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There are plenty of reasons people choose to consult a spiritual advisor. Throw a pandemic into the mix, and suddenly, skeptics turned into believers seemingly overnight, in a search to find solid footing when tides were turning by the day.
Believe the data: Keen.com, a website that connects psychics with consumers searching for guidance, clarity and answers to big life questions, announced a jump of more than 50% for new users during Covid versus the same period in 2019. Psychics1on1.com, a similar platform, has swelled to 2,000 spiritual advisors - and still growing.
As millennials begin to dominate the economy, New Age spiritual and wellness practices, like reiki, meditation, and astrology, are transitioning from inciting eyerolls to more of a legit self-help tool, with three out of five millennials leaning into and accepting at least one practice, including astrology, horoscopes, crystals, and seeking psychic guidance, in lieu of organized religion, according to a study from Pew Research.
Our post-vax worlds are growing, but the demand for psychics has only gained even more momentum as people navigate their new normal, which brings along its own triggering levels of uncertainty and anxiety. Now that we feel a little safer, what do people want to know now? We investigate.
What are the mystical arts, exactly?
If you're confused about what falls under the umbrella of mystical arts and all of its associated lingo, you're not alone - it's a wide, wild world, but the three main tenets are astrology, tarot cards read by a psychic, and mediums.
Starting with the most mainstream, astrology (and your horoscope!) is based on your birth chart, which is derived from the date and time of your birth. It's considered the most straightforward of the practices, since there's less room for interpretation, says celebrity psychic astrologer David Scoroposki, who begins each session with a deep dive into their birth chart. "You read it as a map and it's a scientific approach."
A tarot reading can be done independently, or in tandem with a birth chart reading, and it is considered "more of a psychic experience," says Scoroposki. Most psychics - who can also be referred to as psychic empaths, readers, clairvoyants, or intuits - including Scoroposki, like to use tarot cards to guide a session. "It allows me to be sure that personal opinions are not seeping into a reading, as the tarot cards bring things to a conclusive point," says 20-year veteran psychic and spiritual advisor for keen.com, Mysticalcraft Arriana, adding that astrology clarifies timelines her clients often ask for. Mediums are a subset of psychics with an additional sensibility to interpret energy from the afterlife.
Because of rampant misconceptions and stereotypes, psychics and astrologers will clarify the structure of a session - and what they can expect - before digging in. For example, a psychic may have a crystal ball, like Scoroposki, or they may not. Others go the crystals route, like 4th generation psychic healer Eva White from Psychics1on1.com, or skip the accessories altogether.
For believers, psychic readings are just one piece of the spiritual puzzle and path to self-discovery and exploration. "Trust is a huge factor in this industry," says White, noting that the industry is usually referral-based, meaning that clients refer their loved ones "to the healers that helped them" through hard times. "We have broken the barrier of awareness and this is the first step to allowing psychics to once again be sought just the same as a life coach," she says. "Sometimes you blend the reading with just being a friend."
During Covid, demand for psychics skyrocketed - and it's not slowing down.
As Covid intensified, the demand for appointments became fast and furious among millennials and former non-believers, says Mysticalcraft Arriana. She attributes outreach from both demographics to a "search for comfort and understanding" as well as a "need for a sense of security and control over their worlds."
As people found solace in readings during the uncertainty of 2020, the demand became so intense that keen.com rushed to add new advisors at nearly triple their normal onboarding rate, according to the site's recent study about the spiritual shift during Covid.
Every psychic and astrologer interviewed for this story said their business not only increased but also "took on more intensity and urgency," says SirCheo, a psychic empath for keen.com, who describes this new fascination with the divinatory arts as "explosive."
Even now as 305 million Americans are vaccinated and the world opens up, the demand has remained strong. "I think this increased interest will continue for a long time to come - I believe it's just getting started," says SirCheo.
Reena, a woman living in the Bay Area who never considered astrology or psychics to be "a real thing," started chatting once a week with a psychic that her friend recommended during the pandemic. And now, that appointment has become the most important hour in her entire week.
