Predictions - information about future events, obtained through supersensible (intuitive) perception. In this case, neither magical intervention, nor any other mental influence on future events is performed.
Since ancient times, people have been striving to find out about the future, and this kind of information was helped by soothsayers and soothsayers who, as it was believed, directly communicated with the deities, and could see the future for thousands of years. Such seers were among many peoples of the world. The Greeks called them oracles and sibyls, the Slavs - the Magi, the Celts - druids, etc.
Modern researchers divide oracles into several groups according to the method of obtaining and proclaiming prophecies:
• Oracles of signs, formulating prophecy as a result of observing natural phenomena (rustling of leaves, flight of birds, etc.) or after performing certain rituals (for example, casting lots).
• Oracles of inspiration (ecstasy) or Apollo's oracles (oracles where predictions of this kind were made were a place of worship for Apollo or Phoebus - the ancient Greek god, who was the personification of the Sun, the patron saint of predictors of the future, muses and poets, travelers and sailors, healers, sciences and arts) - received answers to questions, entering an ecstatic state. It was they who enjoyed the greatest authority in many countries of the ancient world.
• Dream oracles who received information from dreams or visions (those who prophesied after divine revelations were respected and respected by the believers of the so-called revelatory religions - Islam, Judaism and Christianity).
• Oracles-necromancers or oracles of the call of the dead - who asked not the deities, but the souls of the dead, summoned in order to receive answers to the questions of the living.
In some cases, one diviner combined the properties of several oracles.
Prediction, divination, clairvoyance and foresight are one and the same. Most often, these words are used interchangeably, but there is a significant difference in their meaning. Predictions are based only on intuitive perception, while foresight is a form of scientific knowledge and, like forecasting, is based on generalized data (both theoretical calculations and preliminary practical experiments and observations of certain processes and phenomena).
Predictions differ from fortune-telling and clairvoyance in that they only provide information about an event that was originally predetermined and independent of any changes (behavioral, ideological, etc.) of a person (and according to, for example, the mythology of the inhabitants of Germany and Scandinavia - even god). Fortune-telling, as well as clairvoyance, most often answers the question about events with a variable outcome (which can be influenced, for example, by fulfilling certain vows, reading prayers, forgiving offenders, etc.) or about the consequences of certain actions.
The presence or absence of a prophetic gift can be determined by asking a person, for example, to predict a particular combination of numbers on the edges of dice, numbers in a lottery, etc. Misconception. If a person can determine which combination of numbers will fall out in lotto, roulette or when throwing dice, he most likely has extrasensory abilities (in the mentioned case, clairvoyance). If he easily guesses which card is currently drawn from the deck, this may simply be a manifestation of another psychic ability (telepathy). It is impossible to determine whether a person has the gift of predicting a predetermined future.
In ancient times, methods of this kind were actually used to determine the most accurate oracle. For example, according to legend, Croesus (king of Lydia) sent messengers to the fortunetellers of Hellas. The oracles had to answer one question: "What does Croesus do?" (only the time was indicated, the type of activity should be named). Only the Pythia of Delphi was able to give the correct answer (about the fact that at that time the king was boiling a turtle and a lamb in a copper pot).
However, the Pythia was no longer able to show the same accuracy in answering the next question of Croesus (about the advisability of unleashing a war with the ruler of Persia Cyrus), which actually decided the fate of the king of Lydia. In general, according to the studies of modern scientists, accurate predictions that cannot be interpreted make up only 2% of all the predictions that came true given by the Delphic oracle.
Michel Nostradamus (France), who correctly predicted the fate of two suckling pigs, also passed a test of this kind. His prediction came true exactly, despite all the tricks of de Florinville, in the castle of which the seer stayed.
The ability to predict the future can be trained. Nowadays, there are many different methods (for example, online trainers), which, according to the assurances of their creators, contribute to the development of the gift of divination. However, the mentioned techniques, at best, train extrasensory abilities; they cannot identify and enhance the gift of predicting future events.
Diligent prayer, fasting, and renunciation of worldly joys help to gain the gift of prophecy. In some cases, people who earnestly asked for the gift of the prophetic gift did receive it (and sometimes the gift of divination was manifested not in the woman who was praying, but in her child). Also, many holy elders who were fasting and praying received the gift of providence (and were later called "discerning").
But, in addition, the mentioned gift could be the result of an external influence on an unsuspecting person, or it manifested itself in people who are "on the verge of death" (for example, Socrates received the prophetic gift before execution, and the monk Abel - after a long serious illness).
