Texas fortune-tellers doing a booming business amid pandemic

It seems as if all the doom and gloom news that comes out during the pandemic centers on either the disease itself or the terrible impact that COVID has had on the economy. Much of the latter is obviously being driven by the government mandates that shut down or severely restrict businesses, particularly in the bar and restaurant industries. But at least in the Lone Star State there’s one industry that managing to thrive. That would be the fortune-tellers who peer into the future and tell people about what’s to come. CBS in Dallas spoke to some people who partake of these services, as well as some of the “providers” of divination and prophecy… for a price.

“With the covid and everything, I was stuck in a bubble,” McKinney resident Premila Patel said. She finds that predictability at SoulTopia.

And she’s not the only one who is looking for assurance.

The New York Times recently highlighted increased online traffic for horoscope and psychic consultations. Astrologers and tarot card readers have also reported an increased demand in their services.

“Since the pandemic, it’s just been an explosive amount of people coming in our stores and also through Zoom and on online and also on the phone,” Michelle Welch said.

One of the fortune-tellers that CBS spoke to reported a 70% increase in business over 2019. She’s sold an entire pallet of sage during the last quarter and her sales of magical crystals are well above normal as well. Apparently, the burning of sage drives away negative spirits or energy or whatever is plaguing your house.

By way of disclosure, I’ve never been to one of these shops and I’ve never really placed much faith in gramarye or any associated arts of that nature. But I have plenty of friends who do (one of whom is actually a self-proclaimed “witch”) and many people obviously take this stuff seriously.

You can kind of see why fortune-tellers and mystics would be doing better these days from two different angles, right? First of all, demand for these services probably rises during uncertain times when people are frightened or might possibly even feel like the world has simply cursed them. They want to know if things are going to get better, even if that means finding somebody to cast a spell to give them a bit of insurance.

At the same time, fortune-telling seems like the sort of “industry” (for lack of a better word) that can adapt itself to the requirements of operating during the pandemic. As I understand it, most of the in-person sessions only involve two people. So with some face masks and a slightly longer table, they can probably meet most government-mandated social distancing requirements without too much trouble. Others, as mentioned in the CBS article, have taken their services online and are doing “readings” over Zoom or Skype video. Hopefully, none of the spirits they contact will forget to put their pants on before the show begins.

Sure, it would be easy to criticize their success from a strictly religious perspective. I’m pretty sure that most of the major religions frown on this sort of thing as falling into the same category as Satan worship or some other heresy. But I suppose that everyone has to believe in something, and if having some masked woman burn some sage and flip over some colorful cards brings you more peace of mind, more power to you, I guess. And really… what’s the worst that could happen?

I just remembered watching Poltergeist and I’m already kind of sorry I asked that question.