Neither the one with the DJ nor the one with the canapés. Lately, the busiest table during all kinds of celebrations is the one where the cards are thrown. Erika Gómez, a tarot card reader specializing in events who has worked for the Hilton hotel chain or the luxury brand Louis Vuitton, assures that more and more people are willing to queue —missing part of the party— to sit in front of her for a few minutes. “People who privately would never go to a tarot reading are willing to ask me questions when I work at an event; I have come to witness fights for the turn, ”she explains. “Since I work in celebrations, my readings are quick, to the point, and always in a positive tone,” she continues. The topics they ask her about, according to her account, are the usual ones: “Love, work, health… usually in that order.”
However, this successful presence of tarot readers, clairvoyants and mediums at hotel openings, art galleries or weddings is much more recent than the concerns of those who consult them. One more proof that the horoscope and other hermetic arts are in fashion, they are practiced among friends and that their usual public, made up of those who embrace them as a legacy and by curious or desperate people in search of immediate results, is joined by millions of others. young people who access them from places as unexpected as humor, design, contemporary art or feminism. It’s hard to tell—it happens with every internet phenomenon—whether this renewed millennial and Gen Z interest in the occult is playful, ironic, or faked.
Charas Vega manages the @charcastrology account on Instagram (in which he associates zodiac signs with current events) and has published the stars have told me, a novel about a young journalist, materialistic and skeptical, who is commissioned to revitalize the horoscope section of her newspaper. Charas believes that, in times of autofiction and continuous reconstruction of identities, the horoscope has hooked many young people because it appeals to the I and how we define ourselves. “In social networks we create an idea about what we are and your sign is one more arm. With astrology, you do self-criticism and look at areas of yourself that you wouldn’t look at in other conditions, ”he adds. The memes of charcastrology or the section that Charas leads in the program Late or (Radio Primavera Sound) are perfect examples of this use of zodiacal references as an escape route or as a shortcut to deal with other issues. “I make very absurd astrology memes where I talk, most of the time, about culture. I have learned to enjoy that narrative, but what I do is humor and I would like not to have to repeat it so much, ”explains the author, who does not hide that in her method there are no spells or card readings. “I base myself on the things that I like or on what is happening. I use the Google Keep application and I write down what occurs to me ”.
Rafael López does something similar at @Afirmacion.es, another very popular account on Instagram with 176,000 followers. He transforms the format of affirmations or positive reinforcement (a practice or belief, between the coaching and Kabbalah, which consists of repeating something to oneself until what is invoked happens) in critical and fun content that, in his words, “deals with common and mundane problems.” “The currents of memes and content that are having the most impact are those that criticize the system a bit and provide relief or a break,” says López, who considers that his account is related to “new spiritualities”, although it is close to them in parody form. “In the beginning, people who practice affirming on a daily basis wrote to me, they did not like to see something that they take seriously wrapped in a layer of sarcasm. But I have stopped receiving those messages and I think that now it is understood a little better that the account is a means of escape and is designed to make people laugh.
In the field of more academic criticism, Caliban and the witch by Silvia Federici, is perhaps the most important essay on the persecution suffered by women during the dawn of modernity and capitalism. As Federici notes in her introduction: “The witch hunt sought to destroy the control that women had exercised over their reproductive function and served to pave the way for the development of a more oppressive patriarchal regime.” Thus, for centuries, the witch label would have served to single out and discipline any woman who claimed personal autonomy from her or who questioned a male-dominated knowledge regime. With this historical background, it is not surprising that contemporary feminisms claim the figure of the witch.
And precisely at the intersection between fashion, feminism and magic is the jewelry brand Morgana Sanderson, which prepares small pieces full of symbols. Its founders, Gloria Buecher and Elena Carrasco, say that to create them they are inspired by “90s movies like young and witches and return of the witchesin the aesthetics of the Victorian era, the Pre-Raphaelite world, the first photography, mythological characters, surrealism or in books about women in art such as Lilith’s daughters, by Erika Bornay. They are aware that everything related to the occult has always been linked to women: “Pythonesses, healers, sorceresses and witches… The role of those women who were later murdered was to heal. They had extensive knowledge and handling of botany and psychoactive plants such as belladonna and opium poppy. They also worked as midwives, helping the peasant population that had no resources. For us, witchcraft is a way of vindicating the role of women. We appropriated a negative term like witch and turned it into something new and powerful.”
“Magic can help you connect with yourself. Reading the tarot or taseomancia (the interpretation of the tea, wine or coffee grounds) would actually be an introspective work that helps you analyze and value some aspects of your life that perhaps you had not questioned”, Gloria thinks. Buecher and Elena Carrasco. They coincide with Nuria Navarro, a young Murcian artist who works with letters “as a way of self-knowledge”. A few months ago, Navarro exposed Superabundant at the Centro Párraga, in Murcia, an artistic installation that “came up looking in stores and websites for esoteric products. Some crazy places where they offer soaps removerextracts winnerscolonies attracts customersmop money come to meor essences tie up your man”. “It was a job that I really enjoyed creatively because I got carried away by the feeling of doing something very irrational, very stupid and very funny”, recalls the artist.
Nuria Navarro’s exhibition illustrated how a good part of contemporary magic oscillates between transcendence and frivolity, and she herself acknowledges that the attraction she feels for esoteric shops (“because they display a fantasy, almost always selfish, very endearing”) in Sometimes it turns into concern: “They play at solving quite serious problems (addictions, lack of love, economic crisis, breakups…) as if you were buying ibuprofen.” In any case, Navarro, who knows what it is to resort to the tarot “in a dark time” of his life, will continue to work with occult, sacred or mysterious materials, because, according to what he says, art and magic “can work together or become the same, as has happened during other times”.
In Foucault’s pendulumthe novel in which Umberto Eco tried out the formula of best-seller esoteric, one of the protagonists, a publisher who finds himself entangled in a mysterious conspiracy, comments that in dark times it is almost “a cultural duty” to offer the public “the ray of hope of the supernatural.” The creators of Morgana Sanderson are well aware of the difficulties faced by contemporary youth and know that their jewels, collectible as if they were amulets, are used for their clients to have fun fantasizing about supernatural powers: “Our majority audience is women of our generation (born early nineties) who, like us, grew up with Sabrina, witch things. We connect with them through the universe we have created: the stories behind our jewels, the post about women who inspire us, content related to the horoscope or the moon… a universe in which we would like to live”. Whether magic exists or not is irrelevant to enjoying it.