It is also believed that the gift of prophecy can be obtained as a result of:
• Communication with creatures from other, magical worlds (the Celts believed that representatives of the Tuat people who lived in Side, the underworld, could endow people with the gift of prediction).
• Impact of natural phenomena (most often - lightning or strong storm).
• Divine revelations - supernatural influence on people from above (when God reveals Himself to them either directly or through angels).
• Long pilgrimage or wanderings (this is how Michelle Nostradamus acquired the gift of foresight).
The Oracle is a person who predicts the future. Yes, today the oracle (oraculum, from Lat. Oro - "to ask, to speak") is called either a foreteller or a person, all the judgments and sayings of which are considered indisputable truth. However, in ancient times this word had a broader meaning: the priest-diviner, and the text of the prediction itself, and the place where the predictions were announced ("prophecy") was called an oracle.
Oracles, pythias and sibyls are synonymous. In some cases, this is true. For example, Pythias, the Delphic soothsayers, in some sources are called Sibyls (and Femona (according to legend, the daughter of Apollo himself), who prophesied in Delphi, is called the first Sibyl). But the Sibyls were still different from the oracles. Firstly, most often they lived in the outskirts of the country (while traveling a lot), the oracles were located in the sanctuaries erected in large cities. Secondly, the Sibyls, unlike the oracles, did not answer questions, but, falling into an ecstatic state, broadcast about the events of the future (sometimes very distant).
The oracles came to Hellas along with the ancient Greeks. Herodotus claims that the most ancient oracle, located in the city of Dodona (Epirus district in northwestern Greece), appeared even before the arrival of the Greeks in Hellas. Initially, the prophecy was a place of worship of the Mother Goddess, and was associated with the cult of chthonic deities (i.e. deities associated with the forces of the earth and the underworld). The foretellers received information about future events by listening to the rustle of the leaves of the sacred tree (oak). Some historians believe that oracles came to the territory of Ancient Greece from the countries of the Ancient East, since prophecies similar to the Greek ones existed from ancient times in Assyria, Mari and Ancient Egypt.
The ancient oracles were mostly female. This is not entirely true. The most famous oracles of ancient Greece were male, with the exception of the pythia, the soothsayer from the temple of Apollo, located in Delphi, a city erected on the slope of Mount Parnassus. But the Sibyls (soothsayers who traveled through Ancient Greece) were indeed exclusively the fair sex.
Most often young virgins became prophetesses. At first, this was exactly the case, but later, for example, in the Delphic temple, the Pythia was chosen from among women of 50 years of age. And innocence ceased to be a mandatory requirement - the applicant could be married, however, after accepting the dignity, she kept her chastity.
The priests could act as oracles. Most often, priests and priestesses used other methods of obtaining information to obtain information about future events or the will of the deities (for example, mantics, i.e. various types of fortune-telling). In the prophets, it was the priests who guided the movements of visitors when inspecting the temple, and also interpreted the oracle's predictions (the wording of which sometimes allowed several interpretations, often diametrically opposite). But in some cases, the priestesses acquired a prophetic gift and became sibyls. An example of such a transformation is the Kuman sibyl (at first she was a priestess in the Ionian city of Eryphra, but later, having acquired the gift of divination, she moved to the Italian city of Kuma).
The Oracle uttered predictions in poetic form. The first prophecies were indeed given in verse (moreover, the verse size changed in accordance with the era - from the hexameter, which was most often used in ancient poetry, to the iambic trimeter), often very far from perfect. However, over time, the poetic form of divination became less common, giving way to prose.
The soothsayers were completely independent people, and they always spoke only the truth. No, often predictions were made to please those in power (who sought the desired response by bribery or threats). Even Demosthenes publicly accused the Delphic pythia of being bribed by King Philip of Macedon. Also, in some cases, the texts of the predictions were drawn up according to the instructions of the priests who wanted to strengthen their positions in the state and for this purpose created a wide network of agents throughout the country. Thanks to this, the ministers of the temples of Apollo knew very well what the moods were in a particular region, what questions should be expected from representatives of various strata of the population of a particular region of Hellas and what answers would favor their expectations and correspond to the fulfillment of the priests' plans.
