Divination: The Synchronous Universe.
Divination (from the Latin divinare
"to foresee, to be inspired by a god", related to divinus,
Article: By Alex Whitaker 2011
divination is largely considered to be a false 'science', there is
no doubt that in the past a great emphasis and respect was placed on
those who claimed to be capable of it. Divination methods vary by culture and religion
but in all cases, divination relies on
a symbolic key to decipher the underlying meaning of physical events. The principle behind divination,
is that it recognizes an essential link between our inner and outer reality.
Through it, we do not see ourselves as isolated beings but part of a unified cosmos, and great wisdom
is said to be found through analyzing the apparently random
phenomena of the physical world. Today, the art of divination is
frowned upon by the establishment, but the frequency and variety of
ancient forms of divination shows us that that there was a time when
we considered it an important 'science' or skill, at a time when our
connection with the universe was absolute.
confirmed evidence of divination was on a turtle plastron excavated
at Wuyang, Jiahu, in China, 7,000
BC - 5,700 BC (d10-12248)
were written on the plastron (shell) which remain to be
deciphered. The shells were written on, then cracked with fire. The
turtle has a deep meaning in Chinese mythology, being the animal
that holds the universe on its back. The same practice is still
carried out today, called Plastromancy.
Also from China, came the well known I-Ching, or
the 'Book of Changes'. In China the clarity that came from divination
was called the "light of the gods", and brought the individual soul
into harmony with the cosmos. This essential unity lies at the heart
of the Yi Jing or I Ching ("The Book of Changes"),
being the oldest complete
divinatory system to survive from the ancient world. Its core text
dates from well before 1,500 B.C. and contains the roots of both
Daoism and Confucianism. The I Ching uses sticks made from
yarrow plant stems to compose up to 64 hexagrams that reflect all
structures within a perpetually moving universe. The dynamic
interaction between complementary pairs of opposites is believed to
create images that mirror the structure of the human psyche. In
ancient China, divination provided an access to the cosmic forces
shaping a particular moment of time, and enabled skilled individuals
to interpret the future.
(More about Prehistoric China)
Divination: The Proof.
The Greeks were the first people to attempt to
'prove' divination. Greece was known throughout the ancient world as
the homeland of Oracles, often
located near symbolic physical features, such as caves, springs or
rock clefts, they offered channels of communication with the gods or
spirits. Highly respected and often sacred mediators engaged in
dialogue with the gods, sometimes through utterances and movements
produced in an ecstatic trance. At the famous Delphic oracle in
Greece, the prophecies of the Pythia, the oracle's priestess, are
thought to have been inspired by strong vapours that would fill up
in a cave from a rock
crevice. Questions put to oracles ranged from major political
dilemmas — whether to wage war or to join an alliance — to simple
domestic concerns. In taking counsel from an oracle, an individual
sought to act in harmony with the governing principles of both
physical and spiritual worlds.
(More about the Oracles)
It was perhaps because of this fact that the
Greek philosopher Chrysippus determined to establish proof of fate
through prediction (divination). His attempt at 'proving' fate
was based on the simple fact that divination existed. Chrysippus
defined divination as a 'science which contemplates and interprets
signs which are given to human beings by the gods'.
Thus for the existence of divination at least two things are
presupposed, namely the existence of gods and the fact that they
give signs. According to Cicero, a further element was involved
which was that the same or similar signs were taken to announce the
same or similar events. He wrote:
'For it is not a stoic doctrine that the
gods concern themselves with individual cracks in the liver or
individual bird-songs... Their view is that the world was from
the beginning set up in such a way that certain things should be
preceded by certain signs...' (Div I 118, trans. Long/Sedley)
(It is perhaps interesting in this respect that
divination is banned by the Catholic and Christian churches).
Scientific materialism, often dismissive of
divination, has still to resolve the vast complexities of cause and
effect. The physicist Werner Heisenberg has observed that in
examining nature and the universe, "man encounters himself" rather
than finding objective truth. Science may yet come to support the
ancient belief that our universe possesses a complex, intelligent
structure, upon which the human psyche ultimately depends.
