Recently I was called for a phone interview with a local reporter, doing a piece on the return of astrology. We had a good chat, and a few of my points lent themselves to her article.
*To read the original piece in French, click on the title of this blog. Below is a translated copy:
ASTROLOGY: TELL ME YOUR SIGN AND I WILL TELL YOU WHO YOU ARE
by MARISSA GROGUHÉ, LA PRESSE
Even if it defies any scientific logic, astrology continues to challenge a large number of followers. Among them, many millenials, as evidenced in particular by social media. Why this unwavering interest? Believe it or not, astrology seems to bring a lot of valuable introspection tools. Explanations.
At the time of writing, in early December, Mercury is in retrograde motion. Scientifically speaking, this means that the planet seems to be receding into its orbit, an optical effect due to the revolution of the planets around the Sun at different speeds, which influences our perspective.
But if you take a look at the internet, a host of memes and social media posts highlight the issues in life that the state of Mercury is creating.
"Everything about communication is not at its best, so it's best to wait to make big decisions, sign contracts or make reservations," says Debbie Stapleton, certified astrologer and Montreal artist.
Because, astrologically speaking, these periods of demotion indicate that the order is disturbed by the (apparent) movement of Mercury. Since this planet is supposed to influence the communication and is associated with the assertion of oneself by the intellect, as well as with the reasoning, the astrological followers associate to him all sorts of problems (quarrels, accidents, omissions or delays) when it goes into retrograde motion.
Thousands of memes about the phenomenon abound on Instagram. And this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to astrology on social networks. "The memes are stereotypes, it's very rude, but it makes jokes possible," says Megan Bédard, doctoral student in semiology and co-director of the occult and alternative knowledge research project, at the Université du Québec à Montréal ( UQAM). “There is a very important aspect of community and sense of belonging, especially on social networks."
Astrology enthusiasts are of all ages, but the web reveals that this trend is taking up a lot of space in the popular millennial culture. "There is a craze very present," confirms Ms. Bédard.
BELIEVE IT WITHOUT BELIEVING IT
Astrology as many people who are interested in it is not "a belief at all costs," believes Megan Bédard. "It's more of a self-awareness tool, which is used in a pragmatic way to get us thinking about one aspect of our personality or the way we act."
Stéphanie Roussel, poet, doctoral candidate in semiology and also co-director of the research site at UQAM, believes that "play the game of belief" when dealing with astrology.
"It's a borderline belief: most people believe in it and do not believe it at the same time. All the meaning we find in it, what we want to get out of it, it comes from us. "
- Stéphanie Roussel
Karissa Tremblay, a 24-year-old humanities student, says her interest in astrology grew after a friend told her about the sky charts. These "nativity themes", based on the position of the stars at birth, represent the basis of the practice of Western modern astrology: we rely on the date, the hour and the place where we were born to determine the factors influencing the life of an individual, according to the movement of the stars during its existence.
Aquarius she says, to recognize herself in the description of her sign and in the information of her birth chart. "Sometimes we read over yourself and we will start to see more, to be more careful," says Mme Bedard.
ASTROLOGY IS NOT A SCIENCE
"During the XX th century especially, we tried to show that astrology had no scientific basis”, says Megan Bedard. “And it's true, there is no proven influence between planets and what's happening on Earth.”
But does astrology claim to be a science? Absolutely not, says astronomer Daniel Kunth, astronomer at the Institute of Astrophysics of Paris and co-author of the book Astrology, which tries to understand the longevity of the phenomenon over the centuries.
"Science raises fundamental questions, but there are still mysteries that it can not solve," says Kunth. "People believe that the moment of birth is very important, that there is an astral configuration for each individual that follows us all their lives, and that by looking at the sky and comparing it to what it was at moment of birth, we can draw conclusions about what we are.” summarizes the astrophysicist.
This conviction, he explains, gives the impression of being bound to the cosmos, of not being a dust in the universe. "We decided that it works like that, we are pledging a symbolic nature, not a scientific explanation. "
The majority of people with an interest are not fooled and do not confuse astrological belief with astronomical science. "In astrology, we do not want to approach concrete, tangible facts, to study them and to weigh assumptions," says Stéphanie Roussel.
"One of the first criticisms is that astrology gives a closed interpretation of our sign, but on the contrary, the complexity of the system means that people who are interested in it want to be able to ask questions," she affirmed.
Astrology, then, would not be deterministic. "It only determines how we look at the world, we give meaning to things we experience in relation to that," says Megan Bédard.
Most people who consult an astrologer will do so because they are at a crossroads in their lives, says Debbie Stapleton.
"They want context. It is soothing to better understand the context of your life."
- Debbie Stapleton
This desire for answers is inherent in human nature. Astrology, therefore, does not make a comeback. It is articulated differently, thanks to the web, but "has always been there and is likely to stay," says Daniel Kunth.
Debbie Stapleton is very appreciative of the visibility that astrology gains. "We are in an era where there is a lot of uncertainty and anxiety in the world," she says. There can be some comfort in knowing that there is something bigger, something immutable between the Earth, the planets and the stars. "
And the horoscopes in all this?
Since their arrival in English newspapers, since the invention of printing, press horoscopes (which determine the events that should occur a day, a week or a specific month, according to the signs of the zodiac) are traditionally present in numerous publications. Tens of thousands of readers of La Presse consult the horoscope daily in our screens. No need to believe, curiosity does all the work. "It's for fun, rather, it is a fun activity, says Mme Bedard. The horoscopes are a very, very simplified version of what astrology reveals, which is very complex. For example, since she has to peel the media publications every day as part of her job, Camille, 23, has become accustomed with her colleagues to consult the horoscope every Thursday, at the end of the weeklies. As a ritual, they look at their prediction of the week. "I guess it's the perfect distraction to take a break from everyday chores," says the young woman. We have a penchant for the Écho-Vedettes , which offers us as a bonus our health problem of the week. Camille does not claim that they take their horoscopes seriously. "I do not think we keep our horoscopes in mind to make decisions at work."
This text from La Presse + is a copy in web format. See it for free in interactive version in La Presse + application.