Part personality test, part connection to the universe, and part historic interest in the human condition, astrology has never been needed more than in 2020. Believing in an ancient force beyond our control can bring comfort, the idea that there is a greater plan alleviates guilt and stress and allows people to feel more connected to the universe. Whether an avid believer or a sceptic, there is something to gain from astrology and horoscopes, even if all it does is allow you to reflect upon your life.
Although it may be branded as a millennial trend, astrology is nothing new. People have turned to the stars for hundreds of years, and although some form of astrology shows up in various ancient cultures, it is largely believed to have originated in Ancient Greece; in fact, the word ‘Zodiac’ comes from the Greek term for ‘sculpted animal figure’. Until the 17th century, astrology was considered to be a scholarly tradition, and had its uses in the studies of alchemy, meteorology and medicine. Therefore, despite science having shown that predictions based on this ancient system aren’t necessarily accurate, the search for human meaning in the sky isn’t fruitless. After all, there has forever been a drive to understand the human condition, and any method that aids people in understanding themselves and the emotions everybody experiences can only be a positive thing.
However, can this ancient practice really be relevant in the modern day? All science and proof aside, astrology has an inherent value beyond its original purpose. Part of Astrology is community based. We want to relate to being a Taurus or a Capricorn or a Leo for the same reason we want to know what Hogwarts’ house we are in, or which Myers-Briggs’ personality category we fall into. Because we have a thirst for meaning, a desire to understand ourselves and to feel a part of something. Star signs also offer a sense of community – there are other people with the same star sign as you out there, other people who understand, and your quirks are acceptable because you’re a textbook Virgo, or Aquarius.
But beyond the personality and community element, astrology can have a more serious impact, and it can actually bring a lot of comfort in uncertain times. In the modern era, the decline of religion and increase in politically fraught tension and economic collapse have left people seeking something spiritual, something to hold onto, a sense of community and a higher power. Astrology tells us that there is something larger at play that allows us to feel connected to ourselves, our ancestors, and the solar system, while also bringing us comfort. After all, if the difficult events of this year and the last few years have been caused by the shifting in the planets, the planets will always shift again, and this concept brightens the future and allows for the promise of peace.
This explains the resurgence in astrology in the last few years. According to Jessica Pels, Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, 74 per cent of Cosmo readers state that they are ‘obsessed’ with astrology, and 72 per cent say that they check their horoscope every day. Not only do people no longer seem to see a contradiction between astrology and science, but people are confused, desperate and scared. In the last few years, especially for young people, things keep happening that seem out of control; Brexit, the election of Trump in 2016, ongoing climate crises, police brutality against Black people, fires raging through land, and now the pandemic. Fear is most definitely in the air. We are living in an unbelievable time, so why not believe what is supposedly unbelievable?
The world is so uncertain, that an app on your phone, or a quick search for what might be in store for you in the coming weeks can bring a tremendous amount of comfort – it is a mini dose of therapy, a hope that maybe something good might be coming soon after all. There’s also an element of having something to blame when your emotions, or the world, spirals a little too far out of control; it’s because the planets crossed or because mercury is in retrograde. It forms something onto which we can throw our anxieties. In a time where anxiety is everywhere, it’s nice to feel a part of something much bigger. Therefore, the ‘truth’ to astrology isn’t strictly relevant, if young people find comfort in an ancient practice, especially when governments can’t necessarily provide a more concrete certainty for the future, then it has a place in modern day society. Astrology tells us that although the sky looks pretty dark right now, soon there might be stars again.