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Divination: The Synchronous Universe.

Divination (from the Latin divinare "to foresee, to be inspired by a god", related to divinus, divine)

Article: By Alex Whitaker 2011

 

Although today 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.

The earliest confirmed evidence of divination was on a turtle plastron excavated at Wuyang, Jiahu, in China, 7,000 BC - 5,700 BC (d10-12248) (1). Archaic symbols 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'. (2) 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.

 

 

Categories of Divination.

Divination can be loosely categorised into the following four categories:
  • 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.

Full List of Methods of Divination: Wikipedia/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

(Delphi, Greece)

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. (5)

Most 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.

(More about the origin of Writing)

 

Synchronicity:

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 Gustav Jung. (3) 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.

 Article: Synchronicity and Acausal Connectedness: http://www.geoman.com/jim/synchronicity.html

 

 

(Oracle Centres)

(Shamanism)

 

References:

1). http://quod.lib.umich.edu
2). Susanne Bobzien. Determinism and Freedom in Stoic Philosophy. 1998. Oxford Univ. Press.
3). Jung, Carl. The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche (Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 8). 1960. Princeton University Press.
5). http://wikis.lib.ncsu.edu/index.php/Gods_of_Writing
 
 

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