Fortune-telling is the practice of predicting the future, usually of an individual, through mystical or supernatural means and often for commercial gain. It often conflates with the religious practice known as divination.
In Europe, the fortune-telling has not been well-respected for the past several centuries. There have been religious proscriptions against it, as well as civil laws passed that forbid the practice. For these reasons, many mainstream urban Europeans and Americans are unaware of how popular fortune-telling remains with the public and are surprised when they learn of a celebrity or politician who consults a fortune-teller for the purpose of making decisions.
Another form of fortune-telling, sometimes called "reading" or "spiritual consultation" does not rely on the use of specific devices or methods, but consists of the practitioner transmitting to the client advice and predictions which are said to have come from spirits or in visions. This form of fortune-telling is particularly popular in the African-American community.
Typical topics that Western fortune-tellers make predictions on include future romantic, financial, and childbearing prospects. They may also be called upon to aid in decision-making regarding job opportunities, the outcome of illnesses, and plans for marriage or divorce.
In addition to divining the future, many fortune-tellers will also give "character readings." These are short analyses of the character of a person and do not necessarily involve specific preditions about future events. Methods used in character analysis readings include numerology, graphology, palmistry (if the subject is present), and astrology. The subject of a character reading may be the client, who seeks self-knowledge, but it is quite common for the fortune-teller to perform a character reading on the client's prospective mate. In the latter case, when a third party is being assessed for marital compatibility with the client, an element of fore-telling does occur, as the practitioner explores the future of the relationship based on the characters of the two parties.
It is quite common for young women to seek out fortune tellers as they embark on adulthood, and many women maintain decades-long relationships with their personal readers or fortune-tellers. Telephone consultations with psychics (charged to the caller's telephone account at very high rates) grew in popularity through the 1990s but they have not replaced - and may never replace - the traditional card readers, tea leaf readers, palmists, and spiritual readers who see their clients in small storefronts or occult shops.
Chinese Fortune Telling better known as (Chinese: 算命, suan ming) has utilized many varying divination techniques throughout the dynastic periods. There are four major methods still in practice in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong today, and they remain in use due to their accuracy and popularity. Over time, some of these concepts have moved into Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese culture under other names. For example "Saju" in Korea is the same as the Chinese four pillar method.
Traditional Chinese: 一命二運三風水四積陰德五讀書 Simplified Chinese:一命二运三风水四积阴德五读书 Pinyin: yi1 ming4 er4 yun4 san1 feng1 shui3 si4 ji1 yin1 de2 wu3 du2 shu1 Jyutping: jat1 meng6 ji6 wan6 saam1 fung1 seoi2 sei3 zik1 jam1 dak1 ng5 duk6 syu1 English translation : one fate, two luck, three fengshui, four karma, five education
The above quote is culturally believed to have come from Su Shi of the Song dynasty. As the quote continue to remain wildly popular in Chinese culture today. The actual interpretation vary greatly depending on the individual as there is no classical text mentioning what Su Shi really meant. Some claims that your destiny is really in your control as the 5 components is mathematically 1 more than the four pillars of destiny. Meaning you are in control of your future on top of your born-fate. Other interpretations may suggest the order in which the components are important. For example education is not useful if fate does not put you in the proper place first. Other interpretations may suggest there is no order. Just a list of the 5 components.
Those who do not believe that fortune tellers can actually read the future may believe that several other factors explain the popularity and anecdotal accuracy of fortune-telling:
By mentioning that "one should use his intelligence and wisdom while visiting fortune tellers," the law-makers who wrote this statute acknowledged that fortune-tellers do not restrict themselves to "a show or exhibition solely for the purpose of entertainment or amusement" and that people will continue to seek out fortune-tellers even though fortune-tellers operate in violation of the law.
Over thousands of years, fortune-telling has transformed from a prestigious position to a heretical practice to an advertised business. Ronald H. Isaacs, a Jewish rabbi and author, states “Since time immemorial humans have longed to learn that which the future holds for them. Thus, in ancient civilization, and even today with fortune telling as a true profession, humankind continues to be curious about its future, both out of sheer curiosity as well as out of desire to better prepare for it." 5000 years ago, soothsayers were prized advisers to the Assyrians, but they lost respect and reverence during the rise of Reason in the 17th and 18th centuries. With the rise of commercialism, “the sale of occult practices [adapted to survive] in the larger society” and fortune-telling became “a private service, a commodity within the marketplace” . Ken Feingold, writer of "Interactive Art as Divination as a Vending Machine" states, “as the fundamental economic medium of exchange required by and used by all, money brought with it the possibility that one could purchase knowledge of the future” because with money as “an arbitrary symbolic designation of ‘value,’ ... one can buy anything.” Today there are countless print, televised and online advertisements for fortune-tellers: “whether it’s 3 P.M. or 3 A.M., there’s Dionne Warwick and her psychic friends selling advice on love, money and success. In a nation where the power of crystals and the likelihood that angels hover nearby prompt more contemplation than ridicule, it may not be surprising that one million people a year call Ms. Warwick’s friends.”
