Millennials are looking to angel cards, crystals and psychics to connect with an ‘other world’ where life has a sense of meaning, says Lorraine Courtney.
CRYSTALS, horoscopes, and psychics have become seriously fashionable. Lots of my friends use tarot cards at home. One or two consult a professional tarot reader every January to see what’s in store for them and I wear a rose quartz bracelet myself.
However, it’s not just crystals and tarot that people are using to enhance their lives, meditation, yoga and alternative therapies are all more popular than ever. As a generation, it does feel like we are what you might call spiritual but not religious.
Looking back over my childhood and teenage years, witches and the supernatural were rampant in the culture I consumed. We’re the generation who grew up with Harry Potter, and Buffy was never off our TV screens. Back in the day, filmmakers used matte paintings, models and trickery to achieve cinematic effects.
Today Hollywood has perfected the art of computer-generated imagery that is beyond convincing. It’s not such a huge leap from a SoulCycle class, self-care and watching Game of Thrones’ more magical moments to getting your chakras cleansed or a past life revealed.
Astrology has been a lifelong interest for former Sunday Times journalist Ruby Warrington, who recently published Material Girl, Mystical World.
“I found mystical subjects to be utterly enchanting as a child, but then I filed them away under ‘not very cool’ as I got older,” she says.
“The Numinous (the website for all things mystical she set up) was inspired by my reconnecting to this childhood sense of wonder about the world, and wanting to make it cool and aspirational to be in touch with this part of ourselves,” she says.
However, what caused the shift in wellness and mindful trends going mainstream? Are millennials more open to the mystical? Warrington says we interact with magic every time we use the internet (when you think about it) and this in itself has made people more openminded as to how to the world works.
“We also have access to so much info now, it’s possible to follow out natural curiosity about these subjects without having to run away and join a cult to do it. But also living in such a hyper-connected, always-on world, has made ancient practices like meditation, yoga and astrology that help us reconnect to our humanity an essential part of thriving in the modern world,” she says.
There’s so much uncertainty in the world, particularly for millennials and amidst all of this activity, we can use all the guidance we can get.
“These practices also help remind us that we are part of a grand universal plan and that it’s okay if we don’t necessarily feel like we know what the future holds.”
“I always had an interest in it,” says Joanna, 31.
“Blame it on watching The Craft too many times. A few years ago I went through a difficult period with my job and dating life.
“And, at that time, mysticism was something that I really needed. I am open minded and believe there are things we just don’t understand.” There is still a reluctance to admit to an interest in the mystical.
“I think a lot of people are afraid of openly admitting to it. We’re all scared of being called ‘woo-woo’ but most of us yearn for spiritual connections,” she says.
Amy, 33, goes for an annual tarot reading every January. “I had four readings done: about dating, my job, my friends and a more general one.”
“Basically, my reader spends an hour telling me that everything is going to be fine. Usually, in these situations, you turn to friends or to gin. A psychic does the same job, except that it has a bit more authority when she says you will love again.”
Amy’s consultations are probably not an experience of the paranormal. More likely they are straightforward counselling sessions with a few supernatural special effects. What modern psychics seem to be offering is a dose of mystical therapy.
Psychotherapist at toxicescape.com, Karl Melvin is concerned that an unhealthy relationship with the mystical can create a co-dependence on something external to ‘fix’ our issues instead of taking control of the challenges we face in life.
“To develop as independent and resilient adults, it is essential to use and trust our own resources, such as our ability to learn from past mistakes, use rational thinking to find grounded solutions, look for healthy and congruent ways of expressing our emotions and refer to qualified and experienced experts in specific fields when looking for professional help,” he says.
“In terms of seeking peace of mind, humans are hardwired for worry. It is a defence mechanism to protect against danger, whether real or imagined. Relying on angel cards might give temporary peace, but picking a specific approach to manage worry such a mindfulness or cognitive therapy may have more long-term benefits, creating a stronger sense of control over our psychological reality.”
Helen, 29, dabbles in tarot and angel cards as part of her morning routine.
“It’s not about fortune telling but more of a self-help practice to help me see how I can approach situations differently,” she says.
“Maybe it’s not a good idea to rely on numbers or star signs to tell you what to do but, equally, when the shit hits the fan there’s no harm in looking to the quasi-mystical for a bit of distraction or, to help signpost a new path,” she says.
Sceptics will argue that how can one 12th of the world’s population be having the exact same problems just because they were all born in October. But the important questions isn’t if it’s real, it’s that if it feels good, does that really matter?
For most millennials the mystical is mainstream. We work in office spaces organised according to feng shui, follow Gwyn’s Goop.com and go for reiki healing when we are stressed out.
We don’t think there is something weird about raiding the spirit world when we are in need of some comfort.
“I think the mystical will become more and more mainstream,” says Ruby Warrington.
From chakra to crystals
Chakra: Translated from Sanskrit, chakra means wheel. They are the meeting points of energy centres in the body. Chakras can be too high, too low, or blocked.
Crystals: Quartz crystals are considered by some to be sacred healing tools. They are said to boost energy, screen out damaging energy, release blocked energy and transform destructive patterns.
Mindfulness: This one comes with medical approval. It’s fusion of traditional Buddhist techniques and secular Western theory and is all about living in the moment.
Numerology: Derived from the Pythagorean idea that everything can be expressed in numerical terms, it works both by adding up your date of birth and by assigning numbers to the letters in your name. The resulting totals have various meanings.
SoulCycle: Gym workout with added psychology; you pedal in time to a playlist while an instructor chants yoga-flavoured jargon. Lena Dunham and Lady Gaga are devotees.
Tarot: The 78 cards in the tarot deck correspond to points in the psyche and outer cosmos. The main benefit is to supposedly get a wider insight into what’s happening now rather than to predict your future.
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