Starry-eyed celebs and Gen Z love a bit of new wave tarot – but at what cost?
There’s no doubt about it, the ‘spiritual service industry’ is big business.
In fact, it’s making megabucks. Worth $3.6billion last year alone, it’s only predicted to increase.
No longer seen as fun seaside pier fodder, whether you’re after an aura cleanse, tarot read or psychic encounter, you can find it with the tap of a button, any time, anywhere – and for any price.
It’s no surprise, considering there are currently 3.8billion views on TikTok for #astrology, 12.6billion views for #astrologytiktok, and 74.9billion views for #zodiacsigns.
With Gen Zers and millennials most closely associated with this the astrology revival, 43% of Gen Z women even said they would make a big decision based on astrology.
But it’s not just us ‘civilians’ who love a bit of spiritually. Gemma Collins famously spent over a £1,000 pounds on a psychic after a breakup, in the hope she and her ex would get back together, while Kendall Jenner and Taylor Swift love a bit of tarot card action. Then there’s Anya Taylor-Joy of Queen’s gambit fame, who even carrries her own cards and crystals around with her.
But there’s one spiritual practice in particular that is making massive social media waves: tarot readings.
On TikTok, practitioners charge set fees for card readings, however a ‘live’ video – which is more for their collective following – is free, although donations are more than welcome, the audiences are told.
Viveca Chow, 28, is a Broadway musical performer living in New York and has paid a TikTok tarot reader ‘multiple times’.
She considers herself ‘picky and cautious of who I get a reading from’ and these days she has a go-to practitioner that she uses to help guide her through life when things get tricky.
‘I came across her TikTok live where she gives free mini readings to viewers,’ Viveca tells Metro.co.uk.
‘I happened to get picked for one of those readings after staying on the live for a while, and she said something about me being in an upcoming advert. The next week, I was part of a Pepsi commercial.
‘I was very surprised when it happened, but comforted in a way. It was cool to have something come into fruition that felt like it was mine.
‘I actually didn’t make the link when it first happened, but when I remembered, I was like “Oh my god!”.
‘That prediction got me very curious about booking a private reading with her, so I did.
‘Overall, she was very positive which is why I like her, and everything seems to be aligned with what she’s said so far.
‘For example, she told me that she “is seeing a lot of dollar signs” during my readings, and that money was incoming. I’m very happy to say that I’ve had a really nice steady increase of money and I’m at the best financial phase I ever have been in my entire life.
‘But she does also give me cautious advice, such as warning me that there are friends in my life who are a bit envious of me.
‘She said she sensed female energy, and it wasn’t that they’re malicious or a bad person, but it was a lot of insecurity. She told me to take note of this and show the friend some tender love and care. That turned out to be true, and it informed how I treated that person.’
Viveca isn’t the only one to have made TikTok her go-to for Tarot. A spokesperson for the social media platform told Metro.co.uk: ‘Tarot card readings have taken TikTok by storm. The #tarot hashtag alone boasts 65billion views. Beyond the cards and stars, users are exploring the power of crystals, with #crystaltok achieving 7.1billion views.’
However, similar stats can be found on the likes of Instagram too, and platforms including YouTube and Etsy are also hugely popular with tarot users.
Viveca says she donates to her reader’s TikTok lives intermittently – usually around $10 (£8) – on top of the cost of private sessions which are $30 (£24) for 20 minutes. She does this on an ad hoc basis, and has been as of three years ago.
‘I do think it’s worth it. She is the only spiritual guide on TikTok I have invested in,’ she adds.
Having built up this relationship with her reader, Viveca says she often reaches out to astrology to help soothe her, when she previously didn’t. It’s become a kind of coping mechanism.
‘I love a good tarot reading, but I don’t want to become dependent on it,’ she adds.
‘Sometimes it ruins life’s adventures when you’re expecting or anticipating news of some sort, good or bad. However, there’s also something very comforting when you find a tarot reader who is able to give you some faith.
‘There’s no proof of course, but I always leave the sessions more empowered and positive and that’s what’s important to me.’
While Viveca says that she’s only had good experiences with her reader, it’s not always the case.
Kerry Ward, Metro.co.uk’s resident astrologist, warns that scammers often lurk on social media ready to pounce on those seeking spiritual reassurance.
‘As in all fields and walks of life, there are unscrupulous people,’ she says.
