September 3, 2020
With a high-stakes presidential election; a life-threatening viral outbreak; a nationwide social uprising, widespread unemployment; and wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods to worry about, Americans are looking for answers. And if they cannot get any reassurance from the usual sources, a psychic or astrologer simply will have to do.
Since the quarantine began shutting down large swaths of the economy, astrologers, spiritual guides, tarot card readers and psychics have seen an uptick in business, Salon reports.
According to Google search trends, entries for “psychic” jumped to a one-year high during the week of March 8—just when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began issuing some guidance on COVID-19.
Likewise, business review and aggregator site Yelp published an Economic Impact Report that noted that its “Supernatural Readings” business category was up 140%.
Leslie Hale has been offering astrology readings since the late 1990s. She joined Keen.com, an online “spiritual advisor network” in 2001, and told Salon that currently her business is up about 30%. (Likewise, Keen.com told Salon they are experiencing a vast increase in traffic as of late.) Hale said usually she had 10 to 15 calls a day, but during the pandemic it’s been anywhere between 20 and 30.
“There has never been a time like this,” Hale told Salon of her 21-year astrologer career. “I think everybody wants to know if their life is going to go on, and if there’s anything in the future they have to look forward to.”
It makes sense that average people are seeking clarity in uncertain times. New Age spiritual practices have become increasingly popular over the last several years, in part due to its endorsement from the wellness industry and decline in religious affiliation among younger Americans. According to Pew Research data from 2018, an estimated 6 out of 10 American adults accept at least one “New Age belief,”
While in the past, spiritualism meant looking for connection with the dead, today it is more about seeking assurance. Alicia Butler, a 38-year-old freelance writer, usually turns to tarot card readings for comfort. She told Salon during the pandemic they’ve been especially helpful.
“It’s definitely a source of comfort right now,” Butler, who is quarantining with her parents, told Salon. “If things don’t reopen and we don’t have a vaccine or something, am I going to just be 13 again and living with my parents, and not growing emotionally or professionally ever again?”
Nathalie Theodore, JD, LCSW, a psychotherapist in Chicago, told Salon it makes sense that some would turn to psychics or tarot card readers during this time.
“Uncertainty is something that many of us struggle with and, for some, it can cause a tremendous amount of anxiety,” Theodore said. “Fear of the unknown can send us into a downward spiral of negative thinking and imagining worst case scenarios.”
Theodore added that one of the hardest parts of this pandemic is not knowing how long it will last or what our lives will look like once it ends.
Hale, the psychic, said the number one question she gets from clients is when they will find a romantic partner.
“The biggest concern of most of the people who call me is still their relationship,” Hale said. “People want to know, ‘when I am going to be able to go out and meet someone special again?'”
She believes that inquiry is tied to loneliness.
“During this time of social isolation, I think people are lonely . . . . of course we have technology but that’s not the same thing as sitting across the table from someone,” Hale said.
Research contact: @Salon