On Divination

Since the Tarot posts are drawing in some new readers, I thought I’d share the relevant passages on divination from the Catechism, just so we’re all in the same page.

Divination is gravely evil and strictly forbidden. I don’t support it, suggest it, take it lightly, or play around with it. Here’s why:

2115 God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of responsibility.

2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to “unveil” the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.

2117 All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others – even if this were for the sake of restoring their health – are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another’s credulity.

Divination is one of two things: a fraud, or trafficking with dark forces. In any case, it is unbefitting a Christian and could be a gateway to a direct encounter with grave evil. This includes the use of Tarot cards for divination.

One reason I’m writing about Tarot is to sort the real history from the false occult history that was overlaid on it. I do not think the cards need to be avoided. They have much to offer, not merely for entertainment, but also for an understanding of history and the faith.

It’s very simple: just don’t use them for divination.

I understand some of the concern that greeted these posts. Many people like to sort their Catholics and bloggers into neat piles: liberal, conservative, progressive, faithful, and so on. As I said at the very beginning of this blog, I’m just a Catholic, and you can keep the other labels. I offer obsequium religiosum, intellect and will, to the central teachings of the Church. I accept, without reservation, the authority of the Magisterium in all matters and the guidance of the Catechism. Period.

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  • Toscano

    Spiritism is incompatible with the practice of black magic and occultic rituals. Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_Kardec. Allan Kardec’s “The Spirits’ Book” and “The Gospel According to Spiritism” should be read to see the reason for this. They are available at http://www.spiritist.us/spiritist-book/e-books-on-pdf/ .

  • Makarios

    We do read, however, that forms of divination were practiced in OT and
    NT times, apparently with divine approbation (or at least with no
    evidence of divine disapproval). A quick look at the Wikipedia entry for
    “Cleromancy” will show numerous examples (mostly OT, but the one from
    the NT, viz. the selection of St. Matthias as the
    replacement for Judas, is particularly notable). And, of course,
    scholars are pretty much on all fours that the Urim and Thummim were
    divinatory tools. I suppose that it would be possible to craft a
    definition of “divination” that would exclude the biblical instances
    while including all others, but this would seem to be stretching a
    point; and a blanket condemnation of all forms of divination, regardless
    of circumstances, may be somewhat overboard.

  • Azraelina Sahjaza

    Thank you very much Toscano on your reference to Spiritism. I myself have taken classes with the Allen Kardec Spiritism group in Manhattan and i have read the Allan kardec Spirits book, and the Gospel according to Spiritism. These books are Not Evil and are in No Way Any Relation To Satanism. These people don’t even light Candles for goodness Sake, they are less mystical then the Catholic Church is. I Cannot see why all the hostility towards Spiritism and the Tarot in general. Evil is what you make it out to be, you can even do Evil using the Holy Bible if you choose to.

  • Dan F.


    Evil is what you make it out to be…

    how would you know that you (or another) are doing “Evil” at all?