Date of Award

Spring 6-3-2024

Document Type

M.A. Essay

First Advisor

Tarek El-Ariss

Second Advisor

Roopika Risam


In an essay from 1953 titled, The Stars Down to Earth, Theodor Adorno performed an exacting analysis of the weekly horoscopes published in The Los Angeles Times to illuminate the latent authoritarianism embedded in the rhetoric of astrology. One of Adorno’s primary arguments is that an insidious form of political tractability is forged through the simultaneous determinism and individualism of astrology. Seventy years after The Stars Down to Earth, the genre of short-form astrology videos has skyrocketed in popularity across social media platforms. This essay offers a series of close readings of digital astrology videos to theorize both the allure and the ideological implications of astrology’s contemporary resurgence.

To begin, this essay conceptualizes astrology through the Lacanian, psychoanalytic framework of the symbolic order. This discussion of the symbolic order leads into a close reading of the birth chart —specifically the structural absences of the birth chart— to expose the latent fantasies and political consequences embedded in the ways that astrology constitutes subjectivity. These absences are the omission of intersubjectivity, the failure to account for intermediary structures of authority, and the erasure of the family kinship structure. Following this psychoanalytic lens, this project considers theories of digitality and divinity to illustrate how technological advancements have democratized access to the epistemological breadth of astrology and enhanced its mystical power.