• Fri. Dec 8th, 2023

A New Wave of the New Age: the unlikely rebirth of alternative spirituality

ByDaisy Walker

Feb 4, 2021

The once demonized witches who were burned on the stake have since reincarnated under the hashtag #witchtok and boast a hefty 8.7 billion views on TikTok to date. Younger generations are navigating an increasingly uncertain existence through alternative mediums to harness their inner power and take back control of their own reality. From healing crystals and tarot cards, to sound baths and new moon manifestations, this trend signals a wider cultural movement increasingly turning toward the supernatural for answers in an unpredictable world.  

Patronized as ‘woo woo’ and hocus pocus, the old practice of astrology as a means of making sense of one’s experiences based on planetary alignment, is providing comfort and direction during a disheartening time. Younger generations are constantly reminded of the difficult job market, inaccessible property prices and the fragility of our mental health, so it’s understandable we grasp at nuggets of wisdom delivered from the universe. 

Jenifer Freed, a psychological astrologer, explained the planetary archetypes that were at play in 2020. Long been predicted as the year for unavoidable transformation, 2020 saw Pluto, the planet of death, rebirth, trauma and transformation, align with the sign of Capricorn, the ruler of social order and the economic and political systems. If only this planetary foresight hadn’t been dismissed, we may have bolstered our CVs in preparation!

Whether it’s horoscopes or individual manifestation rituals and positive intention setting, this new wave of alternative faith harbours a sense of community and acceptance for generations evermore isolated by the pandemic. The surge of Gen Z ‘witchfluencers’ draws more people into the occult, from observing moon cycles to practicing meditation. The resounding message: we’re in this together.

In light of the current ‘follow the science’ rhetoric and our scientifically founded education, what gave rise to this supernatural following? Is fortune telling just naïve avoidance of reality? Are TikTok-ers waving their smoking sage bunches merely humorous entertainment during bedtime scrolling? Or do they present hope and a genuine alternative belief system to organized religion? According to the British Social Attitudes surveys, in 2001 around a quarter of the UK population stated they were not religious; in 2018 that number rose to 52%. Despite the rapid partition from traditional religion, there still exists an innate yearning for faith and connection – however alternative.

These trends, however, are often particularly encapsulating for the more vulnerable among us. For this reason, consumer protection laws were updated in 2008 requiring fortune-tellers, astrologers and other mediums to label their services as ‘for entertainment only’. Their mystic nature clearly hasn’t convinced the powers that be. 

Aside from the ritualistic comfort and catharsis of feeling you have some control over your destiny, this new wave of celestial belief also attracts female solidarity. There’s a strong connection between feminism and the spiritual. A matriarchal power founded historically in the notion of witchcraft and folk healing has allowed women access to unbridled autonomy under patriarchal order. Today we call them feminists. Ostracized by sexism or disillusioned by structural inequalities, celebrating sisterhood and taking ownership of experience is powerful. 

A believer or not, there is something to be said for a bit of magic to brighten these days. 

Whether we choose to invest in a rose quartz for love, an amethyst anxiety alleviator or to delve into tarot reading, ultimately, we seek comfort in the hope of self-enlightenment. When our futures are evermore hazy, an escape from the black and white world, if anything, is a welcome rebalance, a chance for reflection on what we desire, and sprinkling of faith in the potion of life!   

image: TessaMannonen via Pixabay