When you google the definition of divination, what pops up is the practice of seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown by supernatural means. As always, the dictionary is half right. In life, there is a natural forward entropy, or fally-apartyness, that everything animate and inanimate possesses. Everyone will die, every country will fall apart. Every mountain will crumble, and every star will fall apart or brilliantly detonate. In this pessimistic way to view the world, there is no point in reading the future, learning from the past, or even existing at all. When you look at things in the grand scheme, most everything is pointlessly pointing in circles. Life points to death points to life. Or if you will, creation points to destruction points to creation excetera. It’s all just circles.
However, we live in just one circle of this everlasting cycle, and so theoretically everything happening to us should be all new. In one lifespan, the future is as blind as the past, or it technically should be. However, we have writing and speech and such, and so we as humans have begun to analyze the past. And such is a form of divination: looking for patterns in past things that repeat over and over again to tell where and when they will repeat in the future. This can be politically, socially, anything with a broad, well categorized history. This is the stuff that is touched upon in all the pop culture cliches about immortals. They’ll say something along the lines of, “I’ve seen this all before! History Repeats Itself™!” and the protagonist will be like, “No, it’ll be different!” The good novels and literature will then eventually circle back to the beginning at the end of the book, with some easy poetic closure.
Now there are of course other ways to tell the future. One way is through the Chinese I-Ching. The I-Ching goes as such: one throws two coins, and if they’re the same, you mark even. If they’re different, you mark odd. One does this six times, then reads the proverb and prediction for the corresponding series of evens and odds. Another method is through Tarot cards. Another is through divining tea leaves. There are many ways to tell the future, but the most reliable (in my opinion) is ones that utilize chance.
The idea of looking at the future through something that can be different or the same any time that you do it is the idea of tapping into the natural entropy in the universe. The idea of randomness is the exact same idea that is slowly building the future, as well as pulling apart the universe. So it only makes sense that when you throw coins, the result will have something to say about the future.
And finally, it is important to note that when you seek out the future, nothing is definite. Any “prediction” that you can receive can only ever be a lens in which to see events unfold. For an analogy, imagine a beam of light shining on a painting in a gallery. The beam is clear and you can make out the ocean and men and women in this painting. However, someone comes along and holds up a red colored piece of glass to the light. Suddenly the painting is bathed in red light. It is still the same painting, with the same strokes and frame, but the ocean looks like it’s full of blood and the people’s skin have changed color. There’s a different perspective on the same situation. This same idea can be applied to divination.
Next time you throw the dice, or get a Tarot reading, remember the natural entropy in the universe is giving you a lens in which the future is recommended to be viewed. The recommended setting.
Max Chu, class of 2020