What sign are you?
As a child of the ‘70s this was a common question. Not that that question has ever gone away. It has always been around. Horoscopes have always continued to be written and printed. Horoscopes have continued to be read and used for laughs. But…there is a trend happening in astrology that I believe speaks more to our faith outlook than it does for the mere entertainment of horoscopes.
A quick primer on what astrology is: It is not science; there’s no evidence that one’s zodiac sign actually correlates to personality. But the system has its own sort of logic. Astrology ascribes meaning to the placement of the sun, the moon, and the planets within 12 sections of the sky, the signs of the zodiac. The placement of the moon and each of the other planets at the time and location of your birth adds additional shades to the picture of you painted by your “birth chart.” What horoscopes are supposed to do is to give you information about what the planets are doing right now, and in the future, and how all that affects each sign. Astrology expresses complex ideas about personality, life cycles, and relationship patterns through the shorthand of the planets and zodiac symbols. Astrologers are those who break down these giant concepts into digestable pieces of knowledge.
We wise adults have always known astrology to be fluffy, vague, fake, but something that was dabbled with out of curiosity when we were younger. Horoscopes were never real. It was amusement. That was then. A new study found that 58% of 18 to 24 year olds believe astrology to be scientific. This is happening at the same time that the majority of Gen Z (your kids) are believing the Bible to not be scientific but made up. Source.
Horoscopes are such “a thing” now that Amazon is sending monthly shopping horoscopes to Amazon Prime members. How does your “birth chart” help your shopping? Who knows but Amazon has found a way to get more of your money by doing so. Source.
Why is something so silly being seen as scientific now? Or marketable? Many reasons.
Astrology is perfectly suited for Gen Z and Millennials who grew up connected all of the time. There’s a low barrier to entry, and nearly endless depths on the Google machine.
The rise of astrology is also happening because it can be shared so easily in memes. Whether it is marketers or astrologers (or both?) there are tons of memes being shared. How easy. Astrology can be shortened into a meme form and posted as a belief and then shared. Our faith is not so meme-able. Yes, there are tons of Christian memes to share (and tons of silly ones) (here are some good ones, self-promotion!) but none are as complete as what a horoscope says. And the truth is, God’s grace is simple. Explaining the simplicity of God’s grace is not. Especially in a world where good works are so important to our identity.
Astrology gives people an excuse for their less than positive traits or actions. Such as, “It’s not my fault I’m bad at decision-making, it’s just because I’m a Libra.” Or “I can’t help being emotional right now, the full moon is in Cancer.”
Astrology is also providing a safer way to judge people. You really can’t lump people into social categories anymore because it is so not PC. But with astrology you can say “I get along better with Virgos.” You would never say “I get along better with people in my own race” but is there little difference in this grouping if it is by astrology?
A small study from 1982 found that people who consult astrologers did so in response to stressors in their lives. Millennials are the most stressed generation so the match is perfect. A combination of stress and uncertainty about the future is an ailment for which astrology can seem like the perfect balm.
Because of this online reality we now live in, life feels Google-able, quantifiable, and coded. Astrology is a language of symbols that describes the human experience that can’t be Googled and codified. It adds a supernatural element. Like our faith should be adding to our lives.
I sure hope that Millennials are more comfortable living in the borderlands between skepticism and belief because there is tension there—holy tension! This is where God can draw them, speak to them, lead them down paths that will inspire all of us. All the more reason for all of us to point them to the Truth that changes lives. Which is why I pass on this trend of astrology to you. The path of life can’t be summarized down to a birth chart. We of wiser brains see that as silly. May our tweens and teens also know so much as to see astrology as silly and not scientific and not a way to explain life.
Having faith discussions with teens can be hard at times. And sometimes they are surprisingly easy! Keep on trying. To have a faith discussion about astrology is not going to be an easy one because you probably know so little about astrology. Somehow, someway, add your words to this meme-able belief system so there is Truth to it.
Update: TikTok is becoming a go-to place to learn about astrology. From YPulse, “Our research found that 62% of 13-39-year-olds say mystical healing/supernatural practices are becoming mainstream. The percentage of young people who say mystical healing and supernatural powers can influence health has increased by 19pts compared to 2017, and 63% agree it can be a part of self-care—and their interests are certainly evident on TikTok, specifically the SpirtualTok subculture. The #SpirtualTok hashtag has 5.9 million views, and features users talking about everything from astrology to New Age concepts. (YPulse, August 9, 2021)
Update: Here is a Washington Post article with good statistical data from a Christian research company, Springtide Research, explaining this trend of teens combining astrology practices and Christian faith. https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/study-gen-z-doubles-down-on-spirituality-combining-tarot-and-traditional-faith/2021/08/11/ddf97402-fadd-11eb-911c-524bc8b68f17_story.html