Fortune Telling: Fact or Fiction? [Archives:1998/23/Culture]

June 8 1998

There are many secrets to be revealed through the ancient art of fortune telling, but is this form of divination fact or fiction? Many ways of fortune telling are Western such as crystal gazing, tea leaves, dice, dominoes, Tarot cards (or ordinary playing cards), palm reading, numerology, etc.
Also, dreams can be taken as a warning of what is in store for the future. These are the westernized ways, but what about the ways of the Orient for this form of divination? Well, that’s what I set to find out.
Is fortune telling against religion? Some say yes. Others say no.
This is a continuously debated subject. How can we believe divination is true? And how can we believe it is untrue?
There are other aspects some people refuse to believe, for example: supernatural and paranormal activities, U.F.Os, alien beings, spirits, demons and ghosts, etc. Why cannot this be true? Proof has been produced time after time, but still we are a little skeptical. There are also psychic healers, clairvoyants (a French word meaning to see clearly), mediums, and exorcists. The list is endless.
Every human being has E.S.P (extra sensory perception), but for many people it is un-noticeable. Believe it or not animals are psychic too, especially cats – they can see 8 times better than humans in the dark. Dogs are able to detect and see ghosts, and horses are believed to be able to see the wind.
Other easy methods of fortune telling are, for example, to substitute crystal gazing with using a glass filled of water with drops of blue ink in it, or the Hindu method of using honey or treacle. Also “pendulum dowsing” is a form of divination and telepathy by a clairvoyant through deceased persons.
The famous president Abraham Lincoln was deeply interested in the supernatural, he attended seances (a kind of gathering for psychic experiments). At one such seance, Lincoln was hypnotized and went into a trance (a state of semi-unconsciousness), he sat on a piano which then began to play paranormally (without human contact). Then the piano levitated into the air with Lincoln himself.
He was also put into a trance by a young clairvoyant, which made him abolish slavery – he decided this while being semi-unconscious. Almost all the famous presidents and leaders had their personal fortune tellers, and many still do.
Imam Yahya believed that once his photo’ was taken, he would die. In the late 1940’s, an American journalist had a column writing about “unbelievable” anecdotes from around the world. He wrote about Imam Yahya, and had an Italian businessman friend, who visited the Imam, draw a sketch of the old ruler of Yemen to appear with the article.
A few days later the Imam was assassinated in the famous Constitutional Revolution of 1948.
Ordinary people also have premonitions. An American actress of the 1970’s was due to fly out of the US by plane with her mother. She realized something was wrong, she sensed a negative force about that trip, and so half an hour before the flight she immediately had to cancel both her and her mother’s booking.
Much later on the news they heard of a plane crash, killing many people, the same plane that they were going to fly on. So her premonition was true. When she was younger, she also had a dream of her future husband and even the house they were to live in. And later came true.
I mentioned superstitions, well here is one such superstition that makes me think twice…If a group of ravens, vultures or other birds of prey fly aimlessly above your neighborhood, this suggests that there will be a disaster. Also if your cat goes missing for no apparent reason, this also suggests a disaster, particularly death. I wish to know if it can really come true or is it just our conscience wanting it to come true? In my opinion I believe I witnessed the truth, although to be quite sure, I may need a second opinion…
A fortune teller in a Moroccan village has a method of using a special kind of writing or symbols with special ink on a piece of slate. One of his cures is to eat a spoon of pure honey with olive oil (this also helps your blood pressure).
He usually asks for something that you own such as a ring, then he will engrave some kind of writing onto it, and one would have to wear it always. As for his predictions, again in my opinion or in my case rather, I had no doubts whatsoever on his information about my past, present, or future. I’d call this more psychic power than divination.
I’ve also visited an exorcist here in Yemen, which I think is an experience one would not like to embark on very often! Curable but horrifically terrifying. I’ve also visited a few fortune tellers. One such fortune teller used a bottle of pure water, I think it’s something to do with reflections or it may be a substitute for the crystal ball.
There are a few fortune tellers who indulge in “White Magic” and it’s so severe sometimes that you could even call it “Black Magic.” They make up spells to do other people harm, or even to make people like you. I believe this should be illegal. But in situations like these things can go wrong, that suggests that it was not meant to be.
In Arab nations, there are a lot of things that people believe in. Here are a few examples:
Some people believe that if you recite this verse a 100 times you’re sure to go to heaven…”In the name of Allah the most compassionate the most merciful, Allah is one, there is no other but Allah…” People also believe that if you write the word “Bissmillah” in Arabic on a piece of paper 61 or 600 times then you’re also sure to go to heaven.
Or how about “Love Potions”? They are believed to be irresistible! Personally I believe it’s wrong to make somebody like a person against their will, or worst of all without even knowing.
Many people ask how long will they live. Yes, it is a big question, but think about it, do you really wish to know? Here is one method that is sometimes used: In the first month, close your eyes and say in Arabic “God is one” 10 times, then open your eyes and look immediately at the moon, if it has a blackish colour, this suggests death is soon to come. Alternatively, on a Wednesday in the 5th and 6th months, repeat as above, only this look at a lamp instead. Again if the lamp appears a darkish colour especially red, this also indicates death to come. Also you can use a bowl of water. Anyway earlier I mentioned dreams, well dreams do have meanings. For example, I had a dream and the outcome or meaning rather was that I’d have an accident, amazingly the next day I was bitten by a cat and had to go to hospital! It may have been a co-incidence, who knows? I’d like to believe it was true, it does make sense, for me at least.
When we are asleep our unconscious mind is at its full psychic ability, trying to warn our conscious mind of what is to come or even what has come. I’ve always noticed that some people believe that having a pet such as a cat or dog is a sign of unknown security, meaning that these animals can sense paranormal activities. These animals are especially psychic, or maybe people think it is lucky to own a pet, or maybe it is just the obvious answer that they like animals! Magicians, sorcerers, and witches, etc., would own a pet, cats especially, it was said to enhance their powers.
The Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon Him) was believed to have a pet pigeon, which sat on his shoulder whispering in his ear and this pigeon was believed to be the Archangel Gabriel.
Now I leave you with one important question: Is the world of the paranormal and the supernatural fact or fiction? I leave it to your own intuition.
By: Ms. Waffa Alawi Nasser,
Yemen Times.