Divination holds significance and finds applications in various aspects of human existence. It serves as a tool for self-reflection, personal growth, and decision-making. Many individuals turn to divination to gain insights into their life path, relationships, and potential outcomes. 

Divination can also be employed as a means of seeking guidance in times of crisis, finding answers to burning questions, or simply exploring one’s spiritual journey. Moreover, divination has often been used as a means of divining the will of the gods or seeking guidance for important communal decisions.


Divination refers to any number of techniques used to communicate with the supernatural in order to access special knowledge unavailable through conventional channels. Divinators or seers often take the form of an omen or oracle when accessing this knowledge.  Some techniques fall under either natural or artificial categories based on how their symbols/signs are interpreted by divinatory methods, making classification sometimes difficult.

Divination techniques have long been employed across cultures and time periods as a way of gaining insights into both personal lives and wider world events. Some divination practices remain relatively unchanged over the centuries, while others may have undergone slight adaptation or changes with time. Modern anthropologists are particularly intrigued by divination because it gives an intriguing window into ancient cultures and beliefs.

Ancient Egyptians, Babylonians and Greeks all depended heavily on diviners to make decisions and predict the future. Rulers would even consult diviners before wars or major ventures were undertaken.  

Divination has long been seen as unholy by some cultures such as Christianity.  Old Testament scripture mentions multiple forms of divination, such as Urim and Thummim readings and Gideon’s fleece as methods used by diviners. Despite its widespread practice in antiquity however, modern societies still regard divination as dangerous and unholy by many.  This perception even holds true today.

Modern anthropologists have studied divination from many perspectives. Some approaches emphasize its cultural elements and how they work to maintain social cohesion, while others take a more cognitive, symbolic-intellectual approach in understanding divination as commenting or explaining natural and social world events. Still other scholars emphasize divination’s embodiment, worldmaking potential, ontological significance, or all three simultaneously.

Anthropologists and Old Testament scholars may view prophecy as simply being an advanced form of divination. However, this does not always hold true.  Sometimes the two forms of knowledge do not share much in common. Spirit possession or shamanism, for instance, can produce oracular pronouncements from someone believed to be under possession, yet in actuality could be explained through skill, expertise and experience of the individual involved.


Divination can be broadly defined as the art or practice of seeking knowledge or insight about the future or unknown through supernatural or intuitive means. It involves interpreting signs, symbols, or omens to gain guidance, understanding, and predictions regarding various aspects of life, including love, career, health, and more. Divination is often associated with spirituality, mysticism, and the belief in higher powers or unseen forces that can influence human existence. 

Divination encompasses such a wide range of mantic arts that it is difficult to provide a comprehensive definition. What is clear, however, is that divination refers to any attempt at gathering practical information by means conceived as transcending mundane means. For instance, astrology or phrenology can provide generalized or specific predictions. Oracles or horoscopes provide more specific predictions pertaining to an event or person.

Divination techniques vary considerably across cultures and centuries. Romans believed in omens. Egytians in oracles and signs. Chaldeans in augury and seers. Greeks used hexographia and pyromancy.

Divination entails looking ahead and understanding hidden causes and effects, but is different than prophecy. Prophecy involves divining future events based on an intimate knowledge of nature and an intuitive grasp of its rhythms rather than claiming any sort of superhuman power like divining arts do.


Divination takes many forms. From reading ancient oracles in temples to more contemporary fortune-telling with tarot cards or horoscopes. Divination could involve reading signs and portents, to using artifacts like crystal balls or Ouija boards. 

Divination techniques often have little to do with truth.  We tend to shrug off divination’s predictive failures as statistical outliers or biased training data, instead seeing divination as something to provide emotional reassurance or provide social cohesion. More commonly, it helps maintain cognitive order by providing emotional reassurance or creating social cohesion.

Due to these reasons, it’s wise to be wary of assuming divination can provide accurate predictions about our future. That doesn’t mean divination cannot be helpful or transformative, but we should recognize its limits. 


Divination practices typically involve individuals using various mediums as vehicles to receive messages from higher powers, such as rune stones, tarot cards, crystal balls or the human body itself. Other individuals practice divination directly by tapping into their intuition or clairvoyance for guidance in answering divinatory queries.

Divination is an ongoing social process and can be used to manage uncertainty and risk as well as gain greater insight into the universe and events. Furthermore, divination can also serve to heal wounds while providing direction for future decisions.

Diviners often seek to gain insights into hidden information regarding others or any unconscious motivations driving antisocial behavior, known as esoteric or occult science and used widely across different cultures.

Divination can be an arduous practice that takes years of dedication to master. Other methods may be more straightforward and can help make decisions or solve problems more quickly and efficiently. Many such techniques have been around for millennia; examples include rune stones, Sangoma bones and I Ching.

Divination, from Latin divinare (to determine or predict), has long been associated with magical traditions. Divination may also be perceived as contrary to scientific knowledge, although some may see divination as beneficial in self-help situations.


Divination, with its rich history and diverse practices, continues to captivate individuals seeking a deeper understanding of their lives and the world around them. While its effectiveness and interpretation may vary from person to person, the art of divination remains an integral part of many cultures worldwide.

For true believers, the practice continues to provide solace, guidance, and a glimpse into the unknown. Some will take comfort in the assurance that their deity has provided an answer.  

Whether you approach divination with skepticism or open-minded curiosity, exploring this ancient practice can be an exciting journey of self-discovery and enlightenment.  At a minimum, you will learn more about our human history and anthropology.

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