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.
Patrick Curry holds an honorary research fellowship in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Wales at Lampeter. He taught an MA in Cultural Cosmology and Divination at the University of Kent, and is co-author , with Roy Willis, of Astrology, Science and Culture: Pulling Down the Moon (Oxford: Berg, 2004).
'The book is unique in academia in that, next to putting forward a strong and currently revitalising case of cultural diversity, it provocatively presages for the new millennium a trans-cultural and trans-disciplinary mode of cross-fertilising local knowledge systems and Western-born globalising sciences. Alongside the border-linking beacons set out by Curry’s explorative and post-secularist contribution, the fourteen refreshing scholarly essays authoritatively examine many of the epistemological, ontological and ethical questions that the various millennia-old and vital geomantic, necromantic, shamanic or mediumnic divination practices from across the world put to the human sciences and their modernist world view.' René Devisch, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium 'This book adds several more ethnographic accounts of divination that add to our knowledge of such practices outside the Western worldview.' Time and Mind