In the early days of 2021, as the world hung on the lips of scientists and epidemiologists intent on averting the third pandemic wave, the hashtag #esotericism appeared 5.9 million times on TikTok. It is just one of the signs that, not surprisingly, the global community is looking for new spiritual guidelines and not just rational solutions to the crisis. Not that this is new: it is useful to remember that the French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard, already in the 1970s, had glimpsed the beginning of the postmodern era in the progressive erosion of institutional “great narratives”. In those years, media storytelling was already beginning to replace ideologies.
Today, four decades later, the Pew Research Center, created to monitor socio-cultural trends, informs us that as well the appeal of official religions is in dizzying decline, especially among millennials and the very young. This, however, does not mean that their spirituality is failing. Indeed, old and new unconventional beliefs, holistic practices, esotericism and astrology have the wind in their sails, both among the twenty-year-olds of Gen Z and among the thirty-year-olds of Gen Y. The phenomenon is not surprising, given the growing difficulty of these generations to orient themselves between constantly changing norms of gender, sex, ethnicity or nationality, as well as the fact that predictions about the future seem uncertain. Faced with the powerlessness of the institutional culture in providing desirable solutions to these issues, the population under 40 shows little inclination to conceive their existence according to rational parameters. And it gladly turns to systems of values based on the search for inner answers and more or less occult practices to guide one’s destiny.
Old Hollywood glamor for the zodiac signs designed by Grande Dame for Astrotwins. Grande Dame, aka Tiff McGinnis, is a multimedia artist specializing in hyper-colorful illustrations and animations (ig @grandedame).
If the esoteric revival is becoming a transgenerational macro-trend, it is above all astrology that captures the attention of the youngest. This is also confirmed by the success of one of the most followed star, the American Chani Nicholas: with her more than 415 thousand followers on Instagram (including Lizzo and Tarana Burke, founder of #MeToo) and after the invitation received by Spotify to conceive a musical horoscope in the form of monthly playlists for each sign, she knows well that her audience it is not made up of pensioners reading the horoscope at the bar. Those who follow Nicholas through her sophisticated “Chani” app or on the pages of OR, Oprah Winfrey’s magazine, sees astrology as a real existential driver. Already in 2019, in fact, the “Culture Report” of Fullscreen noted that 43% of the American Gen Z consulted the horoscope before making purchases or important life choices, while 1 in 3 people saw in astrology a search for meaning in the instability of the present. And if the astrological coaching for professional career planning proposed by the twins Ophira and Tali Edut (@astrotwins, also followed by Beyoncé and Emma Roberts) is increasingly popular, you can turn to Jennifer Freed, psycho-astrologer made famous by the series The Goop Lab by Gwyneth Paltrow, to manage conflicts using the “sun sign”. The hugely popular New York astrologer Lisa Stardust, on the other hand, aims to guide celebrities and mere mortals in their choices of environmental sustainability by invoking the transformative power of magic to “heal the world” (sic). Spells aside, that the astral theme is imposed today as a social theme is no coincidence: in the new generations the growing need to look within, understood as a counterpart to a daily mediatically overexposed and all lived “online”, meets with a egocentric and entrepreneurial vision of the ego, announced a few years ago by Time Magazine with the cover “Me Me Me Generation”. It follows that the vision of a future already written in the stars, achievable by anyone with a bit of optimism and an unshakable self-confidence, is really attractive.
The sign of Libra in the illustration by Grande Dame for Astrotwins.
It is to be expected that the generation of fathers will consider this esoteric drift of the children with some sufficiency. But, on closer inspection, he would be wrong. The big auction houses, for example, have already been chasing the economic potential of astrological esotericism ever since Sagittarius, from the series Zodiac by graphic artist Samy La Crapule, has proven to be one of the most viewed, discussed and paid for digital artwork in NFT format in recent times. Meanwhile, among philosophers and psychologists, concepts such as Jungian synchronicity, now described as “psychological astrology”, are being revived, while holistic thinking is extended to the indisputable fact that a link between the universe, heaven and humanity must necessarily exist.
One more thing. Some journalists have timidly pointed out that the French astrologer André Barbault (who died in 2019) was ridiculed for predicting the 2020 pandemic. And there would be nothing strange if it weren’t for the fact that he had already been mocked once – in 1955, when he had unlikely predicted the fall of the Soviet empire … by 1989.
At the opening Illustration by artist Emmy Lupine for the cover of the book “Saturn Return Survival Guide” by Lisa Stardust (Hardie Grant Book): a guide to overcome the cosmic rite of passage due to the return of Saturn.