Italy Turning to Magic and Occultism

17% Embrace Some Form of Superstition, Says Anti-fraud Group

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ROME, NOV. 5, 2001 ( Magicians and fortunetellers are enjoying boom times in Italy.

Gripped by post-Sept. 11 fears and anxiety, people in Italy are increasingly falling prey to superstition-mongers, feeding a $450-million-a-year business.

Last Wednesday, when presenting its “2001 Report on Magic and Occultism in Italy,” the Anti-fraud Telephone Line group raised the alarm again over the growth of the problem.

There have been more than 7,000 accusations of fraud in the past seven years, the group said. Women are the most common victims.

According to the study, 17% of the population is involved in astrology, magic and occultism. The principal reasons are health, fear of the future, romance and work.

Fully 97% of the earnings of magicians and occultists are not declared on tax returns. A famous Cagliari magician evaded payment of $3 million over three years.

Carlo Climati, an Italian expert on esotericism, and author of “Youths and Esotericism,” explained the phenomenon to ZENIT.

–Q: What does the study conclude?

–Climati: The phenomenon of occultism is increasing and it is a phenomenon that must be taken into account and must be seriously addressed.

–Q: What makes people take recourse to magicians, fortunetellers, mediums, etc.? What dangers do these people risk who enter this environment?

–Climati: What impels people to go to magicians is a sense of insecurity about the future, above all, loneliness, and this is an important aspect.

Many people are alone, and they look to magicians and big shots as a point of reference to solve their own problems. The magician becomes a sort of counselor, a person who in time creates a real relation of dependency.

–Q: What role does the media play in this area? Are they responsible for the spread of this phenomenon?

–Climati: In my opinion, the media have a very great responsibility. Increasingly, we see magicians, big shots and fortunetellers on television who are introduced as if they were totally normal people.

Undoubtedly, therefore, the moment the television makes a magician “normal,” the magician enters the normal circle of the imagination of people, who begin to come into contact with him.

To air a magician on a program means to make him famous, more so as the television has the strange power of transforming everything that is incredible into being credible.

–Q: What must be done to tackle this phenomenon?

–Climati: It is necessary to find the strength to confront these charlatans with the greatest possible number of actions in the cultural plane as well as operations of a legal character, wherever there is a violation of the penal code.

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