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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

divination Also called the “Mantic Art.” The process of determining the future; discovering hidden or lost articles, persons, or substances; deciding guilt or innocence by various means; and generally of finding out required knowledge. Dr. Charles Mackay, author of the remarkable book Extraordinary Popular Delusions (1841), lists there fifty-two species of divination claimed by practitioners.


One form of divination is metoposcopy, determining one's destiny by analyzing the lines of the forehead in relation to the sun, moon, and planets. The process is as successful as casting a horoscope or reading the lines of the palm.

      Divination is attempted by means of forked sticks or pendulums (see also dowsing), by interpretation of almost any random event such as throwing dice, cloud formations, the configurations of the entrails of a sacrificed animal (known as augury), dreams, how a pack of cards is dealt out, the movements of insects and a great variety of other phenomena.
      In Genesis 44, there is a reference to a silver cup belonging to Joseph “in which [he] drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth,” which was another popular method similar to scrying, an art that involved looking into a bowl of water. Even today, crystal balls are used to try to see images of the future.
      See also I Ching, numerology, omens, palmistry, police psychics, prophecy, and Tarot cards.



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