The fluorescent lights of Frey Hall glistened off the silver rings that adorned all 10 fingers of K’la Rivers’ hands. After taking her seat, she fished a tied, black bundle from her bag, rested it on the table top and spritzed the bundle and the air around her with fragrant, homemade Florida Water – for good vibrations and positivity. Unwrapping the bundle, a deck of holographic tarot cards, a rose quartz crystal and amethyst crystal sat in the centre of the black cloth. K’la was preparing herself to be receptive for the energy reading of the day.
K’la, 21, is among a growing community of astrologers benefiting from the social media age, and calls herself a tarot and astrology practitioner. History does seem to repeat itself as the saying goes. Something indicative of this phenomenon is the resurgence of astrology in pop culture, especially among millennials.
“We wanna understand and know that life isn’t just following what someone else says,” K’la said. “Astrology acts as your own indicator and makes you a god of your own faith…it’s just giving yourself power to create the life that you want to live.”
She also posits that this moment for astrology is accompanied by an age of rebellion and cultural shifts, where the younger generation begins breaking away from the norms of older ones. Take our current political climate, where we see gun reform conversations from high school students or the creation of new, “radical” genres of music spearheaded by rappers like Ski Mask the Slump God. This was also a marker of the last big moment astrology had in the 1960s and 1970s with Hippie culture, also known as the “Age of Aquarius”. We are seeing a rebirth of this age according to K’la.
“I think people in general are becoming dissatisfied with the strict cultural and religious frameworks in our current society, especially the ones that seek to deny people of any form of individuality, hope, or pleasure,” Madison Louise (@stellaviatorem), 22, a tarot reader and amateur astrologer said. “Younger generations especially find themselves stifled in these settings and astrology gives them a means to explore themselves more deeply without societal restrictions and religious framework.”
Social media, especially Twitter and Instagram, have been an important tool for millennial astrologers to get their message out and offer readings and advice to a wide and varied audience.
“It used to be that you could talk about astrology and absolutely no one would know what you were talking about,” Madison said. “People called you crazy and obsessed with nonsense. Now people are sharing astrology memes on Facebook and saying the reason their ex was so terrible was because he was a Leo…It really makes me laugh.”
The format of social media makes it a good place to facilitate growing interest in astrology. Most platforms are free, making them readily accessible to users who may use astrology for guidance. Memes and threads are made for sharing, allowing information to spread easily and globally. As Madison said, users are given a chance to follow astrologers who may intrigue them, get a feel for who they are and if their beliefs align, then followers could pay for readings through cash apps like paypal. Social media is also prime for building communities with like interests, which eliminates the negative feelings that come from discussing your interests around people who find them unappealing.
“I think astrology wouldn’t be as upcoming as it is without the role of social media,” Liberty Harvey (@TheAstroShell), 20, an astrologer from the UK said. “It’s fantastic because it’s such a safe, interactive space that can be used to educate others on the topic.”
An astrology page on Instagram, @notallgeminis, posts memes about the 12 zodiac signs along with the occasional playlist to commemorate the monthly shift in signs. The page, run by LA-based Courtney Perkins, has amassed a following of 399k. On Twitter, @DJLoveLight has 10.3k followers and posts weekly horoscope threads for each sign along with quirky threads about common characteristics. Most social media astrologers also seem to offer tarot, astrology and or natal chart readings.
K’la has been reading tarot professionally for about a year and like many astrologers, has found a stream of income in this astrology moment. Through her Twitter account @Bananakinss, she offers tarot readings and astrological guidance at a cost.
“As I started studying my natal chart [a map of the planets’ alignment at your birth], I realized that [tarot and astrology] is my purpose,” she said in response to why she began offering readings. “Helping people become in tune with their spirituality has made my life abundant.” Her services are a welcome supplement to her on-campus job in the face of the costs of daily life.
Horoscopes, a personal forecast based on your zodiac sign, have been featured in newspapers since the 20th century contrary to their lack of popularity back then. Today, online publications and magazines have recorded an increase in traffic to their horoscope pages over the years. The Cut notes that horoscope posts saw a 150 percent increase between 2016 and 2017. Why is everyone suddenly searching the stars?
“In this day and age where a lot of things happen on a daily basis which [can be] absurd and unfathomable, people seek hope,” Liberty said. “I think astrology can offer this hope by literally implementing the idea of karma and that…things will work out just how they are supposed to and we must trust in divine timing that, in the end, everything will be put in order, even if it doesn’t currently seem in order today.”
Astrologers point out that while the social media age is a great opportunity for their businesses and for people seeking something beyond themselves to believe in, it also invites pressure from corporations and other entrepreneurial pursuits.
“It is hardly fair for companies to swoop in and take those clients by offering zodiac themed makeup palettes, candles, and soaps,” Madison said, “especially when there are already small businesses run by astrologers that offer those things.” Etsy, an e-commerce website best known for its stock of handmade goods, features several astrologers who sell readings, printed, personalized birth chart analysis as well as zodiac themed knick-knacks. However, the quaintness of Etsy can’t always compete with the industrial production and marketing machines of corporations.
In 2018, makeup company ColourPop created a line of eyeshadows and lip products in collaboration with makeup artist Kathleen Lights, called Zodiac. Zodiac Perfume produces a scent inspired by each sign and retails for $30-$125.
Some astrologers warn of companies selling fake gemstones such as crystals which are reported to have healing properties. They claim that not only does this hurt their businesses, it could have adverse effects for the customers.
“[With fake gems] you don’t know what the rock is made up of and you’re praying on them with certain intentions and they’re not getting heard.” K’la said.
Although astrology isn’t considered a science, it is heavily influenced by empirical and social sciences such as astronomy and psychology. The former also went through a period where people questioned its legitimacy. Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, famously combined astrology and several branches of psychology to create astropsychology. There might not be direct scientific evidence that your zodiac sign will tell you why you’re such a flirt or what your future job will be, but that isn’t necessarily its purpose to begin with.
“Astrology offered me a new perspective, a spark of hope, and an online community of people going through the same thing when I desperately needed it,” Madison, said. For her, studying astrology and engaging with that community helped her overcome her struggles with depression.
Throughout the astrology community, it is understood that it isn’t for everyone and dissent will always come. However, for them, it is enough that astrology brings healing and therapy in its own way.