Fortune-telling for the New Year

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Thursday, December 27, 2012


“What lies in the future is a mystery to us all” -- Karen Carpenter

IN DECEMBER 1991, Madame Auring, a famed Filipino psychic, correctly predicted the 1992 political victory of former President Fidel V. Ramos over Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

In December of 2001, another Filipino psychic accurately predicted the April 2002 death of a famed matinee actor who was later on identified as Rico Yan.

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In December of 2011, a Filipino-Chinese astrologer predicted that in 2012, a Filipino giant celebrity would pass away and who was later identified as none other than the comedy king Dolphy.

Last December 21 of this year, the ancient Mayan’s prediction of doomsday certainly did not come into reality although the scare has caused some unnecessary anxiety to several people.

Based on the previous statements, one is led to infer that divination or the practice of predicting future events and interpreting of omens is most popular during the last few days of December in transition to the incoming New Year.

This may be justified by our desire to know how the succeeding year will turn out and divination can be an indispensable tool of knowing.

Allow me share to you some things I learned about divination while I was studying anthropology at the Graduate School.

According to anthropologists, divination is a form of religious communication in which the supernatural powers or some supreme being gives, or is coerced into giving direct information about future events.

Anthropologists also suggest that there are three forms of divination: one is that the supernatural being sends the message as in omens; second is that the person initiates asking the supernatural for answers; and lastly, the supernatural communicates to man through dreams or in trance.

They maintain that originally, divination was not used for individual or personal affairs like what most people do in the current time. The functions then of divination were all related to the welfare of a group of people, tribe or civilization.

Furthermore, anthropologists explain that divination is tapped specifically for the following purposes: 1) diagnosing an illness; 2) mediating purposes or deciding for the guilt of innocence of an individual; and 3) when searching for the best time to engage in a social activity such as deciding when to hunt, engage in war or trade, etc...

Fast-forward to the present time, why people of today turn to divination or fortune-telling is readily answerable by social and behavioral scientists as man’s way of reducing anxiety to things, events or phenomena that are mysterious and are unintelligible in the current time.

They maintain that when something is unknown or beyond humanity’s comprehension that encompasses future disasters, deaths and painful experiences, people turn to mystical or supernatural phenomena which include divination to readily fill in the gap between reality and how they wish to conclude it whether favorable or unfavorable to their ends. Once they get an impression of what the future might hold, they can modify it in a manner that will save them all the pains and troubles.

This may explain why Filipinos have developed this culture of consulting a fortune-teller before the year ends to see how they will fare in the coming year making it a seasonal phenomenon.

To date, fortune-tellers are sought to answer personal concerns and somehow the sacredness of this practice, being a religious form of communication has significantly diminished as it became more profane or ordinary to the point of being commercialized like any product that can be sold in the market.

A good example of how divination has transformed into an ordinary money-making industry is the proliferation of horoscopes and people who openly sell their “gifts” -- genuine or hoax -- to answer the clamoring public thirsting for knowledge of what lies in the future ahead.

Personally, I think the modern-day perception and practice of divination weaves a culture of dependence to chance and predestination rather than choice and hard work. This simply reflects the mentality of people and their preference for magical thinking and divine intervention instead of scientifically-proven facts and methodologies to support or at least make their desires a reality.

I always believe that we hold the compass of our lives and no fortune-teller of any kind whether real or make-belief, can tell us how we ought to live our lives passively according to some arrangements of the heavenly bodies or based on the lines etched on our palms.

Merry Christmas to all and a happy and fruitful New Year!

(Comments may be sent to polo.journalist@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter at polo_socio)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 27, 2012.

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