To predict the future, it is enough for a person to have a prophetic gift. But more often than not, the utterance of the prophecies was preceded by a certain preparation. For example, the Delphic pythia fasted for 3 days before divination, after which she bathed in a sacred spring - the Kastalsky key, named after the nymph Castalia and, according to legend, giving strength to the prophets and inspiration to musicians and poets. The soothsayer chewed the leaves of laurel (a plant that was considered sacred), placed a laurel wreath on her head and drank water from the source of Cassotida (whose waters were also supposed to enhance the prophetic gift).
After that, sitting on a sacred tripod, the pythia inhaled narcotic vapors that rose from a crevice in the rock, fell into an ecstatic state, and began to broadcast (modern experts question this statement, since neither a crack nor a cave was found among the ruins of the Delphic temple) ... In a similar way (by drinking water from a sacred spring and inhaling its fumes, which caused visions), the prophetess entered the desired state, speaking in the temple located in the city of Didyma (Asia Minor). The oracle of the city of Clarosse (Asia Minor) limited himself only to drinking water from a source located in a sacred cave. But the prophetess of Argos (Greece) entered an ecstatic state after drinking the blood of a sacrificial animal.
To answer a person's question, the fortuneteller must see the questioner. No, this was not a prerequisite for successful divination (although it was not forbidden). To get an answer to the question, a person only had to make a generous donation to the temple (moreover, the intended sacrifice goats were first tested (doused with water, and observed the reaction of animals) in order to be sure that this sacrifice was pleasing to Apollo). After that, the applicant had to perform several rituals and take part in the drawing of lots, which determined the sequence of receiving an answer to the question asked, with which the priests turned to the Pythia (only the inhabitants of Delphi could receive the right to appeal out of turn for special services to the state or society). They, having received the answer, interpreted it and communicated it to the questioner. And the oracle of the Temple of Apollo Clarius (Colophon, Lydia) was not even told the essence of the questions - they simply called their serial numbers, and the soothsayer gave answers. Sibyls and prophets did not answer people's questions at all, broadcasting about the events of the future, while doing without the intervention of the surrounding people (questioners, priests, etc.).
The place where the soothsayer would later be erected was sought by specially trained priests. Not necessary. For example (according to Plutarch), the effect of fumes coming out of a crack in a rock near the city of Delphi was first noticed by the shepherd Koret. Subsequently, the most famous oracle in Hellas was built over the crevice (although, according to legend, Apollo himself chose the place for the construction of this oracle).
Soothsayers were most often centenarians. Not always. Much depended on the method of obtaining information. For example, the oracles of inspiration that came into contact with poisonous fumes did not live very long, although they did not give predictions very often (at first - only once a year (on the day of celebration of the birth of Apollo), starting from the 6th century BC - only in 7th day of the week during spring, summer and autumn, and in the temple of the Lycian city of Patra (Asia Minor, the territory of modern Antalya) - only in the winter months). And although the Pythias sometimes had substitutes (at certain periods of time, for example, the Delphic Pythia had 2 substitutes), their life span was short. In some cases, death occurred as a result of careless behavior in a state of ecstasy. For example, according to some written sources, one of the pythias died, having unsuccessfully jumped off the sacred tripod (according to another version, the soothsayer, seized with horror, rushed out of the temple, and was found only some time later in an unconscious state; she died a few days later). But the prophets (mentioned in many religions, for example, in Christianity) really lived a long time (the prophet Moses lived 120 years, Samuel - 88 years, Isaiah - 80 years, Jeremiah - 65 years, etc.).
Christianity does not recognize pagan soothsayers. On the one hand, Christian preachers proclaimed pagan fortune-tellers "accomplices of the devil," on the other, they recognized the truthfulness and objectivity of certain prophecies (if the interpretation of them helped to strengthen the ideas spread by Christian leaders).A striking example of this is the visit of the Virgin Mary by three pagan wise men, mentioned in the Bible, who predicted the birth of Jesus and warned the holy family of the impending danger. In addition, in some Christian churches in Western Europe, you can find an image of sibyls (pagan soothsayers and prophetesses). For example, Michelangelo depicted 5 sibyls (Delphic, Eritrean, Qom, Libyan and Persian) on the vault of the Sistine Chapel (Rome, Italy); on the vaults of the Church of Santa Trinita (Florence, Italy) 4 sibyls depicted Domenico Ghirlandaio. The floor mosaic at the entrance to the Siena Cathedral (Tuscany, Italy) depicts Hermes Trismegistus standing between two Sibyls, 10 more soothsayers are placed in the background with prophecies of the coming of Christ in their hands. And finally, some Christian leaders recognized the authority of the Sibylline Books (in particular, the prophecies about the coming of Christianity).