“What’s your star sign?”
Is it just me, or does this seem like a very personal question? Particularly given how much stock is held by such things nowadays. Yet I’m asked it regularly by the hoards of young people who believe in astrology.
On the several occasions this question has been casually thrown my way, I’ve been inclined to answer guardedly, shrink back into my shell to ruminate on why someone would want to know such a thing and how much they’re judging my answer… But hey – maybe that’s just because I’m a Cancer – a fact that most of these nosy parkers digest with a knowing smile, as if it confirms the suspicions they already held about me.
Yes – the popularity of horoscopes, birth charts and all things astrology has skyrocketed over the last few years, particularly amongst millennials, with everyone from friends to first dates and total strangers asking me what sign I am. Where it was once confined to the back pages of newspapers and hippy crystal healing shops, astrology has now gone mainstream and everyone from Kim Kardashian to Beyoncé is sharing their thoughts on Mercury Retrograde and the cycles of the moon online.
A study from the National Science Foundation found that 58 percent of Americans aged between 18 and 24 believe in the power of astrology and, of the Foundry Fox readers that follow their horoscopes, 73 percent feel that they resonate.
Combined with the declining belief in major world faiths – the National Centre for Social Research found that 71 percent of the same age category Brits have no religious affiliations (an increase from the 62 percent of 2015) – it begs the question, is astrology the new religion for millennials?
“At a time in history when most of us live in little boxes, with too much time spent in front of a computer, it’s a simple way to reconnect with the Divine.”
– Yasmin Boland
Yasmin Boland, astrologer and best-selling author of Astrology Made Easy, has certainly noticed an increased interest from young people.
“The age bracket is getting younger and younger, I have noticed in the past few years. I do quite regular surveys on my sites and whereas I used to get mostly women aged 40 plus, now it’s dropped to 20s plus. I recently did a free workshop in Los Angeles and for the first time ever, pretty much everyone in the room was a millennial.”
Considering how much millennials hate to be categorised and stereotyped (we’ve earnt the nickname Generation Snowflake for our inability to reconcile opinions that differ from our own), it’s surprising that we’re happy to be consigned to a mere twelve star signs. But the demand for horoscopes is on the up, with almost every major website and magazine now offering them on a monthly, if not weekly, basis.
If life has taught us anything – it’s that humans can’t live happily without believing in something – whether that be a god, fate or their lottery numbers. As the only sentient beings, we hold onto our beliefs as a way of getting through the tough times and as a means to believe that things will get better – and perhaps this is exactly why millennials are turning to astrology.
Speaking to a friend who religiously (pun intended) reads her horoscope, it became clear that the allure lies in the personalisation of it.
“Religion feels very general to me,” she explained. “Where all the world faiths seem to have one-size-fits-all approach, astrology feels tailored to me – I’ve had readings with astrologers who knew things about me that they couldn’t have found anywhere. Combined with the accuracy of my star sign personality traits, it just feels more attuned to me than anything else.”
Not everyone agrees, though. Will*, a Bristol Uni Science student said: “millennials love horoscopes because they like the idea of external forces controlling their lives rather than taking responsibility for themselves. As a scientist I think they’re a great money spinner but actually a waste of time – they’re so generic that anyone can relate to them.”
What’s definitely true is, as a generation, millennials are more inclusive than any other. We’re known for fighting inequality and for striving to be more inclusive, whereas many religions are still stuck in the past when it comes to views on sexuality, gender roles and peoples’ rights. You don’t need to fit into any criteria in order to enjoy following astrology, making it one of the most inclusive, faith driven practices around to day.
Boland agrees: [Astrology] brings perspective to your life, connects you with something bigger outside yourself, and makes you think about who you are, where you are and what you’re here for on this tiny planet.
At a time in history when most of us live in little boxes, with too much time spent in front of a computer, it’s a simple way to reconnect with the Divine.”
Whether or not a few hundred years from now people will be worshipping at the altars of Mars and Venus and daily horoscopes become the new religious text remains to be seen – these things can be difficult to predict.
Having said that, the world’s astrologers – and their millions of young followers – would probably beg to differ.
*name changed to protect identity