Horoscopes aren't real. So why am I obsessed with astrology app The Pattern?

Horoscopes aren't real. So why am I obsessed with astrology app The Pattern?


When it comes to star signs, I’m a chronic sceptic. I’m also partial to a balanced argument. Classic Libra.

So when a friend suggested I download astrology app The Pattern I was as dubious as I was curious.

Horoscopes are for gullible fools but this pragmatic realist would be lying if she said she hadn’t once googled the romantic compatibility of an air and water sign after discovering that the hot guy at work was a Pisces.

No psychic could have predicted my reaction to this app. For those of you who haven’t already texted your mum to ask what time you were born, The Pattern is an astrology based app which claims to give its users ‘the most in-depth and comprehensive information about yourself, your relationships and various time periods in your life.’ Hmm.

But after entering my name and date, time and place of birth into the relevant fields, what the app offered up left me shook. So much so, I slammed my phone face-down on my desk for fear that it may be penetrating my soul though the selfie-cam.

Detailed behavioural patterns, bad relationship habits, emotional blocks – in a matter of seconds it had told me things about myself that my therapist took months to unpack. I was as unsettled as I was intrigued. But how?

I don’t have enough self-importance to believe that my fate is somehow written in the stars, nor am I credulous enough to think it is written in the binary coding of my iPhone. Yet my response to the The Pattern’s evaluation was undeniably visceral and transcended rationale.

I wasn’t alone. I needed to test it out on my most cynical friends. Their reaction was similar. The Pattern’s popularity was boosted this week as Channing Tatum posted a video of his disbelief at the app’s apparent omniscience.

‘How do you know what you know about me Pattern?’ he asked. Even Magic Mike couldn’t comprehend its magic.

Maybe it’s just cleverly worded copy designed to resonate with the masses under the illusion of individuality. Maybe The Pattern declares ubiquitous truths that resonate with all of us on some level. Maybe it’s just sound advice worded in an objective, non-judgemental way in the manner of a good therapist.

Whatever it is, the growing popularity of astrology appears to be filling a religious void in the atheistic lives of millennial technophiles. Fulfilling the human need for a connection to something greater than ourselves.

More than half of the UK’s population now identifies as secular. Perhaps society’s growing narcissistic tendencies mean we are less drawn to generalised religious teachings and find personalised, individual teachings more appealing.

I’d probably class myself as a spiritual atheist but my need for scientific proof is greater than my capacity for faith. I like evidence, facts, data…the opposite of faith.

I know that, scientifically, the time of year in which you were born can impact the course of your life. Studies suggest that babies born in September are more likely to succeed at school because they will be the oldest in their year group. But these are external, societal factors and nothing to do with the zodiac.

People often turn to faith and horoscopes when they are feeling at their most vulnerable and nothing makes humans feel more emotionally exposed than matters of the heart.

In my years of singledom I have accrued a wealth of dating data.The more experience I have, the more I learn to appreciate the importance of timing in relationships but I’m not convinced that includes the exact time you were born.

My experience with The Pattern was undeniably spooky, but as with most things I have taken from it what I find useful and applicable. Much like watching a TV show with a well-written script, there are bound to be elements of the protagonist with which you identify.

As much as I feel like Phoebe Waller-Bridge had an insight into my disordered life when she wrote Fleabag, I won’t be visiting a Catholic Church to find myself a hot priest any time soon.

Maybe The Pattern knows us. Maybe our lives are just entirely predictable. Or maybe it’s another ploy to collect our personal data.

One thing’s for sure: I haven’t figured out The Pattern as much as it appears to have figured out me.

Now go ask your mum what time you were born.

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