Divination involves employing a variety of supernatural techniques for gaining knowledge of the unknown. All cultures employ divinatory methods. The most common involve sortilege, which is tossing a handful of objects (e.g. stones, bones, shells, etc.) and interpreting the pattern they form when they land, in order to answer your questions. Other forms of divination include tarot cards, horoscopes, palmistry, numerology and reading tea leaves (Guiley).

The prophets of the Old Testament regularly used dreams to contact God and divine the future. The Babylonians used dice carved from bone to cast lots. Egyptians used divination to get insight into a situation and plea to their gods for aid in improving their situation. Divination was also popular in ancient Rome. It was employed to communicate with the gods and goddesses. Diviner priests interpreted omens related to the outcome of military expeditions and battles. Ancient Greeks used seers as well as oracles. They interpreted dreams and observed patterns in nature, such as the flight of birds, to aid them in divination (Webster).

Divination differs from fortune telling, which predicts the future. Divination actually interprets the potential outcomes of a given situation. It is based on the belief that you can change your destiny by changing the way you think and act (Webster).

Performing magical rites in divination is intended to manipulate and influence the outcome of events by strengthening the individual’s personal energy (Graft).

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Guiley, Rosemary Ellen, Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical & Paranormal Experience, Castle Books, 1991.

Graft, Fritz, Magic in the Ancient World (Revealing Antiquity, No. 10), Harvard University Press, 1992.

Categories: Glossary

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