The Alt-Religions of the New Generation

The pursuit and practice of spirituality is changing. Christianity isn’t the only way for people to connect to a higher power anymore.

 

Religion has always played a key role in the power dynamics of the world. Primarily, Christianity. Rulers of great nations were advised and controlled by the Catholic church. When America was founded, much of the language that wrote its history was Christian and God-based: “One nation under God” in the pledge of allegiance, and “In God we trust” on the nation’s currency. Bias towards Christian religion has been clear in America from the start. But with the rise of new generations, came new beliefs. These days, youth aren’t often found in the pews with a Bible on their laps. They aren’t on their knees praying to the God so many before have been devout to. Many Americans have found different forms of faith. Everything from astrology, tarot cards, to becoming Wiccan. The only one actually classified as a religion is Wicca, the rest are more spiritual than religious in pursuit and practice. Some of these spiritual quests intertwine, but each one has components that make it unique.

 

Astrology

     

Cathy Lindsey shows off an astrological chart, or wheel, of a recent client’s to the left. To the right, she has a astrological calendar of the planets’ cycle throughout the month of October.

Cathy Lindsey is an astrologer in Des Moines. Specifically, her practice revolves around a sub-category of the field called Evolutionary Astrology. The name of her business is AstroEyes. Lindsey’s interest in the field began after a close-call with cancer in 1994 when she awoke after surgery surrounded by her “Angels” and “Guides”. She describes them as beings from above who look out for her. They told her she was rid of the cancer and that she still had things to accomplish in her life. 26 years later, the cancer has never reappeared. From there, she has gone on to guide people in their soul’s evolution in this lifetime through astrology.

“I do readings all over,” Lindsey said. “I travel all over the Midwest, I do them in fairs, I have a Facebook page. I do new moon and full moon reports every month, bringing in all of the energies that are affecting everyone on Earth.”

She conducts readings of charts. The charts include natal charts, transits and progressions, relationship charts, event charts, and even pet charts. A “natal chart” is what Lindsey calls the “tattoo of your soul.” Based on an as-above-so-below ideology, when a person is born, at that exact moment, the planets and stars above are all arranged in a certain way and the energies they produce beam down to the newborn baby, making up the ingredients of their soul. According to astrology, the planets’ individual energies affect the people on Earth every day.

“The planets in our birth chart, that’s like our energetic imprint, like our soul imprint, the energy we were born with to do our soul work with,” Lindsey said. “It was scientifically proven that every planet, star, asteroid has it’s own individual energy. That energy from every planet shows in your chart as the energy you’re working with.”

In order to create someone’s chart, Lindsey needs to know their name, gender, birthday, birthtime, and birthplace. All of this information has to be exact to get a clear chart. This can be shown in a wheel like in the picture above, or a chart listing the planets and each sign associated with them. Each planet and its’ energy has specific functions. As a baseline of understanding it goes like so: the sun sign, the one most people know, is the sign that shows outward personality, the moon sign is inward personality, it’s how emotions are processed. The chart goes on to show each planet in the solar system and what sign it was in when you were born. People go to Lindsey to interpret their charts. She reads them and tells the client what it all means, giving people the guidance to navigate the energies out in the world and within themselves.

“I can’t predict, because I don’t know what soul choices you’re going to make,” Lindsey said. “But there’s cycles and I can say this is going to be a good cycle. It’s about the growth of your soul, of who you are, it’s the ability to understand the energies you were born with and where that concentration is because that’s usually where you’re drawn to.”

 

Astrology of the youth

   

 Shea Malloy surrounds herself with astrology books, constantly learning new information on her passion. She has a tapestry with the zodiac wheel on it as well.

 

For Shea Malloy, astrology didn’t come to her in a big spiritual experience, she searched it out herself. Midway through her first year of college, she became interested in astrology after seeing many of her friends become fiends of the subject. She yearned to learn more about herself and the universe around her.

“What drew me to it was that the people who did subscribe to astrology and were familiar with their own astrological makeup identified with it so strongly,” Malloy said. “It seemed like it was something that I could use to learn more about myself, and that was the biggest appeal to me.”

