Evidence shows that various forms of divination - or fortune telling - were in use (and playing important roles in religion and politics as well as medicine) as far back as 4000 BC. Practised in places like ancient China, Chaldea, Babylonia and Egypt, as well as Greece, Northern Europe Africa and many other places, many of the ancient traditions are, though maybe a little "modernised" still used today.

Tasseography (or tasseomancy), for instance, has its roots way back in Ancient China, as do animal astrology and the - perhaps most the famous of Chinese methods of divinations - I Ching (originally performed by heating a tortoise shell to produce tri- and hexagrams which were then interpreted using pre-determined meanings; today we generally use a series of coin throws to determine them).

The ancient Celts used various ways of divination, including that of casting Ogham sticks (twigs engraved with symbols from a symbolic ancient alphabet used by Druids) and ensuing interpretation. Dream reading and interpretations of omens found within the surrounding nature were other methods used by them, as well as by the Norse people (Teutonic tribes inhabiting the northern parts of Germany, as well as Scandinavian Vikings).

The Norse fortune telling methods also included the use of Runes, sets of stones, each one inscribed with one of the 24 letters of the Futhark alphabet (derived from the initial 6 letters of this runic alphabet). These stones are cast, or drawn to form a spread and are then interpreted according to their pre-set meanings, positions and combinations.

Astrology, the interpretation of celestial bodies and their movements, relationships between them, etc) has also been around for several thousands of years and has been used by Arab, Babylonian, Persian, Hellenistic (Classical Antiquity), Egyptian, Mayan and Hindu, as well as many other, societies. Although many of these ancient traditions are not being used in their original forms any more, they are still consulted by many as a useful resource.

Tarot cards, another popular form of divination, are not quite as ancient as the above mentioned methods, but so far we are able to trace them back as having originated somewhere between the 14th and 15th Century, in either Italy or France.

One of the oldest forms of divination is the African system of bone oracles. Dating as far back as the stone age, it is still being used in many places today. Some of these bone oracles consists of up to 60 tiny bones and diviners have to study a vast interpretative system before being able to interpret the many different combinations.

As we can see, fortune telling has fascinated and occupied mankind throughout history. Many of the original forms have survived the ages and are still in use today, though maybe in slightly altered variations. As people, languages and available technology have evolved over millennia, so have these systems and they ways in which we approach them today. What remains is the result - a most valuable aid in making life's important decisions.

Author's Bio: 

Rachel Ann writes for the psychic & metaphysical arena and is a reiki master.

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