The word ‘divination,’ originates from the Latin word, ‘divinare’, which means to predict or guess using Godly methods. Divine wisdom has been sought by many from ancient times till now. Divination is a means to foresee future events through calling on deific entities. The practice of divination is different from fortune-telling as it is a formal ritual which is more inclined to a religious context whereas fortune telling is more informal and can be done routinely and usually for personal matters. Divination is an aid to prevent bad outcomes and plan for future occurrences. Let’s delve into the world of divination and explore the concept in more detail.
Divination is categorized into 4 types by Julian Jaynes, an American psychologist. These types are:
- Sortilege (cleromancy): This divination type works by using objects in order to read the divine signs. They can be bones, beans, coins, stones, sticks, etc. As a matter of fact, board games and playing cards that we have today have been developed from this method of divination.
- Omens: The concept of omens stems from records of the Chinese who used to track strange incidents such as weird natural phenomenon and births. The patterns that coincided with some sort of sign before the event occurred were noted as omens.
- Spontaneous divination: This type of divination can be seen as a free form of practicing divination that does not require any medium and just utilizes practices from the other types of divination. Some members of religions such as Christianity and Islam may practice what is known as bibliomancy: this method can be used to foretell the future or answer questions in the person’s mind. It is simply done by taking whichever holy book the person follows and randomly open the book to a page and take the first passage they encounter as their answer. Reading of auras can also be considered a form of spontaneous divination.
- Augury: Augury is a type of divination which helps the individual rank a set of possibilities. One famous example of augury was the one used by ancient Romans called hepatoscopy, in which haruspices would examine livers of animals that had been sacrificed for the process. Another form of divination that could count in the category of augury could be the reading of tea leaves and palm reading.
The Most Common Methods Of Divination
The methods to practice divination could be divided into two main categories:
- Observing and interpreting natural phenomenon
- Observing and interpreting the man-made phenomenon
The natural phenomenon can include the divinatory methods of hepatoscopy and astrology. It can also include observing natural omens such as unexpected natural disasters, cloud formations, strange births of animals and man, nightmares, and display of weird behaviours by animals.
Divination conducted through man-made phenomenon includes us using man-made materials in order to soothsay or perform necromancy. Reading tea leaves, casting lots, shooting arrows, or observing bubbles and rings formations made by oil poured in water can all be considered methods of divination that are used to observe and interpret manmade phenomena.