Illustration by Liam Rademacher
By McKelvey Ayres
If you’re anything like Morgan Chavez ’19, or the 298,000 other people who follow Astro Poets on Twitter for their daily horoscopes, there’s a good chance you know if you’re a Virgo or a Cancer. While the daily horoscope seems to be the most widely recognized section of astrology, it represents only a fraction of the information that’s available if you know where to look. Social media accounts dedicated to astrology are now flooding the feeds of millenials.
Astrology, the study of the movements of celestial bodies, better known as planets, is thought to have originated around the time of the ancient Egyptians who passed it onto the Babylonians, who introduced it to the Greeks, where philosophers like Aristotle and Plato began to study the subject. Early astrologers used the charts as a way to predict weather patterns for agriculture, or to predict the best time to go to war or when a natural disaster might occur.
They identified 12 constellations that aligned with the 12 months of the year and the progression of the seasons.
After talking to Tess Hadley, a local astrologist based in Burlington, I learned that while it’s fairly common to know your zodiac sign, you need to know the month, day, hour, and location of your birth to correctly fill out your entire Star Chart. The Star Chart, also known as a Natal Chart is the snapshot of the sky at the time of your birth. It often is represented in the form of a circle that is broken into 12 sections consisting of Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. An image of the constellations is at the center of the chart and shows the location of the Moon rising, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, telling you what sign and house each planet was in at the time of your birth. Each planet is thought to possess distinct powers or characteristics. For example, the Babylonians associated Mars with aggression and war. The Star Chart is thought to indicate personality traits, behaviors, desires, and possible life direction.
While astrology has been around for thousands of years, it seems to be especially resonating with millennials. Swaths of daily horoscopes pop on social media, SnapChat is filled with stories from Cosmopolitan, to Buzzfeed, with headlines like, “Have you seen your horoscope today?!” or “You won’t believe what your horoscope says!”
Chavez explained that her interest in astrology has a lot to do with the fun of it, “I follow a ton of astrology accounts on twitter and I’m always sending them to my friends like “See, this is you!’” She also thinks that the social aspect of it just as appealing to her. “It always sparks a conversation from which you can get to know someone.” This seems to be a common theme among avid astrology enthusiasts.
Moira McAvoy, 23, of Veritext Legal in Washington D.C., said “It’s so rad to see people more freely talking about themselves, and their lives, and what makes them tick, in a way that I don’t think would be accessible otherwise.” Both Chavez and McAvoy said that through astrology, they find rational explanations for their personality traits and characteristics and that can be reassuring.
“I’m drawn to my sign, Aries, with a Gemini Moon, they both name major aspects of my personality and reassure me that those things are okay.” said McAvoy. Aries are characteristically passionate, motivated, and relentlessly determined. McAvoy, who is ambitiously working in a law firm seems to exemplify these base traits.
I sat down with Hadley, to get her perspective on the current astrology craze to see if she had any idea why millenials had suddenly become so obsessed with astrology.
We met in the dimly lit, incense scented, Dobra Tea shop, where she told me she was a Leo, a fire sign. I’m a Pisces, a water sign, and on most horoscopes we are said to be “all wrong for each other.” One of the first things she told me was that like your Sun Sign, everyone knows what it feels like to sit in the sun, just as you know what it feels like to be your sign. So maybe you’re already a little more informed about your astrological sign than you thought.
Hadley said she isn’t sure if millennials are more interested in astrology than other generations but it’s more obvious because of social media. She asked me if I had heard about the memes people were making about astrology, comparing everything from cats and Game of Thrones’ characters to the different astrological signs, and making sign “starter packs.” Something so obviously millennial as memes that didn’t have the platform to exist in earlier generations had suddenly become alight with astrology references.
Hadley has been working as an astrologist part time for years, but recently made it her full-time job. Giving daily chart readings, sometimes up to four a day, Hadley spends an hour going over the client’s Star Chart with them, telling them what she sees and asking them if that relates to their lives. She said that she’s noticed a pattern in the people who have reached out to her. They tend to be young and in their early 20’s. More often than not, it’s young women who contact her in hopes of getting a reading, with a few exceptions for the odd caller from India.
To begin a Star Chart, Hadley needs details about the client’s birth, including date, location, and time. “I won’t tell the person they are this or that. I’ll say “Why am I seeing this in your chart?” and they often times will say, “Well, actually..’ and tell me about why or how that [reading] makes sense to them.”
Hadley said this type of astrology allows for self-reflection, something that she said we could use a little more of in this day and age. If interest in astrology within the millennial generation has peaked Hadley wonders if this is a reaction to the overstimulated life many people lead. Which seems to ring true with Chavez who “loves the idea of becoming connected to an element of nature” through astrology.
“It’s a reaction to the Internet age. In a time when you can learn anything online, you might find yourself over-stimulated, and craving some kind of an anchoring,” Hadley said. “Astrology isn’t this fact you can look up… you feel it. It’s an unfolding thing, a different way of learning.”