It’s Aquarius season, which means it’s time to unpack why exactly young people are so into astrology all of a sudden. Alice Webb-Liddall asks two social media astrologers, one astrology enthusiast, and a counselling astrologer what the stars are saying.
So it’s mercury retrograde that made you put an x on the end of an email to your boss. You’re a Scorpio with a Gemini rising so it’s not your fault you ghosted that guy last week, and you hate your best friend’s new boo but it’s because they’re a Taurus and there’s just no way that pairing would work.
First, I have to make it explicitly clear that this article is in no way defending astrology from a scientific standpoint, because, well it’s not at all grounded in science. Countless studies have found no scientific basis to the idea that the stars affect our personalities and decision-making abilities.
Growing up with a science-loving father who would laugh in dismay if I so much as looked at the Coffee News horoscopes, astrology, tarot, psychics and that whole world of spirituality were alien to me. I was born on the cusp of two star signs, Aquarius and Pisces, and I had never even been curious enough to figure out which one I actually belonged to until about a year ago (it’s Aquarius btw). Fast forward to now, I just bought a deck of tarot cards, I know my moon, sun and rising signs and what they all mean, and I read horoscopes with a newfound seriousness.
Spinoff staff writer Josie Adams is rumoured to have got her job here because she guessed the star sign of editor Toby Manhire during her interview.
“I guessed because he was doodling during the interview. It means he’s easily distracted and has creative tendencies. Also he was drawing faces so he’s fixated on people not things.” The traits Adams saw were enough for her to confidently exclaim “classic Pisces” when she saw the ‘notes’ he had been taking throughout the interview.
The past few years have given rise to a new generation of astrology-curious people, and this rise has been predominantly online. One of the leading lights in the new wave of online astrology is Drunkstrology, an Instagram page with over 600,000 followers accrued through posting star sign memes.
The two women behind the page, Tayla Jones and Samantha Gorman, say memes are a good way for young people to connect with astrology – even if they don’t completely believe in it.
“Astrology has been mainstream re-popularised through memes, which have a demographic made up of primarily young people. People love content that tells them more about themselves, and young people in particular love sharing content that has to do with themselves.”
The two say the page was created for them and their friends to have a laugh, and while they believe astrology is “a serious practice”, that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun, too. “We both really like joking around about people and their zodiac signs, and a lot of the time will base certain memes off of particular things our friends do that we feel our very ‘Scorpio’ or very ‘Pisces’.
“Overall it’s just a fun way of channeling our interests (memes, astrology, being creative, calling out our friends) into one thing.”
Kath Tutill, a counselling astrologer and former president of the Astrology Association of New Zealand, welcomes the renewed interest in the topic.
“I think the reason it’s suddenly taken off with the younger generation is that they’re searching for something. They’re questioning a lot and searching. They’re looking at other options as to who they are, what they’re doing here, what their career pathway should be. A lot of them have it figured out but a lot of them don’t.”
But just because she’s down with the astrological kids, it doesn’t mean Tutill finds all star sign memes funny. “If there’s someone taking the piss with some of these memes… some zodiac signs do get a more negative hit than others. I’m a Scorpio sun sign and people have quite a lot to say about that, but that’s not your whole persona.”
The Spinoff’s Josie Adams says she doesn’t believe that astrology that can predict the lotto or tell someone how they’re going to die. But even if astrology can’t predict the future, she still finds it valuable.
“I do think it’s a tool for analysis. For example, if someone says they’re a ‘classic Gemini’ then I can safely assume some character traits: chatty, accident-prone, barely concealed superiority complex. If an astrologer/psychic can read someone really well they can probably take a fairly good stab at what they’ll do next.”
Even Jones and Gorman, who dedicate a lot of time to astrology, don’t want people to put too much stock in their horoscope. “We definitely don’t think you should live your whole life based on what the stars may say about you, but if you resonate with something, great!”
And that’s certainly how I think about astrology and other similar practices. While it’s impossible to get my dad’s voice out of my head whenever I read tarot for myself or my boyfriend, I’m also not kidding myself when I do. I’m not looking for excuses or for prophecies. Usually, I’m just looking for a little bit of guidance.
“I think the value is in self-analysis. If you can relate to a flaw – like being a ‘hot-tempered Aries’ – then you can start to work on it and you might become a better person. It’s not likely, but we live in hope,” says Adams.
Even Tutill admits that sometimes astrological readings can be vague, but says people should take what they need from it. “What you read, as long as it’s true and correct and has good integrity behind it, the person receiving that information will absorb what they want and what they need at that particular time.”
It’s a common criticism that astrology readings are open to interpretation, but if you think of it as a meditation tool, that’s precisely why it’s so helpful. You take what you want, learn about yourself and drive change in the aspects of your life you think you need to.
But don’t take it from me, I’m a Scorpio moon.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.