Faced with censorship on other platforms, creators are finding new audiences with a need for spiritual guidance amid the pandemic.
“The world is changing,” says Tarot reader Jennifer Bianchi. “People are increasingly aware that there’s more to the world than what they can see or touch. People are looking for answers on why their life is the way it is, and ‘usual’ content isn’t providing them with that anymore.”
It would be an understatement to say that it’s been a discombobulating year. The pandemic has disrupted every aspect of our lives, uprooting our work, friendships, and – in many cases – our sense of identity and purpose. While some people have turned to microdosing psychedelics to make sense of life in lockdown, others are finding their meaning via the occult.
“When people understand that there is almost no control over what’s happening in the world, they start to look for a higher sense to things,” Bianchi continues. “Tarot can provide clarity.” Bianchi has been a reader for two years, amassing over 12,000 followers on her YouTube account under the name Jennifer Tarot. Her clips offer lessons on how to read Tarot cards, predictions for the year ahead, as well as readings based on your star sign.
Like many other spiritual guides, Bianchi has recently made the transition to the SFW side of OnlyFans, joining the influx of creators taking their work off traditional social media sites. “OnlyFans is great because it doesn’t give me any restrictions,” she explains, “so I’m free to post whatever is working for me (and my audience).” With more autonomy – and the ability to monetise her content – Bianchi is able to offer more unique readings, as well as exclusive access to certain videos.
Though OnlyFans is primarily known for its adult content, the subscription site has seen an onslaught of alternative creators during the pandemic, as people’s regular incomes have lost stability or they’ve found more free time to nurture their side hustles. Since lockdown began in the West a year ago, OnlyFans has seen a month-on-month growth rate of 70 per cent. As of January 2021, there were 85 million registered users on the site.
“I launched my OnlyFans page about three months ago, and the response has been so engaging,” says Rissa Vibes, an astrologist and psychic with 2,500 followers on YouTube. For Rissa, OnlyFans provides a place to carve deeper connections with herself and her followers. “Lately I’ve noticed so much censorship of this kind of content on other platforms, (but OnlyFans offers) a space to provide uncensored esoteric understanding that is unique, diverse, and can even be considered controversial at times,” she explains.
“It has helped me reconnect to the parts of myself and my spiritual work that I’ve hidden away or felt discouraged from expressing on other platforms in the past,” Rissa continues. “It lets me post what I want, when I want, and lets me build an actual, organic fan base. I feel more connected to my intuitive gifts with this freedom. I also enjoy using it as a virtual diary to share my most impactful life experiences and realisations.”
Rissa praises OnlyFans’ community focus, revealing that she uses the site’s “polling options” to give her audience a say in what ideas she shares next. “This can be anything vibey like guided meditation, energy readings, mindfulness practices, or specific topic discussions from wisdom I’ve gained over the years.”
For Jessica Luna, a Tarot reader who posts under the alias The Artisan Tarot, the appeal of OnlyFans lies in its offer of self-governance. “I have worked – and still work – some psychic hotlines as my full-time job while I work on building up my own shop,” she tells Dazed. “Some of these hotlines make us do free readings, which we don’t get paid for, while other lines take 50 to 70 per cent of my earnings. The 20 per cent that OnlyFans takes is way more affordable for me and my lifestyle.”
According to a report by The New York Times, traffic to astrology websites has spiked during lockdown. Steph Koyfman, the founder of horoscope website The Daily Hunch, believes it’s because astrology offers “a way of orienting yourself in history and time”. She told NYT: “It helps take you beyond, ‘Oh my God, why is this happening to me?’”
“It all comes down to the demand for peace during chaotic times,” asserts Rissa, “and the accessibility that mindfulness and intuition offer. Mindfulness is the ability to quiet the mind while also using it efficiently and deliberately. We all need that right now for productive planning in such a crisis. Intuition is our most innate survival skill; when things are changing at an accelerated rate, and the ways of life we’ve been accustomed to shift completely, creativity and innovation are the utopian escape.”
Jessica says her practices were soaring in popularity even before the pandemic. “We as a species are being pushed by the divine to go deeper into our spirituality and rethink and reexamine what that means to us,” she tells Dazed. “We’re also becoming more open and curious to spirituality and what that encompasses.”
“I think what we all desire during this pandemic is to come out and live our lives the way we see fit,” continues Jessica. “If more people are called to come to spiritual healers during this time – and as long as they are ready to get to know themselves on an intimate level – then that is a beautiful thing. That means our consciousness level is shifting into expansion on how to live our lives beyond the standards of what was deemed ‘normal’. We’re moving into what and who we’re meant to become as a species, and that to me is a powerful insight and gift to help share with those who are interested in changing for the better.”