Dojo Darelir, the School of Xenograg the Sorcerer

Tag: divination

On Divination

March 7, 2022

If I’ve learned anything about divination in the succeeding years, it’s that divination doesn’t do a very good job of telling you what you should do. Divination will show you where a given path or course of action is likely to take you, but it’s up to you to figure out if that’s a good thing or not.

A Need For Divination – John Beckett

Babylonian Divination

March 7, 2003

Divination was undoubtedly the most important of the disciplines that a Mesopotamian would have categorized as “scientific,” and should be viewed not as some primitive magical or occult activity but as one of the most basic features of Babylonian life. Indeed its senior practitioners were men of influence, held in high esteem in the own society. They were consulted on all important occasions both by private individuals and officers of state. The army was always accompanied by a diviner who in the Old Babylonian period seems to have acted also as general….

Divination represented, basically, a technique of communication with the gods who, according to Babylonian religious thought, shaped the destinies of all mankind, individually and collectively. Its purpose was to ascertain the will of the gods, to the Babylonian synonymous with the prediction of future events. Its philosophy, of course, presupposes supernatural cause and effect in all perceived phenomena and assumes the cooperation of the gods in their willingness to reveal the future intentions. Evil portended was not inevitable; there existed a variety of purification rituals…and other means of averting unwelcome predictions…. A clear distinction was made between provoked and unprovoked or natural omens. Preference for these various techniques differed markedly from one period and area to another. Although there exists some literature pertaining to the interpretation of dreams, Mesopotamian philosophy was curiously reluctant to admit that the gods made use of man himself for the expression of divine intention—and indeed a dream was significant only when “interpreted” by an expert. Thus shamanistic concepts, often considered universal in primitive religion, are absent in Mesopotamia.

Joan Oates, Babylon, p. 178

Emphasis mine.

Divination Practices

March 7, 2003

The practices of divination may seem puerile or at least so primitive in character as to appear irreconcilable with the elaborate Chaldean cosmogony. However, such reasoning does not take into account the world concept of the Chaldeans, which was essentially magical, akin to that of the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans. We find similiar “superstititions” among all these peoples, where divination is the logical application of their theory of magic. To the magus, there exists no accidental happenings; everything obeys one law, which is not resented as a coercion but rather welcomed as a liberation from the tyranny of chance. The world and its gods submit to this law, which binds together all things and all events. Certa stant omnia lege: everything is established solidly by that law which the wise man discerns in happenings that appear accidental to the profane. The curve observed in the flight of birds, the barking of a dog, the shape of a cloud, are occult manifestations of that omnipotent coordinator, the source of unity and harmony.

Kurt Seligmann, The History of Magic and the Occult, p. 5