Sometimes I feel really in-touch with America’s youths.
Like when I read a headline about how they don’t care about Joe Biden. “I, too, don’t care about Joe Biden!” I cry, pulling off my readers, rising up out of my Chesterfield, knees cracking, brandishing the physical copy of the newspaper, feeling positively nineteen again!
On the other hand, young people like a lot of wacky shit that I just don’t get. Like the D*va x Lucio ship. And the word “yeet.”
One of the trends I find a little mystifying is the return of interest in astrology. You know. Them little amminals that live in the sky and make us impulsive or conflict-avoidant or whatever. These proto-Pokemon (Capricorn = the Water Goat Pokemon, don’t @ me) are part of an ancient tradition of what we now call woo.
Woo (also called woo-woo) is a catch-all term for pseudoscientific models of thought that don’t hold up to much logical scrutiny, but are popular nonetheless because they simplify the world and appeal to the base human predisposition to find patterns, connections, and order in our extremely strange world.
The term woo can encompass a lot more—everything from the belief in ghosts to the belief in chem-trails. But I’m focusing today on types of woo that are meant to guide adherents through an understanding of the future and/or themselves, like astrology. Because consumption of those beliefs are growing rapidly.
From The Atlantic:
“Callie Beusman, a senior editor at Broadly, says traffic for the site’s horoscopes ‘has grown really exponentially.’ Stella Bugbee, the president and editor-in-chief of The Cut, says a typical horoscope post on the site got 150 percent more traffic in 2017 than the year before.”
So why is astrology making a comeback? I have no judgements, but many theories! And some recommendations for astrology-adjacent ideas that young people might find a little bit more rewarding.
Let’s get into it.
Astrology doesn’t ask us to change
Ask anyone who’s been in therapy for a long time: making progress requires incredibly hard work. It also requires time, money, energy, direction, and the fortitude to deeply examine a lot of unpleasant ideas. If you only talk about easy, surface-level things with your ‘pist, you probably ain’t making a lot of progress toward whatever goals you’ve set for yourself.
Many people use systems like astrology to gain self-knowledge and personal growth. But unlike therapy, astrology frames your life and personality as the product of external influences that are often outside of your control. And taking ownership of internal influences is an enormous amount of never-ending responsibility.
Humans LOVE external causes! External causes ain’t our faults!
“I snapped at my partner because I am an adult who can’t manage her own hanger” becomes “I snapped at my partner because Mars.” It’s easier to write Mars off as an immutable fact of the universe, instead of recognizing your shortcomings and proactively working to slowly shift your lifelong habits.
Also, yes, I am the mysterious unnamed woman who can’t control her hanger in that hypothetical—which is not hypothetical, it’s just my life.
Young people have had to cope with a lot of unprecedented changes. Is it any wonder they’re drawn to a system that doesn’t expect them to be a highly motivated change-agent for every single flipping thing?
Astrology has a low barrier to entry
There are lots of models that people use to understand more about themselves. Some are based on complicated conceptual theories of human psychology, like Myers-Briggs Type Indication. Others are silly and shallow and fictional, like contemplating what Divergent faction you might belong to. (Wow, that series really died a silent death, huh?)
Astrology is low-commitment TV for self-understanding. It’s something you can get into either shallowly or deeply. You can get your information from a supermarket checkout aisle rag or create customized star charts aligning the entire universe with your exact personal point of origin.
There isn’t really a wrong way to do it, which is honestly pretty relaxing to think about.
Astrology puts us where we want to be: at the center of the universe
Millennials, as we well know, have personally committed A Homicide on a long list of products, services, and abstract cultural concepts.
One of the murdered parties? Religion.
At no point in American history has religion polled so low. Young people are substantially less likely to believe in a god than their elders. Almost half of all people under the age of thirty list their religion, when asked, as “none.”
As a nonreligious person, this works a-okay for me! I think there are a lot of benefits to life in a secular world.
But there’s babies getting thrown out with that bathwater. Religion is a longstanding delivery method for a lot of good things: community, care-giving, charity, meditation, unity, purpose, justice.
