Problem

Fortune-telling

Other Names:
Divination
Fortune-tellers
Nature:

Fortune-telling is the practice of predicting information about a person's life. The scope of fortune-telling is in principle identical with the practice of divination. The difference is that divination is the term used for predictions considered part of a religious ritual, invoking deities or spirits, while the term fortune-telling implies a less serious or formal setting, even one of popular culture, where belief in occult workings behind the prediction is less prominent than the concept of suggestion, spiritual or practical advisory or affirmation.

Historically, fortune-telling grows out of folkloristic reception of Renaissance magic, specifically associated with Romani people. During the 19th and 20th century, methods of divination from non-Western cultures, such as the I Ching, were also adopted as methods of fortune-telling in western popular culture.

An example of divination or fortune-telling as purely an item of pop culture, with little or no vestiges of belief in the occult, would be the Magic 8-Ball sold as a toy by Mattel, or Paul II, an octopus at the Sea Life Aquarium at Oberhausen used to predict the outcome of matches played by the German national football team.

There is opposition to fortune-telling in Christianity, Islam and Judaism based on scriptural prohibitions against divination. This sometimes causes discord in the Jewish community due to their views on mysticism.

Terms for one who sees into the future include fortune-teller, crystal-gazer, spaewife, seer, soothsayer, sibyl, clairvoyant, and prophet; related terms which might include this among other abilities are oracle, augur, and visionary.

Background:
Divination is the art of foreseeing or foretelling future events or of discovering hidden or secret knowledge. There are basically two kinds: natural and artificial. Natural divination includes oneiromancy, based on dreams and chresmology based on oracles. Artificial, or inductive, divination is of many types. Ornithomancy is based on the flight, cries and eating of various species of birds. Cledonomancy is based on observing human signs, actions or utterances and includes palmistry. Extispicy is based on the examination of the entrails of animals. Pyromancy is based on observing the actions of wood, bone, eggs, flour or incense when thrown on a fire or the actions of the fire itself. Hydromancy is based on the action of water when various things are thrown on it. Cleromancy is divination by lots and includes a wide variety of types. Meteorological divination includes observation of lightning, shooting stars, meteorites and earthquakes. Astrology is well known. Christianity and Judaism generally oppose all forms of divination. Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions of the Middle and Far East use divination as a part of their traditions as do most less formal traditions.
Incidence:
It has been estimated that in France there are 30,000 people offering the fortune-telling services with an annual turnover of 5 billion francs.
Broader Problems:
Superstition
Narrower Problems:
Horological superstition
Aggravated By:
Experimental religion
Strategies:
Divining the future
Values:
Fortune
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
01.01.2000 – 00:00 CET
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