May Sim has a prediction for Singaporeans they won't be happy to hear.
And that is there'll be "at least two more cycles" of economic and social uncertainty to come, and the world will "get into some stability" only after 2023, said the astrologer, based on what's written in the stars.
Does that mean it's not time to break out our dusty suitcases from the storeroom just yet?
“Last year I warned people that this was a tsunami. And tsunamis don't come in one wave. All tsunamis come in multiple waves. Right now in 2021, it is only the second wave. So that's my big hint," she added.
But when clarified if the instability is entirely due to Covid-19, she emphasised: "It's not solely Covid-19."
She believes the virus will never be completely eradicated, "and it has nothing to do with astrology".
Drawing reference from the scarlet fever pandemic and tuberculosis which still exist, May said: "As long as Covid exists somewhere in the world, there's going to be some level of spreadability.
"I just think it's really naive for anyone to think that Covid could disappear."
When it comes to providing astrology readings for people or events, May speaks with plenty of confidence. And that probably comes from her 17 years of researching and studying astrology.
4-figure consultation fee
A reading with the 36-year-old Singaporean will cost you a four-figure sum, but even if you have the money, she might not see you.
Call her picky, but May can afford to be.
As a full-time astrologer, May used to work seven days a week just two or three years ago, she shared.
Weekdays would be spent "seeing clients non-stop" while weekends would find her conducting full-day courses at her astrology school, which has transitioned online due to the pandemic and the "air" era, which we'll come back to later.
"I would say it was good for revenue and income, but it wasn't a life," said May of her hectic schedule then. At one point, the waiting list for an appointment with her was three months.
Due to overwork, May, who roped in her brother to help in her business, decided that she would stop providing readings for the general public. But the reason behind it was also something else she realised — clients were seeing her way too often.
One might think it's a happy problem, but May likened the dependency to an addiction.
"They get addicted to the idea of a prediction, especially if it's accurate. They might have come to see me the first time because they were dealing with some issues and they genuinely needed to be prepared.
"But it becomes a really big problem when people come every year, just to get a prediction. And I'll be like, 'why are you here?'" she adds.
"I didn't find that to be rewarding at all. It was financially very rewarding. But that was not why I became an astrologer. I wanted to empower, not disempower people," said May, who made the decision to go full-time into astrology at the age of 28.
Before that, she had climbed the ranks to be a general manager in the safety industry and had dabbled in theatre as a literature graduate from the National University of Singapore.
What people should be doing with their readings, said May, is to take practical steps to solve the issues in their lives, rather than wait for her predictions to play out before returning for another "hit".
"I've turned clients out of my consultation before because they will show up every six months," shared May.
Turning away clients
Another group of people that she has turned away are those who use astrology with the intention to "manipulate" people and situations — in May's words, "very lame stuff".
"You get women dating their boyfriends for a long time who ask me, 'how do I make my boyfriend marry me?' Or they'll ask, 'there's somebody in the office who's challenging me for a promotion, how do I turn this in my favour?'"
Said May: “There's a very big difference between asking 'is there something I’m not doing that I’m getting passed over for promotions', versus 'how do I sabotage somebody else or make someone do something that they were not willing to do?' And that’s manipulation.”
May shared that now, she consults solely for entrepreneurs or business owners — and only if they're "looking for transformation, not a prediction".
"It's a non-negotiable criterion that this person has to be self-employed," said May, who gets on a call with potential clients first to see if they are the right fit.
"I don't need them to be rich, but I need them to pay their own salary. So that means they can just be a struggling photographer."
But when we questioned how her four-figure fee would be astronomical — pun not intended — for a struggling photographer, she replied: "It's the mindset that is important.
"I'm known for turning businesses around, and if they don't come and see me, they would have spent it on something stupid anyway."
May is clearly a straight talker who shoots from the hip.
She is blase, almost dismissive, when asked about her take on horoscopes, such as those found online or in magazines. "Frankly, the popular astrology that's out there, it's just pure rubbish," she quipped.
"There are these memes like 'oh, [how to] break up with the 12 signs from Aries to Pisces'. The descriptions that are written there, are you telling me that all 600 million people react the same way?"
Her disdain extends to "Starbucks astrologers", people "who just do readings to earn an extra $50".
"And because they are not professional, they meet you at Starbucks to read your chart."
