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Hamsters and barley cakes[edit]

This doesn't belong in the article, because no one takes it seriously (except possibly some young children), but I wanted to share it:

Tualha 18:59, 13 Dec 2003 (UTC)

I thought critomancy (divination by barley cake) was pretty humorous, myself. The only Google search results I'm seeing are links to definitions, so I'm guessing it (and a lot of the other "mancies") belong in the Wiktionary.
--Ardonik 07:38, Jul 9, 2004 (UTC)

Commercial links[edit]

I'd like to suggest we refrain from these highly commercial sites. Does anyone know what the rule is at Wikipedia? It seems to me that a site should be removed if it is low on original content and high on commerciality. But I don't make the rules, and I don't want to be hasty. Anyone? Lectiodifficilior 04:33, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Completely agree. Most divination websites are "partially free" -- and have only a small amount of free content, and mostly premium/paid content. I do think that online divination should be included in the links however, because it is extremely relevant. There are two links that could be added here, and they are both 100% free sites (although they do serve advertising, but so does every publication). They are: and Both have good reputations and are 100% free to use, with no paid content. Popothebright 05:28, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

I believe in the fact that divination is not simply about religion or superstition. Rite92 (talk) 18:29, 11 August 2013 (UTC)[1]

Crab sorcerer[edit]

Anyone know the fancy name for the divination depicted in the photograph of the Cameroonian man? It's a fairly common practice in Cameroon and Nigeria, though now it's played up for tourists quite a bit. Some cultures use spiders instead of crabs, but the general practice remains the same. Amcaja 13:54, 23 July 2005 (UTC)


I would like to invite editors on this page to comment on a discussion taking place at talk:Scrying, a user there has stated that Dowsing and Physiognomy are forms of Scrying, and that Scrying is in fact another word for divination, I would very much like to see further comments on this definition. Thanks - Solar 09:19, 2 September 2005 (UTC)


This article seems to suggest there is some scientific theory for divination, when there is none. The article needs to be rewritten from a NPOV view so that it is clear that divination is a pseudoscience. There is a complete lack of scientific criticism of divination. 07:28, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

Hrm... The article seems fairly clear on that matter "Scientific research and methods have made it possible to predict future events with some success, e.g., eclipses, weather forecasts and volcanic eruptions. However, this is not divination. Strictly speaking, divination assumes the influence of some supernatural force or fate, whereas scientific predictions are made from an essentially mechanical, impersonal world-view and rely on empirical laws of nature. Thus, as an operational definition, divination would be all methods of prognostication that have not been shown to be effective using scientific research." So I'm kind of confused to why this article has a POV that seems to claim that divinitation is real scientific method and exists in the scientific world. And secondly Divination is more of a Paranormal Belief than say Pseudoscience. Yes there is a difference... It is kind of like someone believing in Vampires vs someone who has creating a machine and a scientific method to prove that vampires exist but isn't much of anything other than lots of scientific jargon and BS on a research paper.-James -- 20:49, 9 June 2006 (UTC)
I made an attempt to NPOV-ify this article. It did seem to be beating around the bush in the science category. If it's bad let me know what I should correct. If it's good someone should remove the NPOV macro. --Six.oh.six 22:13, 13 June 2006 (UTC)
I think you did a good job, so I removed the NPOV header.

Divination dosen't neccesarily assume a supernatural force; much of it arises from belief in synchronicity instead of dismissing such occurences as 'mere' cooincidence. A diviner may or may not believe such synchronicity is 'supernatural.' —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:05, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

POV claims again[edit]

I also think that this article seems to imply that divination works, which is disputed. For example, I think that the following sentences are fishy

