Divination

Display on divination, featuring a cross-cultural range of items, in the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, England.
Part of a series on
Anthropology of religion
Rhumsiki crab sorceror.jpg
This man in Rhumsiki, Cameroon, attempts to tell the future by interpreting the changes in position of various objects as caused by a freshwater crab through the practice of nggàm.[1]
Social and cultural anthropology

Divination (from Latin divinare "to foresee, to be inspired by a god",[2] related to divinus, divine) is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic, standardized process or ritual.[3] Used in various forms throughout history, diviners ascertain their interpretations of how a querent should proceed by reading signs, events, or omens, or through alleged contact with a supernatural agency.[4]

Divination can be seen as a systematic method with which to organize what appear to be disjointed, random facets of existence such that they provide insight into a problem at hand. If a distinction is to be made between divination and fortune-telling, divination has a more formal or ritualistic element and often contains a more social character, usually in a religious context, as seen in traditional African medicine. Fortune-telling, on the other hand, is a more everyday practice for personal purposes. Particular divination methods vary by culture and religion.

Divination is dismissed by the scientific community and skeptics as being superstition.[5][6] In the 2nd century, Lucian devoted a witty essay to the career of a charlatan, "Alexander the false prophet", trained by "one of those who advertise enchantments, miraculous incantations, charms for your love-affairs, visitations for your enemies, disclosures of buried treasure, and successions to estates",[7] even though most Romans believed in prophetic dreams and charms.

Categories

Russian peasant girls using chickens for divination; 19th century lubok.
Other Languages
Afrikaans: Wiggelary
العربية: كهانة
български: Предсказание
català: Endevinació
čeština: Věštba
Cymraeg: Darogan
dansk: Divination
español: Adivinación
euskara: Aurresan
français: Divination
한국어: 점복
hrvatski: Proricanje
Bahasa Indonesia: Ramalan
interlingua: Divination
italiano: Divinazione
Kabɩyɛ: Tɩʋ pazɩyʋ
ქართული: მკითხაობა
Кыргызча: Төлгө
magyar: Jóslás
македонски: Претскажување
Bahasa Melayu: Penilikan
Nederlands: Wichelarij
日本語: 占い
norsk nynorsk: Klarsyn
polski: Wróżenie
português: Adivinhação
Runa Simi: Watuq
русский: Предсказание
sicilianu: Arriminavintura
Simple English: Divination
slovenčina: Veštenie
српски / srpski: Прорицање
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Proricanje
suomi: Divinaatio
svenska: Spådomskonst
татарча/tatarça: Тәкъдир
Türkçe: Divinasyon
Tiếng Việt: Bói toán
中文: 占卜