Astrology, and its lasting impact: We examine why Gen-Zs and millennials are hooked on it
Do you have one of those friends that you just automatically click with upon meeting one another, as though you are two peas in a pod? Or perhaps you're festering disdain for someone you barely know? Nine times out of ten, it is likely that someone in your life would credit this unexplained phenomenon as this: "Well, it's probably because he or she is a Taurus, or an Aquarius, or a Libra." Although some of you might be scoffing at this ridiculous notion, horoscopes have evolved into a pop culture staple since its meteoric rise in the '70s — where it has played centrestage in magazine features; themed makeup palettes; fashion shoots; and more.
Astrology, essentially, is the study of the placements of celestial bodies, alongside its influence on our daily affairs. This, hence, helps provide further insight into the human soul. While the mysticism of the 12 horoscopes date back to ancient Greek mythology, we know that this isn't an actual form of science. Yet, for more than two decades and counting, little blurbs about our personality traits; the dos and dont's; and the romantic compatibility between signs have only solidified our belief in it.
Logically, it doesn't make sense, seeing how horoscopes have been debunked by scientists and researchers that have dubbed it as nothing more than pseudoscience — fanatics are the ones who empower the concept and imbue it with meaning. So why do we grant it any form of control over our lives?
You see, back in its hey day, horoscopes in magazines persuaded readers to buy certain products, where they had folks believe they would need the listed items because it matched their constellations. Now, however, people are choosing to reinterpret the star signs, with Gen-Z and millennials embracing it as a way to connect with themselves and other people. It is also typically used to assist with decision-making.
This begs the question: why? Well, certain horoscopes or predictions can be scarily accurate, where it relates to our lives on a deep level. This, in turn, grants us a sense cathartic release, as though we are being seen and heard by the universe. Studies have shown that in times of stress, people do actively search for horoscope websites and features online. The advice given also poses interesting conundrums, solutions, and perspectives that many of us may not have thought of, or heck, wanted to address. In its unique way, horoscopes have grown up, where it has shaken off its marketing value in publishing and is now donning another hat where it acts as a coping mechanism for the masses.
This comes as no surprise. 2017 research findings from Our World In Data show that over 900 million people had experienced one form of mental illness in their lifetime. According to the Institute of Mental Health in Singapore, one in seven people will be plagued by psychological disorders — and this study was done before COVID-19 came into the picture. This only further strengthens the potency of astrological phenomenons, where it acts as a balm, of sorts; easing our troubles while filling up the cracks whenever we have a bad day. As this writer can attest, after a horrific mess of a date, there are a number of us who might seek comfort in checking respective parties horoscopes so as to examine what went so wrong on a spiritual level. Truth is, it is highly probable that that person probbaly just wasn't the one and had nothing to do with their sign, but it sure feels nice to blame something else for our misfortune.
The interest in Western zodiac has also paved the way for tarot cards and crystals to make headway back into the mainstream, as evidenced by the bevy of divination videos on YouTube and live readings on TikTok.
Divination is a practice that serves as a long-standing tradition for the Romans, Chinese, Africans, Mediterraneans, and more — where it is commonly regarded as a form of voodoo to commune with the spirits to ask for guidance. While tarot cards might have a connection with the undead, crystals and the stars do not. All the same, we are led to think that they follow the laws of attraction; where positive and negative thoughts bring upon their respective experiences.
Yes, seeking advice from a higher power or the universe is hardly a new concept, but relying solely on it might prove dangerous. Think about it: if we read every horoscope and highlighted the noteworthy portions, we would relate to at least half of them across the board — they are, after all, written as broad statements rather than a philosophical prophecies. And yet, some of us choose to be suckers for this because we just want to indulge in a form of escapism. To be frank, the link between horoscopes and stress is a point of concern, seeing how people's strong belief in it signifies that the world is still too challenging for our delicate psyche.
At what point should we draw the line between reality and fantasy? A more productive form of wellness would be to develop and manufacture more mental health resources, rather than putting your faith in half-baked truths floating on the Internet. In a sense, horoscopes are merely an unassuming band-aid covering a gash that refuses to heal completely — temporary and devastatingly ineffectual in the long-run.