True Divination

Particularly common within ancient ideology, divination reveals itself to be a practice not only of observational relevance, but also one of enlightenment and prognostication. It is a meticulous practice, one that seeks to obtain both hidden knowledge in general, as well as the precognition of future events (more specifically).  However, on the downside⁠, its frequent association with the "supernatural" is quite misinformative. To the contrary, the traditional art is very natural and realistic.

Similar to the foretelling of an eclipse (based on astronomical observation), or the 13-17 year seasonal marking of cicadas, divination allows one to foretell an occurrence before it even takes place. This is not based on "supernatural powers," but instead, a disciplined study of the earth itself. As the Bible says in Job 12:8,  "speak to the earth, and it will teach you." The earth works in patterns and timing; thus, not only will the diviner expediently search for synchronistic occurrences in nature, but will also be quite learned in this practice⁠—on an expert level. Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa well defined the magician as "a wise man" (Natural Magic, Introduction). One who is well learned in this field becomes "at one with this earth" (so to speak), memorizing patterns, signs, and harmonious phenomena in general. This is exactly how divination works.

So why the equation of the supernatural? Such a thing apparently comes from a gross misunderstanding of ancient esoteric symbolism. For instance, primitive civilizations would depict the sun as a man (or woman) riding a fiery chariot across the sky each day, for this was their understanding of transportation. They saw the sun as an object which races across the heavens1 and therefore described it in such a way. One reading this kind of literature from a modernized standpoint however would obviously misapprehend such a description, viewing it as superstitious and impossible (missing the entire point). The fact of the matter is, the ancients simply worked in riddles and enigmas, and so it is with their writings on divination.

There are many different forms of divination, one of the more "well known" being necromancy. In antiquated literature, this occult practice was often pictured as individuals conversing with the dead, as if they were in fact alive (quite a contradiction). Based on the evidence however, this was simply a poetic form of expression in the writings, since in reality, the corpse "speaks" as a motionless object by means of depiction.2 It is similar to the carved image in Hebrew mythology which is described as a "teacher of lies" in Habakkuk 2:18, and yet elsewhere seen as a mere object that does "not speak" (e.g. Psalm 115:4-5). Thus, this inanimate "teacher" fits the knowledge being obtained by means of observance (this same concept likewise fitting with the corpse). In fact, the Egyptians were apparently obsessed with this practice, as is evident in their decorative display of tomb imagery (or the Book of the Dead).

Additionally, divination is quite at one with the interpreting of omenseven in a necromantical context. For instance, 1 Samuel 2:34 notes that the death of Hophni and Phinehas would be a sign to Eli. Receiving such knowledge from ones death is exactly what necromancy is. And, such a thing is also what is witnessed later on in the story of King Saul and the medium (1 Samuel 28). The dead (Samuel) is called up out of the ground, only to speak of King Saul's forthcoming doom. In essence, the implication of this tale is: Saul was a walking dead man by the very fact he was in opposition to God and His prophet, the esoteric attestation being that one in contrast to the righteous dead is himself cursed with death (as in Acts 5:3-5). It is no wonder that Saul in Hebrew means death.3

Furthermore, omens commonly have to do with animals, as the book of Job also asserts:
But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; and the birds of the air, and they will tell you. (Job 12:7)
This actually cuts into another form of divination known as ornithomancy which has to do with the receiving of knowledge via the actions (or flights) of birds, a practice condemned in the Septuagint reading of Leviticus 19:26 ("nor divine by inspection of birds [ορνιθοσκοπήσεσθε]"). An explicit example of this practice can be found in the second book of The Odyssey. There, Zeus is found sending forth two eagles which end up taring each other, the people subsequently pondering what was to come from this event. Immediately following the incident, Halitherses interprets the omen to mean that Odysseus will return.

Another example of ornithomancy appears to be the situation with Elijah and the ravens in 1 Kings 17:6, as they give him the bread instead of eating it themselves. The bread? Indeed, such is an enigmatic depiction of the sun, as Christ defines it in Matthew 26:26, identifying the bread as his own body (Jesus is the sun, e.g. Psalm 84:11 [cf. John 20:28]; Malachi 4:2; Revelation 1:16). Keep in mind, Elijah is of the same exact solar motif as Sol and Helios, the chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11; see Eliptic Lore); in Norse Mythology, Skoll is found chasing Sol (the sun). Since Elijah is parallel to Sol, who is after him in the story? Jezebel is (1 Kings 19:1-3). However, unlike Skoll (who eventually catches Sol) or Rahu in Hinduism (who swallows the sun), Elijah is found escaping from Jezebel. So, instead of the bread (the sun/Elijah) being eaten (caught), it is given by the birds (i.e., he escapes his pursuer). Thus, this would be an example of an ornithomantic interpretation.