What I miss most about being religious is the feeling of always having a safety net. It was nice to know that if I spun out on black ice on my way to Cincinnati on a snow white Christmas Eve, someone would be there to take the wheel. Like! That’s a real thing! That’s a real comfort.
Over the centuries we’ve learned that we aren’t all that special as a species. We used to think we were the center of the universe, but we aren’t. We used to think we were being benevolently watched over, but now we don’t. A system like astrology grounds us in an ancient human need to see ourselves as special and important. And it’s really nice to think that the stars hang in the sky just for us!
Astrology has adapted well to new modes of communication
Millennials invented memes; Gen Z perfected them.
Memes are Peak Culture. And systems like astrology are super well-adapted for memeification.
Here’s a random horoscope, rather typical of the variety that was popular from the 1930s to the very recent past:
“This is a tricky day with finances. Make friends with your bank account. If you are in big debt, the posse could be after you. Surprises with anything you own jointly with others could erupt today.”-Georgia Nicols for The Province
Hardly compelling by today’s standards.
Now, behold: a meme I made myself, in about three minutes!
See? See how easy it is?!
Funny. Recognizable. Relatable. Shareable. Content for our time! I bet you anything this image will get reposted somewhere and end up outperforming this article!
In researching this topic, I found on overwhelming number of blogs, apps, Pinterest boards, and Instagram accounts dedicated solely to creating and distributing horoscope information via memes. Even when they only use the written word, they’re still leaning into the kind of language and tropes that resonate with young people.
What does your zodiac sign say about you if you’re Taurus? In a nutshell, you really like to treat yo’ self.-Rebecca Lake for Chime Bank
What a poppin’ fresh Parks and Rec reference. The crazy thing is—Rebecca Lake is a real finance writer, with real expertise! And Chime Bank is a real bank, with real money! I kinda can’t believe this exists!
It goes to show you how adaptable astrology is: a belief system that fits in with Buzzfeed Quiz: Your Chipotle® Order Will Reveal Which Marvel® Avengers® Store-Bought Cake You’re Most Likely to Cry into When You Realize These Quizzes Are Nothing but Free Market Research with Random Outcomes!
Astrology is always right
Ah, confirmation bias. The odd quirk of our big monkey brains that causes us to lean on the scales when weighing new information. If it confirms what we already think is true, we hear it loudly; if it contradicts, we filter it out like we never read it at all.
Horoscopes are usually a list of loosely-related suggestions. And the ideas that seem “right” jump out to us, while the stuff that’s obviously wrong fades to the background. So they only need to get a small portion of things “right” for us to register them as true and correct in their entirety.
But objectively, study after study demonstrates that there is no link between the month you are born and the personality traits you possess. And thank god for that! I much prefer the sexually-charged tango of nature and nurture.
When I was reading descriptions of my own sign, I found myself nodding along and saying “yeah, sorta, I guess that’s true.” So out of curiosity, I ran a small experiment. I wrote down twelve traits I thought summarized me as a person.
Kitty describing Kitty: Efficient. Strategic. Witty. Assertive. Charismatic. Loyal. Insightful. Decisive. Protective. Arrogant. Domineering. Lazy.
Then I collected twelve traits commonly ascribed to my astrological sign (Pisces).
Astrology describing Kitty: Sensitive. Imaginative. Kind. Compassionate. Intuitive. Selfless. Idealistic. Romantic. Escapist. Weak-Willed. Fearful. Lazy.
We’re in agreement on laziness, and I’ll give them intuitive, but everything else is all over the place. Many are in direct opposition. (Weak-willed? Fearful?—I? MON DIEU!) Yet my general impression had been vaguely affirmative! Curse my human brain and its strange, illogical foibles.
There’s nothing wrong with liking astrology. Whether you hardcore believe in it or casually follow it, who cares? It’s pretty harmless. And a lot of the hand-wringing over its silliness is probably rooted in sexism. Because remember! Everything is dumber if wimmin like it!
