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Astrology chart
Image: Dasser Kamran/Fulcrum

Astrology is very popular among Gen X and millennials

Astrology is an art that interprets one’s fate according to the placement of the moon, planets, and stars at one’s birth. According to Benson Bobrick’s book, The Fated Sky, astrology has existed since the Mesopotamian empire. The Mesopotamians used astrology to, “decide when to plant crops and go to war, and [it was also] used to predict a person’s fate and […] character.” Later, the ancient Greeks, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Romans developed versions of astrology that aligned with their cultural needs. And ever since, astrology has come in and out of fashion in different parts of the world at different time periods.

And right now, in North America, astrology has immense popularity. For example, “almost thirty per cent of Americans believe in astrology.” And Gen X and millennials in particular, are flocking to astrology apps to gain insight into their personalities. These popular apps include Co-Star, which offers a poetic description of one’s birth chart., the Pattern, which focuses on relationship compatibility and then Sanctuary, where the user is assigned to an astrologer to which they can ask questions about their future.

But why do people in the modern day —where society does not deny the importance of scientific advancement—rely on the arbitrary pseudoscience of astrology?  I believe that we use astrology to learn about how to appreciate our good qualities and our flaws. First, astrology describes our lives in a desirable way that helps us cope with personal hardship. And second, astrology describes us in a desirable way which helps us build a strong sense of self. 

Astrological writings make our personalities seem enchanting and special and these personality descriptions tell the story of a person who we admire. We are no longer weepy persons who struggle through misfortunes. Instead, we are ‘astral beings,’ who live beautiful lives that are threatened with challenges that we are destined to overcome. 

Take, for example, the wording of my horoscope from Café Astrology on Oct.  4, 2020: “Pluto turns direct after more than five months of retrograde motion. This shift in direction can usher in some forward movement and a stronger sense of being in charge of your life, particularly with educational pursuits and friendships.”

If I look at my day through this lens, my day seems way more important than it actually is. Any renewed focus on school and friendship that I may have is pre-determined by Pluto. But the accuracy of this horoscope does not matter. Yet, the purpose of this horoscope is to remind me of the importance of education and friendship. It is meant to inspire—not predict.

I once asked a friend if I could calculate her birth chart. All I needed was her birthday and the location of her birth and I entered this information into a birth chart generator (my favourite is offered on CaféAstrology’s website). She told me, “I really don’t believe in this stuff.” But as we scrolled through her five-page personality profile she said, “can you send this to me? I’ll read it when I’m alone. This is so interesting.” I am not going to guess why she was interested to read about her star placements after she claimed that she does not believe in astrology. But I assume that her birth chart gave her a new perspective on some aspect of her personality.

I’ll be honest, I am not a true believer in astrology. How can Sun and Pieces placement equal crying mess ? Or Venus and Capricorn placement equal traditionally to a fault? I don’t understand the correlation between personality traits and star placements, but my lack of understanding does not matter. Because people believe in astrology and some people make important decisions based on astrological predictions. Others emphasize or downplay some of their traits to fit the profile of their astrological signs. So, just because it does not make any logical sense, we cannot deny the influence that astrology has in our society. 

All this to say, I think astrology gives us permission to embrace ourselves. Astrology says: we are the way we are because of external circumstances. And some of our traits are useful in the society in which we live, while others are not. If we open ourselves up to the beautiful traits that we already possess, then we will realize that our lives are beautiful. Simply put,  astrology provides us with comfort because it claims that we are fixed beings in a volatile world.