Thursday, June 26, 2014

Prognostication, Divination, and Fortune-Telling

Practitioners of many different Magickal traditions engage in practices of prognostication, divination, or fortune-telling. While all of these are similar they not quite the same and very different psychology is at work behind each. Despite these differences, the same desire seems to drive the seekers of the arts, an attempt to ascertain and have some control over the future.

Prognostication, or forecasting is perhaps the most common and therefore the most invisible of the three. Most prognosticators must establish themselves through schooling or expertise in a field before being allowed to practice their professions. Some examples include Weather Forecasters, Economists, Sports Forecasters and even the people who compile allergy forecast. The basic model seems to follow along the lines of , observe, record, sample,and predict. The first element is essential, one cannot predict what will happen if one does not understand how things work. Take weather for example, if you do not know what usually happens after SE winds for three days straight followed by a shift to winds out of the NW in Central Texas in late September then you will not make a good Weather Forecaster. Secondly you must build a record to make your predictions more accurate by comparison to past events, this is how rain percentages are calculated. Third you must know what current conditions are for sake of said comparison. Lastly, and this is where it gets tricky, you must make a guess and hope it's right or you will not be employed for long. This approach is not only the most common but it is actually treated as science even though it ultimately comes down to intuition and guesswork.

Divination, or insight works a bit differently and is usually spurned by our modern scientific materialistic culture. This bias probably arises as much from the use of devices like Tarot Cards, Crystal Balls and Bone Oracles, as from charlatans and con-men trying to exploit the desperate and gullible. Disclaimer: I myself do use and believe in the efficacy of certain divinatory practices when used in the proper context. Some of what is done with these techniques and tools is closer to fortune telling than divination, but that will be illustrated more later. Tarot Cards have a long and mixed history of use as divination tools, the truly adept use them more as a psychological aid than a predictor of future events, in fact Carl Jung has written extensively on this subject. One must use techniques very similar  to prognostication to have an effective outcome with tarot. First learn what the symbols on the cards mean, then keep a record of ones mental well being, including feelings about the symbols themselves. Once a data base has been built, one may begin to ascertain deep personal psychological truths or predict ones behavior in a given situation, including alternatives. Scrying or crystal gazing, relies heavily on intuition and interpretation. Again this probably best done on a personal level or when the interpretation is left to the querant. Bone Oracles, or casting are purely based on intuitive interpretation and again record keeping seems to be the key to increased accuracy.

Fortune-Telling has been practiced for as long as humans have had tribal leaders and shamans.Originally
used like Weather Prognostication, or Personal Divination techniques, fortune telling has come to be more closely associated with charlatans, cheats and con-men. This situation is probably due to the fact that desperate and gullible people make easy targets for those who feel comfortable exploiting others. Fortune- Telling use some of the same tools as Divination but more as props. People who practice fortune telling are more like amateur psychotherapists than anything else. By listening closely to their clients, fortune tellers ascertain exactly what the querant needs to hear to believe that the outcome will go their way. Depending on the scruples of the fortune teller this may or may not involve further rituals, products, talismans, etc. Many agree that the easiest way to discern a fortune tellers intentions is whether or not they have products for sale and how they charge for services. Donation only fortune tellers seem to be the most sincere.

What compels humans to seek out foreknowledge about the future is I believe, quite simply security. When one believes one has inside knowledge of future events, one feels their plans are more congruent with objective reality. This both utter hogwash  and completely true. Some forces are beyond our manipulation, some on a personal level and some on a species wide level. Objectives beyond the scope of our personal power must be accomplished with aid from other souls, in whatever form that takes. Once one has a plan whether achievable alone or with the aid of others, one begins to change reality in accordance with one's will; magick. When you look past the few charlatans and cheats, and realize every newscast in America has a segment with the Chief Fortune Teller, i.e weatherman, then a realization dawns; we all long to know the unknowable and feel as if we can control even a small part of it. That is why we do magick, but that is a story for another day.

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