We're moving! Get our latest gender and identity coverage on washingtonpost.com.

Well-known British astrologer Penny Thornton, who launched her website Astrolutely two decades ago, says her website traffic is up 20 percent since the start of the pandemic. Her Ask Penny service, which allows you to ask her specific questions that she answers via email based on her personal reading of your astrological birth chart, is up 33 percent.

She’s not the only one who says interest in astrology is on the rise since the coronavirus took hold across the world.

Arizona-based astrologer Maurice Fernandez has seen about a 20 percent increase in requests for private consultations and a 30 percent increase in people seeking astrology tutorials.

Australian astrologer Jessica Adams says she was surprised when requests for the year’s forecasts, which predictably usually peak in January and plateau in February, steadily climbed through May. She’s also seen an increased demand for tarot card readings.

In 2018, a Pew Research Center study showed that 6 in 10 Americans have at least one “new age” belief — psychic abilities, astrology or spiritual presence.

“I understand why people are looking for a basis for making predictions because that’s exactly what brains do. They’re basically prediction machines,” says Abigail Marsh, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Georgetown University.

Without our even noticing, our brains are taking in information all the time, a lot of it chaotic and ambiguous, and crunching that data in real-time, she says.

“All learning is based on trying to identify statistical irregularities in the environment,” Marsh says. “When this happens, then this happens. Not all but many, many of our behaviors are based on that. If you do this, this bad thing will happen, unless you do that, then this good thing will happen.”

Being able to predict what will happen in any given circumstance is a process that helps to keep us alive.

You can see, then, why, for the vast majority of us, uncertainty is not a happy place. In 2016, European researchers published a study in the journal Nature Communications that demonstrated that for human beings, uncertainty can be more stressful than knowing that something bad is going to happen.

In other words, we are biologically wired to seek out certainty, and yet here we are, living in an extremely uncertain time.

“The great majority of clients are using this time of retreat to rethink their path forward, wanting to do something different with their lives,” says Fernandez, the Arizona-based astrologer. “It is interesting that on the one hand there is a climate of insecurity that is quite palpable, but at the same time people are ready to take risks and aim for change.”

In trying to find answers to some of the big questions people have been forced to confront while at home — whether they are truly happy in their relationship, if their job is actually fulfilling, why they are putting off their dreams — Thorton, the British astrologer, says more people are turning to astrologers like her for guidance.

“You pull together all the points they may not have looked at in the situation and then you give them a feeling of confidence that whatever they do, they’re going to be all right,” she says. “Then they’re ready. They’re at a point where they’re not so torn apart by the issue that’s bothering them. They see it more clearly. They feel comfortable and empowered by making their own decisions.”

One of those people is Imogen Edwards-Jones, a London-based journalist, screenwriter and author of more than 20 books.

As the lockdown took hold in London, she was hearing from writer friends who were down because they were unable to launch their books as planned and go on tour. She hatched the idea for a new business — a website that would bring together authors and book lovers for virtual events, but she wasn’t sure about it. Was starting a new business in the midst of a pandemic a good idea? Could it be successful? Or would it be a total flop?

So she turned to an astrologer.

“It gives you a certain amount of security that the decisions you are making are being supported by the universe,” she says of consulting with an astrologer.

“It’s like having a friend who knows a lot more than you do. That’s what it is. It’s a friend whose advice you actually do listen to.”

She gave up fast fashion. Here’s how she curated a wardrobe she ‘actually likes.’

There’s a growing trend among young consumers to make more environmentally and socially conscious decisions

We asked you for one word to describe 2021. Here’s what you said.

More than 200 of our readers weighed in

A 27-year-old wanted to see her Asian American story reflected in bookstores. So she opened her own.

Yu and Me Books is believed to be NYC Chinatown’s first Asian American, woman-owned bookstore