French youth are turning to tarot, astrology during Covid-19

Young people in France are increasingly turning to tarot, astrology and other forms of esotericism, a trend that accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent poll.

When French President Emmanuel Macron announced France’s first lockdown on March 16, 2020, Theotime Sorgato, 22, left for Brittany with some of his friends from Paris. He took out his computer, some clothes and books, a pack of tarot cards, and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s famous Tarot de Marseille guide.

Every day he studied a new card, using the tarot as a “psychological tool” rather than for divination.

“It really brings out a person’s subconscious,” Sorgato told Jowharover the phone. “My generation is looking for ways to connect with themselves and find symbols to understand what is going on inside them. There is a real resurgence of the occult. “

Having no idea how long lockdown would last, and with his work as a freelance jewelry stylist and production manager on hold, he had plenty of time to explore the cards in depth.

“Covid-19 really played into people’s sense of identity,” he continued. “People were trying to understand who they were during the pandemic.”

Sorgato is one of thousands of young French men and women who are increasingly turning to tarot, astrology, and other forms of esotericism.

Nearly 70 percent of French youth, between the ages of 18 and 24, believe in parasciences (including astrology, numerology, palm reading, clairvoyance and cartomancy), a trend that has been emerging over the past 20 years, according to an Ifop poll published last December.

Four in 10 French people now believe in astrology, compared to three in 10 Americans, up 10 points since 2000, the poll said.

Best friends Nina Dotti, 25, and Ysée Eichhorn, 24, both studying film in Paris, have been studying astrology for a few years.

Nina Dotti, 25, loved Instagram astrology lives with her best friend Ysée Eichhorn, 24, during the second Covid-19 lockdown in France. © Teodora Doslov

Eichhorn did not find the first Covid-19 lockdown difficult.

“I’m Capricorn,” she said, smiling shyly. ‘We are real homebodies. We like solitude, we have the habits of old people. “

But as the Covid-19 pandemic dragged on and she underwent grueling surgery on her legs, followed by a five-month rehabilitation process, she searched online for a sense of community.

“I joined Tiktok like many other people, and saw a lot of astrology memes, videos and jokes. I realized that a lot of people were talking about astrology … that all happened during Covid. “

When France’s second lockdown kicked off, from October to December 2020, she and Dotti had an astrological-themed Instagram live with their best friends every Monday, discussed how each of the zodiac signs got stuck and tried out the constellations of characters from “Harry.” Potter, or Shrek, or Friends.

For Eichhorn, who describes herself as shy and introverted, it was very “helpful” to discover the qualities of her zodiac sign as a young teenager and to discover that “it really resonated” with her.

At school, when she and her more outgoing boyfriend Dotti met guys they liked, they quickly found out about their birthdays and performed astrological compatibility checks.

“When I found out my friend’s date of birth and did his birth chart, it turned out that our two cards are perfectly opposite, perfectly complementary… aligned in the stars, it’s amazing,” Dotti sighed.

After mastering the basics of the 12 signs of the zodiac, the women continued to learn about ascendants, houses, and transits. A few years later, they launched their own Instagram page, lastrotrorigolo (Astro for fun).

“Some people make fun of us when we ask them their zodiac sign,” said Eichhorn. “But it’s funny because the more we develop it, the more it attracts and interests people, because they understand it’s not just 12 signs, but they have their own astrological chart.”

Stefan Mickael, a fortune teller, tarot reader and medium, in the northern Parisian suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis, portrays the rising trend from esotericism to a growing open-mindedness, just as LGBT and women’s rights are gaining momentum in France.

Stefan Mickael, a fortune teller and medium in the suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis in the north of Paris, traces the rising trend from esotericism to a growing open-mindedness in France. © Charlotte Wilkins, FRANCE 24

“Thirty years ago it was difficult to build a career as a fortune teller. In the silence I started doing tarot readings for my aunt and her friends … lots of word of mouth … there was no internet then and I wasn’t ready to put myself out there, ”he said, before he eventually established himself as a practitioner full time.

Madame Morin, a tarot reader in the 18th arrondissement (district) of Paris whose grandmother taught her to read the cards, said she thought the French youth were looking for some form of reassurance.

“People used to go to church and pray, now people go to church much less. People are a lot less religious, but many times my clients have told me that I am a substitute for a priest. Young people need something to believe in, ”said Morin.

The French are no stranger to fortune tellers, mediums and tarot readers. Former President François Mitterrand consulted astrologer Elisabeth Tessier throughout his tenure and sought advice on topics such as the Maastricht Treaty and the Gulf War. General de Gaulle began using an astrologer, Major Maurice Vasset, towards the end of World War II. Vasset advised De Gaulle not to hold a referendum in 1969 in a desperate attempt to restore his prestige after the shock of the protests of May 1968. But De Gaulle ignored him, lost the referendum and had to resign.

“A birth chart is like an esoteric identity card,” says Ysée Eichhorn, 24. © Charlotte Wilkins, FRANCE 24

But Dotti and Eichhorn are less interested in hearing what the future holds than understanding themselves and their friends.

“Our favorite game is trying to guess other people’s constellations. And it’s helpful, ”Dotti said, laughing, explaining how she got an internship at a casting studio by accurately guessing the zodiac signs of the three people who interviewed her.

Neither reads their horoscopes in magazines, but they place great value on a birth chart.

“It’s a way to work on yourself,” said Dotti of Astrology, who has the Co-star horoscope app but turned off daily notifications.

“Getting a message saying ‘you’re going to have an off day, but you’ll get through it’. Who wants to hear that at 8 in the morning? ” she laughed.

“A birth card is like an esoteric identity card,” said Eichhorn. “I see astrology as psychology. I know there has to be something about it, I just want to believe in it – it’s like belief. “

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