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Astrology, religion and coronavirus

Updated: Feb 25, 2021

According to 2018 national survey from The Conversation, at least half of Australian teens say they are “religious nones” - those who do not identify with a religion or religious group. Studies tracking America’s religious landscape found that religious beliefs and practice have been declining at a rapid pace among people ages 23 to 38.

A growing number of young people — largely millennials — are instead embracing spiritual beliefs and practices such as tarot, astrology, meditation, energy healing and crystals. Why has the popularity of these practices, while underway for some years, seems to have been accelerated by COVID-19?

Be it venture-capital backed astrology apps like Co-Star or Sanctuary, Instagram meme account ‘Not all Geminis’, or a visit to an psychic, for those interested in astrology there are a litany of options. According to Google Trends, searches for “birth chart” and “astrology” both hit five-year peaks in 2020. According to data provided by Lucie Greene, a cultural trend analyst, Refinery29 reported a bump in traffic to their horoscope-related stories. An article by Refinery29 titled “The Super Pink Moon in Libra is Good News for Your Relationships” was one of the sites top-performing stories in April 2020.

The cause behind the spiritual shift is a combination of factors. There’s no doubt that these apps and articles offer convenient, low-commitment substitutes for faith and fellowship. Most psychologists agree that astrology’s appeal relies largely on “confirmation bias” — out tendency to seek out, recall and favour information that confirms what we already believe. At a time of extreme uncertainty, it’s no surprise that people find comfort in security that the decisions they are making are being supported by the universe. Apps such as Co-Star offer a simpler attraction – putting into socially shareable words what people are feeling and allowing them to feel witnessed.

Perhaps most interesting though is when you dig deeper into The Conversation research. It was found that while teens have little to do with organised religion in their personal lives, a significant proportion are interested in different ways of being spiritual. Alienated or disconnected by traditional religion, they decide to gently wade into the world of astrology and find it a place where they can make their own meaning and lean in as much as is desired. For many who blend this with breathwork and guided sessions (socially distanced of course), they find a community of like-minded individuals in a year where traditional community has been eroded.

Molly Bruce



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