August 17, 2009


Throughout recorded history, individuals and governments have tried to hedge their bets against the unknown through divination. Every culture has used divination in one form or another.

We know that over 4000 years ago in Mesopotamia, priests were using astrology to predict events. Other forms of divination in that ancient culture included the interpretation of omens and the studying of shapes that formed when oil was poured into water.

The ancient Chinese were also interested in omens, and emperors had scores of scribes keeping track of possible omens such as strange births and weather patterns. Some seers would study cracked eggshells for clues about future events. Reading tea leaves, or tasseomancy, originated in China around the 6th century C.E., and moved on to Europe in the 1750s.

The Romans had official bird watchers to keep track of birds' movements. The thought behind this practice was that birds were the closest (in proximity) living things to the gods, and their behavior could help clue the humans in to the gods' happiness or lack thereof. Romans also studied the livers of sacrificed animals to look for signs about the future.

Whether it was ancient Egyptians looking over human entrails for clues, or Celts watching sacred white horses' movements, humans have had no shortage of ways to "see" the future.

About once a week, I'll be posting more information on some common methods of divination and their histories. You can't wait!

Posted by Jennifer at August 17, 2009 06:18 AM | TrackBack


Ok, who are you and what have you done with Jen? This has to be the first actual history post here in years.

Posted by: Pete at August 17, 2009 12:56 PM

Actually, I posted a bunch of stuff about the history of superstitions that no one ever responded to.

To which no one ever responded.


Posted by: Jennifer at August 17, 2009 01:37 PM

I've always wondered how the tea thing worked.

Posted by: Jim at August 17, 2009 03:28 PM

that no one ever responded to, $#%^@#%&*

Posted by: Pete at August 17, 2009 03:38 PM

"that no one ever responded to, @$$&&*#

Posted by: Pete at August 17, 2009 03:40 PM