For people our age, being into astrology started off as a meme — following along with a Twitter joke, a TikTok trend, or a meaningless Snapchat horoscope. But like all good memes do, it slowly became a more serious aspect of our lives. Many of us can admit to downloading Co – Star at one point or another, and spending a good hour or so exploring the world of astrology.
According to local astrologer René Aceves, who offers readings at Gargoyles Statuary on the Ave, “Astrology is based on the alignment of planets and signs and their relationship to the horizon, or at a place where a person is born at a certain place at a certain time.”
It tells us what attributes we carry, who we are most compatible with, and what the future holds for us. And whether we admit it or not, most of us actually do believe (at least a little bit) in the “science” of astrology. According to a study done by ResearchGate, more than 75% of college students consider astrology “sort of” or “very” scientific.
Why is this? And why is it that when you ask your parents what time you were born, they’re quick to tell you to “cut it with the astrology bulls---”?
Aceves’ clientele are all over the map in terms of age, but he has noticed an increase in popularity surrounding astrology among younger people within the past few years. He thinks that the generational difference may have something to do with –– surprise –– the stars.
“There was a big conjunction between Uranus and Neptune in the early ‘90s that lasted a couple of years,” Aceves said. “Uranus and Neptune are very cosmic, idealistic planets that are open to new philosophies.”
Although most college students right now were not born in the early ‘90s, our older siblings and friends may have set the precedent for us.
Aceves also thinks that there is a common reason, brought on by external circumstances, for people to seek out astrology.
“For me, and probably a lot of other people, it’s getting to this certain age in life where you just really want to know who you are and where you’re going,” Aceves said.
Aceves’ theory about the relationship between self-discovery and astrology resonates with me and is a sentiment shared by many college students in large universities like the UW.
I distinctly remember the depressing feeling of being dropped off at the UW my freshman year. It wasn’t an all-at-once feeling of being alone, but it was something close to it. It was more existential; it was something like a gray cloud looming above me or a little hole in my heart that grew bigger each time I thought about the fact that I was supposed to be having “the time of my life” and making “life-long friends.” Somehow that expectation, juxtaposed with the reality of my situation — awkwardly trying to make people like me during five-minute sorority rush conversations — was wildly depressing.
I can assure you that I do, in fact, have lifelong friends now. And they do as well. But the gray cloud, the little hole in my heart, stuck around a lot longer than I thought it would. After doing some research (and by “research,” I mean having introspective conversations with my friends while high on weed), I’ve determined that the feeling I was having was, absolutely, an identity crisis.
I think a lot of college students go through something similar, fearfully questioning who they are after family and childhood friends are not in their present life anymore. There are many ways that we decide to cope with this –– distracting ourselves with school, drugs, partying, exercising, calling our parents a little too often –– that become habits we take up to avoid thinking about who we are and what we are doing.
Astrology may be another habit we turn to in order to cope.
“At a certain age, you start to realize that your friends have a certain idea of what you should do, and who you are,” Aceves said. “But you start to think: There’s a part of me and what my destiny is, what my path is, that is not fully explained by what people are telling me — or even what I think of myself.”
These thoughts are even more heightened given the current context of the world. In the last year of great uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s completely valid to have turned to astrology to find a fragment of an answer or a sense of hope when the whole world and your future have been brought to a halt.
Astrology is the perfect culmination of all of the factors that affect us tremendously at this point in our lives. We’re impressionable, we’re open-minded, and we’re searching for our identities. Who are we? Where do we fit in the world? Are other people like us, or are we just really weird?
Aceves believes that there is a reason why we all come into the world with different attributes, and learning about it is the first step in self-discovery.
“From there, it can help you figure out how to be the best possible version of yourself,” Aceves said.
Although astrology isn’t based in modern science, it acts as a bridge between humans and the incomprehensible ways of the universe. It’s about having a relationship with the universe and feeling connected to a higher sense of ourselves. It gives us answers to questions about life that we tend to ask ourselves during difficult situations, conflict within our relationships, and times when we’re struggling with our identity –– as college students, we are seeking out these answers now more than ever.
Reach writer Veronica George at email@example.com. Twitter: @veronicaggeorge
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