When I work I listen to the news, 1010WINS in particular. For those of you not blessed enough to have lived in New York, WINS is the authority on 24 hour news radio, as they say, you give them twenty-two minutes, they give you the world. Every time I hear the ticker in the background of their broadcast it harkens back to better days, when my mother and I would listen to hear how much snow we were going to get. WINS was the harbinger for those miracles known as snow days. Nowadays it’s more like audio comfort as I fret how to ration out a can of beans over the course of the day but, whatever, it still soothes me.
Yesterday afternoon I noticed a commercial between the traffic and sports reports. “Call now, we know you’re listening,” the man with the Australian accent said. “Our psychics are standing by, waiting for your call. Your spiritual well-being is our concern.“ A psychic hotline commercial on a news station. Hilarious.
But then I saw items in the Wall Street Journal and Gawker about people using hypnosis and other assorted mysticism to deal with stress from the current economic disaster. It appears that the obscurely ontological is a little easier to stomach than a global recession. People are trusting psychics with floundering 401Ks. There are séances for stock brokers. Considering how horrific the physical realm is right around now, why not take it to the meta?
I’ve always been particularly fond of the tarot. Maybe it was the history, that these cards have been around since before the fourteenth century, that Carl Jung thought that the deck and its arcana were a reliable way to identify archetypes. Or maybe it was just that it seemed like playing poker with your future, shuffle, cut, and you either win, lose, or draw depending on the spread. I think that psychics can be easy sham artists, but a tarot deck requires understanding. People who dedicate their time to the craft of reading symbols at least have some credibility to me, it just seems a little less one-sided.
In order to see if the bust has made readers hit the deck or shuffle soundly, I decided to contact some spiritual advisers whose businesses are reputable.
Susan Eller of Healing From Within isn’t just a tarot reader, she also does spiritual counseling, Reiki instruction, and owns four new age gift shops on the Internet. I believe anything the woman says about the metaphysical field, not simply because she’s a professional healer, but because she’s been doing this for over thirty years. Susan breaks any stereotypes you may hold about new age gurus being flaky, patchouli-reeking hippies who simply breathe their way through the day. The woman is a determined and ambitious entrepreneur.
To attract clients, Susan relies on advertising and promotion focused mainly on her stores, utilizing a combo of Search Engine Optimization, pay-per-click ads, newsletters, and, of course, the business mainstay of having customer service that doesn’t suck. SEO makes sure that she’s positioned well on Google, and she finds a pretty even split between new clients, new students, and repeat customers. So what about the stores? Have people stopped spending cash on crystals, chakra charts, and chimes? Have the cards been collecting dust on the shelf? “I’m not letting the state of the economy affect me,” Susan says. “We’re having great sales so far this season and I know we will continue to.”
Professional tarot reader Velvet Angel, whose birth name is Sharon, has witnessed a similar increase in business, just as she was preparing for a drought. (Hey, she’s an intuitive tarot reader, she doesn‘t advertise herself as a psychic.) A hardworking, self-made woman who held two jobs for four years in order to get her online tarot reading business off of the ground, she prepared for the worst as things began to crumble on Wall Street, only to be met with a sudden increase in business. “I do think it’s true that skeptics, some anyway, are turning into believers with the economic downturn of late,” she says.
As a full-time grandmother of a two year old, a business owner, and one of the lucky upstarts who decided to do what they love for a living, Velvet didn’t think that the recent implosion of our financial system would necessarily translate into a cynic-turned-believer boom.
“I was actually prepared for lean times, but I’ve found that’s not the case at all. In years past, the holiday season would be rather slow, and things would pick up again after the first of the year. But things have remained steady, and actually even more business has come my way. Although I’d like to attribute that to the kind of reader that I am, I do feel that it has to do with the downfall of the economy.”
So what about the clients? Are they coming to Velvet to find out if they are with their one true love, or to figure out where to hide their money?
“Usually my biggest hitter for questions revolves around love and relationships. But lately, I have had a significant increase of questions regarding work and money matters. People are bringing their economic concerns to the cards for exploration.”
Velvet prides herself in being honest and forthright, even though scam tarot readers, self-proclaimed psychics, and other metaphysical “experts” who prey on people looking for hocus pocus certainly climb up the career ladder quicker. It’s taken her longer to establish a thriving business, but at least she and Susan don’t have to deal with the karmic collapse that I’m sure will come to the tarot equivalent of frivolous lenders.
So for those of you looking for guidance and thinking that the cards will be more reliable than your previous financial advisor, take note that, just like the Psychic radio advertisement says, you’re not alone.
Or you can write me and I’ll do a reading…of your email. AinsleyDrew at the gmail one. Extra huge thanks to those of you who donate. I see a hug from me in your future.
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