People seek fortune-tellers for a myriad of reasons:
Canadian Clairvoyant Mrs. Jane Welbourn “says [her clients’] need to see her and hear what the future holds for them is often born out of stress and worry about a problem and the need for direction in their lives.” Mrs. Welbourn states, “about 90% of the people I see are experiencing some stress, or something is bothering them. Whether it’s drink, drug, illness, financial, infidelity or marital problems, there is usually something.”
Ken Feingold explains, “We desire to know other people’s actions and to resolve our own conflicts regarding decisions to be made and our participation in social groups and economies. The Other of our day-to-day reality is the chance to gain an advantage, to go around the fact that the future is unknown, and to influence the outcome of events--and it is in this interval that divination is active… Divination seems to have emerged from our knowing the inevitability of death. The idea is clear--we know that our time is limited and that we want things in our lives to happen in accord with our wishes. Realizing that our wishes have little power, we have sought technologies for gaining knowledge of the future...gain power over our own [lives].”
Danny Jorgensen, a professor of Religious Studies at the University of South Florida explains that people visit psychics or fortune-tellers to gain self-understanding and knowledge which will lead to personal power or success in some aspect of life.
Peder Zane explains “Psychics... act like human radios, tuning in to the clients’ karmic wavelengths to divine their lives. They claim to “read” almost anything including financial markets, corporations and entire nations. Zane further states, “In these increasingly complex and economically uncertain times, where bet-hedging and fence-straddling are considered wisdom, devotees say soothsayers are one of the last groups that provide simple answers. Call it pragmatic spiritualism. Rather than focus on a client’s soul, these clairvoyants say point blank whether a business deal is good or bad, or predict precisely when the market will rise or fall or pinpoint the exact day love will walk through the front door or sneak out the back.”
Californian Denise Laine, owner of American Transitech, which refills toner cartridges, says, “My psychic tells me the truth as she sees it, as opposed to what I want to hear…She makes specific suggestions about what I should do.” Canadian Clairvoyant Mrs. Jane Wellbourn works along those lines of Laine’s psychic: “I work with their palm, tell them what’s going on at the time and obviously pick up on the problem and see where that’s leading and what’s going to happen in the next couple of years. Others take a more spiritual approach to fortune-telling. An American clairvoyant by the name of Catherine Adams says, “My philosophy is to teach and practice spiritual freedom, which means you have your own spiritual guidance, which I can help you get in touch with. Many people tell me my predictions come true or that my healings work wonders, but that is only because they allowed me to fully see their spirits and then followed through with what was true for them at the time. Any session is better when you feel somewhat balanced and spiritually open. If you are upset, a healing may help, but it is best to wait until you are calm before you ask for a reading.” In addition to sharing and explaining their visions, fortune-tellers can also act like counselors by discussing and offering advice about their clients’ problems. Mrs. Welbourn explains how she interacts with a client: “I talk through the situation that is the problem at the time and I tell them what’s going to happen and I will be bluntly honest and tell them in that reading what I think they should do, to bring them the most happiness.
Some fortune-tellers encounter difficulty in “getting the client to interpret the information in the appropriate way” because they are attempting to “describe upon the physical plane what [they have] seen upon the astral. When they do get their message across, trustworthy fortune-tellers (and there are crooks and scam-artists out there) let their clients make their own choices and take the consequences for those choices. They want their clients to exercise their own willpower.
Some combine their full-time job with these gifts:
Arch Crawford, a New York City financial astrologer who predicted the 1987 stock market crash in his newsletter, Crawford Perspectives, began using sunspot activity and astrology to chart the stock and commodities markets while working as an analyst at Merrill Lynch because he found traditional econometric models frustrating. “While markets have become extremely complex in recent years, statistical tools for tracking them have not become equally sophisticated,” Mr. Crawford said. So why not try magic instead? “Astrology, along with a lot of technical analysis, gives me an edge over those people who simply rely on numbers.
Others prefer to keep them separate--
Mrs. Welbourn: “It isn’t something spooky or weird, it’s just there. You can’t really say what it is, it is just something that’s with me and works with the client. I am able to keep my life and the clairvoyance separate, and I can shut off, or I would never rest.
Amongst fortune-tellers, certification is determined by ability and experience, rather than official documentation of training--
Psychic Clairvoyant Medium Rose Schwab believes, “no one person has the authority or the expertise to give out such certification or degrees. Each individual must master his or her own gifts and abilities through various exercise, workshops and classes.Each individual has gifts and abilities that we are all born with. We can choose to develop and use them or not, but if we choose to develop and use them, to do so with understanding, responsibility and wisdom.” Similarly, C. W. Leadbeater, author of Clairvoyance, states that an accurate reading requires “years of ceaseless labor and rigid self-discipline.”
A professional fortune-teller “is determined by formal codes of ethics, lists of approved practitioners, and a variety of informal norms.” One such code is this “Spiritual code” found in a participant-observational study done by professors at the University of Florida: