By guest contributor Sarah Roberts: It seems that the popularity of daily Horoscopes is on the rise. Research conducted by the National Science Foundation suggests that in 1999 only 12% of Americans read their Horoscope daily. Today almost a quarter of Americans report regularly reading their Horoscope.
Most online news outlets now feature Horoscope columns, and The Cut reports that their Horoscope pages received 150% more hits in 2017 than in the previous year. Astrology regularly features in Twitter memes, and Instagram accounts that post daily Horoscopes for the different signs have large followings. Also, there been a boom in the number of Astrology websites offering daily, monthly and yearly free horoscopes such as Numerology Sign.
Not since the 1960s and 70s and the Age of Aquarius have Horoscopes been so popular, but why?
There has been a recent spate of articles discussing potential reasons for the resurgent popularity of the daily, weekly or monthly (usually down to the publication´s print schedule) Horoscope. Explanations include that young people are fed up with the ´over the top´ rationality of modern life and are looking for an esoteric outlet; or that people are increasingly uncertain about the future, especially with the current political turmoil, and Horoscopes provide hope that the future will be better. Alternatively, Horoscopes provide young people with excuses for some of their negative character flaws as innate traits that can´t be changed.
Astrology and Horoscopes have a long history. To better understand why the Horoscope column is rising in popularity, we should look at where it comes from.
The first newspaper Horoscope column, What the Stars Foretell, appeared in the Sunday Express, a British newspaper, in the 1930s. Before this, celebrity Horoscopes and Astrology based articles were common: the New York Times published President Theodore Roosevelt’s Horoscope in 1908. These celebrity Horoscopes were made specifically for the people they referred to, based on the date, time and location of their birth, which provides a more accurate and nuanced picture than their Sun Sign alone. What the Stars Foretell was the first column to feature generalised Horoscopes based on Sun Sign that we are familiar with today.
The man behind the column was R.H. Naylor. Naylor was actually the assistant to the famous ´neo-shaman´ William Warner, who went by the pseudonym Cheiro, in the first half of the 20th century. Cheiro is said to have read the palms of Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde and even to have consulted for Winston Churchill, Joseph Chamberlain and the Prince of Wales.
When Princess Margaret was born in August 1930, Cheiro was approached by the newspaper to provide a Horoscope. Unfortunately, he wasn´t available, so Naylor stepped in. Naylor´s article, which is said to have correctly predicted the Princess´ ´eventful´ life including the abdication of King Edward VIII, was extremely popular. Following this, Naylor was commissioned to write some more articles for the paper. In one such article he predicted that a British aircraft would be in danger in early October, and on 5 October that year, a plane crashed killing 48 of its 54 passengers. This only further fuelled the public interest that began with Princess Margaret´s Horoscope and led the paper to commission a column.
Initially, in his column, Naylor offered advice for people whose birthdays fell in that week. But the paper decided that the column needed to speak to a broader audience, so the idea of making more general predictions about individuals who were born under the same sign of the Zodiac emerged. Although professional Astrologers were sceptical, the column proved extremely popular and was emulated by other newspapers. The Horoscope column as we know it today was born.
Newspapers have never been just about delivering the news. They have always included gossip, sports results, jokes and humour, puzzles and games, radio and TV schedules, advice columns, practical information, sales information and prices. Horoscopes fit alongside these other services and are popular as they are one of the few places where the newspaper speaks to the reader directly. The newspaper was the internet of its day, which is one of the reasons why the internet has been so deadly to the life of newspapers.
Today not only does the internet, and particularly social media, serve this same purpose. But as we all walk around with our smartphones in our pockets, always connected, we are accustomed to seeking and receiving this information increasingly often. Content is needed to feed this need, and Horoscopes offer an excellent source. They are quick reads that can be updated daily, and while they feel like they are personal, a small amount of content can serve a large number of people.
So, it is no surprise that Horoscopes are on the up, and we don´t need to point to any particular characteristics that make millennials different to previous generations, or things that make life today more stressful than before. Horoscopes have always held appeal, but now they are just more accessible.
About the Author
Sarah is a part-time astrologer from the UK. She has been fascinated with astrology and Numerology from a young age, and her love for all things spiritual has only increased over time.