“What time were you born?” has become the new, “where do you see yourself in five years?” 

Much to the chagrin of many, astrology has entered the zeitgeist in a new and powerful way. Daily horoscope apps have become part of many’s daily routines, using crystals is a way to secure a new job, and seeking good “energy” may be the driving force of one’s everyday choices.

As a result, the growing popularity of astrology and spirituality has become the newest punchline.

I feel as though it is important to address one area where criticism may be valid. There is a distinct commodification of aspects of spirituality, whether it be astrology or incense or crystals, there is validity to the claim that some of these trends are a form of cultural appropriation. And so while finding ourselves navigating the tricky field of either celebrating and criticizing, many who practice spirituality in other parts of the world may find this popularization disrespectful. That being said, there has been a push for ethical purchasing of spiritual items and for genuine learning of the practice. 

Why taunt the crystals and incense and faith in greater powers? Is our social pessimism the result of something larger—a general disillusionment with society? Between social uproar, political crises, and a climate disaster, does it feel too foolish to seek something intangible?

There is something to be said about the positive impact astrology may have on people’s lives. Seeing an optimistic horoscope or feeling extra giddy about a first date because of apparent compatibility may be the exact cure to the age of anxiety we currently find ourselves in. When everything occurring on a larger scale feels out of our control, why wouldn’t we find solace in practices that allow us to manifest positive feelings? It begs to question if a habit has to be scientifically proven to be beneficial—if crystals and birth charts bring clarity and peace, then they should be put in the same realm of acceptance as long walks and exercise. When skeptics ridicule astrology-fanatics for their faith in the intangible, are they not just ridiculing the way someone chooses to live a healthy life by finding tranquility and acceptance? 

It should also be noted that it is not a coincidence that astrology and crystals have risen in popularity as a particularly “feminine” trend. Vice news reports that astrology has become more predominantly an interest of women and the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, a 2005 report found that just over twice as many women in the UK believed in astrology compared to men. Of course, anything that young women find to be “too” interesting is equated to delusion—for women to believe so deeply in their interests is for said interest to be an “obsession” and therefore invalid.  

Astrology has in itself been perceived as an anecdote to trivial issues; a key to love-life qualms. Does he have commitment issues or is he just a gemini? Are you instrincally not meant for each other or is the moon just putting you through a tough time? Historically, however, the practice is rooted in spirituality and followed religiously by many around the world. While the westernized perception may denote these practices as silly, the truth is that much of what western culture boils down to pseudoscience is practiced as legitimate around the world. 

Tanya Gharemani wrote about this same topic for NBC, and addressed that astrology has moved far beyond an anecdote for a complicated love life and is more about helping individuals “find [themselves] and thereby, attract to you the best situation for you.” In many ways, the rise of pseudoscience can be more accurately tied to a newfound sense of ownership. Astrology-believers can gain control over their emotional response by finding reason in the stars.  Pseudoscience is particularly helpful in alleviating anxiety from the general negative state of the world. When young girls choose to manifest a better life for themselves and reclaim ownership over their path, is it not a healthy habit? One that encourages ambition and aspirations? 

It seems as though the real hatred towards astrology comes not from a skepticism of pseudoscience itself, but from a skepticism of optimism. Do those who criticize these practices actually hate things not rooted in evidence, or do they just hate to see people put so much faith in the unknown? The latter seems most believable, despite the fact that a large portion of society has always been accepting of religion—which also includes a strong and often unmoving belief in the unknown and invisible. 

Women have been known to be more inclined to self-help, and crystals or incense are just another facet of this interest. At its core, astrology is a way of finding advice that feels genuine from an unbiased source. If the stars are telling you that everything is going to be okay, you might feel more inclined to take a risk or a deep breath. Perhaps skepticism is considered cool right now, in a resurgence of edgy humour most often targeting individuals who have done nothing to deserve such attention. To be pessimistic about such an innocent interest is to suggest that we should all live life never seeking hobbies that make us content. 

If you are skeptical of birth charts and rose quartz, I suggest you look into astrology before slandering the young women who have found happiness in these practices. While you may not find the answers to all your problems, you might see how such habits are an anecdote to today’s general pessimism. 

If not, you’ll at least find out which of your friends you’re most compatible with. 

HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: Teresa Grasseschi

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