Divination is any ritual and its associated tradition performed in order to ask a more-than-human intelligence for guidance. A universal human practice, it has received surprisingly little academic attention. This interdisciplinary collection by leading scholars in the field is dedicated to fascinating new insights into divination and oracles arising from recent work in anthropology, religious studies, history and classical studies. Central importance is given to the practical and theoretical perspectives of diviners as well as scholars of divination; several contributors are both. This book explores philosophical issues such as the nature of divinatory intelligence, the relationship between divinatory and metaphorical truth, the primacy of ontology over epistemology, the importance of reflexivity in scholarly studies of divination, and astrology as the principal Western form of divination. The ethnographic and historical examples range from contemporary Nigeria, urban Cuba, Mayan Guatemala and the shamanic cultures of the circumpolar Arctic to classical Greece and ancient Judea.

chapter |10 pages


ByPatrick Curry

chapter |14 pages

Theorizing Divinatory Acts

The Integrative Discourse of Dream Oracles
ByBarbara Tedlock

chapter |22 pages

Central Asian and Northern European Shamanism

ByJuha Pentikäinen

chapter |16 pages

The Carbon Footprint of Oracles

How Green is Divination?
ByStuart R. Harrop

chapter |34 pages

Embodiment, Alterity and Agency

Negotiating Antinomies in Divination
ByPatrick Curry

chapter |24 pages


Double-Thinking and Divination among the Witch-Doctors
ByGeoffrey Cornelius

chapter |32 pages

Arrows, Aiming and Divination

Astrology as a Stochastic Art
ByDorian Gieseler Greenbaum

chapter |32 pages

Life between Lives Therapy

A Mystery Ritual for Modern Times?
ByAngela Voss

chapter |8 pages

Talking and Walking with Spirits

Fresh Perspectives on a Medieval Necromantic System
ByPaul Devereux

chapter |14 pages

Clarifying Divinatory Dialogue

A Proposal for a Distinction between Practitioner Divination and Essential Divination 1
ByAnthony Thorley, Chantal Allison, Petra Stapp, John Wadsworth

chapter |10 pages

Afterword Of Ises and Oughts

An Endnote on Divinatory Obligation
ByMartin Holbraad