Fortune-Telling

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Fortune-Telling

 

or mantic, various methods for the imaginary divination of the future or the unknown. Fortune-telling arose in the epoch of primitive communal society. Fortune-telling by the cry, flight, and behavior of birds was common in connection with hunting, and later with cattle raising (for example, auspices in ancient Rome); the owl, raven, falcon, cock, and hen were thought to be particularly prophetic. Fortune-telling by the stars arose among the early farmers and later developed into the pseudoscience of astrology. The Babylonians, Etruscans, and Romans attempted to tell fortunes by the liver of a sacrificed animal, by its form and position in the carcass. Among many peoples there was fortune-telling by means of bones, beans, nuts, coffee grounds, and the like. Among the Slavs common methods of fortune-telling included dropping a ring in water, pouring wax, and fortune-telling with a mirror. In more recent centuries fortune-telling with cards and by lines on the palm of the hand (palmistry) has become widespread. One of the earliest and most universal types of fortune-telling, which has survived to the present day, is through dreams. Fortune-telling has as its basis a religious conception of a supernatural world that governs nature and mankind, with which one can establish contact and thereby learn the unknown. Fortune-telling is usually a tool of charlatans who exploit people’s ignorance and superstition.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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