Fortune Tellers Talking Money, Not Love

Eileen Rivera, a 24-year-old receptionist from Long Island, is a longtime believer in fortune telling. But lately she has changed her questions.

“My focus used to be 90 per cent love and relationships and 10 per cent economical,” Rivera said. “Now it’s about 20 per cent love and relationships and 80 per cent economical.”

Rivera’s fortuneteller Karin Marcello, 29, also from Long Island, says that this switch in interest from love to money is a growing trend among her eclectic clientele, which includes top managers, cashiers and lap dancers.

“People are paranoid,” she said. “They ask: Am I going to keep my job? Will I be able to afford to live in New York? Should I still invest? Will I be able to pay my mortgage? Will I have any luck selling my house?”

Traditionally, a fortuneteller only had to divine the future, but a survey of 12 New York fortunetellers and psychics suggests that as the economic crisis has deepened, clients are treating them more like cheap psychologists and sympathetic university counselors, who have to reassure more than predict.

“Before the crisis people felt they were in control of their lives,” said psychic Stacey Worlf. “Now we feel unsafe. I find that my clients want to know whether they will be OK, and when you tell them so, they feel a lot better.”
Angela Lucy, a Manhattan fortuneteller, shares her colleague Worlf’s point of view and describes what usually happens in her office once she spreads the tarot cards out on the table.

“You get knee-jerk reactions, they are panicking,” she said. “I tell them they are going to be fine and advise them to stop listening to the news.”

According to Dr. Bonnie Maslin, a psychologist who has worked as a psychotherapist in private practice for over twenty years, when life is out of control, as in the case of the economic crisis, some people, rather than dealing with their anxiety through traditional therapy, resort to magical thinking.

But people now want more than magical thinking and whimsical advice from their psychic readings. Entrepreneurs ask whether the bailout is going to work. Small business owners ask whether investing in real estate is still worthwhile. And even artists, usually concerned with inspiration, are now more worried about making their artwork profitable. In order to respond to their clients’ more specific and personal-finance-oriented questions, fortune tellers say they can’t just rely on tarot cards and crystal balls. These days, they’re consulting economic papers and Paul Krugman’s columns.

“I’ve always picked up on the news,” said astrologer Zoltana, “but now I buy Fortune and Forbes and look at financial articles more closely.”

Psychics say they are integrating their strong astrological backgrounds with newly acquired economic savvy to help their cards provide creative, slightly more practical solutions.

“This year Aquarius is in Jupiter, which means that money can be made in the Aquarius way: thinking outside of the box and believing in your genius,” says a fortuneteller who goes by the name Joshua the Psychic. “So, for instance, I advice clients that were in finance to try to get from that arena into more creative jobs like marketing.