A Mercury Retrograde Kind of Day

Exploring Astrology in Contemporary New Age Spirituality and American Social Life

Susannah Crockford

Astrology is a feature of everyday conversation and the local spiritual scene in Sedona, Arizona, a small town renowned for its “vortexes”. As part of a variegated new age spirituality, astrology “works” in three main ways that are examined in this article. It is an explanatory model for misfortune; a symbolic system; and a source of epistemic capital. A series of well-known ethnographic studies of African divination are used to contextualise astrology as an American form of divination. Based on almost two years of participant observation fieldwork in Northern Arizona, the ethnographic material presented in this article illuminates the question of why astrology continues to be a relevant and useful practice for Americans, despite its widespread rejection by political and scientific authorities. 

Astrology; United States of America; Ethnography; Esotericism; New Age Spirituality; ­Divination