Cover image for Divining the future : prognostication from astrology to zoomancy
Divining the future : prognostication from astrology to zoomancy
Shaw, Eva, 1947-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Facts on File, [1995]

Physical Description:
ix, 293 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BF1751 .S48 1995 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Divining the Future is a comprehensive A-Z r eference to fortune-telling practices around the world. Besi des definitions of terms and words used in the complex world of prognostication today, the book is also an authoritative historical resource. '

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

" A sweeping A-Z reference to fortune-telling practices, past and present" is how the press release introduces this book. The author describes divination practices ranging from tea-leaf reading to reading the placement of holes in Swiss cheese (tironmancy). Unfortunately, overly inclusive selection criteria, sloppy proofreading and copyediting, and poor illustrations make the work an incomplete attempt. The word querent, used for a person seeking information, is misspelled throughout as "querant." Jeane Dixon's name is misspelled within her entry. She is said to have predicted the deaths of astronauts White, Chaffee, and "Grisson." The correct spelling of the latter's name is Grissom. Prophecies (the plural noun) is frequently spelled "prophesies" (a singular verb). The author seems to describe everyone who ever said anything about the future as a psychic or diviner. George Fox, the founder of the Quaker movement, and Mother Ann Lee of the Shakers may have prophesied on the life to come, but they were hardly fortune-tellers or augurs. Describing Jules Verne as a mystic because of his science fiction novels is even more of a stretch. The Chinese practice of feng shui is used to divine suitable locations for buildings, graves, or other constructions, not for divining the future. Verses such as "red skies at night, sailors' delight" are not so much divination formulas as easily transmitted folk knowledge based on observation of the skies by early sailors. The format is dictionary style with both an index and cross-references. Entries range from a brief paragraph to several pages. Each entry has a brief list of further reading. These lists are a disappointment. Such prolific writers as Helena P. Blavatsky and Aleister Crowley do not have works of their own listed. Skeptic James Randi's fine biography of Nostradamus is not mentioned. Many of the sources given can be located in the occult section of chain bookstores. The Donning International Encyclopedic Psychic Dictionary and the Time-Life Mysteries of the Unknown series are frequently cited. Illustrations are not good. The line drawings are adequate, but many of the reproductions of woodcuts and photographs are blurry or too dark. This is not a necessary reference purchase, and the price is a little steep for a circulating copy. (Reviewed August 1995)