  • Beyond mere explanations for anecdotal evidence, there are some serious theories of how some forms of divination might work. (POV sentece, implies that divination works)
  • One such theory is that the divination process allows messages from the subconscious mind to emerge into the conscious world. E.g., using the I Ching orcale, a person with a very good knowledge of the 64 chapters of the I Ching might subconsciously direct the division of the yarrow stalks to obtain a relevant oracle. (This OR)
  • After an I Ching hexagram has been found, some interpretation is needed to obtain an answer to the question posed, and again, this allows the subconscious to influence the outcome. This theory presupposes that the subconscious mind has relevant messages to deliver, which is certainly true in some cases, but not so in other cases.(Certainly true?? No way!!! There's no scientific evidence)Vorpal Bladesnicker-snack 10:47, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
  1. I, too, have reservations about the first quoted sentence.
  2. What does "This OR" above mean? Original Research
  3. I wrote most of the quoted stuff, or at least re-wrote it. I am a total disbeliever in the supernatural, but I think no-one in their right mind would deny that there have been situations in their lives where their subconscious was wiser than their conscious self. For some people, "divination" methods like I Ching seem to be a way of contacting their subconscious - but of course, then it's not really divination, which, as far as I know, does not really exist.
I'm not sure where user:Vorpal blade disagrees with me; perhaps I've just not been clear enough in what I wrote in the article. Any other views or suggestions?--Niels Ø 19:33, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
(answered No. 2 above; carry on...) __ Just plain Bill 22:28, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

I fixed those 3 points. Any suggestions?Vorpal Bladesnicker-snack 07:26, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

I really dispute the quip about the impliance that divination doesn't work. Anecdotal evidence does not disqualify its credence; it only makes the scientific study of divination difficult. From a sociological standpoint, divination is a concept worth studying simply because of the massive amount of cultures that believed in it as well as certain individuals and some secluded cultures that believe in it today. Certainly, belief alone does not verify its claims, but certainly makes it a plausible concept. Making a quip on the main page in the introductory paragraph based on your personal disbelief does nothing but divert attention away from the article and is largely just argumentative. "Advocates of divination will usually cite a mass of anecdotal evidence for the efficacy of divination..." This is worded in a hostile manner and frankly, does not belong in that particular location. For the better flow of the article, you could put your quip before the previous sentence, or you could seriously contribute to the article by submitting a section pointing out the controversy of the concept. The latter would give your quip less of a knee-jerk reaction from those individuals who advocate divination and would, like I said, seriously contribute to the article and make the controvercial aspects of it more readily available for those who would actually like to read both sides of the argument.--TheMadChild 17:32, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

Science section[edit]

From the science section:

(Statement 1) Thus, as an operational definition, divination would be all methods of prognostication that cannot be reduced to models of predictable causal processes, and hence is completely distinct from science.
(Statement 2) Further, as divination is not falsifiable, the validity of divination cannot be determined using scientific principles.

Ad 1. A scientific prediction based on quantum mechanics is not based on a causal model, so by this operational definition, would it be divination? If I think my wife is going to like a handbag I by for her, is that divination?

Ad 2. Why is divination not falsifiable? If it predicts something that does not actually happen, has it not been falsified? --Niels Ø 12:08, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

What I think is that, while individual predictions can (& are) falsified, divination itself can't be falsified becuase it offers no mechanism of any sort. It's different from Quantum Mechanics, becauase it's possible for any of the six Quantum mechanics postulates are falsified by experiments.Vorpal Bladesnicker-snack 14:40, 10 July 2006 (UTC)
I don't think we disagree much about the subject matter. What I wanted to point out is what I see as problems with the way things are phrased here. I still think statement 1 (the operational definition) unintentionally defines quantum mechanics to be divination, and I think it must be fixed (e.g. by removing statement 1; I won't miss it). As far as I understand, statement 2 is not meant to be part of the definition, so my remarks about quantum mechanics had nothing to do with statement 2, only with statement 1. As pointed out in the discussion below (2 cents), divination as susch is often unfalsifiable because of the layers of interpretation surrounding it, but I still think statement 2 needs to be amended somehow, as it is too categorical.--Niels Ø 16:31, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

Since I last visited it, the Science section has deteriorated even further, with insertion of material the relevance of which (if any) is not explained. As it stands, this section is an absurdity, and the article is better off without it, so I hereby remove it. It is not merely confusing, it is quite clearly confused. I still hope someone can produce and insert a version that actually contributes to the article, perhaps merely by pruning the following. Here's the version I've removed:

