Divination is a game of wisdom for those who want to
become master of their fate and to be worthy of it. It may
seem absurd to ask such a question in a world where everything
seems to be planned and organised in advance and where nothing
is left to chance any more. We could discuss divination for
some time and say that it has existed since the world began,
since the gods and the soothsayers, with whom they
communicated, seem always to have been an integral part of the
thoughts and mentality of human beings.
If we want to find historical reference points for
divination and for the observation of the heavens and the
stars, for we have a need for chronology, we could go back to
the Chaldean astronomer, astrologer and priest, Berose, who
was also an historian and who emigrated from Babylon to Greece
in about 300 BC, where he founded the first school of
astrology on the island of Kos. He estimated that divination
went back 490,000 years.
However, he was not alone in putting forward such a number
of years. Cicero, the Roman philosopher who lived in the 1st
Century BC and Pliny the Elder, the Roman naturalist and
writer in the 1st Century AD both agreed in saying that these
sciences went back 480,000 years.
As for Diodorus of Sicily, Greek historian and contemporary
of Cicero, he thought, more modestly, that he could evaluate
at 473,000 the number of years which span between us and the
advent of divination.
Now, we have no way of confirming these estimates. But we
could not justify refuting them either. It certainly seems
that the related notions of the divine and divination are to
be found everywhere in the history of humanity, as far back as
we can go.
Divination and Oracles
Let us come back to the present day and try to understand
what divination entails and also what makes it different from
scientific experiment, which, for reasons that we know, is the
only tangible reference for us. To do this, we are going to
take a very simple example and, on this occasion, we
absolutely will not criticise scientific observation, which
has every reason to exist and from which our modern world has
drawn numerous indisputable advantages.
It is not a case of setting the oracle of divination
against scientific observation, but about trying to show that
they each come from different points of view, not opposed but
different and, who knows, perhaps even complementary.
This is because, historically and chronologically, we
cannot deny that the oracle of divination not only came before
scientific experiment, but was also at the origin of the
science of prediction, which we may regard as the first
methodical and scientific organisation of the world and so, as
the ancestor of modern sciences.
Heads or Tails?
Our example is that of the coin which you toss in the air
while saying: heads or tails, when you want to share a task,
get or acquire something or make some other choice, but where
you do not seem able to make the decision, which coming from
either party would seem arbitrary to the other person. What do
you actually do by tossing the coin and saying the well-known
formula? You let chance decide.
So, you are not making a decision one way or another, you
are leaving this difficult task to chance. And, if you are
lucky enough and the coin comes down on your chosen side, you
may be led to believe that you have just been given a piece of
positive information and so a favourable oracle.
On the other hand, if the wrong side of the coin comes up,
your oracle is unfavourable.
It is quite obvious that scientific observation excludes
all perspective of chance. For the man of science, chance
cannot exist and must even be eliminated. Scientific
experiments imply an unchangeable repetition of certain
factors and parameters, which are identifiable, measurable and
quantifiable, which you can reproduce ad infinitum and which
certainly never leave anything to chance. If, just by chance,
an unexpected intervention shows up, the order and coherence
of a formula, for example, will be challenged.
From this we can deduce that, from the scientific point of
view, chance is an element which must be absolutely ruled out,
while in the case of the oracle of divination, everything
rests on chance, everything depends on it.
Experiments eliminate chance, the oracle puts chance at its
centre; the experiment is based on repetition, the oracle is
based on a unique act. The experiment is based on the
calculation of probabilities and the oracle uses the unique
and individual number as a source of information.
The Principles of Divination
Emotion is constant movement. Man is obviously a being
endowed with numerous emotions, which, usually cause within
him just as many contradictions and a general confusion. Now
the game, of whatever sort it is, is just a way like any other
of organising the internal and external world simultaneously,
of being at the centre of this organisation and thus putting
some order into man’s emotions, indeed even mastering
When the mind of man plays he is a God, or master of his
Now, this control allows him to make choices, to take
decisions, to act ‘in all honesty’ or ‘in all good faith’ as
they say. He does what he thinks he should do. He does this
all the more and all the better if he has received a sign, an
approval or a piece of advice.
That is the reason why he asks questions or consults the
oracle and why he practises divination. The great game of
life, is reality. Through divination man has always sought to
avoid losing his life, but instead to gain it, that is to
become master of his destiny and to be worthy of