The Tower Card tarot card looks terrifying.
Flames lap through the windows of a gray tower on the background of an ominous sky. Two people can be seen jumping from the building toward the icy ground.
One may imagine the Tower card as a sign of immediate doom, but it’s quite the opposite, said evidential psychic medium Bernadette King.
“That card is about true disaster,” she said. “It's like the saying, ‘If you're going through hell, keep going,’ so once you get through the hell, on the other side of it is a deeper spiritual understanding, a better sense of self, solid confidence, understanding and clarity of one’s purpose.”
In the era of COVID-19, many psychics, like King, have experienced increases in business.
“I’ve seen a humongous spike — but not for the reasons you think,” she added.
Most readings have been about adapting to change and powering through dark times instead of giving up in the face of challenges — much like the Tower card, King said. Over the hundreds of virtual readings King has performed since the pandemic hit Gainesville, she said she witnessed clients making positive, life-changing decisions.
“People are being triggered to step into that, and they're doing it,” she said. “They're finding the courage and the way. It's a beautiful thing to be witness to.”
King has provided psychic services to the Gainesville community since 2006. Despite her years of experience, her clients’ response to COVID-19 shocked her.
The reason, King believes, is scientific.
“I think that people respond to the energy around them,” she said. “When fear starts at one end of the room, your amygdala starts to pick that up because it's an ancient and still true survival technique.”
When the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes fear, picks up on mass societal change, one could revert to craziness or adapt to the change, she said. By large, her clients have adapted — whether it be to new jobs, relationships or intrinsic self-realizations.
Virtual readings aren’t new for King. King said she was one of the first psychics to harness the power of Skype and Facebook Messenger video calls more than 10 years ago.
King said she closed her office last year and began to conduct all of her appointments virtually. However, she said she remains connected to her clients’ energies despite the distance.
“Energy is energy, and electricity is electricity,” King stated. “It doesn't matter where it generates from — really my job is very easy. I just have to be like a bloodhound. I have to get on the scent of somebody's electrical field and the rest is ‘away we go.’”
The Rev. Sunemaura O’Brien observed similar trends in her virtual readings.
O’Brien has practiced psychic reading, spiritual advising, Reiki teaching and spiritual healing in Gainesville for 21 years before moving to Colorado last year.
More than 1,700 miles stand between O’Brien and the Gainesville community, yet Alachua County residents still make up a substantial portion of her clientele, she said.
To O’Brien, reading patrons virtually is sometimes easier.
“It's not been a hard transition at all,” she said. “In fact, I feel that those feelings go deeper
over Skype and phone because it seems to bypass our minds a little bit. It bypasses that thinking that gets in the way.”
Similarly to King, O’Brien saw an increase in business due to the pandemic. While she has performed more advising and psychic readings than usual, she has seen the most significant spike in spiritual healing sessions.
In those sessions, she helps clients cope with COVID-19-induced fear and anxiety, she said. Like King, most of her psychic readings have been primarily positive.
“A lot of the readings have been about people in transition and realizing that some things in their life aren't working for them due to COVID,” she said. “They’re really looking at their lives, and figuring out what works and what doesn't.”
Gabriella Miller, an empath and spiritual advisor, opened her in-person office in March only to have to close her doors due to COVID-19.
Some clients initially walked away because they wanted the full, in-person experience, she said. As the phone calls flooded in, Miller became accustomed to Zoom, FaceTime and over-the-phone readings.
While she can’t physically see her clients, she said her gift prevails, she said. She said she has had dreams and visions that would later come true since she was 5.
“I'm an empath,” Miller said. “I connect with mind, body and spirit, so I don't need anyone's physical body to connect to them. All I would need is just 10 to 15 minutes of meditation on their name and date of birth, and I could pick up.”
Miller was able to reopen doors in Gainesville until a client tested positive for the virus. She has now returned to virtual readings.
She also noticed that her clients were evolving spiritually, she said.
“I do feel that being under lockdown in your home environment, all the time, has allowed them to turn their negatives into positives and awaken themselves spiritually,” shesaid.
Her advice to leading a healthy, positive life despite the pandemic: self-love.
“If you focus on the negative, you can become negative,” she said. “Focus on the positivity of everything and know that it's okay for us to fail, and it's okay for us to fall, but have faith in yourself, have self-love and share love as well.”
As an empath, Miller said the pandemic exaggerated her own feelings of darkness.
“I could feel everyone's heaviness,” she said. “Everyone's emotions. Everyone's tears. Everyone's hurt. The hurt of people losing their loved ones.”
However, she used her skills to help her clients feel validated and understood.
“I told my clients that if I went through it, it's okay for you to go through it because I'm grounded,” she said. “I'm spiritual, and I know how to handle things, but it's okay to fall because we're all going through it.”