== Divination and science ==
{{confusing|December 2006}}
Science has made it possible to predict future events with some success, including eclipses, weather forecasts and volcanic eruptions. Science operates by objective results obtained from analysis of observable, repeatable phenomena. Divination, on the other hand, is rooted in religious or other belief systems that assume some supernatural cause or link with observable events. In so far as such supernatural causes are erratic and cannot be duplicated, quantified, or modelled, or if they are just imaginary, then they can not be studied by scientific method.
The scientific method relies on repeated and systematic observations and experiments, which lead to hypotheses that are testable by other parties in an attempt to falsify them; falsified. In this way a theory is built, which is a model of the phenomena, and often allows predictions for similar future events. A scientific theory can be held to be 'valuable' because of its ability to make useful if/then statements which then turn out to be valid. (see Karl Popper). "If a rat drowns in water because it is an air-breathing mammal, then a mouse, also being an air-breathing mammal, should similarly drown in water" might be an example. Divination practices are not the outcome of the application of the scientific method, and therefore are often considered superstition or at best pseudo-science.
Examples of divination can be found in a multitude of sources. In the following examples, a few details of Islamic and Arab history are cited: While but a lad in Syria, heir to the Umayyad caliphate, Abd al-Rahman the 1st was forseen to be not just a caliph, but caliph of the western end of the Islamic empire. "A physiognomist cited evidence (to) certain signs in the (boy's) face and neck" . [2]
Indeed Abd al-Rahman the 1st became the emir of the far-flung western Islamic province of Spain (al-Andalus). His son, and successor Hisham also gave much credence in divination. In one case, Hisham used an astrologer (and diviner) to try and learn what his future would be. Hisham asked the astologer, "I doubt not thou hast already divined the reason of thy being sent for; I need not, therefore, give thee any further explanation. Tell me now, with God's permission, what thy science discloses to thee respecting my future destiny". After a few days had passed the astrologer cautiously explained to the emir that his reign (Hisham's) would be glorious in accomplishments, but short-lived. And so it was to pass. [3]
A final example of divination in Islamic history is eloquently recounted by W. Montgomery Watt. He tells the story of the life of the Prophet Muhammad. One day, when he was but a child, the Prophet Muhammad (who was not then a prophet) was traveling amid a caravan through the Syrian desert on the way back to Mecca. The caravan stopped by the isolated residence of a Christian monk named Bahira, who was also considered to be a bit of mystic. When Bahira gazed upon the boy he saw "a mark between his shoulders which he recognized as the seal of prophethood." [4]
One does not need to know how or why a practice, such as divination, works, as long as one has faith that it works sometimes. However diviners do not systematically assess their results or try to falsify their hypotheses. Indeed diviners are discouraged to repeat queries. The taboo is that repetition may be an attempt to divine a more favorable answer, or that repetition adversely agitates the method or the operants. Without repetition of the divination, it is much harder to design experiments that will have meaningful statistically significant results that could falsify a hypothesis about the divination method.

--Niels Ø (noe) 13:22, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

I believe I originally put in the science part. I wanted to make the point that you can make predictions based on scientific theory, and wanted to distinguish that from pseudo-science (especially astrology) and magic. But people have been adding qualifiers and insertions that make the current text dubious, so I understand your action. But I think now the NPOV of the article has been seriously damaged because there is no skeptical discussion of all the claims on the page anymore. And BTW quantum mechanics is as causal and deterministic as it gets, but applied to the statistics of observations and not to individual observations. And of course the predictive powers of any method are falsifiable, disregarding any theory that would explain them. Tom Peters 23:32, 12 January 2007 (UTC)


  1. ^
  2. ^ 1
  3. ^ 2
  4. ^ 3

2 cents[edit]

I have encountered a number of people who have been trying to argue that divination is not prediction. I think they mean prediction to be 'prediction from causes', but this doesn't make much sense to me since an act of divination can result in a prediction, and it has traditionally been defined as a means of foretelling the future (prediction)(prediction is like deduction and divination is the interpretation of an omen). However, many forms of divination use symbols. A symbol can be interpreted in more than one way, so if someone makes an erroneous predictive statement of a particularly outcome from symbols, they may argue that they misread multifaceted symbols. Their is a strong unfalsifiable element to divination if you look at it from the methods and intentions of the diviner rather than from the actual predictive statement. If you do I-Ching on yourself, you may not be predicting something for your self, but looking at a current issue from another interpretive angle (the subconscious is only one theoretical explanation, but the whole process of divination comes down to interpretation). All these scientific caveats are only meaningful in the cases when divination is used for concrete predictions, and the diviner expresses certainty of a prediction that does not have more than one interpretation. This reminds me, should oracles (Pythia, Delphi) be distinguished from divination since they are by nature ambiguous? Zeusnoos 13:07, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

