Star signs, planets, moon phases, and more, Astrology has taken our generation by storm. It has us in its grasp, and the question is what is it? What are people so enraptured by? And why, oh why, does mercury retrograde matter just so much?
With its origins evident in the old babylonian era of Mesopotamia, circa 1800 BCE, the human need to discern the whys of the Universe has always been prevalent in any culture. Various cultures and time periods have had their own takes on astrology, and in the modern era we see an accumulation of all these ideas across the globe. Whether that be following the hellenic astrological customs of greece and the mediterranean, or the decanian customs of ancient egypt. In our modern world, we assimilate different aspects of astrological cultures and create a new identity and ideology. Into modern times, interest in astrology has continued, and astrological signs are still thought of as major personality influencers.
As our understanding of the world developed so too did our belief systems, and as such our usefulness and reliance on astrology shifted and depleted. Instead of having the natural world govern our life cycles and daily habits, we now govern it. With changes in the world stemming from changes in the way we, as humans, are expanding and growing. Astrology has become a tool for self-acceptance, a planning method, gaining more self-acceptance, and divining meaning in relationships. Rather than a tool for living and surviving.
With its popularity continuing to grow, the question remains as to why the general interest in astrology has expanded so rapidly in the past few decades, and what astrology’s place is in modern society.
Whether we consume astrological ideas through astrology blogs, the newspaper, social media posts along the lines of, “Listen here if your birthday is between Xth and Nth of two months'', astrology is more prevalent in the media now than at any other time in recent history. It's rapidly evolving, and the ways of consuming its ideology align greatly with consumerism in general. Star sign mugs, stationary, and clothing litter stores, and birthdate gifts are everywhere. It's an interesting development in the way we view astrology, and its effects in modern society.
There are many reasons as to why people still prescribe to astrology and listen to its teachings, maybe it's escapism, the allure of its wisdom, or perhaps it's just for fun, regardless of why astrology is sticking around. And so too are its practices. Be it reading our horoscopes, knowing our sun signs, or looking up compatibility with prospective partners. There’s a popularity boom going on, and it’s not looking like it’s slowing down.
Some explain this boom away as a result of the decline of organised religion, or as a turn to New Age modalities. Either way, astrology truly has taken the younger generations by storm.
The ideas at the root of modern astrology are that everything that happens in a person's life, the pattern of their life, their characters, their nature, all appear due to a connection to the planets pattern at the time of said persons birth. It connects things in a way that is less assertive and more passive, giving people the space to develop their own connections between events, traits, and people. Acting almost like a framework for developing your own ideas and theories, astrology gives people a chance to distance themselves whilst claiming certainty in the face of uncertainty. Rather than teaching dogma or giving instruction, astrology adds context to the world around us and to our inner worlds.
For instance, an astrological event many of us will have heard of is Mercury retrograde. This occurs when we perceive Mercury to be moving backwards in the sky. Whilst it’s still orbiting about the Sun as usual, due to its much shorter orbit - 88 days - than our 365 days, 3 or 4 times a year it appears to move backwards. During this time the areas that Mercury is said to rule - communication, travel, messages, intellect, and information - are all supposedly impacted negatively. As such we should expect to see negative effects in our day to day lives in these areas, when the world is experiencing a Mercury retrograde. Tips for surviving a mercury retrograde include, declutter, destress, and demystify - being practical in all that you do.
These kinds of events can happen for any celestial body and help individuals navigate their lives. Maybe the moon really does affect our mood, and learning to embrace that could change all our lives. Or paying more attention to when Venus retrograde could help those of us who want to, maintain healthy and committed romantic relationships. Astrology enables us to focus on certain areas of our lives and of the world without assigning too heavy a commitment to them. Giving us all some much needed distance from the stress of day to day life.
I like to read my horoscope, and I’m a sucker for looking up compatibility, so I’m not one to talk when it comes to whether astrology should hold ground in our modern age of science and technology. But I do think it’s an important development in our views on belief systems and religions, and enables us all to gain a better grasp of the world through different perspectives.
At the end of the day, I’m a Gemini. And I’m hedging my bets that if you’ve got this fair, you know what that means. If anyone can talk about Mercury retrograde, and societal trends, it’d be one of us. So go and explore what your sun sign is, and how the planets affect your fashion choice, because it’s fun, and astrology seems to me to be a trend that’s going to be striking around.
By Teigan A (she/her)