The past year has been filled with so much uncertainty and a lot of dashed dreams. While the pandemic has had negative impacts on the majority of global habitants, it has become evident just how hard young people in particular have been hit. It’s been difficult to believe in anything or remain remotely positive when your only social interactions are with your cats and parents and your professors have been replaced with grainy, glitchy squares on Zoom. I’ve been told so many times by my parents to “remain hopeful” and “believe that things will get better” but unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. At the beginning of quarantine, back in that hazy March that still feels as if it was some alternate dream reality, my friends and I turned to astrology, each of us frantically downloading Co-Star. I know  many of you reading this might scoff or immediately close this article. I assure you, I understand how ridiculous astrology can seem, and I understand your doubts. However, I would be lying if I denied finding a sort of comfort within astrology and the world of stars, crystals, and tarot cards. When everything is falling apart and your life seems to be turning into some cruel episode of a soap opera, it’s so convenient to dismiss it all as a bizarre result of Mercury’s retrograde. Thus, I have turned to astrology to answer my recent questions of “why the heck is this happening,” and I know I’m not the only one who has responded like this.

Let’s talk about some of the history behind astrology. Astrology is one of the first “sciences.” In the 3rd millennium BCE the stars were the only thing humans had to predict and interpret not only the will of the gods, but also the shifts in the seasons and weather. It was perceived as one of the main scholarly traditions and was commonly seen as an intellectual and scientific practice. It was practised in Babylon, ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, ancient Rome, the Islamic world, China, and India, eventually emerging in Medieval and Renaissance Europe due to trade with these other areas. Artists, scientists, and intellectuals wanted to further understand the astrological system and created beautiful charts and calendars, such as Albrecht Durer’s woodcut of the northern skies. By the 13th century, astrology was integrated into everyday medical practise in Europe and physicians were required by law to check the position of the moon before performing surgery. As the Renaissance came to an end, following numerous scientific bounds forward, astrology began to lose its credibility; however, many astronomers refused to lose faith in the practice entirely as it brought them a sort of emotional satisfaction to have faith in the stars. While astrology may have lost a lot of its credibility since the 15th century, it has re-emerged during the past 10 or so years, particularly from 2019 to the present. This may be due to newspaper horoscopes, and other astrology based pop-culture. 

During the past year, there has been an increase in astrology-based consumer items. Urban Outfitters now sells tapestries adorned with the different astrological signs, the popular dress brand Réalisation Par recently came out with a series of shirts featuring the name of your desired star sign, and most retailers now sell tarot cards and crystals. It seems as if companies have started to take advantage of this astrology “trend,” but for many people, astrology, crystals, and tarot cards have been a coping mechanism and crutch during these hard times. In this time of uncertainty and darkness, astrology and the stars have provided people with something to believe in and use to destress and find guidance. While it is more convenient for those who enjoy practising tarot to access cards at big-box stores such as Urban Outfitters, it commodifies something that many people use in their spiritual practice and also strains specialty stores that only sell spiritual items. If you are interested in purchasing tarot cards, crystals, or literature on any of those topics please purchase them from an independent store, such as Modern Primitive, which is located on Princess Street.

To sum it all up, the past year has been so difficult in so many ways, and while astrology might not be your cup of tea, it has been helpful to turn to in a time with zero answers. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to blame your poor marks on mercury’s retrograde, or to dismiss a failed Tinder date with “oh, well he’s an Aquarius, so it wouldn’t have worked anyways.” In all seriousness, I have found a lot of solace in certain spiritual aspects, that I would have dismissed as pseudoscience before the pandemic. I check my co-star every morning and while they may just be automated randomized messages, I do find comfort in the daily snippets of wisdom. Sometimes Co-Star’s algorithm confuses me and I get left with cryptic messages such as: “Embrace chaos magic today” or “The call is coming from inside the house,” which are both unnervingly ominous, but most of the time the daily messages are quite uplifting and helpful. In addition, as someone who has struggled with nightmares, I have turned to crystals as a way to keep away bad nighttime thoughts, which surprisingly enough has actually worked. We are living in a really strange time, and as I often say to my father: “I’m tired of living through significant historical moments.” Therefore, I think that it is a common and healthy reaction to turn to something that makes you feel less like a tiny speck floating through a chaotic and randomized world. I love thinking that there may be some astrological answer for things, and if that brings you comfort as well, then by all means download Co-Star, order crystals online, and allow yourself to process the trauma of the past year. 

Oh, and for those of you who do practise astrology: I’m a leo.

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