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A few days after my virtual undergraduate graduation, I received a package in the mail. Inside, there was a handwritten note and a necklace with my sun sign as a gift. I was able to add it to my collection of astrology-themed jewelry, which rests in a Pisces jewelry tray.
It was in that moment that I thought to myself that maybe, just maybe, astrology was having a rebirth.
With astrology's newfound relevance, brands have been capitalizing on it. Popular phone case brand Wildflower has an astrology collection, Target is currently carrying a line of astrology-themed candles, and accessory site ban.do is selling hair clips.
Dating apps like Bumble and Tinder have a spot for users to put their sun sign, sandwiched between other potential deal-breakers like height and location.
A search for "astrology" on Etsy yields over 133,000 results. Astrology-themed Facebook groups can have up to hundreds of thousands of members. Astro Poets, a horoscope Twitter account run by writers Alex Dimitrov and Dorothea Lasky, has over 640,000 followers and led to a book deal.
To recap, astrology is "the forecasting of earthly and human events through the observation and interpretation of the fixed stars, the Sun, the Moon, and the planets," according to Encyclopedia Britannica. While many dismiss astrology as junk pseudoscience, others follow it religiously.
Each person has 12 signs that are said to affect how they deal with work, love, and other situations. The signs are determined by where the planets are located on the day someone is born.
In the past, it was a laborious task to figure out each sign a person has, and then having to jump through the same hurdles again in order to figure out more about a romantic interest, future boss, or even a parent.
Now, it's as simple as plugging a birth time and location into your phone or computer and having all twelve signs spit back out in seconds.
That, combined with the availability of apps that will do the rest of the work at the press of a button have led to a perfect storm for astrology to blow up.
As a whole, the "mystical services" market is estimated to be worth $2.2 billion, growing by 1.6% from 2014-2019, according to IBISWorld. The market includes tarot and aura readings, along with more popular services, such as a birth-chart reading.
According to app-tracking firm Sensor Tower, app revenue in the astrology sector grew by 64% to $40 million in 2019. These apps vary in functionality and purpose, but all fall under people's desire to try to figure out what is coming next in their lives.
One of the most popular apps, Co-Star, uses NASA data to plot the birth chart, and currently has 7.5 million users, as reported by Marketplace. It also gives users daily horoscopes and the ability to read the birth charts of other users, which some have used to compare their signs with someone they're thinking about dating, living with, or anything that would require them to work together in close quarters.
In 2019, the app was able to raise over $5 million in backing, according to Pitchbook. Another up-and-coming app, Sanctuary, received $3.5 million. Now, Co-Star is valued at $30 million.
Other entries include palm-reading apps that allow users to upload pictures of their hand for automated readings. This is a change from 2016, when none of the astrology apps in the top 10 offered that ability, according to Sensor Tower.
For now, the astrology explosion looks like it is going to continue to gain steam.
"The question isn't whether astrology is real or not. It's whether the effects are real," said Banu Guler, creator of Co-Star, during an interview with Marketplace.
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