Italy’s grinding economic crisis has created a boom time for the country’s soothsayers, tarot card readers and fortune-tellers, a report has revealed.
With high unemployment and a largely moribund economy, more and more people are seeking solace from the esoteric and the occult.
The number of faith healers and fortune-tellers has risen five times since the global economic crisis began a decade ago, according to Codacons, Italy’s national consumer organisation.
The sector is now worth an estimated eight billion euros a year, with the vast majority of the country’s 155,000 practitioners demanding cash in hand and not declaring their earnings to the tax authorities.
While most practitioners ask for money for their services, others are demanding sexual favours from their most vulnerable clients.
Around 13 million Italians – about a quarter of the adult population – regularly visit astrologers, fortune-tellers and tarot card readers, three million more than in 2001, an investigation by Codacons found.
“The main factor driving the increase in the number of Italians going to fortune-tellers, card readers and gurus is, without doubt, the economic crisis,” Codacons said in a report.
The Italian economy remains stubbornly in the doldrums, with an overall unemployment rate of 11 per cent.
The jobless rate for young people is much worse, at around 35 per cent.
“Deep uncertainty about the future, the difficult in finding work, economic problems and the hope of resolving personal situations has driven a growing number of Italians to look for answers in tarot card reading, paid-for horoscopes and magic,” the report said.
“They end up in the hands of unscrupulous people who profit from their fragility and their difficulties.”
The Catholic Church has warned that the growing interest in tarot cards and fortune-telling can lead some people to dabble in the dark side of the occult, with some needing exorcisms to rid them of evil.
A decline in faith has led to people resorting to “pagan activities”, such as using Ouija boards to summon the dead.
The Vatican said last year that a rise in the number of people dabbling in Satanism and the occult is fueling a demand for more exorcists on both sides of the Atlantic.
“The number of people who take part in occult and satanic practices, which lead to serious physical, psychological and spiritual damages, is constantly rising,” said Valter Cascioli, a psychologist and scientific consultant to the International Association of Exorcists, which is endorsed by the Vatican.
“The lack of exorcists is a real emergency. There is a pastoral emergency as a result of a significant increase in the number of diabolical possessions that exorcist priests are confronting,” he told La Stampa newspaper.
CREDIT: SOLENT NEWS