The idea of synchronicity is that the
conceptual relationship of minds, defined as the
relationship between ideas, is intricately structured in its
own logical way and gives rise to relationships that are not
causal in nature. These relationships can manifest
themselves as simultaneous occurrences that are meaningfully
related. Synchronistic events reveal an underlying pattern,
a conceptual framework that encompasses, but is larger than,
any of the systems that display the synchronicity. The
suggestion of a larger framework is essential to satisfy the
definition of synchronicity as originally developed by Carl
Von Franz pointed out that Jung saw synchronicity as a
unique and special phenomenon in contrast to Leibniz who had
instead postulated a massively parallel correlation between
psyche and matter which we become aware of only when it is
exhibited in sporadic phenomena. She also points out that
Jung opposed any causal connection of consciousness acting
on matter. He made a distinction between unique
synchronicity phenomena which were unpredictable, rare and
un-repeatable and a concept of a general acausal
connectedness which he seemed to use to refer to the
consistent and predictable.
Synchronicity and Acausal Connectedness:
Categories of Divination.
Divination can be loosely categorised into the following
Omens and omen texts. "The most primitive,
clumsy, but enduring method...is the simple recording of
sequences of unusual or important events." (1976:236)
Chinese history offers scrupulously documented
occurrences of strange births, the tracking of natural
phenomena, and other data. Chinese governmental planning
relied on this method of forecasting for long-range
strategy. It is not unreasonable to assume that modern
scientific inquiry began with this kind of divination;
Joseph Needham's work considered this very idea.
Sortilege (Cleromancy). This
consists of the casting of lots, or sortes,
whether with sticks, stones, bones, beans, coins, or
some other item. Modern playing cards and board games
developed from this type of divination.
Augury. Divination that ranks
a set of given possibilities. It can be qualitative
(such as shapes, proximities, etc.): for example,
dowsing (a form of Rhabdomancy) developed from this type
of divination. The Romans in classical times used
Etruscan methods of augury such as Hepatoscopy (actually
a form of Extispicy). Haruspices examined the livers of
sacrificed animals. Note that augury is normally
considered to specifically refer to divination by
studying the flight patterns of birds.
Spontaneous. An unconstrained
form of divination, free from any particular medium, and
actually a generalization of all types of divination.
The answer comes from whatever object the diviner
happens to see or hear. Some religions use a form of
bibliomancy: they ask a question, riffle the pages of
their holy book, and take as their answer the first
passage their eyes light upon. Other forms of
spontaneous divination include reading auras and New Age
methods of Feng Shui such as "intuitive" and Fuzion.
List of Methods of Divination:
Delphi: The site of the First Oracle.
While most people are familiar with the acts of
divination prescribed by the great Delphine Oracles, less is known
about the practices carried out there long before the temples of the
Oracle at Delphi were constructed. Far above the site of the great
oracle centre at Delphi on Mount Parnassus, in Greece, is a cave.
Within the cave has been found 7,000 year old objects including
around 25,000 knuckle-bones, of which 20% were inscribed with names
or made into dice. These are believed to be offerings or to have
been used for divination.
(Source: BBC TV: Delphi, the Belly-button of
the World, 2011
One of the
standard forms of ritual divination was casting pebbles or
potshards with letters on them. Each letter was associated with
the first word of a predetermined oracle. Robert Graves
speculates that the numerous 'knuckle' dice found at Delphi were
alphabetic, casting five dice with four letters on each, fifteen
consonants and five vowels (Graves, The White Goddess 330-332;
see also Halliday 13-16). It is
also possible that the dice has numerical value that were associated
with letters of the alphabet, as in divination with pebbles (Sophistes).
One’s future was literally in the letters.
mythologies include the fact that writing was handed down by the
gods along with other forms of civilisation. The association
between writing and the divine can be seen in several forms of
letter associated divination making it possible that divination
played an important part in the development of writing.
about the origin of Writing)