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The History of Divination

Looking At Divination
Everyone is psychic to one degree or another. Some people are just more"aware" of the unseen energies within and around them than others are. But those "gut feelings", that woman's intuition, all are psychic abilities. If you haven't already, I'd suggest you go back a few postings and read about Psychic Gifts. This posting describes what being a psychic is, vs. what a channel.
If you're interested in using your psychic abilities for the purpose of Divination, then you might want to read the "Psychic Development - Developing Your Talents" article.
Contributing Author
Click Here For The Message Board PostingThe following article is a contribution from one of the regular members on the Pagan's Path Message board, Panther Witch. She has graciously allowed me to post her research on the History of Divination from the board here on the site. It is a great article and I thank Panther for allowing us to share it here on the site.
If you're interested in The History of Divination, you might want to see Panther's article on Divination Tools as well.
About Divination
By Panther Witch
Edited by Lady SpringWolf
Divination: (From Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary)
From the Middle English "Divinacioun", from Latin "Divination-, divinatio, from divinare"
Approximate first useage: 14th century
  1. The art or practice that seeks to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge usually by the interpretation of omens or by the aid of supernatural powers.
  2. Unusual insight; intuitive perception
The word divination comes from the Latin word "divinare" or to be inspired by a god. Traditionally, it never has mattered which God or Deity has inspired the events foreseen, but almost all religions have had their versions of diviners. It is actually more common than most people realize. Divination in its most basic sense is to foretell the future.
Divination is forbidden in the Christian Bible. The Bible's attitude on divination is very hostile in general. Deuteronomy 18:10-12 (King James Version) states:
18:10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. 11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. 12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.
All that translates to: Sorcery, witchcraft, omens, fortunetellers, ect are evil, and God doesn't like them.
There are exceptions though.
Daniel 5:11-12 There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; For as much as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation.
Daniel was very much a prophet of God. His divinations, using magic, astrology, Chaldeans (not the people in general- Chaldeans were sorcerers, witches used all sorts of Magik), and soothsayers (truth sayers- prophets). So him using divination was OK. There are other examples, but that's not the point of this posting. Divination is found in some form or another all around the world, weather it is condoned or not. In fact divination is still illegal in many places in the world.
A Historical Perspective
Divination has been around as long as mankind has walked the earth. The Egyptians, Druids and Hebrews used scrying. Romans liked augury and haruspicy. Druids also used haruspicy as well as reading death throes. Greeks had Oracles. Grain, sand and peas were tossed into fields in the Middle Ages to read the patterns they fell in, for the purpose of divining the cast of the year, crops, health, every aspect. The IChing was used as far back as 1000 BCE.
Dice and even playing cards had a divinatory background. Dice (or knucklebones) were made from hooves of animals (horses, oxen, ect) and then cast both for gambling, and for fortunetelling. (Honestly, are the two really that different? Gambling is betting on a future outcome as it is.) Dominoes were a spinoff of dice as well, and had similar uses, but more variations were available. Dominoes were used in China and India first, and have some connection to the IChing and casting of bones.
Another type of divination coming from the China area of the world is Feng-Shui, or geomancy. Feng-Shui is a divination based on the energy that encircles the planet. Feng-Shui is still used today, but not in its original structure. Now people use it to arrange furniture, but it used to be used to build structures, just by their placement to the invisible energy lines running around the planet.
Playing cards and tarot are linked closely as well. Some decks were used for both fortunetelling and gaming. There is controversy as to which came first, but some stories say that early divination decks were turned into playing cards to hide the practice during the Crusades and Inquisition times. (The History of Tarot)
Astrology has been around in both legends and history for many centuries as well. The influence of planets on humankind and the things surrounding us seems to be very common to hear about. Even most newspapers have a daily section dedicated to your daily horoscope.
Prophetic dreams counts among the list of divination methods. (Dream Interpretation) Some people have been able to put themselves into a trance and remotely see, or foretell events coming in the near or far future. Some of the most commonly known future predictions and theories are from people like Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, the Mayans (Don't forget the calendar they made), the Egyptian pyramids and sphinx, theories about Stonehenge, and the list goes on.
Other lower key divinations that you may see in daily life: farmer's almanac, weather averages, forecasts, ect. These can be considered a type of weather reading. Certainly the farmer's almanac each year can be considered a type of divination. It most of the time even gives out moon phases, crop planting times, best fishing days, and sometimes lucky numbers or day outlooks (depending on the version). (Working With The Moon)
Keep in mind, please, that foretelling the future may indeed have an impact on the future you are actually seeing. I know I'm not the only one here that holds to this concept. (Receiving A Reading)
Foretelling The Future
Additional Thoughts By SpringWolf:
It's important to note that no one can use tools of divination to foretell the future in the modern perspective people see in TV and movies. What a psychic reader or divination tool can do is show you the probable outcome of energy patterns you have currently put into place up to today. But with free will and choice, you have the ability to change these outcomes.
This is the benefit of divination. To determine how your current choices have created a pattern of energy on your path for today, tomorrow and beyond. By understanding how your energy is being manifest by you, you can alter those aspects you don't want, and work toward those you do want. So don't think the future is set in stone. It's not, if you don't want it to be.
There are many instances of divination, magik and witchcraft in the Bible. Especially the King James version. Very few are positive, but a few are surprising and almost seem hypocritical.
Case in point Saul's visit to the Witch of Endor.
1 Samuel 28:3 Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned over him and buried him in Ramtha in his own sepulcher. And Saul had put away the diviners and the wizards of the land.
1 Samuel 28:7-25 Then Saul said to his servants, Seek me a woman who has a familiar spirit, that I may go to her and inquire of her. And his servants said to him Behold, there is a woman who has a familiar spirit at En-dor. (find a bible and read this entire chapter, it's very interesting).
To make a long story a little shorter, Saul goes to the woman and asks her to call up Samuel so he may as questions of him. The woman channels Samuel who asks Saul why he has disturbed him and called him up. They have a conversation and Saul leaves.
The woman becomes known as the Witch of Endor and seemingly appears again to Solomon in the Hebrew Bible in the book of The Wisdom of Solomon 12:4. There is an interesting write up about this encounter @ Bible Encyclopedia.

Sources: 1, PantherWitch
Created: 07.02.2009       Updated: 11.04.2009


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