In high school, she would casually read her horoscope in the newspaper, but she soon learned there was much more to it than that. Astrology is the study of the relationship between the astronomical positions of the planets and stars above and how they affect us below. There are twelve zodiac signs on the wheel: sagittarius, scorpio, libra, virgo, leo, cancer, gemini, Taurus, aries, picses, aquarius, and capricorn. It’s not a religion, it’s an acceptance that there are higher powers above influencing people’s characters. It’s more of a way of life, but it doesn’t dictate decisions or make rules for people who study it.

“For me now, astrology is a tool to understanding myself and how I interact with the world around me,” Malloy said. “Referring back to my birth chart is something I do often, and many times I find reasons for why I reacted to something a certain way hidden in the stars. It’s also taught me how truly complex we are and how we’re made up of some combination of all twelve signs.”

Tarot Cards

   

 In the image to the left, Paxton Gillespie studies tarot cards to do a reading. In the image to the right, a closer look at the deck and the beautiful images on the cards.

 

Paxton Gillespie has a special skill, it’s more than a party trick, it’s a tool for interpreting what the universe is trying to tell you. She can read Tarot cards. Tarot cards are a physical way for the universe to show you what you need, what you want, what you deserve, what may be holding you back in life and how you can improve yourself.

When Gillespie does a reading, she has the person meditate so they can become one with their soul and body. Then, she shuffles the cards. After that, she hands the cards off to them to shuffle anyway they like for however long feels right. The only requirement is that they reflect while shuffling. People are supposed to think about these three things: what you want, what you need, and what you deserve. After they’re shuffled, she has a specific way of laying out the cards in order to interpret them, it’s called the Celtic Cross.

“The Celtic Cross is 10 cards,” Gillespie said. “Essentially, the cross is where are you right now, what energies are swirling around you, what from your past is important right now, and what potential future energy is around you right now. And then it gives environmental factors that are at play and internal factors that are at play and advise/outcome.”

It’s all very direct and it’s given to her by the universe. Gillespie believes that we are all one. She is you and you are her and you are all the universe so whatever reading she does for you, it’s ultimately a reflection of herself. She was raised Southern Baptist which painted a world of black and white. Reading Tarot and studying astrology showed her a more colorful world to live in without the boundaries set by standard relgions. It requires openness and truth in order to have a real experience with tarot.

“I just ask people to open themselves and genuinely allow themselves to engage in some sort of spiritual practice they think is bullshit,” Gillespie said. “Even if this practice is not mystic, not connected to anything, regardless, it’s a practice of getting to know yourself better. It’s a tool for self-reflection. It’s a tool for self-assessment and growth.”

If you’re interested in getting a reading from Paxton, she advertises through her twitter and you can reach her through there: @idkpaxton.

 

Wiccan

     

 In image left, Hannah Thomas faces her alter in typical ritualistic manor, with a tattoo that says, “have the courage to exist.” In image right, Hannah’s alter sits with candles and other objects that help her focus on her religion.

 

Hannah Thomas too grew up in a Southern Baptist home. At the age of seventeen, she found Wicca. Witchcraft was everything that wasn’t the Bible and Christian God she grew up knowing. She did extensive research for years and by the time she was nineteen she was a practicing Wiccan. She found the courage to exist as herself.  The difference between being a witch and being Wiccan is that Wicca is a pagan religion and witchcraft is more of a lifestyle.

“I call Wicca a DIY religion,” Thomas said. “There’s one core rule that everybody believes and that’s in harmony none do what you will. So, anything is fair game. It’s a pagan religion so you believe in nature and the power of the world. To a degree, you believe in some form of magic and your ability to influence the world around you through magic, which is a form of energy.”

Thomas worships a deity in Wicca, she says it’s typically the God/Goddess. For Wiccans, they believe that science exists, that it’s controlled by that deity, and what flows through that science is magic. Followers of Wicca perform spells, rituals, and control their intentions in the world in their practice.

For Thomas, she does rituals on the full moon and new moon to center herself or to does spells that influence the world around her. These are called Esbats and Sabbats. She uses her alter as something to focus on during these. Sabbats are the eight Wiccan holidays throughout the year. On these she does different rituals to honor the wheel of the year that starts and ends with Samhain, Halloween.

Thomas also uses Tarot cards to center herself and evaluate where she is in her life, it’s another form of self-reflection for her.

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