What is Fortune Telling?

Fortune telling has been practiced for millennia. Humans have always yearned to know what the future has in store for us. Who doesn’t want a glimpse — even if only for a few moments — of the cosmic plan to see if our destiny lies in riches or ruin?

Some of the claimed methods for divining the future are simply bizarre. Gelomancy, for example, involves carefully listening to hysterical laughter (and even animal noises) for clues about the future.

Those who practiced felidomancy claimed to know the future by observing cats; everyone knows that a black cat crossing your path predicts bad luck, but did you know that sneezing is a cat’s way of predicting rain?

How Fortune Telling Can Be Executed?

Many believe that a person’s name (or even how many letters are in a name) give important clues to what their future will hold. One form of divination held that bumps on the skull could accurately predict not only a person’s personality but indeed their future. This “science” of phrenology was not a weird, fringe belief but instead wildly popular even among well-educated Americans and Europeans in the 1800s.

There are many hundreds of long-discredited (and self-evidently absurd) fortune-telling methods. Many equally unlikely techniques are practiced today, including numerology, reading tea leaves, consulting tarot cards, and examining the lines on a person’s palm. However, they are all considered as fortune telling nowadays.

Ever since its coming of age, the humanity wanted to know what will the future bring. Billions and billions of people along the history have been curious at least once what is laying in the times to come.

History of Fortune Telling

Some have reached out to fortune telling as early as the ancient history. Fortune-telling uses sacred or everyday objects to tell things about the future. Forecasting of future events was practiced in ancient China, Egypt, or Babylonia, even 6000 years ago. At that time, it was all about prophets and oracles.

Fortune telling is encountered in Greek mythology as well, where the three sisters goddesses of destiny spin the wheel to turn out the destiny of people and Gods alike. And speaking of the Greek legends, the oracle at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi is famous to this day.

Later in history, the Mayans used astrology and mathematics to make predictions. They were the ones to predict that the world would end in December 2012, thus paving ways for countless theories and debates.

The hugely famous Nostradamus should also not be forgotten. The French astrologer and physician is widely cited even today, 500 years after his lifetime. In that time resides also the fortune-telling from the Renaissance magic, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Europe.

Rulers and kings often used to seek fortune tellers who would predict events surrounding the kingdoms.

Many of the different types of fortune telling of those times are still practiced today. For example, astrology, numerology, palmistry (chiromancy), geomancy, tasseomancy (using tea leaves or coffee grounds), scrying or crystallomancy (the crystal ball reading), or tarot cards.

The later ones were widely used in the past centuries. Even if they had an amalgam of ancient mythologies and pagan beliefs, they managed to be a bridge towards Catholicism. That is because some of the patron saints and icons of Catholicism mirror the characters of the tarot cards.

Marie Anne Lenormard?

One story relating to the tarot cards is that of Marie Anne Lenormard. In 1786, the 14-year old ran away from the convent school and set off to Paris. There, she learned the art of cartomancy. Among the people she advised were Napoleon’s wife and Maximilien de Robespierre.

Her reputation was gained not just for the fortune telling, but also through the way she accurately described the character and past life of people, based on just few details.

Later on, after her death, her devout Catholic nephew burned her cards, crystals and all other objects used for fortune telling. He nonetheless retain the possession of the 500,000-francs inherited fortune. The reason is that most Catholics despised fortune games, in a world in which only God can know all that is, was, and will be. In this way, foreknowledge was a threat to believers.

Gypsies and Fortune Telling

Also a few centuries old is the custom of fortune-telling by the Gypsies. The traditional associations with the Gypsies – or the Roma and Sinti people – are the tarot reading, chiromancy and the crystallomancy.

They were so famous that almost two centuries ago they were subjects to paintings, for example “Gypsy Fortune-Teller”, by Taras Shevchenko, dating 1841.

Today’s Fortune Tellers

Fast forward to present time, there are plenty of fortune tellers who use the same methods, but also new ones, like psychics which offer telephone consultations. This method became more and more popular in the 90s in the United States, and some of the most successful psychics have their own offices and charge even $150 dollars for one session.

Least but not last, astrology, palmistry, and tarot card reading are also very popular in the United States and Canada alike.

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8 thoughts on “What is Fortune Telling?

  1. It sounds like you may not think any of these methods are viable ways of telling the future (or of discerning something other than the information you are provided). Is there a form of prophesizing or fortune-telling that you think may work?

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