That said, three caveats!
- Don’t make important decisions based on horoscopes. A lot of horoscopes nowadays seem to be written as general affirmations and platitudes. That’s awesome! Draw all the inspiration you want from them! But if you’re ready to date someone, or change jobs, or buy a house, or sit inside and eat cheese until you break out in Cheese Sweats, you are the only expert on what you need. Don’t let whatever’s written in a horoscope deter you from doing what needs to be done.
- Don’t climb into boxes built by other people. I’m struggling to think of what kind of life I would have today if I honestly believed myself to be what a Pisces is described to be: sensitive, kind, and weak-willed. No one ever used words like “ambitious” or “strategic” to describe me as a young person. I spent a lot of years of life discovering those words, and when I did, it brought me peace and clarity. Which I wish for all of you.
- The rate at which you acquire and spend money has nothing whatsoever to do with the distribution of other suns burning billions of light years away. No matter how much those suns sorta look like an aqua!goat when you squint on a clear night. If you’ve told yourself “I’m bad with money,” I am here to gently pry that label out of your hands forever. Handling money is a learned skill, not an indelible character trait.
Alternatives to astrology
Astrology is nothing more than the application of a system to try to understand more about yourself and your place in the world. And I have good news: there are so, so many choices of systems you can investigate!
Therapy isn’t available to everyone, and it isn’t necessarily for everyone. But it’s also the best tool we have for helping people understand who they are and why they act the way they do.
Friends are excellent mirrors to help us see our strengths and weaknesses. I’m happy to have found friends who respect me and expect good things of me. Out of curiosity, I asked three close friends to describe me in four words.
Kitty’s close friends describing Kitty: Insightful. Ambitious. Determined. Powerful. Considerate. Noble. Generous. Genius. Stunning. Fierce. Manipulative. Cunning.
I didn’t agree with my partner who kindly described me as “considerate,” but I DID agree with Piggy who slipped that manipulative in there and immediately tried to claw it back with “strategic.” THE SHADE OF IT ALL!
All of that is super aligned with how I view myself! There’s no higher human social need than to be understood. So even the negative terms make me happy because <shrug> they true!
We’ve written a little bit about the intersection of Myers-Briggs personality types, and the differences in how they approach careers and money. The difference between a Myers-Briggs personality type and a horoscope is that the former is based on you as an individual across a number of selective traits, and the other is predicated on literally everyone who shares your birthday.
Reading about your type may lead you to insights about yourself you wouldn’t otherwise discover.
Myers-Briggs describing Kitty: Efficient. Energetic. Confident. Strong-Willed. Strategic. Charismatic. Stubborn. Dominant. Intolerant. Impatient. Arrogant. Ruthless.
Woo-hoo! YMMV, but for me, MBTI is #accurate. By necessity, it’s based on simplifications of human behavior. But those simplifications are magnitudes more complex than “what day were you born lol.”
Enneagrams are another framework for understanding personalities, similar to Myers-Briggs. What I like about Enneagrams is that their descriptions encompass people at their best and at their worst. I’ve definitely observed that when people are stressed out, they act less like their true selves.
Enneagrams describing Kitty: Energetic. Empowering. Direct. Confident. Inspiring. Resilient. Loyal. Compassionate. Protective. Loud. Domineering. Vengeful.
Right on, dude, right on.
I use the term “sorting hats” as a broad catch-all referring to fictional systems of personality categorization. They were really big in young adult literature for, oh, approximately 10,000 years.
- The Harry Potter fandom has Hogwarts Houses, but also Patronus tests and wand tests and god knows what else.
- A Song of Ice and Fire (aka Game of Thrones) has its great houses.
- The Hunger Games had its districts.
- The Divergent fandom (hello—is there anyone alive out there?) had its factions.
- The Seventh Tower books have their color-coded social system.
- The Wind of Fire books have their castes.
- Graceling had its Graces.
There are tons and tons of fictional systems that are interesting to think about. And we’ll probably keep writing them! In a turbulent time like ours, young adults feel an understandable need to define themselves and join like-minded communities.
