The brave souls who volunteered to have their fortunes, palms, and futures read:
Augusta: Psychics are like Santa. I want to believe they're real, that they know what I want in life and they'll be able to give me the gift of telling me my future. But at the end of the day, Santa is just a washed-up dude at the mall wearing a smelly costume for a quick buck.
Angelo: I'm open-minded to the realm of mysticism. I think it's entirely possible some people can interact with different dimensions than most of us. Before this, I've had a few good tarot readings, but I was obviously skeptical of $10 street-side psychics.
Essence: I've always been nervous to try them out. I really believe that some people have the ability to communicate with spirit realms, so the idea of a stranger reading my life felt a little creepy.
Why We Did This:
Psychics are kind of crazy, right? It's not something you do every day (unless you're Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost.) So we decided to delve into what it would be like to tap into the spirit world. We wanted to see if they could provide any real guidance, if there was any validity to their psychic charms, or if it was all basically a load of crap.
1. We all went to the same psychics.
2. Each of us asked about love and our careers.
3. We recorded each conversation for reference.
4. We tried to keep an open mind.
5. We'll rate each psychic on a scale of 🔮 to 🔮🔮🔮🔮🔮 crystal balls. 🔮 is the lowest and 🔮🔮🔮🔮🔮 is the highest.
Psychic #1 : Possible Drug Front
The scene: An upstairs parlor/closet/sketchy torture chamber covered in cat hair. Basically a Law & Order crime scene.
Angelo: I walked up the creaky stairs and was met at the top by a young woman who told me the reading room was occupied at the moment, but that she could read my palm at the bottom of the stairs. I could see inside the apartment at the top of the stairs and there was a man lying on a bed and he looked sweaty and generally not too healthy.
"You have a very long lifeline," she said. Nice. She said I would live into my late eighties. She said I was kindhearted but also stubborn, and guessed that I had ended a serious relationship in the last year or so (which is a pretty safe bet for most anyone who looks like they're in their twenties). She said I would make a lot of money, and as I was smirking about that, she dropped the classic: "You smile a lot on the outside, but you are not so happy in your heart." Is this the go-to for skeptical assholes who smirk during readings, or are my palms really saying something about my inner turmoil? Whatever.
Augusta: My palms were so sweaty that I sent a photo of them to a co-worker (SEE BELOW). So, when I walked in and the "palm reader," a teenage girl with an acrylic French manicure, told me that I was stressed, that felt pretty obvious. She also told me that I was closed off, cold, and stubborn. In general, I'd disagree with this, but considering I felt like I was about two minutes away from being in the middle of Detective Stabler kicking in the door, yes, I'd say I was pretty stressed and closed off.
Essence: When we got into the reading, she said that I'd lead a long life. Probably true given my family history, but I also wonder if they ever tell people they'll live a short life. Like, who would actually say, "You'll lead an unhealthy and short life?"
Before the reading was over she told me I had strong intuition about people and their motives, and because of that I maintained a very small circle of friends. She also said because I'm an open person, a lot of people think that they are closer to me than they really are, but that the people who I actually trust and hold close are few and I love them like family. Wouldn't go as far as saying that I'm a psychic, but the rest was definitely true.
Psychic #2: The Hustler
The scene: Lisa was sitting in a camping chair on 31st Street chain-smoking a pack of Newports.
Augusta: She advertised herself by saying "$10 for first-time customers," so when I asked to have a handwriting analysis (the cheapest thing she offered me), she snapped that she "saw love and career issues" and that she "needed to do at least a half deck of tarot" which conveniently cost $50. On my way out, she tried to sell me crystals. This bitch was a HUSTLER.
When she started reading my cards, she told me that I was going to be married between the ages of 25–27 and that I would have three children. You can't get much more cookie-cutter than that. Then she told me she saw a tropical vacation in my future, either Florida or California. She started getting into "specifics" (i.e., saying, "I see a man in your life with the letter R. What's the deal with him?" — I don't have any man in my life with the letter R), which was really just her attempt to throw a load of spaghetti against the wall to see what stuck. Spoiler: Nothing stuck.
Essence: Lisa told me I had a good energy and was a "sweet" person, which wasn't hard to "see" since I was very warm and friendly toward her.
She went on to say that a vacation to a warm climate was coming up for me, which was true. Florida or California were the two places she saw me traveling to, but that was wrong. Later Augusta and I discovered that she had told us both the same exact thing about vacations (SEE BELOW).
