• Latin: divinare, to foretell


Seeking after the knowledge of future or hidden things through means inadequate by nature and unlawful. By natural means some effects can be foreseen with physical certainty; others surmised as probable; others are contingent upon future, free causes and knowable only to God. Divination implies the direct or indirect solicitation of a preternatural evil agency to supplement a natural deficiency. Its practise or patronage is sinful, varying with circumstances. As old as humanity, it existed in every age and country, and nowhere is it completely abandoned. Christianity undermined its power, and after centuries of effort it disappeared as an official system.

Divinatory methods are numerous. Besides man’s innovations scarcely an object or movement escapes interpretation. They are grouped into three classes:

  • Express invocation of a superhuman power, including oneiromancy (Greek: oneiros, dream; manteia, prophesying), by dreams; necromancy (Greek: nekros, dead person), by spiritism; by other apparitions; pythonism (Greek: python, possessing demon), by possessed persons; hydromancy (Greek: hydor, water), by water; aeromancy (Greek: aer, atmosphere), by air; geomancy (Greek: ge; earth), by terrestrial substances; auspices (Latin: auspex, entrail- and bird-seer), by entrails of sacrifices, etc.
  • Tacit invocation by natural signs, including astrology (Greek: astron, star; logos, knowledge), by the stars; augury (Latin: augur, seer), by birds, men, etc., which now comprises all foretelling by signs; omens (Latin: omen, prophetic sign), by chance words; chiromancy (Greek: cheir, hand), by lines of the hand.
  • Tacit invocation by artificial signs, including geomancy by lines or pebbles; drawing of straws; dice; cards, etc.

MLA Citation

  • “divination”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 8 August 2013. Web. 21 September 2017. <>