Don’t let anybody tell you it’s a waste of time! Thinking about yourself and learning about yourself are healthy habits, and you can arrive at them however you damn well please!
“Did this bitch really just shit on astrology as unscientific woo, then turn around and tout tarot cards as a legitimate alternative?” Why yes, I am That Bitch!
I’m an artist. A household name tech company pays me six figures to make art that positions their brand. When Piggy says I’m manipulative, this is one of the manifestations of that trait: I understand how to use visual symbols to whisper to your subconscious. If you walk past an ad I’ve designed, I’ve told you that my product is luxurious, or affordable, or ethical, even if all you did was glance at it without stopping to read a word.
That’s why I love tarot cards. I firmly believe that there is nothing magical, mystical, or supernatural about them. Yet something interesting happens when you present your brain with a random assortment of images loaded with potential meaning (like, IDK, a crawdad interrupting a tense conversation between a dog and a coyote).
Our brains have incredible processing power. We notice a lot, and consciously study only a tiny percentage of it. Those symbols can stir our subconscious and float new concepts up to the surface. The cards don’t “tell you” shit. Sadly, they can’t communicate, because they are bits of paper. But it’s just a fun way to organize all the thoughts you already thought.
Plus tarot artwork is a genre unto itself. Whether you like minimalism, abstraction, old stuff, trendy stuff, meditations on Asian diaspora… Tons of gorgeous conceptual artwork, often by under-appreciated artists.
I will say that the increasing popularity of astrology among young people does have me a little worried.
As they say in Animorphs: “Earth is a tough neighborhood.” The best defense is a good offense. Skepticism is your pal. You’re less likely to be taken advantage of if you think about things critically and demand extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims.
I think the most comforting aspect of astrology is the idea that somebody out there knows what’s going on. They can read the invisible signs, and tap-tap-tap on their keyboards, and suddenly there’s a perfect forecast with all the answers you need. But life just doesn’t work that way. Nobody knows what’s going to happen. Nobody. And that’s a thought to keep you cold on warm nights.
It makes me think of this line, from the highly underrated reprise of “Wicked Little Town.”
“You think that luck has left you there
But maybe there’s nothing up in the sky but air.
And there’s no mystical design
No cosmic lover, preassigned.
There’s nothing you can find that cannot be found.
‘Cause with all the changes you’ve been through
It seems the stranger’s always you.
Okay Bitch Nation. What are your thoughts on woo? Where do you stand with this kind of stuff? Have you found it helpful? Relaxing? Defining? Or do you roll your eyes at the whole thing? I mean, yeah, if it wasn’t clear, that’s pretty much where I’m at. But it’s respectful eye-rolling, I swear!
Tell us in the comments below!
More articles on harnessing the power of your personality…
40 thoughts to “(Sigh) Why Is Astrology Coming Back?”
Wait wait wait if your car spins out on black ice en route to Cincinnati you’re about to go to Toyland and help Santa save Christmas, right?
Also, I love the insight that astrology doesn’t ask us to change.
Also ALSO, although astrology itself falls on the ooooooooo end of the woo spectrum, I’ve long wondered whether there was a relationship between the season in which you were born and your initial impressions of the world, which in turn shape your personality long-term. This is mostly because every performing arts group I’ve ever been in has contained an abundance of Scorpios, which leads me to believe that babies who are born just in time for the year’s MAXIMUM PAGEANTRY AND SPARKLING LIGHTS might be more inclined to seek that out. Forever.
THANK YOU – I clicked on the link hoping for Babes in Toyland and was so disappointed that it was Carrie Underwood (Keanu Reeves! Pat Morita! Drew Barrymore!).
WOW. Considering I had a VHS copy of the damn thing, I have zero excuse for missing that unintentional double-reference. I used to get this weird, toneless, arhythmic song stuck in my head all the time, so I think I tried (and succeeded) in blocking the whole thing out of my memory.
