- STAR GAZING -
The past 18-months following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic have unquestionably been a time of uncertainty, upheaval, frustration, and everything in between.
Many people have experienced the sudden loss of loved ones, jobs, homes, and things taken for granted as certainties have quickly been called into question.
It’s perhaps no surprise then that more and more people are looking outside the usual realms of possibility and towards the celestial world of astrology for truth and guidance.
Astrologers around the world have noted a surge in people coming to them for readings in 2020, with this upward trend continuing into 2021.
Here, Astrologers Anita Chakraburtty and Inbaal Honigman share their experiences of this enthusiasm boom, and astrology fans Caitlin Heaton and Sarah Rolufs explain what drew them to astrology and why.
Anita Chakraburtty also gives her predictions for the upcoming months through her chart reading for the UK between September 22 to December 21 2021.
- THE ASTROLOGERS -
Anita Chakraburtty is a Medieval Astrologer and member of the Association of Professional Astrologers International.
She explained how astrologers can gain insight into almost anything, from individual people to entire countries, volcanic eruptions, companies and earthquakes through reading astrological charts.
As well as a myriad of experience in other fields, Chakraburtty has a four-year diploma in Medieval Astrology, plus seven years training in shamanic techniques with a Cherokee Chief called Medicine Crow.
She said: “I have had more people coming to see me since the outbreak of the pandemic with big increases in all age groups, young people and middle-aged people alike.
“More men have started coming to see me too than previously, as it used to be a female dominant cohort, but I have definitely seen more men showing an interest these days.”
Some of the most frequent questions Chakraburtty’s clients ask are to do with job uncertainty, redundancies, whether they should retrain, and in what.
She said: “I think more people have become interested in astrology because the lockdown gave them more time, since if you’re not doing a two hour commute every day, like a lot of Londoners did, then you’re working from home and saving that time.
“Just being locked down and feeling like, wow, what is happening in the world? That made everyone question life and the Universe and how we connect with the external and esoteric world.
“Because our foundations were challenged, people have perhaps become willing to broaden the scope of knowledge and widen their boundaries to encompass concepts that might have been dismissed in the past.
"I think with uncertainty comes more curiosity about what the future might hold."
Alongside this surge in enthusiasm for astrology, Chakraburtty noted the continued scepticism the craft still faces.
She raised the point that most people readily accept that the Moon can move an ocean, but are reluctant to consider how the Moon affects us too, given that we are 75% water.
Chakraburtty added: “One of the biggest shifts for me has been seeing people without much of a foundation in esoteric matters mention things like, ‘Mercury is in retrograde this month’ or ‘it’s a full Moon so that’s why I didn’t sleep very well’.
“I have heard more people saying things like that this year than I have in my entire life, and people that I would never have thought would know about the Moon or Mercury.
“I think this kind of thing also signifies the big increase in interest in astrology from last year continuing on into this year, which is great."
Inbaal Honigman is a Mystic and Astrologer who uses tarot, astrology, palmistry, clairvoyance, and other methods of divination in her readings.
She offers a range of services, including rainbow readings, elemental readings, psychic coaching and mentoring.
Honigman has also observed more people being open to the idea of mystical assistance than when she first started out in the field.
She said: “Most of my work is done by Zoom now and many of my clients are in Europe as well as the US, Canada and Australia.
“Decisions at a crossroads are the biggest reasons that people come to see me - stay or leave a difficult marriage, take up that job offer abroad, buy a house, life is constructed of many crossroads, and I can help navigate.
“I see people of all ages - I have some very elderly clients, some young regulars who grew up with me when their mums would bring them along 20 years ago, and now they have kids of their own.
“When life is uncertain and unstable, I certainly see a lot more people seeking advice, although it is swings and roundabouts.
“When life was certain, you know for five minutes in the early noughties, and everyone had loads of money I was just as busy because a reading was a luxury service, and everyone was treating themselves to those things.
“Now, in these chaotic times, my readings are a necessity, not a luxury.
“When you can't get a straight answer from your political leaders or even from your own family, that's where I come in.”
- THE FANS -
27-year-old Richmond based Sarah Rolufs first got into astrology when she was at University in Missouri and was part of feminist groups made up of people from around the world.
She said: “I came from a pretty realistic, non-spiritual household, I guess you could call it, so it wasn't until I met all these women with new thoughts and viewpoints of the world that I opened my heart to learning more about astrology.
“It wasn't something I came to by myself, but rather was pulled into by these fascinating women around me.
“I think especially when you're in Uni, trying to figure out who you are, knowing that the cosmos could have something to do with why all the people you're talking to are ghosting you, or why everything in your life is going slightly wrong, feels like a gift.
“Also, both the 70s and more recent aesthetics around astrology are really beautiful - a lot of goddesses and plants and stars and planets and the Moon of course.
“So even if I know it's not something scientific, because I myself am still a sceptic, it's just kind of fun and feels tied back to these witch covens and ideas of community that we've lost in the modern world.
“I think, again, it's that question of is it nature, is it nurture, or is it something cosmic that makes up our identity?
“I don't want to close my mind to the idea that it could be cosmic.
“I definitely think memes are a big part of it, and people are seeking something to identify with, and memes and apps - such as Co-Star and Sanctuary - make horoscopes and charts more digestible and easy to identify with."
Rolufs reflected that people's interest in astrology seems often to come in waves throughout history.
She added: "We had the 70s, the ‘Age of Aquarius’, when so many people were really interested in astrology and made it a huge part of their lives.
“Now again, compared to 10 years ago, people are finding more solace in astrology and mystical thinking - especially when we're in such heightened times and on our phones more because of the pandemic - astrological apps and meme accounts have really had a huge impact.
“I have even gone so far as to get a Libra tattoo on my arm, as it just reminds me to always care about social justice and equity.”
Caitlin Heaton, 26, from Finsbury Park has also grown more interested in astrology since the start of 2021.
She said: “A lot of my friends are into astrology, and I didn’t think much of it before because I don’t feel my personality really works with the classic traits of my Sun sign, but I recognised a lot of my personality traits in my Moon and rising signs.
“I think it’s much easier to dip your toe into these days, and with the internet there’s so many different ways into astrology for everyone, with TikTok and YouTube and astrology apps.
“With more people generally getting into astrology it has less of a ‘Mystic Meg’ quality to it now.
“I also think that people have always been secretly intrigued by it, but only when they recognise their positive traits in a horoscope.
"Astrology is a lot of fun, but I do think it’s best when taken with a pinch of salt.
“The Twitter account @sorrowscopes is super funny, as it lightheartedly pokes fun at horoscopes."
- SIGN SEEKING -
There are 12 zodiac signs, each embodying unique strengths, weaknesses, desires and attitudes towards life and other people.
These are thought to have been decided by the Babylonians, who analysed the position of planets, the Sun and the Moon on the ecliptic at the moment of birth.
Astrology has long been a divisive subject, with avid believers and doubtful sceptics hotly disputing its validity for many years.
In this time of global pandemic, devastating wildfires, fatal flash-floods, and ever steepening political and socio-economic divides, maybe what many people are craving is a little more magic in the world, and comfort in the idea that forces outside of humanity ultimately have control.
In order to cope with so much turbulence, it's possible we are learning to revel in the unknown, finding solace and new beauty in the process.