This post was originally published on RebCarlson.com
Every child goes through interesting phases as they grow up. One of mine my family looks back on fondly is my witchcraft / astrology / "I think I'm going to convert to Judaism" phase lasting between the ages of 12 and 16, bookended with two major milestones in my life: being allowed to walk to the library near my parents' business by myself and attending Confirmation classes. I was always a dedicated horoscope reader and my curiosity led me to use our dial-up Internet to look up and review my astrological birth chart, take out numerous books on fortune-telling methods and the Salem Witch Trials, and start reading a Young Adult series about a young girl exploring Wicca called Sweep (I will note that I am pleasantly surprised that volumes of the series are still available on Amazon). In high school I took World Religions, a class dedicated to providing historical context to all three major world religions, breaking down all belief systems within Christianity, and an introduction to Eastern Religions that I found fascinating. While I occasionally get teased by my family for this period in my life, I personally think that questioning traditional religious practices and taking the time to research other religious beliefs is healthy for any curious child.
As I've been practicing more mindfulness throughout the past few years, I found myself becoming fascinated with astrology and spirituality again - and I'm not alone. Over the last few years, interest in alternative belief systems like astrology have been on the rise due to multiple factors: a shared feeling of uncertainty in today's sociopolitical and economic climate, embrace of new belief systems more welcoming to marginalized groups, and an increase in conversations related to mental health and self-care. Meditation and self-care apps like Calm, Headspace, and Shine are gaining popularity, and popular lifestyle sites like Goop offer a version of spirituality and mindfulness alongside broader wellness. Astrological signs are capitalized from popular memes to dedicated Spotify playlists.
While there is a rise in these alternative belief systems, there are still subgroups of people who would still identify as being religious (though their churches focus more on full experiences and a personal relationship with God versus following traditional doctrines). The idea of self-care is open to individual's one interpretation, which could range from physical wellness to a "treat yoself" mentality. Today, "wellness" ranges from physical to mental, and spiritual to religious. Below is a matrix I recently made on how wellness is presented in modern culture:
In my mindfulness journey, I've found that I needed to look inward to understand how I relate to the world and my place within in. At the age of 30, I found myself married (exciting but life-changing) and in a work environment that didn't suit me (draining). I had also focused for so long on the circumstances of my personal situation, such as needing to pay off loans and find financial stability, that I didn't pause enough to think about what I wanted next. I started following Lacy Philips, a manifestation advisor who created the platform To Be Magnetic, of which I am a Pathway Member. Her method is an actionable form of self-healing along with providing the tools to focus on what you desire and why you want it in the first place.
I've also been thinking a lot about the future lately, so to help myself feel more grounded, I bought Chani Nicholas' new book You Were Made for This to review my birth chart. There were some interesting revelations I'm still pondering over, but I will share that my Sun is in the 9th house, which represents travel, philosophy, education, publishing, religion and astrology. Looking back, this certainly explains that witchcraft / astrology / "I'm converting to Judaism" phase.
Whether you believe in astrology or not, the prevailing existence of it shows that humans are still challenged in defining themselves. Astrology can feel very complicated, but if you consider how there are multiple nuances that shape an individual beyond introvert or extrovert, or Myers-Briggs types, the detailed readings feel less extraneous. The fact that planetary shifts can also dictate moods and anxiety at different times of the year accounts for the fact that it's not just experience, environment, or upbringing that defines a person, but also how they react to what is out of their control (nature). Acknowledging that these nuances exist will only help you in personal and professional relationships, along with having more empathy in general.
What is your current interest in astrology? Have you been thinking more about self-care and mindfulness lately? What do you do in your daily life to feel more grounded?