Written in the stars: Why astrology is so popular

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Written in the stars: Why astrology is so popular

Words by Emma Sullivan

Astrology is a divisive topic. Whether you’re a believer or not, you can’t deny it’s crept its way into popular culture and is having a moment.

So many of us have flipped to the horoscope section of a magazine to find out what lies ahead or basked in the blue light of our phone as Co-Star delivers its daily sass-tinged wisdom, telling us our “nervous energy won’t be useful today”. Thanks for nothing.

You’ve likely encountered Instagram memes validating Pisces’ emotional sensitivity while phrases like, “Oh, you’re such a Gemini” and questions around whether Mars is in retrograde have become commonplace.

Conversations have opened up around what’s written in the stars in these past few years, but even more so now as we experience a once-in-a-century pandemic.

At the peak of the pandemic in March, The New York Times noted, according to data provided by cultural trend analyst Lucie Greene, horoscope-related stories published on Dazed Beauty saw a 22 per cent increase in traffic and Refinery 29’s article ‘The Super Pink Moon in Libra is Good News for Your Relationships‘ was one of the sites’ top-performing stories of the month.

Down Under, Melbourne-based professional astrologer of 29 years, Jude Davies says she’s seen an approximate 50 per cent increase in chart readings since the beginning of the coronavirus surge.

Thanks to Zoom, opportunities for Davies to do readings for overseas customers have opened up and she says this demand has increased compared to normal.

“Usually you can sort of track who is coming to you. That was because of that referral or whatever,” she says. “But now people, I think, are just going through the web and looking at astrology sites and just making a decision of, ‘Look, I’m at home, I don’t know what’s going on, I think I would like to have a little bit of insight’. So, I’d say it’s a broader net that’s been cast now.”

So, why are we now finding ourselves leaning on these services?

Astrology isn’t scientific. However, it carries its own sort of logic. Traditionally, the chart involves the placement of the sun, the moon and the planets within 12 sections of the sky – what we know as the signs of the zodiac. This planetary cycle is then interpreted into ways it can influence our lives.

Back in the day, horoscopes were mostly filled with wishy-washy, surface-level comments which, you might say, held very little merit. People associated astrology with things like psychic readings and assumed the stars predicted the winning lotto numbers or whether or not they were dating their soulmate.

But with the availability of more in-depth information online, astrology has gained a place on the cultural wave and is widely seen in a new light.

Now, Davies says although most people tend to hold curiosity around topics like health, money and relationships, it’s more about confirmation and reassurance of one’s self.

“The one thing that I have noticed is that the readings do give people a bigger picture. They’re not suddenly just looking day to day and week to week and sort of buying all of the media fear about recession, death and sickness and so on. It takes people out of that, it gives them a space to breathe and sort of realise, you know what there is life beyond this,” says Davies.

“Also, this is my strongest focus really, in a reading, but it affirms who they are and that they do have choices. It is still up to them to make positive choices about their life and what they do day to day.”

The sudden shift in lifestyle we’ve experienced has raised deeper questions for some people about why they’re here and what they’re meant to do. We’ve had more time to step back and evaluate our life and so, many have reached towards astrologers to get more perspective in their lifestyle and choices.

Okay, we hear you haters in the back. Some of us don’t want to hear the path that lies ahead of us and feel a reading could create a sort of bias towards certain types of decision making. So, are our futures set in stone? Is there wriggle room for change in what’s written in the stars?

“It’s up to you to choose what path you take,” Davies says.

40 years-ago, Davies taught Tai Chi at a women’s prison and did a number of charts on people who’d been there for a while or people who were repeat offenders. She realised that their charts weren’t riddled with badness, but their bad fortune had come from them taking the easy path.

“You know, they wanted new runners, they’d go and steal the best ones sort of thing. So that was an interesting understanding that made me realise, ‘Okay, so it’s all about how you approach what you’re given in a sense’,” she recalls.

We all need a bit of reassurance at times – especially during unprecedented times. If astrology helps you to find that beacon of hope, then it makes total sense for you to want to lean on it right now.

It’s not really about predicting the future but a gentle push to figure out what assets you have to overcome certain challenges you may be required to face.

“The beauty of this time, now, is that everybody understands that it is a time within which we can make changes. Astrology is a great tool at the moment, so it’s fantastic that more people are turning toward it.”

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