Well observed! I completely agree with what you say.Vorpal Bladesnicker-snack 14:43, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

another divination method of automatic sand writing?[edit]

In eastern occult, pseudo taoists have been using this method Unsigned

Actually real Taoists employ sand divination. It is done all over the world.-- self-ref (nagasiva yronwode) (talk) 00:12, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

Dalai Lama[edit]

In a documentary about Tibetan oracles by David Cherniack it is shown how the Dalai Lama uses common sense, personal opinions, oracles and divination for dicision making purposes. Could something be added to this page? Wiki-uk 12:56, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

In my opinion, "How famous people / celebrities / religious authories / etc. use divination" should be a separate page, if it is to be mentioned on Wikipedia at all. cat yronwode Catherineyronwode (talk) 00:25, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

Divination & Arab History[edit]

I tried to give some better examples of divination than previously existed. I came across some interesting accounts of divination in studying Arab history, so I added them to the text. Overall, the divination paragraph still needs help; but hopefully with some help it will be a good page of information. - paulHX400W

First line - Greek root?[edit]

Presently, the article begins:

Divination (Greek μαντεια, from μαντις "seer", anglicized in the suffix -mancy, see also mania) is the attempt ...

Now, what's the meaning of that parenthesis? Is it meant to give the root of the word "divination"? I don't know Greek, but I know the letters - μαντεια reads "manteia", and μαντις reads "mantis"; that can hardly be the root of "divination", which looks latin to me. Someone in the know, please explain or fix this.--Niels Ø (noe) 10:07, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

Nearly a year later, but yes you're right it's Latin (cf Diva, Deus, and Greek Zeus) - presumably it gets ignored because many people don't read Hellenic script. I'll put an etymology in there. (talk) 02:10, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

Critical resources (Christian POV)[edit]

Does this article really need two links to Christian sites that oppose divination? Isn;t that really rather a narrow-minded look at a worldwide spiritual and religious phenomenon? I would like to remove these links, if others agree. Either that, or use then as references to some textual structure -- as it is now, they just hang there after the other External links, like little feebly flung pieces of dung thrown after a passing stranger. I mean, how relevant is what Catholic priests in 1913 thought versus today's Cameroonian crab-diviner? cat Catherineyronwode (talk) 23:32, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

I think it's okay to have them in there, but given the rudimentary nature of this article, I question their inclusion at this time and removing them for the moment may be prudent. This article is barely above the stub level in terms of discussing issues relevant to divination as a whole. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:07, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

I started a section on Christianity and western society as a historical treatment. Anecdotal statements abound, but facts are slim. I have included them where possible. Early church kept all the information on this topic to prevent more heresy, and so they have all the records. Relevancy of early priests is germane because of lack of other authoritative sources. User:Unixluv 22:30, 5 October 2009

Is Divination Pseudoscience??[edit]

Based on arbitration and clarification on same, the Pseudoscience category, which has been applied to this page, requires a reliable source indicating that it is in fact pseudoscience to sustain its application. Can you point out some reliable source that will settle the matter? If not, we'll need to remove the Pseudoscience category tag from this page. Thank you.-- self-ref (nagasiva yronwode) (talk) 08:29, 10 October 2008 (UTC)

Well, the article indicates that astrology and numerology are notable examples ... WP:CAT. Have you tried looking for reliable sources? - Eldereft (cont.) 14:26, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
The article has no citation demonstrating that this is the attitude of the scientific community, so i have requested a WP:RS. Again, do you have one to sustain the category 'Pseudoscience' being applied to all divinatory arts? Thanks.-- self-ref (nagasiva yronwode) (talk) 21:32, 19 October 2008 (UTC)
Divination includes pure pseudoscience, such as astrology. The category is therefore justified. Verbal chat 12:16, 20 October 2008 (UTC)


By contrast, it is arguable that cultures that apply divination in expressing their epistemological frameworks are tapping into an intuitive awareness of a core flaw in scientific positivism: that there are 'known' facets of the human experience (such as our own consciousness or 'being' et al) that are not 'provable' or 'disprovable' in their entirety, and/or that vary in nature and value depending upon the instrument used to measure them (ex. see quantum physics). In this sense, diviners tap into a deeper aspect of human reality; the realm of the subjective/objective interface; the part of life in which emotions and personal perceptions are not divorced from 'reality' or seen as irrelevant.

