It’s all part of the ‘Now Age’ – a term social experts have coined to describe the resurgence of mystical stuff previously considered too ‘woo’ to take seriously, such as crystals and smudge sticks. As your parents will tell you, this isn’t the first time astrology has been part of the Zeitgeist, but it’s definitely enjoying a mainstream moment. You can now even filter matches by horoscope on dating app Bumble, in case the idea of dinner with another Gemini fills you with dread. Chaotic phase So, what’s bringing this age-old practice back into the collective consciousness? It could simply be convenience: detailed, personalised info about the zodiac, once difficult to seek out, is now available at the click of a mouse.
And we’re clearly taking advantage: Google Trends shows that global searches for the term ‘astrology birth chart’ have doubled in the past five years. But, our interest in the stars could also be a reaction to the chaos of our nonstop, switched-on world. Shortly after the first big zodiac love-affair of the ’70s, a small 1982 study by psychologist Graham Tyson found that people who consult astrologers tend to do so in response to life stress. And thanks to today’s unstable political environment, climate change challenges, the rising cost of living and social media pressure, young Aussies in particular are reporting higher-than-ever stress levels.
“I do think [astrology’s resurgence] correlates to periods of uncertainty,” agrees anthropologist Dr Sumant Badami, a faculty member at The School of Life. “But it’s also economic. Not only are people putting their faith in an explanatory framework to make sense of chaos or confusion, but ... it’s being heavily commodified in a way that’s marketable.”
With its complex charting of the stars, sun, moon and planets, astrology also feels pleasingly scientific. But even though it is based on NASA’s calculations, the rest is pure mysticism. There’s no hard evidence, for example, that Venus’ transit through your sign will result in a new love interest.
“Astrology provides answers that are applicable to a wide range of people, yet in a way that makes all those people feel like it’s speaking to them directly,” says Badami. But, that doesn’t render it useless. “For some, that’s fun and gives them a sense of stability in awful situations – and that’s an important value.”
Another upside? Horoscopes can also provide extra insight when we’re grappling with big decisions.
Psychologist Jacqui Manning explains, “I think if something ‘sings’ to our intuition and body wisdom, we can resonate with that, and sometimes horoscopes play that role. That’s not to discount our logical mind, but to consider all aspects. People generally use horoscopes to back up what they already know or plan, not to dictate futures.”
Case in point? Checking in with the stars was reassuring for Nicole Vassallo, 27, when an ex came back into her life. “A few sites told me to explore an old door that was reopening,” she says. “It’s not why I gave my ex another chance, but it helped validate my decision."
Like any belief system, astrology can work against you if you follow it dogmatically. It might be funny to blame the moon for your bad day or crappy mood, but “if it’s making you do things that aren’t in alignment with your values or what is good for you, then you are serving it,” warns Badami. “And that’s when it steps over into a dangerous, compulsive, damaging area”.
The caveat is to maintain a critical mind – even astrologers will warn that the stars don’t hold absolute power over earthlings.
Astrologer Yasmin Boland says, “When I write horoscopes and my daily Moon Messages on my website, I give a sort of astrological weather forecast. Are conditions favourable or is there likely to be some tense energy today? That’s my starting point. It seems to work.”
Boland agrees that astrology is enjoying greater popularity than ever, but says that means enthusiasts should be extra wary on their journey through the cosmos.
“You need to find an astrologer who knows their sextiles from their trines, so to speak,” she says, explaining that so-called ‘overnight astrologers’ tend to make “crazy predictions” with black-and-white outcomes. “Astrology should be used to empower people. It can help you to understand if there are challenges coming your way, how to work with them rather than against them and how long these challenging energies are going to last. It can also help deepen your self-understanding.”
Perhaps that’s the real key to astrology’s resurgence: it invites us to take a closer look at our patterns, our choices and the world around us. Solid advice for these messy modern times.