Look on the bright side: there will always be Lisa Frank tarot cards.

World

3.25.2016

Why Are Your Millennial Friends so Obsessed with Astrology?

The first time I did it, I knew I was addicted. But then, I’m a Pisces. Everything is addictive to me.

It was all in the presentation, I think. You gave a name and a birthday, right down to the exact time and place, hit enter, and suddenly out pops this little chart. Suddenly out popped my little life: segmented and dissected and put together again like a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle. That was in itself sort of amazing to think about—I’m as neat and as elaborate as a jigsaw puzzle, exactly all of me perfectly necessary and nothing wasted. My sun and moon are in Pisces, Mars and midheaven are in Leo. I’m a Scorpio rising with her Venus in Capricorn.

It’s all a very nice way of saying that I’m emotional to the point of being emotionally unavailable.

Which, well…I won’t say it’s not not true.

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A nice little neon rendition of the zodiac wheel.

Go to any random party of your choice, and chances are astrology is in the air. Even if you’re a skeptic, chances are you have the zodiac signs of you and at least three close friends memorized by heart. Because when some stranger takes it upon themselves to school you in star knowledge, it helps being able to point out that you, a Virgo, have been in a stable relationship with an Aries for the past five years. By now, you can even point out that everyone thinks Virgos are supposed to be boring brainiacs, and you know for a fact you are a very fun person, okay?

But one would think that all this millennia-old star talk would’ve finally started to die down by now. After all, we are a generation that resists labels as much as we do voting. When we so utterly refuse to be put into a box of someone else’s design, why is this idea of the stars deciding our personalities for us still gaining traction?

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A chill set of Lisa Frank tarot cards.

“People long for their ‘reason for being’ and decision-making to be predetermined so they don’t feel like they are doing something wrong,” points out Tumblr-king turned Psychology major/Pacsun manager Alejandro (Aries). He believes that astrology is mostly all fun and games (albeit a completely wrong and kind of dumb sort of game, like Super Smash Bros Brawl, but still) that people tend to use as an excuse. Which is sort of true, right? I’m not sensitive, I’m just a Pisces. My first roommates didn’t hate me for me; they were all fire signs so it was only natural.

“In a sense, it can be a (un)healthy alternative to, say, actually dealing with your issues and learning how to deal with the complicated set of morals and loving-feelings that are inherent within all human beings.”

I’m not unlovable, my Venus is just in Capricorn.

In a sense, it can be a (un)healthy alternative to, say, actually dealing with your issues and learning how to deal with the complicated set of morals and loving-feelings that are inherent within all human beings. 

It is widely accepted that astrology should have no practical value in the real world. That is, we cannot and should not use it to mold the flow of our daily lives, even if we identify so heavily with our sign. Like pretty much everything else in this world, it is at its most harmful when put in the hands of the obsessive and weak, or even the over-eager, when it becomes the excuse and the reason, so that you can remain blameless.

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Susan Miller and Justin Bieber, suspended in the cosmos because why not?

Perhaps that is why so many people are slow to reveal any interest in the stars that goes past using it as the occasional ice breaker. However, Maria Feeney, History major and practicing Pagan, takes absolute joy in the fact that she is a Libra. “Even when I first learned about the zodiac when I was really little, I always identified with my sign. Any time I didn’t understand who I was, I would go back to that and my zodiac sign would always help me make sense of who I am. It’s the only sign in the zodiac that doesn’t have an animal or humanoid symbol, it’s just scales y’know? And I feel that in a weird way. I’ve never been just a ‘cat person’ or a ‘dog person,’ I’ve always been both. Balance has always been really important to me.”

“From that breakup, I learned to take everything with a grain of salt, and to not let it have so much control over [my] life.”

Still, she is quick to point out where the line should be crossed. “My ex boyfriend was a Gemini, and if you look at compatibility charts—and this is why I stopped looking into things like this—they will tell you that no one is more compatible than a Libra and a Gemini, and no one is less compatible than a Libra and a Taurus (her current boyfriend’s sign). From that breakup, I learned to take everything with a grain of salt, and to not let it have so much control over [my] life.” Now Maria  only reads her horoscope when she finds herself seeking answers—not about her day, but rather about herself, and the traits that make her whom she is.

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An illustration of the Atman & Brahman.

And there is a new sort of “horoscope” on the rise. From six to midnight EST, my Tumblr dash is overrun by one delicate question “WYDM,” or, would you date me. “I’m a Taurus sun with a Cancer moon.” “I’m a Libra, and my Venus is in Sagittarius.” The admins answer yes or no as politely as they can. Depending on whom you follow, these can come with a whole explanation—Leos are too bold, too selfish, too out of my league. Cancers are cute “momther” types who also might cut you. It goes on and on.

But this is a small fraction of the sort of astrology Tumblr has to offer. What it majors in are carefully thought out lists examining “The Signs As [insert thing of your choice.” Characters from How to Get Away with Murder, characters From Adventure Time, and so on. Combine this with the sort of euphoria that can be found in taking a “We know your [completely arbitrary thing] based on your zodiac sign” BuzzFeed quiz and finding it accurate, and there lies the framework for a totally new tool of introspection.

“When put in the right hands, astrology can be used as a way to challenge yourself, to discover your faults as well as your strengths and begin to find the real person underneath it all.”

Because as totally strange and totally random as these sorts of things can be, they make the viewer question themselves, even if only a little. When put in the right hands, astrology can be used as a way to challenge yourself, to discover your faults as well as your strengths, and begin to find the real person underneath it all.

At the same time, there is a beauty in being able to find yourself in a character or celebrity, or even just in some Tumblr famous random whose rants you identify with. “It’s so big on the internet, [and] especially on Tumblr, where you take a bunch of people who probably don’t feel like they fit in, and suddenly you have astrology helping people understand who they are and feel a little better about themselves…it’s a place where a group of people can connect,” says Maria.

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The cosmos—or, the truth-tellers themselves.

But are people connecting over anything real? Opinions obviously vary. Biology student Nina Maryn (Cancer) has more than a few doubts. “I think astrology is a farce. There’s no real reason, that I can think of, why people born in the same month or so would have similar personalities or have significantly similar life experiences.”

Meanwhile, Game Design grad student Missy has a theory of her own. “I think that astrology was debunked and deemed useless because people could not fathom that what star or sign they were born under dictated their personality. I think the stars are pointing to the seasons that people were born into, [which] impact the way people are when they come into this world.”

So what’s real? Well I, as a Pisces, obviously can’t decide.

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Grunge space girls making a pretty foolproof case for astrology.

Ultimately, astrology is exactly like any other form of spirituality in this world—as real or unreal as we want it to be, as monstrous or as helpful as the people who follow it. It drapes itself across the most mundane daily interactions, demanding no prayer or sacrifice, merely that we think of it when we look up at the stars. 

Stay tuned to Milk for more heavenly stories. 

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