‘However, I can honestly say I have never encountered a genuine tarot reader who was in it to rip people off. The main scourge of our profession right now is online scammers.
‘They set up fake social media accounts. I have had many of them using my image, posts, name and creating a “handle” that looks like my Instagram name but tweaks it with a changed letter, so it fools people that it’s me.
‘Then they follow my followers and get them to follow back. And then they start DMing them, pretending to be me and telling them they need a reading and then asking for money.’
Instagram is the main venue for this type of hoax, and in Kerry’s experience the app they rarely removes the accounts. However, most astrology devotees are getting wise to it, she believes.
Pepper*, who is in her late 20s and is based in London, regularly uses tarot readers.
Having experienced disappointing results amongst the magic, she’s keen to keep her identity hidden as she works in sales and doesn’t want colleagues to know about her personal spending habits for fear of being judged.
She tells Metro she purchases readings via Etsy and YouTube, and also sometimes goes to Covent Garden market for face-to-face experiences.
On Etsy, Pepper spends £4 and can ask three questions, which she will then receive a paragraph-long answer for each one within 24 hrs. For the YouTube psychic, it’s £60 for a 30 minute reading.
That comes to around £66 a month on spiritual buys, though she also will occasionally spend on other things in the industry, having tried crystals, her own tarot decks, and aura readings.
‘I use them often if I’m going through something in my life,’ explains Pepper.
‘If it’s heartbreak for example, the cheap £4 ones I use weekly to ask about the situation. The expensive ones I tend to do once a month.
‘I usually ask about romance, and sometimes about work. They have sometimes got it wrong, and it leaves me disappointed.’
She once encountered a psychic that she used once and vowed never again.
‘This was a few years ago, I was very upset that a man I was seeing ended it very abruptly after Covid. She said he was regretting this and deciding between me and another woman, but she was adamant he would choose me.
‘Although she was right in part – he was deciding between me and another woman – but he chose her instead.
‘When I told her this, she told me to book in for another reading straight away and that’s when I thought, this particular psychic just wants my money.
‘I got over it, but it can give false hope.’
Pepper recalls how on other occasions multiple readers predicted she would have children with a man she’d began dating, and that they’d be in a serious relationship in the near future. However, in reality, the man stopped replying to her soon after the readings.
Even so, it didn’t leave her feeling too concerned.
‘I have a strong understanding that energy is constantly changing, especially when it involves another person,’ she explains. ‘So when things don’t work out the way that a psychic tells me they will, I know that this is often because the energy of the other person has changed.
‘I do sometimes still hold hope for the future in certain situations that haven’t worked out instantly, but I take everything with a pinch of salt.’
That’s why, for now, Pepper says she still happy to pay to have readings.
‘The cards created a sense of excitement, almost like a dopamine hit,’ she says. ‘I never invest more in the person I’m dating as a result of the reading though.
‘I just become more excited for my potential future with them. Although, it does make me think that maybe things won’t happen that have been shown in the cards anymore, which is a little disappointing.’
According to astrologer Kerry, people need to be vigilant if they’re looking to a psychic or tarot reader online.
‘To tell if someone is legitimate, look how long they’ve been around, if they write for recognised publications or have their own books and decks,’ she advises.
‘Read their reviews. Very similar to if you were trying to choose a plumber or accountant. Do some homework. Never ever respond to “phishing” where someone DMs you and tells you that you need a reading. This is fake.’
There are of course financial issues at stake here. Astrology is a business after all, and there is money to be made from willing clients.
As for the future of astrology, it’s influence only looks set to keep growing.
Do you believe in aura readings? #aura #aurareading #vlog #vlogtok #comedy
Aura readings – which first came to light, so to speak, in the 90s – are proving hugely popular nearly 30 years later, with holistic centres offering them, such as Covent Garden’s The Astrology Shop, and content creators sharing videos of their aura experiences.
Kerry adds, for those unsure but in search of astrological guidance: ‘My advice around readings, and even reading horoscopes, is to enjoy it, use it as a life tool, but not to rely on it or take the advice over and above professional or expert opinions (especially medical or legal).
‘Legally, tarot readings are classed as “entertainment purposes only” and I kind of agree,’ she adds.
‘When I spot clients coming to me too often or displaying symptoms of continued mental anguish or “chasing” answers – usually about love – by having the same reading over and over, then I withdraw the service, refund them, and advise them to seek a different kind of help.’
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