When I left, she walked me out and said, "Actually, now that I see your face in the light, your spirit is off. You need to buy a crystal to help balance your energy." Ummm, total insult, lady!
Angelo: I asked Lisa for a $15 palm reading. She told me I would live into my late eighties. OK, I can deal with that as long as society hasn't crumbled into complete disrepair by then. She guessed correctly that I'd recently started a new job and told me to stay there for three years.
She tried to rush me through the session, hitting the cliché predictions along the way. She told me I would make a lot of money, that I would have two children. I was smirking and thinking, Nah about the children, and she gave me a harsh look.
"You're smiling a lot in your face, but you are not as happy in your heart." Thanks, psychic. Yes, this woman was aggressive and sketchy, but she just made $15 in five minutes so I can't knock her hustle.
Psychic #3: The Maybe, Actually Legit Psychic
The scene: A house call to BuzzFeed's offices.
Augusta: So I walked into Marie's room and she goes, "I need to see a picture of your dog." WUT. OK, Marie.
I don't currently have a dog, but I do have a picture of my dog Sparky — the dog I grew up with — on my phone, so I showed her.
"This dog is what you're supposed to be looking for in the qualities of a man. Sparky's barking away at me now. Sparky is the representation of what would serve your soul most in love and touch with a man. I feel like is there's a quality of relationship that you had with this dog that couldn't surpass family or even friends. There was a purity there that brought this glee out of you."
She then told me, "You need variety. You need a big-ass man. You need a fucking giant, 6-foot-4-inch man. You need someone who will be on your intellectual level, too. I could see you with a guy who runs a national park or runs his own construction company, but with high mentality. If you were really to unleash the woman in you, you need a real man." OK, Marie. I'm here for it.
Angelo: I walked into the room with Marie and immediately felt good. She asked about my dating life, which I described as "active." Then she called me a "ho."
She kept prodding about my sex life and I was resistant. Then she told me to "write about the sex." We started to connect some dots. Yes, I told her, what I am writing long-term has a lot to do with sex, relationships, and she told me to be patient with it, that I wouldn't have anything finished for 10 years or so, which doesn't gel with my plan to have a book out by 30, but whatever, my psychic said it's OK if it takes longer!
Essence: Right away she asked if I had any back or spine issues because she felt a pain and "Something was tight, something was off." She assured me that it wasn't medical, but "it's all a fear thing" and my lower back is where it collected. She explained that it was a fear of security. The fear was less about money and more about life and carrying out my purpose. O-M-G. She was was too on point straight out the gate!
She went on to talk about my career and "soul mission." She said that I loved beauty, but beyond the physical and I had an ability to look at women who society labeled "ugly" and see them as beautiful as they naturally are. She said ultimately I would end up turning this love of what beauty really means into my life's work.
This prompted her to ask about my boyfriend, and she said that our passions for our purposes would make for a great relationship and present a life-changing opportunity for us to do something really great together. She also picked up that he was always traveling for work, and went on to say really, realllllly specific things that literally made my body hot out of shock.
Psychic #4: Sami, The Amateur Tarot Card Reader
Essence: In both my love and career readings she said that I had "strong cards." The career reading had 3 out of 5 really strong cards, though, which makes sense. Right now I'm more invested in my career than my love life, so I felt as though the overall reading was very reflective of where I am right now. There was also a recurring theme of spirituality and religion in my cards in both readings. Spirituality is such a big part of my identity, so I was really impressed by the accuracy! Sami also has this calm, nurturing way about her. It was very easy to just be open and let her do her thing.
Angelo: Tarot with Sami was delightful. My reading had a number of major arcana, aka significant cards with some apparently heavy undertones. Sami told me I needed to get back to nature and flip my perspective, which was crazy because this was two days before a camping trip, the first time I'd really gotten into nature since moving to New York almost a year before. The camping trip happened to coincide with a mesmerizing supermoon, and while lying on the ground, looking up at the the moon, I felt like my perspective was flipped, and I thought a lot about how my reading with Sami came at the perfect time. It all felt connected, man.
Augusta: Sami's 20-minute tarot reading was more informative than Lisa's, the "professional" who charged me $50 for 10 minutes. Essentially, she told me that I've hit rock bottom with relationships (JFC that was hard to hear) and I now have something I need to move past. BUT, my strength is in my peace of mind, so I guess things will be fine in the end(?).