MYTH CONFIRMED: the opening lines of Jesus Take the Wheel ARE, IN FACT, identical to the inciting incident of Babes in Toyland! Does that mean that “Jesus Take the Wheel” is Carrie Underwood’s Babes In Toyland fanfiction??!! #newheadcannon
It’s entertainment, nothing more. I like reading my horoscope on my birthday and that’s about it–otherwise, yeah, it’s people saying they have no control over how they act or handle things because Mercury is doing a funny dance, or whatnot.
How much of the renewed interest is people using it to stop being involved or taking responsibility? If your horoscope said “by no means should you vote today!” would people follow it?
You might enjoy my friend Gordon’s blog, Skeptophilia, for more in the same vein (hope it’s ok to share, I find him funny and also like he embraces/reinforces critical thinking skills).
I always thought it was silly to group all babies born between and as having anything in common, let alone everything in common‽
But I also never knew I was a Water Goat Pokemon before, so this might’ve changed my mind
I’ve been trying to get a Pokemon-themed cult off the ground for years.
Hello! I’ve been long time silent reader of this website and I found this article intriguing. I personally has worked with astrology for many year (no worry I wasn’t offended by the article.) and theres some point you brought up isn’t directly caused by astrology but rather people’s perception of astrology itself. Like people choosing to use mars as excuse for their anger. While in fact, astrology doesn’t only bases off from people birth chart, rather the most personality development comes from the progression chart, astrology grows and improve with us. I completely agree that astrology isnt replacement for self improvement or development through therapy & friends but I do notice that astrology have strong basis that we can look back on. I could go on and on about this but I doubt you want to hear out about it. I’m just offering alternative perspective on it. Once as always, your articles are great and It’s a pleasure to get email alert of new one being posted. cheers! -Zavi
Hi Zavi! Thanks for commenting!
I 1,000% agree. ANY system for understanding yourself can be turned into an excuse to shield yourself from criticism, regardless of its perceived legitimacy. How many public figures have been accused of extra douche behavior, then said “oh, I have depression!” (Or anxiety, or alcoholism, or any number of other scientifically vetted, genuine medical diagnoses.) And yet! Soooooo many people with depression (et al) manage to go about their lives without extra douche behavior. You gotta use the systems you trust to gain greater understanding of yourself, and control over yourself. Not write yourself a blank check for naughtiness.
I really don’t understand buying into MBTI but not astrology.
As long as we’re talking about things that have no basis in science, how is it that I can take the MBTI assessment and get wildly different results each time? What about the fact that people are likely to give socially acceptable answers to the questions rather than true answers? Also, if you want to talk about limiting – you have 4 categories for MBTI types, each with a binary.
I truly don’t understand how reading a birth chart and evaluating the ways in which it does and doesn’t ring true for you is different from taking a Myers-Briggs test and why you seem to enjoy one but hate the other.
Also, quick note: it would be interesting if you had a conversation with someone who was “into” astrology for this piece. It’s clear you have a very surface-level knowledge and have learned nothing about the entire birth chart (instead you rely just on Sun sign).
Basically what I’m saying is that Myers-Briggs and astrology are the same: they’re frameworks for examining your behavior rather than a way to “box you in.” Pisces people are known to be sensitive but you don’t see yourself that way? Ok, cool, is emotional vulnerability something you’d like to work on? Not a priority for you? Fine! Pisces people are weak-willed and you’re a go-getter? Awesome! Maybe someone else reads a Pisces description and decides to work on setting and accomplishing goals in therapy.
Even worse – what about the Chinese horoscopes – everyone born in a certain YEAR have the same personality attributes and characteristics? Umm…not?
Not to mention – not too many years ago, they recalculated the positions of the zodiac and it turns out that things have changed since they were originally invented and apparently, after 40 years of being a Gemini, I’m *actually* a Taurus? Also they snuck in a new one – Ophiuchus. Say that 3x fast.
There was a great Freakonomics episode on how the quest for “dragon children” completely upset the Chinese economy. Suuuuuuper interesting.
