrants—Nicholas sent out her typical newsletter for the upcoming full moon.
It read , in part:. The full moon in Pisces May help us to empathize with others May we use this full moon to continue to dream up, and actively work toward, creating a world where white supremacy has been abolished. In , when Sandhya was 32 years old, she downloaded the Astrology Zone app, looking for a road map. She felt lonely, and unappreciated at her nonprofit job in Washington, D. She wanted to know when things would get better and Astrology Zone had an answer. So Sandhya spent the next year making room for Jupiter.
She started staying home more often, cooking for herself, applying for jobs, and going on more dates. Jupiter entered Leo on July 16, That same July, Sandhya was offered a new job. That December, Sandhya met the man she would go on to marry. But I followed what the app was saying.
So I credit some of it to this Jupiter belief. Humans are narrative creatures , constantly explaining their lives and selves by weaving together the past, present, and future in the form of goals and expectations. I take such a long time to make decisions because my Mars is in Taurus.
My boss will finally recognize all my hard work when Jupiter enters my tenth house. A combination of stress and uncertainty about the future is an ailment for which astrology can seem like the perfect balm. I have a story in my head. I was just hoping certain things would happen in my life, and I wanted to see if I am lucky enough for them to happen. People are starting to get sick of a life lived so intensely on the grid. They wish for more anonymity online. Except, perhaps the questions of who you really are, and what life has in store for you. Ruby Warrington is a lifestyle writer whose New Age guidebook Material Girl, Mystical World came out in May —just ahead of the wave of astrology book sales this summer.
It seems we may be at a similar turning point.
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Bugbee, the editor-in-chief of The Cut, noticed this shift a couple years ago. There is more nuance than this statistic allows for. Many mainstream examinations of astrology as a trend are deeply concerned with debunking. The people I spoke to for this piece often referred to astrology as a tool, or a kind of language—one that, for many, is more metaphorical than literal. Michael Stevens, a year-old who lives in Brooklyn, was in the quarter-life crisis season of life around the time of the total solar eclipse in August this year.
And then shit started to happen in life. She was annoyed, he says, that he called her at the end of the month, which is when she writes her famously lengthy horoscopes. But then she asked him for his sign—Sagittarius.
It sounds totally like me. Still, he says the conversation made him feel better; it spurred him to take action. In the months between his call with Miller and our conversation in October, Stevens left his advertising job and found a new one in staffing. Shortly before we spoke, he and his girlfriend broke up. Beusman, who hired Gat at Broadly, shares her philosophy.
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And of course they were. That was the point after all. Digital natives are narcissistic, some suggested, and astrology is a navel-gazing obsession. 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, not to have to choose. It can be freeing, in a time that values black and white, ones and zeros, to look for answers in the gray. Used as an excuse for an old-school come-on or as a profile question on a dating app, star signs were always a strategy for communicating a discrete set of qualities that are within your control.
I can plant, in their minds, the idea that I am passionate, brave, and fond of flashy accessories. Now, lest that feel basic, knowing my full astrological chart is a shortcut to communicating my multi-faceted nature, so complex that only an algorithm can predict it. The literal truth of the overarching enterprise being beside the point means that the elegant fiction of it is too. The effect of contemporary astrology and other serious-but-not-literal phenomena has not been to supplement the understanding of the human, as the accommodating media class that gave these things platforms intended.
Instead, humans seem more and more like characters, with sets of attributes they assert by acting as their own abstract authority. What happened to produce these ruins, this disappearance? What kind of entity was involved? What kind of thing was it that emitted such an eerie cry?
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As we can see from these examples, the eerie is fundamentally tied up with questions of agency. What kind of agent is acting here? Is there an agent at all? But the forces driving its intense popularity—the various kinds of capital on social media—are source-less and strange. Mars rules men. Contemplating coal's past and the importance of a unionized energy sector at the Durham Miners' Gala.
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