At the Café Contresort, tucked away in a quiet street in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, the decor plunges customers into the atmosphere: signs of the zodiac adorn the midnight blue walls; pumpkins and candles are placed everywhere. At the entrance, tarot games are self-service; even the taste buds go into magic mode with, à la carte, filters and potions – steaming smoothies made from medicinal plants, “Witches’ Latte” or “Bananacadabra” cocktail. Opened in 2020 by Mathilde Fachan and Éloïse Mehard, this bistro quickly became a mystical hub frequented by fans of magic, tarot or divination. “Our clientele comes from all over France and even from Europe”, rejoice the two friends passionate about the mysteries of the universe. A graduate of Sciences-po and a CAP in pastry, Mathilde fell into astrology from childhood and today publishes her second book on the subject (“Astro Planner 2022”, ed. Solar). Éloïse, also a pastry chef and with a degree in sociology, specializes in palmistry, reading the lines of the hand. In their cafe, you can come and take stock of your life and your future during Focus Pocus evenings, during which a dozen practitioners consult: tarot and astrology of course, but also bibliomancy (divination from a book), cleromancy (drawing by the dice) or oneiromancy (analysis of dreams). Proof of the enthusiasm, it is thanks to crowdfunding that the Café Contresort was able to open, a trendy boudoir a thousand miles from the dusty esoteric bookstores of yesteryear.
Forgotten indeed the cliché of a Madame Irma mummified in her trailer, today, divinatory practices are offered a lightning facelift accelerated by social networks and carried by a generation of modern witches. Thus, on Instagram, accounts are flourishing with blockbusters like Astrotruc, by Maheva Stephan-Bugni, which has 360,000 followers seduced by its offbeat vision of the stars. Mathilde Fachan’s personal account, Z for Zodiac, is followed by 14,000 subscribers, that of Caroline Drogo, a rising tarot star, by 12,000. divination are also available in podcasts (“Z for Zodiac”, “What’s your sign?”, “Connected witches”) and on TikTok or YouTube. The influencer Shera Kerienski, followed by 1.9 million people, regularly publishes videos dedicated to astrology. His predictions for the year or his love compatibilities are viewed by hundreds of thousands of people: “In early 2018, I posted a story about Mercury retrograde. I thought it wouldn’t interest anyone, but I received a lot of questions and felt a real enthusiasm. To the point of publishing his guide, “Astro Book” (ed. Hugo Image), in October. “In real life”, the divinatory arts are also being emulated in more surprising spheres: the artist duo Extra-Lucide offers eccentric and intellectual divinatory performances. Born as part of the Fiac hors les murs in 2015, it draws cards in galleries and museums, as recently at the Bourse du Commerce.
70% of 18-24 year olds believe in parasciences
Pop and connected, these cosmic initiatives seem calibrated to seduce a young audience ultra-sensitive to these beliefs: according to an Ifop survey with the Jean-Jaurès Foundation published in December 2020, 70% of 18-24 year olds believe in parasciences ( astrology, lines of the hand, witchcraft, clairvoyance, numerology or cartomancy). A logical craze, as the sociologist Frédéric Lenoir explained in our pages at the time of the release of “Just after the end of the world” (ed. Nil): “For several decades, we have witnessed a total disenchantment of the world. Religion has strongly declined, while technology and science have developed to such an extent that we evolve in a purely rational world, we only take into account what can be seen, can be analysed. We have removed the invisible, the mystery, the beyond, the belief in forces and spirits. […] But the human being has a fundamental need for this imaginary, poetic, symbolic dimension. And young people, even more affected by the decline of religion and the omnipresence of technology, are no exception to the rule. “With, however, significant variations. Some believe in their power, like Caroline Drogo. This taromancer, also artistic director, speaks very naturally of her ” intuition », of his «visions» and of a «gift of fire cutter». “When I consult, I sometimes have visual flashes,” she says. For her part, Shera Kerienski “believes in the effect of the planets on individuals and adapts [son] behavior to their movement”. Same sensitivity for the artist duo Extra-Lucide: “It’s an artistic performance, but we really feel things, we can have flashes, there is a mystical thing with the game we created. »
On the other hand, at the other end of the spectrum, Maheva Stephan-Bugni, of the Astrotruc account, defines herself as “the biggest skeptic in the world”. For this teacher and science fiction author, “astrology is, like all great myths, just a language that allows us to tell stories, but that does not determine individuals. The birth chart is a simple contingency which serves to unwind threads and which, by analogy, addresses the great existential questions. But I am neither an oracle nor a pythia. Mathilde Fachan, from Café Contresort, shares this conception of astrology as a narrative art; she also leads astrology workshops for screenwriters: “The planets are like characters, they evolve in a landscape that are the signs of the zodiac. With this, we can draw all kinds of frames, as in tales or great founding stories. Thus, Mathilde does not call herself an astrologer and does not pretend to predict the future. “Our approach is rather to highlight people’s potential,” confirms Éloïse. The idea is to get to know each other, to accept each other. We are less in divination than in support and personal development. Caroline Drogo, too, recognizes that her draws are mainly intended “to help people understand whether they are on the right path or not. I describe their personality, their strengths, their weaknesses, the cycles they go through. ” For Shera Kerienski, ” the astrological signs show the share of shadow and light in each of us. It’s a way to de-dramatize.” The baseline of his book: “A guide to getting better”. “There is now a real bridge between the field of well-being and these esoteric practices, observes Alexandra Jubé, director of a trend office. People are looking for meaning and appeasement. Today, Lili Barbery is releasing an “oracle”: we can clearly see that we can go from yoga to divination in the blink of an eye! Esotericism, a new cure for happiness? Rather, hollow, revealing a great blur. Our witnesses thus observe the same moods among their customers: professional burnout, desire for retraining, loss of meaning, excessive pressure, uncertainties linked to Covid-19, etc.
“We are less in divination than in support and personal development”
But there is no question of indulging in spleen or taking yourself too seriously. Thus, the Astrotruc account is a hit thanks to its hilarious memes. During its draws, the Extra-Lucid duo stage themselves in outfits by improbable designers and multiply, in their game, amusing references to the world of art. Evidenced by the card representing the “anal plug” of Paul McCarthy. A culture imbued with other contemporary concerns, such as politics. So Caroline Drogo designed an inclusive tarot deck (ed. Leduc) with characters from various origins but also queer, non-binary or disabled. At Contresort, a place that wants to be “safe” for LGBTQIA+ people, politics is inseparable from mysticism. The third book by Mathilde Fachan will also be a work of feminist astrology. We can’t stop it! It must be said that these new sexier, more committed and funnier beliefs sound like a good omen for brands and publishers. Card games, books, collabs, our 2.0 witches are also savvy entrepreneurs. “Managing a café requires having your feet on the ground,” Mathilde and Éloïse laugh. Caroline Drogo, she continues the animations in fashion evenings, prepares the release of a new Sicilian oracle and a divinatory diary for college students at Oxford. Éloïse is working on a future palmistry guide. “The esotericism market has indeed been very dynamic for the past two years,” observes Thomas Hérondart, product manager at Fnac. It has even become an issue for general publishers with the creation of new dedicated labels. “Faced with the solicitations, Maheva Stephan-Bugni even decided to take on an agent, Ariane Geffard, who notably manages the career of Mona Chollet, whose bestseller “Witches” is no stranger to this new magic wave. Surely one more sign…
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Bye bye Madame Irma, here is the new generation of clairvoyants – Elle
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