I’m definitely in the eye-rolling camp on astrology.
(Then again, I also eye-roll quite a lot at the Myers-Briggs, etc., personality testing that’s oh-so-popular within certain fields, and all the other personality tests in that style. The “scientific” logic underpinning them is… Well. Let’s go with weak. Weak is a kind word, compared with many I’ve seen used. Discredited is also a kind word. If you get a PhD-holder in psychology, psychiatry, or neuroscience involved, you may also hear Fraudulent, Swindle, or quite a lot of profanity, depending on their level of inebriation. Business/HR/Marketing programs tend to love them, and there’s a lot of money to be made off of them, so I don’t think they’re going anywhere anytime soon.)
haha, what color are you!? HR says I’m dominant blue so that means basically I do things how I want them and this color chart says I can…
The sheer amount of $ spent on this stuff…
I went through for accounting, so I got lucky: the only times I’ve had to keep a straight face through it were when we had our mandatory Marketing or Business Communications classes. But I will never forget the And!Now!We!Do!True!Colors! enthusiasm of our instructor. It was like talking to someone who’d joined a cult. Or a MLM. Considering how much money someone needs to sink into becoming an instructor…
WTF is this colors shit. It sounds awful. Give me the tea, plz.
I have had some awful personality team exercises at work. One of was a TWO DAY training that sorted you into four groups: amiables, expressives, analyticals, and drivers. IT WAS LITERALLY JUST HARRY POTTER! I don’t want to know how much money my workplace paid for someone to come teach us this shit…
One aspect of the training was that you didn’t determine your type; your coworkers did. I was told I was an analytical (Ravenclaw). I was like “uh thanks but nah.” The instructor told me I was wrong about myself, as it was “almost impossible” to be misplaced. So for the first day, I sat with the most infuriatingly democratic, process-oriented, detail-obsessed people in my office. I came in the next day, dragged my chair over to the drivers (Slytherins), and became Kween of the Snakes.
I think we’re both talking about this one, and yes, my god, the instructors are crazy into it. I guess they need to be, because of course it costs $$$ to get certified to “train” people. But it’s also $$$ to train people. At one point, this was The Thing at Microsoft, and so made it’s way through +10,000 people. You’d see the little block of color on someone’s desk and that was supposed to tell you how to work with them/what kind of person they are/who the Sorting Hat spit out.
I always figured what I had in common with other people sharing my sign was we all had parents who got busy for Christmas and New Years. That’s pretty much it.
Gotta keep warm somehow!
My grandma recently told me that the reason my aunt wasn’t talking to her after she reacted badly to my sister coming out was that Satan was attacking her, from which she laughingly concluded that she must be a great warrior for Christ. This kind of stuff was so big in my child that it rings in my ears even with more harmless woo. While I can objectively recognize some of the comforts offered by it, the harms are just always there, echoing, for me.
But I think you’ve hit on something important regarding the order and ability to let go that it can provide. Alongside astrology, I’ve seen a ride in tarot as well. This I can see more merit in, as a way to organize one’s thoughts. it can still be dangerous if you are letting it make choices for you or letting it justify doing nothing about harms you’ve caused yourself or other. But it’s a practice as much as it is a prescription, which means confirmation bias can work in your favor: you can use the cards to sort your thoughts and “confirm” to yourself what it is you want or need (caveat: best done with other healthy thinking tools that will call you out on your bullshit if necessary, like friends or therapy!).
I had a friend pull cards for my 30th birthday and even though I don’t find a lot of meaning in the prescription of tarot, I found a LOT of meaning in the fact that she took the time to sit and meditate on me and my future and write out that meditation for me to see. The fact that it was offered in an undemanding fashion and completely separate from the kind of meditation I have a fraught history with (Christian prayer) definitely didn’t hurt. It was a deeply kind thing for her to do, and I can take the love from it and leave whatever may be untrue or unhelpful in the particulars.
