She prefers the telephone for technical reasons: “Phone sessions allow me to get into a more meditative state.” Its also works better for clients who feel “fidgety” or “nervous” during the session. She said that in her consultations, “the bulk of what I do is empowerment.”
Michael Wamback and Krista Schwimmer, who perform readings in Venice, Calif., are nearing 60 and take the risks of the coronavirus seriously. “I don’t want to end up dying just to do a reading,” Mr. Wamback, 58, said.
These days, they can schedule readings between running errands and looking after their birds, Lily, a crow, and Sister Claire, a dove. (They often swoop across the screen during consultations.) Mr. Wamback has enjoyed using virtual tarot decks; physical decks can lose their uniformity over time, and he worries he might subconsciously choose one card over another. (“I think you can cheat,” he said.)
Before the pandemic, the couple had been thinking of going digital. Not only did they want the freedom to travel, but the Mystic Journey Bookstore in Santa Monica, where they had worked for 20 years, was cutting shifts. The bookshop had more than $1 million in revenue in 2018, said the shop’s owner, Jeffrey Segal, but the rent was rising and they needed to downsize.
Covid-19 forced the couple’s hand. “In the long run, it will be very beneficial,” Mr. Wamback said. “In the short term, it’s a little chaotic.” The clients are fewer, but the readings often last longer. “They’re a bit bored and lonely and just want someone to talk to,” he said. Otherwise, their clients don’t follow a type: “Everyone and anyone — the janitor to the C.E.O., and everyone in between, therapists, strippers.”
Despite the overwhelming number of shared challenges of this year, “the questions really haven’t changed a lot,” Mr. Wamback said of those who consult him. Love and relationships dominate, though they’re filtered through the lens of social distancing. Clients have been asking about their jobs, but it doesn’t compare to 2008. “People felt more hopeless during the recession,” Mr. Wamback said. “They sort of see the virus as just a short-term complication.”