In a way that is often specific and appropriate to the culture/religion in question, divination can be seen as a systematic method with which to organize what appear to be disjointed, random facets of existence such that they provide insight into a problem at hand. In this sense, divination is an analogy to subjective perceptions of life, which can often seem random and disjointed, but must nevertheless be somehow 'ordered' such that one can take action in his or her life. Hence, the question of whether a querent chooses to follow the advice of a diviner to the letter is often not the essential issue in divination. Rather, the divinatory process is meant to offer inquirers a culturally contextualized road map with which to overcome inertia and take action. Its products are thus usually meant to be more frames of reference than sets of literal commands.

I just removed most of the preceding two paragraphs from the lead section. They seem to represent original research, and are overly detailed for the introductory section. Perhaps they could be sourced and expanded into a general Viewpoints section? If they apply only to a particular system (the Oracle at Delphi was not known for citing the Copenhagen interpretation, but the point about positivism is fairly general), then they should be applied at a specific article or articles. - Eldereft (cont.) 18:28, 17 January 2009 (UTC)


Apparently there is a form of divination by pendulum. The 'External links' section of the article includes a reference to such. The screenwriter Suso Cecchi d'Amico discusses using a pendulum for divination in an interview included with Visconti's "L'innocente" (, also describing the pendulum itself. (talk) 02:29, 9 April 2009 (UTC)


J. Collins (Primitive Religion, 1978) From an anthropological view... here is the list: (i) by dreams; (ii) by presentiments; (iii) by body actions; (iv) by ordeals; (v) by possession; (vi) by necromancy; (vii) by animals or parts of dead animals; (viii) by mechanical means, using objects; (ix) by patterns in nature; and (x) by observing other patterns.

Might be worth adding.--Hitsuji Kinno (talk) 17:42, 2 August 2009 (UTC)

Merging Sections[edit]

The sections /forbidden in Christian and Western Society/ and /Divination forbidden in the Bible and the Koran/ could definitely use to be merged. They seem to address similar aspects of divination, to the point where they seem repetitive juxtaposed, but they both have good information. The Futurist Corporation (talk) 15:31, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

POV again[edit]

I have major problems with this article. My problems start with the first sentence. "Divination is the attempt". Already that's sending a message. That's restrictive language and if this encyclopedia were to really respect "truth" then you can't use the word "attempt". You have no evidence whatsoever that it is either real or not. Anecdotal evidence is worthless because divination is a "concept" not a "fact". When you start by calling it an "attempt", you are incorrectly defining what it is. In essence, your encyclopedia is wrong and abusing it's purpose.

The language tells a story and if you're not a super smart dude like me who can see through words, then you'll be misled into what "divination" really is. Divination is a "practice or a theory". If you call it an "attempt", then you are forcing the dialogue. Call it what is. Don't just force your beliefs down everybody else's throats.

Thanks — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:38, 1 June 2015 (UTC)

People can practice divination without getting any useful/accurate results from it. Therefore "attempts" are included in the definition. — Jeraphine Gryphon (talk) 08:33, 2 June 2015 (UTC)

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Divination/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

I'm surprised this occult-topic article hasn't been put into the press yet. I'd consider this one to be either 'top' prioritiy on the rating scale since it is a gigantic occult topic with dozens, if not hundreds of other topics that relate to it. Given it's important statue, the condition of this article is rather miserable. The article is barely above the stub level and could probably be classed as that for the occult assesment project. There is only one perspective on classes of divination, no detailed explanation of theories concerning how divination works, no detailing of why divination has been used or of its pervasiveness worldwide and throughout history, no thoughts on its modern usage in contrast with science.... each of these could probably be its own subsection. In short there's a ton of work that could be done here, including insertion of excerpts of other articles related to divination.

Last edited at 19:16, 2 December 2007 (UTC). Substituted at 13:31, 29 April 2016 (UTC)