I was doing my nightly scroll through TikTok (it helps soothe me, okay?) when a calming voice stopped my swiping finger in its tracks. The camera was focused on a stack of blue tarot cards, and a narrator was saying, "This is going to be a career-focused reading, so if you feel called, stick around." I felt called. I stuck.
The video was from Teresa Brenneman, a professional intuitive, human design consultant, and tarot reader. The first card she pulled was the Nine of Cups. "You do not give yourself enough credit," Brenneman told me, and all the other TikTokers watching. "You've had many successes and you've created abundance from yourself," she continued, before pulling three more cards: a King of Wands ("I'm hearing that you're meant to be an entrepreneur"); a Two of Pentacles ("Your obsession with control is really going to be challenged"); and an Ace of Pentacles ("Your guides are urging you to learn how to become adaptable").
The 60-second reading made me feel calm and validated (I don't give myself enough credit!), so I let the video replay while I dug into the comment section. The other viewers seemed to be fans of Brenneman's video, as well, reacting with "I claim this" and "I needed this" and "This speaks to me so much!" messages.
When more tarot pulls began showing up on my for you page over the next few days, I mostly assumed it was because I'd interacted with Brenneman's video. (That algorithm...) But the spiritual seeker in me wondered whether the messages were meant to reach me somehow.
Brenneman thinks so. "There's a process I go through energetically and intuitively, before I film the videos," she tells Refinery29. "I just call in my guides and say, 'What do you have for the people who will see this video?' Obviously, only certain people are going to come across it. I'm able to direct the energy to that."
Besides her pre-filming process, she doesn't prep for the videos. She's seeing the cards for the first time along with you, which she believes makes the readings more authentic. "I'm just opening my channels to listen to the messages coming through," Brenneman says. While you may not resonate with every single sentence or card in her tarot readings, "maybe there's one little nugget that you get out of it and you were meant to hear that one thing," she says. "That's kind of the way I look at it."
She's not surprised that her card pulls have been popular. (Relatively speaking, anyway: That tarot pull video currently has 83,800 views on the platform; TikTok has 850 million monthly active users.) "I think tarot is something that really resonates with a lot of people," Brenneman says.
Still, the sceptical side of me wondered how accurate a random "pull for anyone" could really be. And when I asked a few tarot pros that question, I learned that there are some mixed feelings about TarotTok.
"Nothing can beat a personalised reading," says Katie Robinson, senior editor at SunSigns.com and professional tarot reader. "One-on-one readings can be accurate both in-person and online, but when we start getting into generalised pick-a-card or 'suggested for you' video readings, that’s when I’d take them with a grain of salt."
If you're hoping to gain insight into a specific problem in your life, you'd want to opt for a personalised pull, agrees Mysticalcraft Arriana, a Keen.com advisor and tarot card reader. "I can't suggest that anyone takes these generalised tarot cards draws to make a massive decision in their life," she says.
That said, public pulls do have some benefits. You can use a TikTok reading to gauge the day's energy, for instance. "Does the card say that it will be a good day or a day of miscommunications? Check that and then proceed," Arriana suggests.
"I think they're worth listening to and getting advice from," astrologer Lisa Stardust tells Refinery29. "In my opinion, it works the same way as reading your horoscope." Every person watching might get something different from the same pull, based on what's going on in their individual lives.
Rachel True, actress and author of True Heart Intuitive Tarot, hopes that anyone interested in these videos might try to learn how to pull their own cards. "I love that people are using tarot for their own self-exploration or whatever it is you use tarot for, but you’re never going to get a specific reading for yourself off a video that’s positioned for millions of people," she says.
I do have a deck, and have experimented with my own pulls a little. But to be honest, I still love my TikTok tarot readings. I think they're fun, unexpectedly calming, and sometimes pretty profound. Of course, everyone's free to swipe past these videos. But Brenneman's wish is that the readings uplift those who stays to watch: "I hope that it gives people some hope and some faith and some direction," she says. Or in my case, a little dose of calm before bed.