Dante’s Inferno Oracle Cards
Paolo Barbieri (author); Charles Harrington (guidebook)
Llewellyn Worldwide (November 2023)
Reviewed by N. Richards
Where the hell to start with this one ?
Well, Dante Alighieri wrote this truly epic poem written in the 13th century in the middle ages and it was called The Divine Comedy. It is in three separate sections, Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. It still has so much inspiration and wisdom for us today, and the creation of this deck brings it into the new age seamlessly.
The oracle set focuses on the first part, “Inferno,” and does leave me wondering if there will be Oracle decks inspired by the other two parts to follow. Now Dante’s inferno is of course so steeped in our collective psyche that what we think of as “hell” in the classic sense actually comes from the vast imagination of Dante`s literature.
The 36 Oracle cards and 127 page booklet come in a compact and sturdy box. I have to say they are stunning , so stunning! The artwork by artist Paulo Barbieri is beautiful, although the imagery is mostly grim and on the darker side . Also I never talk about “cardstock,” but I really noticed that whatever cardstock this is? It feels, well, perfect! It shuffles like a dream! I only wish all decks shuffled this well. The overall quality is fantastic, and the vibe is inviting and ethereal. Throughout the journey of this oracle deck you will meet fantastic supernatural beasts and beings, places and circumstances. Some surprisingly peaceful beings are in there too, like the golden muse who came up for me twice this week while I have been working daily with the deck; she comes in to reassure us that help is on the way. Also to be navigated are places like the grove of lamentations, or the river of blood. The ferryman, twisted soothsayers, and so many more are waiting to help guide the journey of life.
The booklet explains the oracle cards with a short verse quoted from the original masterpiece, followed by a paragraph explaining where in the journey of the inferno this card applies to, and then a divination which cleverly takes us through the diabolical and into the sublime. It feels daunting, but the healing within is worth the journey and is filled with sheer wonder along the way. Written by the Tarot occult expert Charles Harrington the guidebook makes you feel safe in the presence of “the inferno” and its strange inhabitants.
Working with Dante’s inferno oracle feels like more of a personal journey kind of deck rather than one we would use in readings for others, with the exception of shadow work readings; then it could indeed be used as an extra tool in the kit to back up the Tarot.
Thoroughly enjoyable for students of the occult or fans of classic literature.