Amidst uncertainty, teens turn to astrology for guidance and entertainment, sparks debate
For a generation struggling to navigate uncertain times, astrology has been a spiritual guide that has caught the eye of many teens. Eons after the Hindu, Chinese and Mayan cultures looked to the skies for guidance, the ‘mystical services market’ is estimated to be worth $2.1 billion according to the New York Times.
Astrology has existed in ancient cultures for thousands of years. The various forms of astrology are thought to have connected when Alexander the Great conquered Egypt around 330 BC, according to astronomer Sten Odenwald, the director of Citizen Science at the NASA Space Science Education Consortium.
“We don’t really know who first came up with the idea for looking at things in nature and divining influences on humans,” Odenwald said in an interview with Time Magazine. “There’s some indication that cave art shows this idea that animals and things can be imbued with some kind of spirit form that then has an influence on you…That was taken over by the idea of divination, where you can actually look at things in nature and study them carefully, such as tea-leaf reading.”
Websites like Cafeastrology and apps such as Co-Star and Nebula, which are devoted to astrology, flourish on a daily basis. By just plugging in her exact time and place of birth, freshman Gwyn Moore learned about her zodiac sign, natal chart and future life lessons.
“If you go into a high enough level of understanding, your signs and natal charts will make sense for you,” Moore said. “Many things will resonate with your personality and you can understand yourself more. It’s for people who want to explore the deeper meaning of life and how it’s connected to the universe.”
At every person’s birth, there are 10 astrological planets aligned for the individual. According to where the planet is at birth, each planet gets a sign, making up the individual’s natal chart. There are 12 zodiac signs, either in the earth, fire, water or air groups. The main “planet” that people look to is their sun sign.
“In order for it to determine your personality, you have to dig deeper into it,” Moore said. “A lot of people think that it’s determined only by your sun sign, which isn’t the case because you have a full chart of signs. A lot of those other ones are the ones that actually determine things about your personality. It’s accuracy depends on how much you look into it.”
But while several teens enjoy exploring astrology, 30 percent of students in a Feb. 17 poll of 131 students don’t understand the craze. Sophomore Camila Rivera, for example, is a firm non-believer in astrology and has recently observed it being talked about more frequently.
“How are you going to say you are acting a certain way because of your astrology sign?” Rivera said. “That doesn’t make sense to me. People take the definition of their sign to heart. I don’t know how this trend started, but because it’s a trend, people look up their sign and believe it because other people believe it too. I don’t believe it, but the people who believe in it can choose to do whatever they want.”
The compatibility aspect of astrology interests many young people, and provides information of which signs one gets along with. In 2020, Snapchat developed an astrology feature, telling users about their added friends and whether their signs harmonize.
“People bring relationships into it, saying stuff like, ‘oh your ex was a Libra? Yikes,’” Rivera said. “There are websites where you can figure out your signs and it tells you things about you. You read it and you’re like ‘oh that’s right!’ What it tells you is so broad, that it makes you believe that it’s true.”
While many teens believe in their sign’s accuracy, others don’t relate to the traits given to their sign.
“I don’t really relate to my sign because I feel like the main characteristics say I’m supposed to be sentimental and overly sensitive about things, and I think to some extent that’s true about me but not to the extremes that characterize my zodiac sign,” sophomore Ashley Stacy said. “Sometimes it’s really accurate and sometimes it’s not. I do think there might be some truth to [astrology], but not 100 percent.”
And the astrological world has caught the eye of many brands as well, many who have started tailoring their marketing around it to attract young consumers. Tarte, New Balance, Amtrak and Spotify, to name a few, have created campaigns recommending customers different products based on their zodiac sign.
“Everything Gen-Z uses, there’s astrology all over it,” Rivera said. “It’s so implemented into our society that it’s literally everywhere you go: on your phone, in real life, on your computer, literally everywhere. Even talking in conversations around the school, I’ve heard people mention figuring out their astrology signs and all of that stuff…It’s hard to separate from the fact that everyone else believes it. I think that because everyone else believes it, you look different if you don’t.”
Based on the zodiac signs, horoscopes are astrological forecasts of a person’s future. Tarot cards, on the other hand, are playing cards that allegedly predict people’s future. Both methods give insight into a person’s day and determine whether the stars are aligned for them. Sophomore Cren Boyd looks at these fortune-tellers for amusement, but still seems to identify with her zodiac sign.
“I don’t necessarily believe in horoscopes,” Boyd said. “Sometimes I’ll read them, though, because they’re fun. They usually inspire me to get about my day and to become a better person. They give you something to predict and hope for.”
For many, it has been a source of inspiration and positive hope during ambiguous times. Well renowned astrologer Tara Greene’s main motivation for her work is to empower her clients but stresses that being psychic takes time and effort.
“I know there are a lot of young kids these days who think they can just pick up a deck and just do it, but there is a structure to a real tarot and that takes a long time to really learn,” Greene said in an interview with MysticMag. “We are going through major world changes and the best thing to do is to really tune in to yourself, stay grounded and remember that life is always about change. You need to connect to your higher self, which is the whole purpose of the tarot [and astrology]. Stay strong, stay positive, stay optimistic and keep creating positive outcomes for yourself, no matter how challenging things are.”