The term divination covers a wide array of methods that supposedly aid a person in discovering hidden knowledge. The hidden knowledge may be a predictionof future events, an explanation of current happenings, or an insight into past events. The techniques range from flashes of insight, to attempting to tapinto supernatural powers, to interpreting the significance of omens or othersigns. Divination is found in virtually every civilization and culture.
There are three basic types of divination: intuitive divination, possession divination, and wisdom divination.
Intuitive divination occurs when a person, or diviner, has a hunch or a sudden awareness about someone or something. Certain people, such as spiritual leaders, saints, or gurus, are said to be able to gain such insights at will bysimply peering at another person or into that person's eyes.
In possession divination, either a nonhuman agent or a diviner is used by supernatural beings as an intermediary to communicate hidden knowledge. Nonhumanagents include nearly everything that is not human such as the weather, fire, water, birds, dice and insects. Another term for nonhuman possession divination is augury. There are many health omens that are interpreted through thistype of divination. These omens, such as bats flying over a person's home orcrows hovering and cawing over a person, supposedly mean that the person will soon become ill. Other health omens, such as a crow flying away, are interpreted to mean that a person will soon recover from an illness. In human possession divination, knowledge is imparted through dreams or trances. The diviner may or may not be aware of what occurs. There is a long tradition of dreaminterpretation throughout history. In folk medicine, to dream of howling dogsis an indication that someone close will soon die. However, to dream of thedead is a sign of continuing or renewed good health. In some cultures, healers deliberately seek a trance state through psychoactive substances to gain insight into a patient's illness and the best course of treatment.
Wisdom divination is conducted by people who believe they have the ability todecode or interpret meaning from patterns around them. These patterns may exist in nature, such as the patterns created by earth formations, or may be more personal, such as the patterns formed by the lines on a person's palm. Thediviner interprets the patterns according to rules that are sometimes surprisingly complex. For example, the practice of astrology, a type of wisdom divination, is directed by the relative positions of stars, planets, the moon, and the sun. Other types of wisdom divination rely on more subjective measures.