Moreover, another traditional form of divination is scyphomancy which involves the utilization of a cup. This practice of course is seen in Genesis 44:5 with Joseph, who even says: "Did you not know that such a man as I can certainly practice divination?" (Genesis 44:15). However, confused with the occult teachings of the Bible, some Christians may attempt to argue against a passage like this. For instance:
"If Joseph did practice divination with the silver cup, it was not divination in the pagan sense but seeking God’s will through a particular method." (https://www.gotquestions.org/Joseph-divination.html, fourth paragraph)
This is a classic example of what I call "consecrating evil." Basically, it is when one comes across the occult or pagan teachings of the Bible, but instead of condemning the teaching (as they normally would given any other culture), they justify it, setting it aside as holy and proper! The fact of the matter is, the Bible is not a Christian source; it is rather an accumulation of ancient esoteric teachings, assuredly "pagan" in its content. Notice also, Joseph is found interpreting an omen early in Genesis 41 (the cows, seven years of plenty, seven years of famine, etc.). Even in Genesis 37:9-10 an astro-theological context is seen with his dream. Actually, Jeremiah 27:9 speaks of prophets, diviners, dreamers; soothsayers, and even sorcerers all as synonymous (also see Micah 3:6-7). And, like Agrippa's idea of the magician above, Joseph defines himself as "a wise man" in Genesis 41:33. He is clearly seen as a diviner, one who interprets omens (Deuteronomy 18:10).4

Finally, as far as fortune tellers prophesying, we can look to Book XI of The Aeneid (Virgil). There, the prophetess is identified as a "foreknower of the future." In this setting, Aeneas seeks help from the god Apollo, and yet goes to the Sibyl. It is here where she results to divination, and like the fortune-teller in Acts 16:16, she becomes possessed by Apollo⁠—prophesying of what was to come. Interestingly, in the story Aeneas claims to have already guessed and prepared for what the prophetess foretold (i.e. the war to come). The difference? A diviner is well learned and skilled in the practice of divination, while Aeneas simply took a guess at it.

This story is coated in symbolism of course; beside the necromantical scene that follows after (a desire to descend into the underworld in order to visit his dead father, a golden bough required to be plucked, and a corpse to be placed in a tomb), this idea of Apollo (the sun/light) possessing the woman fits well with what is known as a high level of enlightenment (cf. Psalm 119:99-100). Basically, the ancient concept of "god" was understood as wisdom itself (e.g. Yahweh [Proverbs 8:14; 1 Corinthians 1:24]; Athena; Minerva; etc.). Therefore, this possession was a way of describing wisdom and understanding overtaking the individual. This is how the "divine" concept fits in actually, since wisdom was thought of in such a way. Divination is practiced by the wise (the sage), and only through strict discipline and industrious study will the hidden knowledge be properly obtained.

[Also see the accompanying video: Ancient Divination]


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Footnotes:

1. Psalm 19:4-5 is a good example of this.

2. As Isaiah 66:24 says:
"And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh."
Notice, even though these people are dead, they are nonetheless an abhorrence to the others. Why? Aren't they mere corpses? Well, that is the point, they are seen through the lens of a specific context⁠—how they lived previously on the earth (i.e. as transgressors). Thus, their dead bodies depict this idea, and cause them to be hated by the living. It is an understanding based on looking upon the corpses in other words.

3. Minus the vowel pointing, Saul and Sheol [grave, death] are the same exact word: שאול. Does this matter theologically speaking? Of course, as the Dead Sea Scrolls lack vowel points, and this would make the words identical therefore (not to mention Saul's context is killing himself [1 Samuel 31:4], pointing death in his own direction).

4. In Deuteronomy 18:10, a practitioner of witchcraft, a soothsayer, an interpreter of omens, and a sorcerer are all in the same theme. Yet, it also mentions those who make their children "pass through the fire." This is another concept that often gets pulled out of its mystical and allegorical context. It turns out that this actually has to do with one going through suffering and discipline, as 1 Peter 1:17 well illustrates, their faith being tested by fire (cf. Revelation 2:10; Isaiah 43:2). The condemnation of this in Deuteronomy 18:10 evidently had to do with those who suffered for the name of other gods instead of Yahweh, as it is used in Ezekiel.
For when you offer your gifts and make your sons pass through the fire, you defile yourselves with all your idols, even to this day. (Ezekiel 20:31)
As it says in 2 Kings 23:10, "pass through the fire to Molech." One offering their own child is code language for giving up their own body (Gen 15:4; Lev 26:29) in the Bible, and this had to do with suffering (e.g. 1 Corinthians 13:3). It is similar to the "crucifying yourself daily" notion (Matthew 16:24/Galatians 5:24), giving yourself up as an offering to the gods spiritually (as it says above in Ezekiel 20:31, "offer your gifts").


[Note: if you are interested in topics such as divination, I will be covering this concept (among other things) in much more detail in my upcoming book, Consecrated Evil]


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