From star signs to energy healing, new age spirituality is all the rage. We reviewed a year of Google search volume across all 50 U.S. states and D.C. for 16 new age themed keywords, including astrology, reiki, feng shui, tarot, manifesting, and ayahuasca. In aggregate we found Arizona to be the most new age state, followed by Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Colorado respectively. North Dakota was the least new age state, followed by South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, West Virginia, and Delaware.
American spirituality has long enjoyed a singular eclecticism largely unknown in the Old World. This tradition dates back to the pilgrims, religious eccentrics seeking freedom from the Church of England in the 1600's. In the centuries that followed, uniquely American religions have continued to crop up - from Mormons, to Jehovah's Witnesses, to a cult-turned-silverware-company called Oneida. More recently, however, a new trend has emerged. The bespoke "cult of one," marked by the tendency of mostly young and online people to craft a personal collection of beliefs that could be sourced everywhere from TikTok to the Bhagavad Gita.
This trend of bespoke online religion was covered at some length by Vox, and seems to involve an overwhelming interest in new-age ideas like astrology and neopaganism. In 2018, Pew reported that 62% of Americans hold at least one new age belief. That got us wondering - which U.S. states are the most new-age?
As it turns out, the American West leads the nation in new age interests. Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Colorado claim the top spots when it comes to interest in new age esoterica, with California and New Mexico also breaking the top ten. This isn't surprising to anyone familiar with the territory. Spiritual enclaves in places like Taos and Sedona are well known. Spiritual eccentricity and pioneering vision have paired as surely as chocolate and peanut butter in America's vast western deserts. And of course, the coast - from California to Washington - has been a favorite of American hippies touring Highway 1.
Meanwhile, the Great Plains seem to be practically devoid of new age enthusiasts. Three of the five least New Age states - North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska - are located in the Great Plains region. Iowa and West Virginia round out the bottom five spots on the list. For some particular topics, however, other states creep into the top five. Vermont, a haven for countercultural communes in the 60's and 70's, leads the nation in searches for "astrology" while Hawaii takes the top spot for "feng shui."
The top searchers for "ayahuasca" were:
The top searchers for "astrology" were:
The top searchers for "reiki" were:
The top searchers for "feng shui" were:
Google Trends data was collected for a variety of search terms related to new age interests for all 50 U.S. states and D.C. from December 17, 2022 to January 17, 2023. Search terms included horoscope, astrology, moon water, reiki, sound bath, zodiac, aura, homeopathy, energy reading, mercury retrograde, feng shui, sage smudge, energy healing, tarot, ayahuasca, and manifesting. Google's proprietary 100 point scoring system was used to represent each term's normalized search volume proportional to all other local searches. If a state did not have enough search volume to generate a score, it was given a default score of 10 (the lowest number in the data set). Scores were tallied and ranked, 1-51.
Google Trends data is widely regarded as a strong source for measuring American public interest. According to a 2021 paper published in American Behavioral Scientist found that "this method has predicted the real winner in all the elections held since 2004."