Astrology has gone from crystal-ball naffness to chic readings at private members’ clubs. Polly Dunbar meets the women giving our star signs a rebrand...
Think of an astrologist. I’ll bet what pops into most minds is a woman with a black bob, swishy purple robes and an alliterative name. In other words, someone who may or may not be ‘mystic’, but definitely isn’t cool.
That image is getting a much-needed update, thanks to a new generation of women working to banish the old clichés about crystal balls and tall, dark strangers, and make astrology cool again. Their efforts are paying off: according to a recent study, scepticism about astrology is decreasing, while millennials are increasingly turning to it to help them make sense of the world. How often do you hear people explain a technological mishap or misunderstanding with a friend with the phrase, ‘Mercury’s in retrograde’? (which, btw, it currently is).
Lena Dunham is a vocal fan, tweeting, ‘You can be a very serious and substantial woman and also allow the planets to rule your soul!’ And celebrities including Taylor Swift, Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner have all spoken of their belief in the power of the zodiac.
‘My generation didn’t take astrology seriously - everyone relied far more on logic and it lost its credibility,’ says Carolyne Faulkner, the 41-year-old in-house astrologer for Soho House. ‘But I’m seeing such a resurgence recently among younger people. They’re looking for a way to cope with all the negativity they see around them and they’re much more open to it.’
Carolyne, dubbed Britain’s coolest astrologer, has spent years battling to transform ideas about astrology. ‘When I went on TV a decade ago, they wanted to call me Cosmic Carolyne - it was so 1980s,’ she says. ‘I’ve worked hard to change the branding of astrology, to make it accessible and empowering ; it’s a tool for self-improvement.’
Her system is called dynamic astrology, and shows users how to change their lives based on their astrological chart. It’s much more in-depth than traditional astrology, using not only star signs, but the position of the sun, moon and other planets at the moment someone was born to create a personal picture of their character.
It sounds complicated, but Carolyne’s book, The Signs, explains how to work it all out. ‘It helps you understand yourself and other people, which means you can make changes to your own behaviour and your relationships,’ she says. Much of her work involves life coaching, often for highly successful types – including celebrities she won’t name – who want her to help them understand personality dynamics within their work spheres.
In our tech-dominated, politically turbulent age, in which rates of depression and anxiety are higher than ever, it’s perhaps not difficult to see the appeal of a belief system that explains our place in the world - much as religion once did. It offers a comforting sense that there’s something bigger than us.
This craving for spirituality of some sort has also fuelled a resurgence of interest in healing crystals, sound baths and tarot. ‘As life becomes more uncertain, scientific or so- called logical answers aren’t cutting it any more. Astrology is resonating with people at a time when we need to make sense of a seemingly senseless world,’ explains Ophira Edut, one of the AstroTwins, who, with identical twin sister Tali, provides horoscopes at astrostyle.com and for US sites including Refinery29. Such is their influence, even Beyoncé has had a personal reading.
Ophira believes the new trend for astrology is the result of growing numbers of women finally feeling empowered enough to openly explore a side of themselves they might previously have been mocked for. ‘As women rise into new levels of power, we aren’t interested in simply following the old patriarchal model that dismisses astrology,’ she says. ‘Frankly, it’s outdated – it’s based on the 18th-century Enlightenment movement, which promoted intellect, science and reason, but left out spirituality and emotion.’
She says it’s possible that today’s women are naturally more tuned in to metaphysical ideas. ‘Many people believe that the vibration of the planet has raised since 2012, and that younger generations are born with greater amounts of sensitivity and receptiveness to this.’
Ophira also points out that it’s never been easier to access astrology, thanks to the internet and social media; even if you do feel embarrassed about checking your horoscope, you can do it discreetly and as o en as you like. ‘I don’t like to admit I believe in it, and I’m not even sure I do, really, but I check my horoscope every morning on my phone,’ says Claire Brooker, 34. ‘I find it reassuring.’
And as Carolyne says, whether you’re a believer or a die-hard sceptic, ‘If it helps people reflect on themselves and feel empowered, that’s all that matters.’