What Is Fortune Telling?
What Is Fortune Telling? Fortune telling is the practice of predicting information about a person’s life. Terms for one who claims to see into the future include fortune teller, crystal-gazer, spaewife, seer, soothsayer, sibyl, clairvoyant, and prophet; related terms which might include this among other abilities are oracle, augur, and visionary.
What Does a Fortune Teller Do? A fortune teller offers insight into people’s past, present and future through private readings. Some fortune tellers read palms or use tarot cards, runes, or tea leaves to see into a client’s future. In addition to sharing and explaining their visions, fortune tellers can also act like counselors by discussing and offering advice about their clients’ problems. They want their clients to exercise their own willpower.
Fortune telling is dismissed by the scientific community and scientific skeptics as being based on magical thinking and superstition. Common methods used for fortune telling in Europe and the Americas include astromancy, horary astrology, pendulum reading, spirit board reading, tasseography (reading tea leaves in a cup), cartomancy (fortune telling with cards), tarot reading, crystallomancy (reading of a crystal sphere), and chiromancy (palmistry, reading of the palms).
The last three have traditional associations in the popular mind with the Roma and Sinti people (often called “gypsies”). Another form of fortune telling, sometimes called “reading” or “spiritual consultation”, does not rely on specific devices or methods, but rather the practitioner gives the client advice and predictions which are said to have come from spirits or in visions.
Traditional fortune tellers vary in methodology, generally using techniques long established in their cultures and thus meeting the cultural expectations of their clientele. In the United States and Canada, among clients of European ancestry, palmistry is popular and, as with astrology and tarot card reading, advice is generally given about specific problems besetting the client.
In the African American community, where many people practice a form of folk magic called hoodoo or root working, a fortune-telling session or “reading” for a client may be followed by practical guidance in spell-casting and Christian prayer, through a process called “magical coaching”.