Camille Eroy-Reveles doesn’t take astrology too seriously — until mercury goes into retrograde. It happens three or four times a year and according to astrologers it throws the world into total chaos. “Knowing that, I’m like OK, this week I need to try to get as much done with my business before that,” said Eroy-Reveles, a 39-year-old Capricorn, who owns a personal training business in New York.
She got into astrology a few years ago when work, technology and politics felt overwhelming. Horoscopes give her the guidance others may get from church. “Astrology gives you a structure for understanding yourself. You’re trying to make sense of a world that may be challenging,” said Eroy-Reveles, who spends $20 a month on Sirius Joy, a daily horoscope email.
Astrology is an ancient practice, but its popularity seems to be bigger than ever. According to the Pew Research Center, millennials are less religious than other age groups, but 60% of them believe in New Age spirituality. Meanwhile, the psychic services industry, which includes astrologers, is worth $2 billion and is projected to keep growing.
And with growth, and technology, comes change. People who want to know what’s written in their stars don’t have to flip to the back page of a magazine anymore to find their horoscope. Now, they can just pick up their phone. There are more than 200 astrology apps in the App Store that claim to do everything from tell you if your date is a love match to show what you and your date’s baby would look like.
“The question isn’t whether astrology is real or not. It’s whether the effects are real,” said Banu Guler, a Scorpio and the founder of Co-Star, an app with 7.5 million users.
The platform has caught on with younger consumers through its viral quality. Co-Star memes live all over the internet, from users who screenshot push notifications that say things like, “avoiding your ex’s social media is always a good idea.” “We designed the app and the content all around how we actually talk with each other, and really tried hard to nail that exact tone that’s really loving, but also kind of snarky,” Guler said.
On “This Is Uncomfortable” we talked with a professional astrologer about astrology’s current moment and how she makes a living.
It’s tone is also kind of mean. The other day Co-Star told me I keep falling in love with the wrong people. “No false hope? No excuses? No tears.”
Each horoscope Co-Star users get is personalized. The app uses NASA data to plot your birth chart, which is a map of the solar system when you were born, and an algorithm spits out your horoscope. It’s a model that’s helped the company pull in $6 million in venture capital funding. Guler said the company isn’t profitable yet, but she thinks it can make money through add-ons. For instance, the app has a three dollar feature that lets you compare your horoscope to your grandma’s or even your dog’s.
But while websites and apps are growing to fill the astrology space, even traditional astrologers are benefiting.
“The industry has changed tremendously in the last 15 years,” said Rebecca Gordon, a Virgo and an astrologer in New York who does corporate events for companies like Chanel, Simon & Schuster and Adobe.
Gordon read my birth chart in her Manhattan apartment, where the walls are covered in astrology books. She started by plugging my birth info into a program on her computer. Up popped a big pie chart, sprinkled with zodiac signs. “It would seem to me that you very much came here to impregnate consciousness with new ideas. And to share ideas with the world,” said Gordon.
Well, she did know I was a journalist.
Still, I was hoping for something a little more crystal ball-like. But there were no predictions about my future because, she explained, that’s not the point. “What astrology will do is it will bring perspective and reframe a situation. It can change the way we see ourselves and the way we act in the future.”
And the price of that perspective? In this case: $250 an hour.
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