Younger generations in China are deserting their native astrology in favour of the Western zodiac. Similarly, Millennials in Western countries are also embracing astrology in ever increasing numbers. Is this a blessing or a curse for professional astrology?
According to the New York Times,
While concepts like the traditional Chinese zodiac are still relevant, they are often dismissed by millennials here as “the older generation’s pastime.” Western astrology, on the other hand, is seen as more fun. Much as some Westerners have embraced Eastern practices like Buddhism, young Chinese are gravitating toward Western astrology because they say it is new and exotic.
“People don’t get as excited about traditional culture because it’s too familiar,” said Liu Hongchen, an astrologer known as Eskey among his more than nine million followers on Weibo, a popular microblogging site. “The younger generation likes Western culture more, and the interest in Western astrology is a perfect example of this.”
More and more Chinese are consulting the ancient practice for celestial guidance on all kinds of major life decisions: relationship advice, making friends, having babies — even hiring employees.
There is little embarrassment about believing in Western astrology. Determining your fortune based on the interaction between the sun, the stars and the planets is just what Chinese have been doing for hundreds of years.
At the root of Western astrology’s popularity, some astrologers say, is a growing thirst for spiritual guidance.
“In America, you have religion,” Panda Cao, a Chinese astrologer based in Washington, said. “But in China, most people don’t have a defined belief system. They don’t have a godlike figure to help them find a solution or guide them in a certain direction. So Western astrology helps fill that gap.”
The popularity of astrology amongst Millennials is on the rise globally. Astrology is also increasingly a source of comfort for young Australians, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, as a reaction to “the brutally logical, binary way” our society encourages us to think.
For those who feel alienated by institutional religions, certain types of spiritual awareness and astrology can offer an alternative. People are framing morals set forth by religion in a way that feels more accessible and relevant to their lives. Astrology, for example, does not overtly punish or judge. It does not categorise certain emotions or personality traits as “good” or “bad”. It merely notes where they can be useful, and where they might be a weakness depending on the individual.
Social media has made Western astrology more accessible than ever before, fuelling the “torrid love affair” we experience today. You don’t have to go far to read today’s horoscope or learn more about the alleged personality quirks of your love interest.
However, the current popularization of astrology can turn out to be more of a curse than a blessing. The dispensation of a superficial astrology soup about this or that Libran make up or Capricornian sentences can only provide ammunition to skeptics already willing to dismiss this ancient art at the flick of a hat. Astrology is a vast and complex discipline that takes decades to master. It is based on the synergic effects of signs, planets, fixed stars, and angles, with literally millions of possible combinations in a natal chart. The astrologer’s challenge is to synthesize a vast array of symbols and meanings, in a way that does justice to the individual or business or event requiring understanding. A reductionist 12-sign world view is damaging to a deep art that dates back several millennia and boasts an impressive body of knowledge developed across time, civilizations, and continents. Quite simply, astrology is much more than a simplistic sun sign recipe book of dubious derivation, as widely popularized on social media.
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