FORTUNE-TELLING

Fortune telling is the predicting of a personís destiny. Innumerable kinds of fortune-telling, or divination, were known to the people of ancient civilizations who believed that the future was determined by the gods and revealed to humans through omens, portents and signs.

Most methods of fortune-telling involve the interpretative observation of objects, and they take their respective names from the specific objects that are "read". These objects can be those that naturally exist without human intervention, such as the stars (astrology), the lines of the palm (palmistry), the proportions of the head (phrenology), and the leaves of plants (botomancy); or they can be man-made objects, such as tarot or playing cards (cartomancy) and crystal balls (crystallomancy). Fortune-telling can also be performed by manipulating objects, either natural or man-made. Included in this category are bibliomancy, divination by the opening of books (particularly the Bible) at random; sortilege, performed by the casting of lots or throwing of dice; rhabdomancy, accomplished by observing the movement of a rod or stick in the hands, as in water-divining; and lithomancy, the interpretation of the pattern made by pebbles tossed on the ground.

Many fortune-telling techniques have long histories in both Eastern and Western cultures. Astrology was practiced in ancient Egypt, Greece, India, China and the Islamic world. The I-Ching has been used by the Chinese for fortune-telling since the 2nd millennium BC. Onomancy is the interpretation of the letters of oneís name. It derives from the mystic belief found in the history of many world religions that the act of naming is the act of creation itself, and that a name contains all that an object or person is. Numerology, which may be considered a correlate onomancy, assigns numbers to the letters of names; it also assigns numerological significance to every other aspect of a personís life. Like onomancy, it is found in many ancient cultures. Oneiromancy, the interpretation of dreams, predates the Greeks, who gave it its name.

VOCABULARY BUILD-UP

1. What is fortune-telling?

2. Point out the major types of fortune-telling developed through times.

3. Do you believe in fortune-telling? Do you think the future of a person is determined by the stars, fire, hand palm lines, numbers, letters?

4. What is fate? Do we have a free judgment of our own lives or do we depend on something elseís influence to determine -- and predict -- our future?

5. What position do you take when you come to talk about fortune-telling?

6. Have you ever gone to a fortune-teller? What happened? Did you feel well?

7. If you are a Christian, what is your opinion about this? (compare your answer with the texts of the Bible: I Samuel 28; Acts 16:16-18; Isaiah 29:4; Deuteronomy 18:10-15).