More and more of Chattanooga's younger generations, from Gen X to Gen Z, are finding fulfillment in the metaphysical, particularly astrology and tarot.
With astrology, people look to their zodiac signs and the alignment of the planets at the date and time of their birth to discern various aspects of their personality and patterns in how they behave.
Conversely, tarot cards are more about "people want[ing] to know if they're making the right decision [and it] can become quite psychological," says arcana shop and spa Mystic Modes owner Sandra Miller.
At her shop on Dayton Boulevard, her customers sit in front of her in a cozy, card-reading space, candles aflame on the table in front of them, and are instructed to ask questions of the cards: Am I making the right decision in my career? Should I pursue this person romantically? Is now the right time to buy a house?
Miller shuffles her deck, lays out cards face down in a spread, and then, as she turns the cards over and reads them, answers to those questions come forth. Although, the answers are usually fairly general in nature and are up for interpretation — like horoscopes.
Miller has noticed an increase in interest in the metaphysical overall, beginning a few years ago, but particularly with younger groups. She says that a lot of it stems from people "seeking a new spiritual path," that "people are looking for security ... trying to become what they want to become, [and] looking inward to see what satisfies that line of thinking."
And for locals like Jinny Jagoditsch, 31, and Graicen Hixson, 21, there is a strong spiritual pull attached to these topics.
"It found me," says Jagoditsch, when describing how tarot readings became part of her pagan religious practices. Quite literally, the deck that she uses today found her, showing up out of nowhere in her car one day. After taking some time to learn about tarot, she felt a calling. Jagoditsch believes in spirit guides and being able to talk with her ancestors, and feels that the cards provide her with an avenue to do that.
Hixson, on the other hand, describes herself as "spiritual but not religious"— a now common refrain for younger generations—and came to her enjoyment of astrology via the internet. Growing up with sites like iFunny, Tumblr and Instagram that circulated posts about astrology, she got fully into the topic at 19 years old, and says it's been great for her and her friends as something to bond over. The group goes even deeper than basic astrological signs and looks at what's known as natal charts, a full chart mapping the location of the planets at the time and date of one's birth. Different placements mean different things in terms of one's personality and relationships with others. "I vibe really well with my chart; it resonates with me," Hixson explains, "[and] so I think it's real to an extent." For her, it's spiritual and fascinating.
But others just think it's fun.
Local Allison Morrison, 40, closely follows astrology via books and learning from friends who are better versed in the topic. She admits that for her, astrology is a "super casual" thing. Her interest started from her mom's side of the family, who would frequently talk about the meaning and significance behind zodiac signs as Morrison grew up.
"[My mom] was always talking about me being a Leo, and what that was like raising a Leo," she says. But Morrison doesn't "live and die" by people's signs. "People are people," she says.
For her — and people like her —the metaphysical can provide insight into what makes people tick, as well as an up-for-interpretation way to make sense of the world.