Ah, this is such a beautiful perspective. It actually made me go back and add a section on tarot. Because I also love to do readings for people, and also consider it nothing more than a semiotics-guided couples meditation. (The newest Olympic sport!) I don’t know why I didn’t think to include it in the first place.
Piggy and I also have a very fraught history with religion. You are welcome and seen here.
I somehow didn’t get a notification for this, but I LOVE the section you added! Exactly how I feel about tarot. <3
I’m a proud Leo but will also quickly admit that it’s hooey. (My version of “woo.”) just as many Leo traits don’t fit me as do. Perhaps more don’t fit than do, it’s been a while since I read a description.
I’m proud to say that I’ve gotten to the point where the things that don’t fit jump out at me at least as much as the things that do. Maybe more. Though that’s probably just in astrology. I’m a sucker in most other categories.
#Ravenclaw #Pisces (but not at all artistic or creative)
I have never met a Phd psychologist who believes in the MBTI other than the introvert/extrovert part (#introvert). But, there were 4 people in my year at my high school who failed the Myers Briggs (if you don’t answer enough questions it can’t give you results) including me… and the man I eventually married.
Hahahahahaha! You must both be part of the secret seventeenth personality type: TLDR.
For me, astrology falls into the same category as all of the flat earth, anti-vaxxing, and anti-human-evolution nonsense. It’s a rejection of science — the best tool we have for understanding our world — in favor of simpler explanations.
I’m happy to just roll my eyes at this stuff. Unless some school board somewhere decides that astrology might be true, so we need to “teach the controversy”.
There’s only one controversy worth teaching: “Pluto: Planet, or Nah?” I will keep the nine planet dream alive at any cost.
My grandmother read tarot cards. In fact, she was never without three things: a lit cigarette, a cup of coffee, and her deck of tarot cards. She never did readings for her grandkids because she really did believe in woo (she loved to call herself a crazy old hillbilly) and she thought it was tempting fate to try to read her grandchildren’s futures.
I love tarot. I asked for Grandma’s deck when she passed away and I have owned several of my own decks. I don’t believe that a pack of playing cards can tell anyone anything at all. But I am always excited to sit for a reading and I am always hopeful that I will have an accurate one. (It’s only happened once.)
What’s weird is that I am otherwise so committed to rational thinking, recognizing my own biases, and working to understand when my brain is leading me astray. But Grandma Betta’s tarot cards, her love for supernatural stories, and her ability to argue the rear leg off a donkey have all left me with an affinity for woo.
I actually left off tarot cards, and I have no idea why, because I have several decks and totally dig it! So I went back and added a tarot section. Little easter egg for the rereaders.
Ooh boy this is a tough subject. I was a hard core believer back in middle school, and in that line I tend to agree with Zavi above, that there is a lot more to it than just the sun sign. Like most pseudo-sciences, the deeper you look into it the more points you can say “yes, that’s me!” For example:
I’m a Scorpio (passionate, perceptive, willful, possessive etc) which doesn’t fit me very well, but my Ascendant sign is Pisces (intuitive, artistic, sensitive, compassionate etc) which supposedly tempers some of the more extreme Scorpio aspects. My Moon sign is Capricorn (wise, ambitious, prudent, constant etc.) which supposedly provides a background note to all of that. The combo is something I tend to agree with, but with ALL of those traits, the description is so broad that they can apply to pretty much anyone.
As an adult I still read my daily horoscope (from a site that is fairly specific, and not so general that it can apply to anyone), mostly because it gives me something to think about or try to improve for the day. At this point it’s a fun thought experiment while I wait for my second cup of coffee to kick in.
I think that’s lovely! Self-knowledge is awesome, any way you get there!
I was on a group vacation once with someone who was Way Big Into It, and she did these amazing complex charts for everyone. It was super entertaining, and gave us a day of fun when rain drove us inside! Sadly, I couldn’t get mine done, because I didn’t know the time of my birth, and it mattered because I’m right on the line between two signs. I really wanted to know but I… Didn’t want to text my mother lmaoooo,,,
Text her and find out!
I also found the enneagram useful. 6 for the win!