Post-Covid, it seems, these "side-hustle" astrologers have moved on to virtual platforms, earning them the new nickname of "Carousell astrologers".
"I like to equate professional astrology to professional doctors in the sense that it really takes that much education," said May, who holds a diploma from the International Academy of Astrology, an online school based in Cleveland, Ohio, where she was its first Asian student.
"When you do something professionally, you have to care for your clients. My reputation is on the line at every moment. But when you are a side hustle and you're just doing it for pocket money, when you read wrongly, who cares, you can just stop reading lor."
Despite her experience, her age and youthful appearance have thrown clients off.
May recounted: "One elderly lady in her 60s booked a consultation with me and when she arrived, I was alone in the office. I told her to have a seat while I went to the restroom, and she asked me if May was here.
"I told her I'm May, and you could see she was very disappointed, like it was a little girl that was going to read her chart."
May calmly told her, "Let's go for the first 15 minutes. And if you honestly think that I'm not up to the job, I'll give you a full refund. She stayed for two-and-a-half hours."
A consultation with May usually covers both the psycho-astrological profile of the client and a predictive reading, which looks at the timing of events in their lives.
Clients would have to submit their birthdates and timing, down to the exact minute. As the planets are constantly in motion, your birth time represents a snapshot of the placement of planets — think Mercury, Venus, Saturn and Mars — the moment you are born.
From there, using a special software programme, a birth chart — which sort of resembles a pie chart — is generated.
As the different planets are ascribed different astrological meanings, and depending on which 'house' or segment of your life it is in, this determines the forces that are at play in your lifetime.
Being able to accurately interpret the charts is also something May prides herself on, and this is based upon her research "across thousands of charts" to make sure that any hypothesis she has is supported.
May lives for those 'a-ha' moments during a session, when clients realise what it is that they need to do to solve a problem in their lives and get them moving forward.
"I think validation is one of the big things about a consult. They just need to see the conviction in the chart," said May, who is a strong advocate for people to do their own thing as freelancers or entrepreneurs.
And that's also tied to another prediction that she has, for the transition of astrological signs from the "earth" to "air" era which we are now in.
According to May, the “earth” era lasted for about 200 years and ended in 2020. It coincided with the industrial revolution, which saw the rise of industries such as banking and property. "As a result," said May, "there were a lot of things we never questioned, for example, that if you buy a property it will go up in price.
“But it will not be the case in the air era,” May continued, where technology and social influence are at the fore. “Which is why it is very concerning.
"How people are still putting all their resources into specific things, the way people have invested... it's going to be a tough wake-up call," said May.
Unsurprisingly, she has faced backlash for her rhetoric, which she has preached since December 2019.
She stressed that "what's going to be big" is "not what's going to make the most money", but "what's going to make the most social impact".
"I think Covid really helped to make my point that for anyone whose primary income comes from just one or two sources, and this includes businesses, they are going to struggle.
"But the people who are going to be okay are those who make $30 from a million people," said May.
We quizzed her on another prediction she's made — that Singaporeans could be in for "some excitement" during the September to October period, and it has to do with Singapore's leadership.
"There are indicators in Singapore's chart for what we would call a leader," said May, but it may not just refer to one position or one person.
"It's like how whenever Sanna Marin (Finnish prime minister) makes a decision, her team shows up.
"We've always thought of the leader as being one person. And I think that's going to change," she added.
Living her purpose
With the ability to pick and choose her projects, May's schedule now is more relaxed, she admitted. Her time now is spent mostly on running her astrology school, where she specialises in teaching psychological astrology (using astrology to tap into the psyche of a person) and offers career-transition programmes.
She seems almost proud of the fact that among her students, 80 per cent have quit their jobs within two years to pursue their "life purpose".
For May, she is evidently living her purpose and there doesn't seem to be anything that she dislikes about her current position.
“When I had a job, I would do astrology on weekends and dream of the day that I could do astrology every day. And I live it now.”
She also doesn't see having a YOLO (you only live once) attitude as a bad thing.
"A lot of people get very gan cheong (anxious) about the small things in life. But for me, I spend all my time looking at planets and I know how small our lives are in comparison.
"Too many people just have a job, and then they just go and slog in a job. And to me at least, I think it's possible to have a much more exciting and much more meaningful life."
To her detractors, May is unfazed. "I don't have time to convince naysayers because there's so much that I need to do for the people who actually are paying attention."