Psychic Services Is a Billion-Dollar Industry. Meet One of the Most Popular Local Tarot Readers
January just ended and, for some of us, 2022 isn’t exactly off to a good start. Fortunately, we get another shot at bringing in luck as we celebrate Chinese New Year. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so if you’re waiting for a sign to seek a seer, this might be it.
We talked to Robert Rubin, a popular tarot authority and the guy who does the readings on the Summit Media-produced Charot Readings podcast hosted by internet sensation Macoy Dubs (Esquire Philippines is also published by Summit Media). The daily horoscope readings show is one of the top local podcasts on Spotify.
According to Rubin, for Chinese New Year, you can start by presenting yourself better as it’s all about building your image.
“The more work you put into yourself, the more positive fortune you'll receive,” he says.
Robert Rubin is the tarot reader behind the popular Charot Readings on Spotify
It’s also most likely not too late for you to reinforce your manifestations by doing more work than you did the past 31 days, he adds. “I always remind my students in the Manifestation Master Class that you can never properly manifest something if you don't feel worthy of it. So, if you want something but you feel that you don't deserve it, then get to work to make it happen.”
Robert’s set of cards
Rubin’s relationship with tarot began at the age of 14. While it was not a clear path, his faith in the cards led him to where he is today.
“To be totally honest it was not an easy start,” he says about how he got into reading. “In 1996, people were skeptical about this practice and looked at it as a con artist’s gig. However, seeing the potential in the cards and how it can uplift people, I continued to refine my style while I was a student.”
Twenty-six years later, after much studying and practice, Rubin is now a professional reader and a leading tarot authority in a niche industry that he continues to help shape. Besides his daily work on the Charot Readings podcast, he has a regular set of clients that includes some of the country’s wealthiest and most influential personalities, like Dr. Vicky Belo, among other celebrities and politicians. He vividly recalls reading Mixed Martial Artist and former Ultimate Fighting Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir’s cards in Las Vegas, which he says is a testament to the power of manifestation.
A growing industry
Rubin is just one of the many readers or seers in the growing psychic services industry. There are hardly any studies measuring just how much the sector is worth globally, much less here in the Philippines, so we have to look to the U.S. From $1.90 billion in 2011, the market has grown steadily at around two percent annually to $2.20 billion in 2019 before dipping slightly to $2.1 billion in 2020. According to IbisWorld, the psychic services industry is expected to reach between $2.3 billion to $2.4 billion by the end of 2024 in the U.S. alone.
Other places in the world where tarot is popular (based on Google searches) include Japan, France, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
In addition, all, um, signs point to a record increase in interest for psychic services—including astrologers, psychics and tarot card readers like Rubin—during the pandemic. A report in Salon.com says that Google searches for “psychic” jumped to a one-year high in March 2020, right around the time severe quarantine restrictions were enforced. (It was the same story here in the Philippines, based on a simple search on Google Trends). The Supernatural Readings business category in Yelp’s Economic Impact Report also notes a 140-percent increase during the pandemic “as more Americans turned to tarot card readers, mediums and psychics.”
“COVID-19 has been stressful for everyone, not least businesses that are trying to stay afloat or families that are mourning the loss of loved ones,” according to an extremely detailed report on the industry in MysticMag.com. “People have needed more spiritual guidance than ever before within this context, which is why the industry is doing reasonably well.
“Customers may be seeking spiritual advice about their next career move or business decision, they could be hoping to find out the fortunes of their business and family, or hoping to reconnect with those they have lost,” it added.
Rubin started his journey into tarot reading when he was 14 years old
As a long-practicing tarot reader, Rubin knows better than to commit one of the most common mistakes of fellow practitioners: to overpromise.
“My practice differs from most tarot readers because I tell all my clients even before the reading that no reading is set in stone,” he says. “And that no tarot reader, mystic, guru, fortune teller or feng shui master has the right or even the ability to tell you that something is set in stone in your life and that you can't change it.”
This outlook defines Rubin’s unique approach to tarot. “I aim to give empowerment and clarity to all the people I work with, with the ultimate goal of being able to give peace of mind to them.”
In addition to tarot reading, Rubin founded Mysterium Philippines, an “intuitive learning institution” that offers a variety of courses and training modules to clients and practitioners alike, such as Intuitive Development, Manifestation, and a six-week long Certification Course on tarot reading. Clearly there is a market for this type of service as Mysterium Philippines, which started out as an e-magazine back in 2005, now has a physical space in Quezon City.
While social media has helped Rubin expand his network and circle of friends, his clients’ feedback has been key to his own manifestations.
“The best form of marketing for my practice has been and always will be through word of mouth,” he says. “I strive to give the best quality of readings to each client I work with in order to help them have what I call a Positive Tarot Experience (PTE). So that when they leave my sessions they feel more empowered and happier.”
Shaping the tarot industry
The seer also has a way with the relatively new frontier of social media. “Social media has been very friendly to me as a tarot professional,” Rubin says. “My hit Facebook live show Tarot Thursdays, going on for five years now since FB Live became available, has given me a wonderful avenue to showcase the beauty of tarot to everyone.”
His social media presence also manifested his involvement in Charot Readings, where he conducts the readings for all 12 zodiac signs, which are then delivered by Macoy a.k.a. Ma’am Tarot daily on the podcast channel.
While Rubin’s efforts to polish his practice have paid off, he continues to empower other readers by sharing his experience and knowledge through Mysterium Philippines.
“I opened the first batch of Mysterium Philippines’ Intro to the Tarot Program in 2009 to focus on tarot not just as a practice but as a form of education and community-building,” he says. “We thought, the more people we train on how to properly read and represent the tarot, the more positive publicity it would get. As of today, I have personally trained over 500 people on how to read the tarot and that number is growing every month.”
Rubin envisions a tarot “golden age” in the country, which isn’t farfetched given recent trends in the U.S. According to the MysticMag study, although psychic beliefs are generally more common in older people, studies show that young people are more likely to use an astrological horoscope chart, and that 18-to-24-year-olds are not only the number one demographic based on age, but that this age group will use their horoscope more often than others.
“We have a lot of young readers who will be the future of tarot,” he says. “I've seen this in several students of mine who strive to keep the tarot pure and give PTE. These kinds of students inspire me to continue leading our community to what I envision as a ‘tarot golden age’ where it is no longer seen as a joke but as a positive means of guidance and support for those who partake in it.”
For a list of Rubin’s services and rates, visit his website.