Psychic #5: Julie’s Mom, Amateur Palm Reader
The scene: BuzzFeed offices, with Style Editor Julie Gerstein's mom, Lori.
Angelo: Julie's mom took both my palms and seemed immediately exhausted.
"There's so much here, so much stress for someone so young." She too said I had a "lovely, long lifeline." But she noted (accurately) that I've had some health issues, and she specifically mentioned my stomach (where I've had lifelong issues and major surgeries), and told me that I needed to be proactive about my health, which is something that has been a priority for me lately.
My work line confused her a bit — she sighed audibly and said it would take me a while to find the work I truly love. "But that's OK, you have time." She mentioned a creative restlessness. "Part of this stress issue is that your mind is always racing with 5,000 things." This is true.
"I think you are someone who is a seeker of wisdom in life." This is true and it resonated with me, and made me feel a deeper connection with Julie's mom — but she added, "because you are a seeker of wisdom you put yourself out there into situations where you do get hurt." I was still evaluating how I felt about that, if it was true, and then she said the same thing I had heard twice before: "People think you're this happy-go-lucky guy, but you're someone who feels things deeply." This time it resonated more.
Augusta: Julie's mom walked in and immediately gave off this really comforting ~mom vibe~ that put me at ease really quickly. We sat down for a palm reading and she told me that I had a lot of spiritual power in my hands. Then, shit got real.
"You have a nice love line but you're very wary, very cautious when it comes to affections. You don't dole them out easily and you don't trust them easily. But when you do, you give everything your utmost. And that has hurt you a couple of times in the past. Open yourself up to people. Try to change the self-talk so that it makes you more open, and I think that'll make you feel more happy." This was the fifth time I'd heard about how closed off I was to people, and I started to believe it at this point.
Essence: As soon as I opened my hands she said, "WOW!" and said I had a really strong life line. "You have apparently made a very determined decision that other things and other people are not going to stop you," she said. I understood this to be more about my quality of life than how long I'd live.
For love she said that my line was very interesting. (Marie said this, too, and that my boyfriend and I should do a project together!). She also said I'd probably have a couple of kids — but that I might adopt them rather than give birth to them myself. That really tripped me out because I'm literally ALWAYS saying I love children and that I want a large family, BUT I don't want to birth a lot of children. She literally said I'd adopt and have a couple of stepchildren. What's fascinating about this is that I've been saying that I'd have one and adopt one since I was a kid.
Finally, we asked the Magic 8-Ball if psychics are bullshit:
Angelo: All of the psychics seemed to be a bit worried about my inner workings, which concerned me. But with a little distance from the sessions, I felt a bit better. The past year has been one of the craziest of my life. I'm in a new city, at a new job, dating new people, experiencing a ton of new things and examining my own personal limits — socially, financially, physically. It makes sense that there would be a lot of information for the psychics to decipher.
My general thoughts about psychics evolved a bit too. I appreciate it as an exercise in self-examination. Particularly with tarot, which I don't understand fully, I was glad at the prompt to look at my life in a different way. They get you to think about major forces in your life from a new perspective, which is invaluable and necessary.
Augusta: I walked into this feeling like every reading was going to be useless, which is likely why each psychic told me that I was closed off with a tendency to be cold toward people. They also told me that I'd find my ~one true love~ in my twenties and I'd be with that person for my whole life. It all just felt like Stock Answer Central to me. If I were trying to support myself as a psychic, I'd also tell people what I thought they wanted to hear while also warning them of something bad about themselves so they'd be inclined to stay longer and pay more money. I had a more positive experience with the amateurs because it felt like they weren't fishing for dolla dolla bills, y'all. Those sessions felt like conversations with a hint of genuine care, even if it was manufactured sincerity. I didn't walk away from the readings feeling like I gained some grand understanding of my life and the universe. It just felt like I paid women to talk to me for hours.
Essence: There was some truth in each of my readings, even the kind of janky ones. I think this is because I went into the situation open and unguarded. I didn't really have many expectations, and I approached it all really chill and willing to hear whatever they picked up. I'd be interested to know if my openness contributed to the accuracy and consistencies of my readings. As for my belief in people's ability to communicate with spirits, that didn't change. I wouldn't go back to a psychic or reader — but only because I want to live in the moment, not control and manipulate factors instead of just letting things run their natural course. I am glad I had this experience, though, because it was really fun, and because it humanized psychics and readers for me. I don't think they're weird; they're just ordinary people with extraordinary gifts.