Wartime Tarot Readings in Russia

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Information and psychological operations have been actively used by the Russians since the very beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Spreading disinformation, Russian narratives, and rocking the psyche are additional tools in the war they are waging against Ukrainians. Russian fortune-tellers on tarot cards have played their part in the information war. Two years ago, on social networks, they discussed relationships, Britney Spears, and where singer Morgenstern disappeared; today, their accounts are all about military and political content. A battalion of Russian fortune-tellers, simultaneously with the media, picks up key messages about military operations, the greatness of Mother Russia, and the future of Ukraine. This is how a gullible, esoteric-friendly audience is zombified. 

This way of spreading Russian narratives among the uneducated masses is perhaps the simplest. It requires very few improvised means: a bright manicure, massive finger rings, 78 tarot cards, having a way with words, and a memorized method of basic Kremlin messages.

Military and political readings have become so popular that for many they are the source of the only true information in which they sincerely believe. Such content is not intended for a highly intelligent audience, which, however, is not the main target audience of propagandists. For an adequate part of humanity, their predictions are more like a manifestation of mental disorders. 

The Centre for Strategic Communication found out what the army of Russian tarot readers is predicting. 

Tarot cards: history

According to a legend, tarot cards originated from Ancient Egypt and were depicted on the towers of Babel. There is also a version that these pictures are borrowed from sacred books written by ancient Egyptian priests. In reality, there is no evidence for these speculations, and tarot cards date about six centuries. At the beginning of their existence, they had the usual gambling functionality. In Europe, for example, their application was limited to creative games, writing poems. They began to foresee the future only closer to the 20th century. The artists painted vivid images together with the occultists. The cards were really very unusual, bright, beautiful. This was the reason for their mass popularity.

In the territory of the Russian Empire, these cards first appeared in the 19th century as a fun for the nobles. Tarot reading has turned into a profitable business relatively recently. It became especially popular in Russia a few years ago. The audience of admirers of such entertainment is broad.

After February 24, 2022, the relevance of the Russian tarot readings peaked. Social networks have given impetus to the development of online prediction. Separate tags have been created on TikTok to distribute such videos: #TarotTok, #раскладытаро, with almost 1 billion videos. There are also a lot of such readings on YouTube. Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, cards sales have increased significantly, the Russians themselves note.

So, let us consider the most popular topics that Russian fortune-tellers touch upon every month. 

When will Ukraine disintegrate, or which cities of Ukraine will become part of Russia?

The list of Ukrainian cities, the fate of which is of great concern to the Russians, is obvious: Odesa, Kharkiv, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Zaporizhzhia, and Dnipro. Tarot readings boil down to the fact that eventually, these regional centres will belong to Russia. Such predictions are made on a monthly or yearly basis. If a card does not show the accession of the cities for 2023, additional cards are used — for 2024, 2025… until the desired answer drops out. The main comments include: “people are waiting impatiently,” “the moment of accession is postponed,” “is being prepared,” “there is already a massive prerequisite,” “slowing down and patience.” 

The Russians pay considerable attention to our Odesa. According to them, Odesa residents cannot wait to join Russia and mystical cards reveal to them that it will happen. Another tarot reader appeals to the residents of Odesa with a call: “there is no need to demolish monuments to people to whom you are obliged, you will be punished, do not forget, this is the Russian land.” The fortune-teller predicts that Odesa can turn into a new Grozny. Moscow will be able to control Odesa through Mykolaiv, which will also be Russian, according to the cards. 

The division of Ukraine is “predetermined from above,” “it was predicted on the Day of Judgement,” that is, long before the war; Russian tarot readers emphasize that Russia is simply fulfilling the mission entrusted to it.

There are many options for such readings. But their message is the same: Ukraine will not be integral, and our lands have always belonged to Russia and according to the laws written above, this order should be restored.  

How and when will Russia win the war?

The faint voice of the tarot reader states that Russia does not want to dominate the whole world, it wants peace in the world, balance, and justice. What is also significant, it wants to preserve its ideology. Therefore, Russia’s victory is to show its strength to the whole world, first of all, of course, to America.

A peace agreement, like the end of the war, is impossible, suggetss the fortune-teller. Russia wants a balance that can only be achieved through the manifestation of its strength. The fortune-teller has discovered that Ukraine needs to unite with Russia and counter a common enemy together because Ukraine is nothing without Russia. 

According to the fortune-teller, the Russian army and navy are the only allies, so the victory will be achieved by force and thanks to the skilful rule of the emperor — Putin. She then mysteriously adds that the cards show that Russia has secret allies among other countries, which ones she cannot name.

“We have a soul, and we have a spirit,” states the tarot reader.  The fortune-tellers do not tell either specific dates or how exactly Russia will win. Their speeches are more like a random number generator, with pompous statements about the power of “their great country.”