MBTI doesn’t work for me, I’m too close on all of them, but I know there are others who find it helpful. (Side note: I looked at your post about careers and MBTI and in one of the linked pages, people who score slightly higher on F vs. T are guided towards being a nurse as opposed to a doctor. I don’t think everyone should become doctors, and nurses are amazing, but I think there’s some gender stereotyping there that I could do without.)
For astrology, I am mostly in your camp, but I have mixed feelings. My uncle is really into it, he gave us a super in depth report based on date and time of birth, which was neat, but that was it. I see it as equivalent to a harmless cultural difference, and judge its individual impact based on its effect on the person’s life. Like… it works for you and has a positive impact on your life? Great! I have a similar take on religion though.
I know a lot of people who are meh on their MBTI. If you don’t have extremes in many (or any) of your letters, I think it doesn’t resonate as strongly.
And yeesh, that’s a great point about the sexism. Obviously there are more lady doctors and gentleman nurses than in generations past, but that’s definitely still a stereotype. You know wimmin! Always so full of caregiving spirit and the tireless acceptance of lower pay for harder work!
I am the smallest MBTI demographic for ladies—less than one percentage point of the population. But there are three times as many dudes with the same letters. I’m not surprised at all. I feel like society tried to stamp a lot of that type’s core attributes out of me. Nice try, jerks, I’m still over here marshalling aaaaaall my fields!
I want to compliment the post, but my Leo pride is just filling me with envy that I didn’t write it myself.
I especially love the point about astrology putting us where we want to be: in the center of the universe. There’s an attractiveness to astrology in that it makes us feel connected to the cosmos…and it’s always somehow about us. I mean, who reads other people’s horoscopes?
Exactly! Your vivacious and theatrical nature always shines through tho… ( ˘ ³˘)♥
Clearly the Sorting Hat is the most accurate of these.
And I’m feeling personally attacked by your Sagittarius choice.
Weirdly enough, half of my friends are Sagittariuses?? Between Christmas and all those December birthday presents, New Years always saw me buh-ROKE. Damn centaurs throwing off mah budgets…
I’ve studied astrology lovingly for twenty years…and I can’t disagree with anything in your article here. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT PEOPLE DO. They simplify themselves “Oh, I’m a Gemini” (instead of acknowledging ALL parts of their chart that makes them who they are), they leave it to fate instead of doing the dang work themselves. Oh, Mercury is retrograde? Then why didn’t you back-up your computer? So what if you have Mars in Libra and are super passive-aggressive? You know you have it, so work on that aspect of your personality instead of driving people insane.
Solid article here, Ms. Kitty. Should we ever meet in the real world, I’ll do a reading for you (tarot or astrology!).
“Astrology is low-commitment TV for self-understanding.”
this is “the” reason i kinda fell into astrology. i would disagree that it doesn’t want us to change because my dive into the realm of spirituality showed me that it is kind of the acceptance of self as it is and the potential your “chart” can hold where you can evolve. sadly all i see about astrology is the labels and the shallow explanations which don’t do anything to help anyone.
i still don’t use it as a guide in my day to day decisions but i’ve had way too many friends who find astrology to be bullshit to buy into the myths and suddenly decide that it is a way to guide life. i find it to be a fun hobby. but once one friend asked me “if they can get depressed by having sex with a depressed person because there is an energy transfer” like… my dude, of course other people’s moods affect you but there are so many psychological and sociological ways to go about understanding this than simply labeling as “energy transfer”. this type of thinking makes you remove things out of your life because they label it a certain way instead of understanding the background. it becomes a cop out for not wanting to actually learn anything. i’m a bit obsessive in a way that i need to learn multiple sides of one thing in order to digest it but surface level thinking and research is definitely affecting people’s abilities to cope with their real life and surface level astrology, tarot, spirituality aids escapist behaviours by focusing too much on the individual’s potential and label instead of inspiring people to focus on their development as a member of society.
idk if my opinion at this time is relevant at all but i was inspired to go on a rant.