Ask a millennial or Gen Z'er what they think of someone they went on a first date with, and they'll likely rattle off his or her astrological sign along with where they grew up and what they do for work. According to research, these two generations put a lot of weight in the patterns of celestial objects: 29% of millennials and Gen Z'ers believe astrology and horoscopes are rooted in science. Actually, astrology is a pseudoscience—meaning it's been tested many times and failed every test.
Still, tearing young people from their dedication to astrology is easier said than done. The astrology app co-star has five million registered accounts (and they're currently so busy they couldn't return my request for comment), and it seems like a new astrology app or startup is popping up every other day.
This brings up a big question: If astrology isn't based in any real science, what's up with our societal obsession with it?
Astrology can feel reassuring.
According to holistic psychologist Alison Stone, one of the main things astrology does for us is provide a framework for understanding our own behavior and personalities, along with the behavior and personality of others. "Just like some people love personality tests, others swear by astrology. It can feel reassuring and emotionally containing, in a way, to have this overarching set of principles that give meaning to events in our lives, or help name parts personality," she explains. "But I'd caution against being too rigid with it because you might end up limiting yourself and your relationships. It's important to use discretion."
Jeanna Kadlec, resident astrologer for the astrology app Sanctuary, says she personally uses astrology to help understand and optimize her energy. "I'm energized around new moons, so I plan to pitch new projects then. I'm tired on full moons, so I stay in and don't go out with friends around that time," she explains. "Understanding how you can work with a moon cycle to better work with your own internal rhythm can ultimately help you understand yourself better (your strengths, your challenges, your past, your present), is a great gift of astrology."
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She adds that astrology is ultimately an observational, correlative practice, not one rooted in causation—so those looking for hard "answers" in astrology will probably be disappointed. "Astrology gives us a better sense of our own individuality and self-understanding, which is ultimately what I find to be grounding in an extraordinarily random and unjust world," Kadlec says. "If you're looking for a better understanding of your place in the world, there's something for you here."
When to exercise caution with astrology.
Most things in life should be taken with a grain of salt, and Kadlec believes astrology is one of them—especially when you start to get too strict with it. "Especially when it comes to dating, astrology can seem like a helpful tool," says Kadlec. "But, speaking as a formally trained astrologer, you cannot predict how a person will behave based on their chart. That's the energy they're working with, and it could manifest any number of ways based on their own life experience. They're a person with agency, after all. I don't cut anyone out of my own dating pool based on their sign, and I actually prefer to not know someone's chart in advance, to avoid snap judgments."
She adds that especially in the case of dating or even friendship, getting to know the person is always the most important thing. "Their chart can help you understand them and the energy they're working with better — after you've made a determination about the important things like their communication style and their ability to follow through."
In a world that often feels out of control and overly-complicated, it can feel grounding and even soothing to spend some time with your horoscope. If this helps with anxiety and provides you with a sense of direction, great. Just be careful of getting too rigid with it, because you could end up missing out on something (or someone!) great.