I’ve been steadily reading my way through Dante’s Inferno.
Currently, I’m travelling with Dante and Virgil through the 8th circle, which is itself subdivided into ten sections. I’m cowering at the edge of the section containing Thieves; we’ve recently passed through the sections containing the Hypocrites and the Perculators. The inhabitants of the section prior to those have left me haunted. That section was the fourth in the circle, and it contains Diviners and Magicians, grotesquely punished for all eternity for having the audacity to peek at God’s plan before He meant to reveal it to them.
I mean, I don’t really subscribe to the Christian faith in general, let alone the medieval perspective of the early 1300s when Dante was writing. But it’s a sobering thought nonetheless to realize that I’d be condemned to the 8th circle of Hell just for playing with my Tarot cards.* There are only 9 circles. The Diviners are pretty far down the pit.
I suppose it’s something every Tarot-er probably contemplates at some point in his or her life. Whether they’re familiar with the specifics of Dante’s Hell or not, it’s no secret that practitioners of magic and divination are committing a hell-worthy trespass from the perspective of many religious folk. I’m gambling with my everlasting soul by using the Tarot (oddly fitting, I think, considering that the Tarot originated as a deck of cards for gambling).
Is it worth it?
Obviously, if I believed in Dante’s vision, it would absolutely not be worth it. And perhaps just as obviously, I don’t believe in Dante’s vision, as should be made evident by the very existence of this blasphemous blog. But there are enough shades of grey in my own worldview to merit at least a pause when confronted with something like this.
*The Tarot it isn’t known to have existed in Dante’s day – although it wasn’t far behind him – but I suspect he’d have frowned upon it all the same.