2020 was an awful year, and people turned to astrology — entrepreneurs say the $2.2 billion industry business is booming

  • During the coronavirus pandemic, the astrology business has been booming.
  • The industry was already on the rise, and, with daily life so altered and unclear, more people are turning to astrologers for clarity and guidance.
  • Insider spoke with five astrologers and the CEO of an astrology company about the business of interpreting the stars during a pandemic.
  • Astrologers say they've seen huge increases in demand, booked-up schedules, and more people than ever trying to learn about their craft.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Let's start with the good news, straight from the stars.

"2021 will be a lot better."

That's per Jade Sykes, 23 (who is a Leo sun, Leo moon). She's just one of the astrologers who has seen business boom during 2020. She also happens to be the personal astrologer to singers SZA and Kehlani.

Insider spoke with five astrologers, many of whom were a little bit more astrologically optimistic about 2021. A common refrain this year is that pretty much anything would be better than 2020. But they all said 2020 has been a good year for the astrology business.

In a year economically and cosmically like no other, astrology seems to be one of the industries that's seen substantial gains. Amidst the uncertainty of a global pandemic, a crumbling economy, and some murder hornets, people are seeking clarity. 

Astrologers are feeling the results

Sykes has seen a growth in demand for her services, where she answers questions that clients pose. Her Patreon, where she charges $9.98 a month, has taken off — she has 3,820 subscribers — and she has over 100,000 followers on her social media channels. She's planning on offering six-hour chart reading sessions for $998 soon.

Veteran astrologer Samuel Reynolds, who's been practicing for over 30 years (his sun is in Scorpio, his moon is in Leo, and his rising is Pisces), said that he usually has five to six students in his virtual beginner's astrology class. This time around, he had 30 students — and had to hire a teaching assistant for the first time. 

Reynolds said that he's usually booked about two weeks out. But as of mid-December, he's booked through March.

Ross Clark (Leo sun, Capricorn moon, Scorpio rising), the CEO of buzzy astrology app Sanctuary, told Business Insider that the app has seen "real growth" with its paid offerings in 2020. And it's not just new users: there's also "a real deepening of engagement on the retention side."

And astrologer, author, and educator Kirah Tabourn (a Scorpio sun, Aries moon) actually made astrology her full-time job at the start of March. She just hit 20,000 followers on Instagram — up from around 5,000 in June. She said she's done about 400 readings this year alone.

The major increases may just be limited to astrologers who offer more individualized services (like personal readings). Legendary astrologer Susan Miller (who won't divulge her sun and moon, since she thinks it takes focus from readers) told Insider that business has remained steady this year. She attributes that to the fact that she's already "big," and her audience of millions continues to stick around.

"It's steady. And thank God for that. I have people to pay," she said.

But she did launch an app over the summer; she said it's too early to know exactly how well it's been doing, but it "looks like it's doing great."

Other astrologers are also launching new products: Celebrity astrologer Chani Nicholas announced today she's launching her own app (she also keeps her sun and moon private). Tabourn, the astrologer who went full-time in March, launched her own paid membership community.

Astrology on the rise

Astrology as a business didn't just come out of nowhere in 2020. It was already an industry on the rise, accelerated this year by the confusion and life-altering conditions of the pandemic. 

As Insider's Barbara Smith previously reported, revenue for astrology apps grew to nearly $40 million in 2019 — a 64% increase, according to data from SensorTower. Per IBISWorld, "mystical services" grew by 1.4% from 2016 to 2019. The industry as a whole is worth $2.2 billion.

From March 15 to 21, the term "coronavirus astrology" spiked on Google Trends; "Astrology" itself has remained high throughout the year, and grown in popularity throughout the past month. 

Nicholas, who has been practicing astrology for 20 years and has been a full-time astrologer for the past seven years, said that she's seen "steady growth" over the course of her business.

One big boom came in 2016, following "collective crisis." That sentiment was echoed in a 2019 New Yorker piece, "Astrology in the Age of Uncertainty," although 2019's uncertainty may feel somewhat quaint these days. 

Nicholas said that, throughout the year, she's seen increased interest in workshops and general astrological information.

"I think just naturally, because of the conditions that we're in, it led to people being perhaps a little bit more open or curious as to what other people were saying about why we're in the moment that we're in," she said.

What people want to know

If you had been paying attention to the astrology of 2020, you would have kept a close eye on January's Saturn-Pluto conjunction. Several astrologers Insider spoke to highlighted the significance of the conjunction. 

The last time we had one was at the start of the AIDS epidemic; it also, according to Nicholas, aligned with the Bubonic Plague.

But while a destabilizing pandemic may have prompted more people to seek out astrology, their concerns weren't necessarily virus-related.

"What I expected was people asking specifically about things related to COVID-19, 'Am I going to get it, am I sick?' Things I really didn't feel comfortable answering and wouldn't have really answered," Reynolds said. "But I only got one question like that."

Instead, Reynolds said his clients were more "reflective." Stuck at home, they began to reflect on their relationships with their families, significant others, and careers. He's gotten very little panic from those seeking out his services.

"I think people have been dealing with deep seated reflection, and they're primed for more  change," he said.

Sykes said that the biggest question among her clients is their careers. That's still its own form of reflection.

"What we do, instead of pinpointing exact and precise careers — I'm not saying that it can't be done, but it is more difficult — is we tell the client what they need to have in their career in order to feel satisfied," she said. 

So will 2021 actually be better?

Tabourn says that the astrological forecast for 2021 is "less intense." Per Sykes, we should expect a boom in the tech industry and stock market. 

But the most interesting period of all should be from mid-May to July. Tabourn, Nicholas, and Reynolds all highlighted those months as particularly astrologically relevant.

Reynolds said we'll still be dealing with the fallout of the pandemic in the first quarter of the year, and there will still be some unrest to contend with as well. 

And during that time, things might be looking up, according to Nicholas. 

"It feels like either something really good happens with the economy, or perhaps we have enough vaccines at that point to feel like we have a little bit more freedom, but there's something that feels relaxing and helpful and open — and, dare I say it — maybe even joyous around mid-May to end of July."

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