"I'm single and in my 30s. My soul was just crushed by the thought of losing so much time, and I guess I just wanted some kind of reassurance that I was going to be okay," she says.
In our new post-vaxx world, Reena's needs and questions changed. "I almost want to say that I rely on her more now than I did back in April!" she laughs. "The stakes feel much higher now that we're reopening, I don't want to make the wrong move. My questions for the tarot now are like, "this thing or that thing?" instead of the totally panicked 'Am I ever going to meet someone?!' or "Will I be laid off?" types of questions I asked before."
Reena's evolution with her psychic is seemingly pretty typical across the board. "At the beginning of the pandemic, a lot of people were really freaking out and just wanted to make sense of it all," explains Narayana Montúfar, senior astrologer at astrology.com. "Now, because a lot of people went through so much change, they want to know how to best adapt to their new life; they've digested the pandemic and want to begin a new way of living that is more spiritual."
After a year of Zoom, people are itching to meet their psychics IRL.
Can you even read energy over Zoom? In a word: yes, but like everything in 2020, there was a learning curve. "I was sort of the old-fashioned type," admits Scoroposki. "I like to meet with clients in person over a cup of tea, but when that wasn't possible, Zoom became my go-to," he says, allowing him to expand his business internationally.
Logistics and other nuances also needed to be ironed out. For example, when Scoroposki arrives at the tarot portion of his sessions, he texts the image to the client so they can still look at the cards together. "It's still a very intimate experience because you're opening up your energy to someone," he explains. Scoroposki has slowly reopened his in-person practice on a limited basis.
Jen, a 37-year old marketer based in New York City, couldn't wait to finally see her psychic for an in-person reading. "Zoom was okay, but I was just itching to get back into her studio," she says. "She was only seeing fully vaccinated people, and on a limited basis, so it took a little while to book an in-person appointment."
White has experienced a similar phenomenon on the West Coast. Many clients she connected with digitally during Covid are "always looking for the open door to come in and meet me or their healer after so much hard work and communication," she says, comparing it to seeing a long-lost friend after years apart. "The great thing is that we built these amazing communications and connections online, and now they can't wait to meet in person - and they're bringing their friends along, too. There's way more openness now to the idea of psychic guidance."
Relationship questions are still wildly popular - but the focus has shifted.
So, what are people asking their psychics about? Unsurprisingly, romance, partnerships, and timelines relating to both are still wildly popular questions, but psychics are seeing a larger shift to asking about more practical aspects of a relationship that affect day-to-day happiness, like compatibility and stability, while moving away from an obsession with over-the-moon passion.
"This pandemic has brought out how lonely people can be," says Mysticalcraft Arriana, adding that she's seen a spike in boomerangs - people reaching out to exes to explore a reconciliation - now that "many people have spent time reflecting on their past actions and are trying to reconnect." But the biggest companionship trend, she says, is that "people are now exploring how to find stability in a long-term union."
SirCheo jokes that when he reflects on recent trends, The Clash's Should I Stay Or Should I Go comes to mind as "decisions about breaking up or staying together," are questioned with a new fervor as they figure out "if they are with the right lover, or generally in the right place."
There's a new hunger for soul-searching, self-kindness, and healing.
One of the most powerful emerging trends during psychic readings is the overall desire for self-exploration and improvement. "With so much lockdown time, people had time to think about what they wanted to change in their lives and actively make plans to attain their goals," says Mysticalcraft Arriana, adding that more clients than ever are asking about self-employment routes, a 180 career change, and geographical moves.
For Montúfar's clients, the hunger for in-depth birth chart readings is voracious. "People want to go deeper when it comes to knowing themselves," she says. "The pandemic really put things in perspective for a lot of people to make them realize how important it is to slow down and be happy, instead of just living on autopilot."
Now, clients are also just plain ready to start the healing from the trauma of Covid, says White. "Many clients began to ask more about healing and how to release the built-up and sometimes delayed anxiety of 2020," she says. "People are more hopeful and ready to heal."
The transition from anxiety and panic to a focus on feeling ourselves...feels good.