There are also absolutely schizophrenic comments, such as: “The Supreme forces love Russia and will continue to love it; we have a great future, our era begins, according to the cards. Perhaps, as our science fiction writers wrote, we will really go into space and Russia will play a very serious role there. Perhaps we will get in touch with other civilizations.” 

Ukraine, instead, is at an impasse, according to the cards, and there is no victory for Ukraine on the horizon. The Armed Forces of Ukraine really want to get close to Russia (so much), but they cannot because “we attack, not them,” the fortune-teller summarizes.

What are the goals pursued by NATO, the United States, the EU in the war against Russia on the territory of Ukraine?

All Russians are convinced that NATO, the U.S., and the EU have been their main enemies for a long time. Therefore, the “predictions” here are quite banal and more like an old mantra: the main goal of the West is to weaken their country by the hands of Ukrainians. Most of all, the enemy is interested not in the Ukrainian lands, not in the war, but in its national leader. “They hold a grudge against Putin. Apparently, Vladimir Vladimirovich is much more interesting to them than Zelenskyy,” the fortune-teller suggests.

“Look at the politicians of the United States, Poland, how frightened they were of Wagner, how proud we should be,” the cards reader asks rhetorically.

“They want to bring order to the world under the pretext of tolerance,” allegedly for the benefit of society. But the tarot readers know that this is a deception — a “false interest.” The United Kingdom, the cards tell them, wants to place its military bases in Ukraine. 

In general, NATO will not go against Russia, and Ukraine will not join NATO. But “NATO sees great potential in us. There will be no global conflict. Everything will be resolved peacefully with the emperor,” the fortune-teller convinces. So, the Russians can sleep peacefully. 

Crimea, Crimean Bridge

Readings regarding Crimea boil down to the main issues: whether Ukraine will return the peninsula, whether it will be safe there, whether hostilities will unfold there, whether the “enemy” will attack children’s camps, kindergartens.

The tarot readers advise being cautious and avoiding mass gatherings. “The Armed Forces of Ukraine with NATO mercenaries will try to get into Crimea,” the cards show that “the enemy is close.” Possible human casualties and destruction. But, of course, the wheel of fortune is on the side of the Russians, and the Crimeans are very strong people, so hold on. 

“Give us a piece of Crimea,” another Russian fortune-teller boldly interprets the Ukrainian position, adding that Crimea already has its president and the Black Sea will belong to Russia.

Regarding the Crimean bridge, the answer is simple: “Will the AFU be able to cause a problem? Yes. Will it be able to destroy the bridge? No, the bridge will withstand.” 

Mobilization of Russians, will Belarusians join

The cards predict that there will be no more additional mobilization, there are enough soldiers, and if it does take place, it “will not affect everyone.” Another tarot reader specifies that mobilization will take place but will only apply to experienced fighters who have already either fought or are members of the army. She advises everyone else to run away from their subconscious and just not think about it. But just in case, it is better not to appear on the street during the day: a tip of hers or of the cards. 

The Belarusians will hide, avoid service, and Russia will be able to engage very few people.

Africa and Russia: what this alliance is about

The fortune-teller sees the impasse and disappointment in the relations between Africa and Russia in the tarot cards. She is convinced that Africa is unfair to Russia. “Africans are manipulators, they know how to show themselves from the advantageous side,” she believes. African leaders will be forced to betray Russia and will be forced to do so by America because they are dependent on it. “Some kind of ultimatum was given to Africa by the United States,” the tarot reader comments on the cards. 

“It will be a fricking nightmare,” people write in the comments of the fortune-teller under her post, with a prediction about the construction of African villages in the Tver region. The Russians are promised reinforcement in the form of 3,000 Africans who will come to Russia to develop agriculture. They are to settle in wooden houses, with gas heating, the street is to be named after the Russian writer with African roots Alexander Pushkin. The first large stone has already been symbolically erected. The fortune-teller decided to make a reading for this event, as Russians are concerned about the described prospect. She states that this story is disturbing, and someone wants to “have money,” “embezzle the budget.” But she immediately reassures her followers that it will be something insignificant. There is a chance that a large resettlement will begin in the future, but it does not pose a danger to Russians.

Konstantin Klymenko, the representative of the African International Congress in Russia, sees this as a message: “Many Africans have now converted to Orthodoxy and are moving to Russia. They are attracted to our country as a state with a high moral and spiritual order, with traditional family values.”

When will Putin die? The main request of Ukrainians

Tarot readings are also gaining popularity in Ukraine; Ukrainians like to turn to the advice of fortune-tellers and their requests sound mainly like this: when will Putin die, and when will the war end? 

Esoteric practices, of course, do not give any predictions. The researchers note that the main value of the tarot cards is not in which cards are read, but in how they are interpreted. The interpretation of each card can be presented from completely different angles. 

The only thing that can be stated with confidence is that some decks of cards (and they are, by the way, different) are really beautiful and can be perceived by admirers as a real work of art. 

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