Divination is the practice of interpreting phenomena as supernatural indications of fate: foretelling, soothsaying, predicting.
This has been practiced in many ways all over the world in all cultures in all ages up to the present day. Scientific research and methods have made it possible to predict future events with moderate success, e.g. weather forecasts and volcanic eruptions: this is not called divination. Divination proper assumes the influence of some supernatural force or fate; scientific predictions are made from an essentially mechanical, impersonal world-view and rely on empirical "laws" of nature. So, as an operational definition, divination would be all methods that have not been shown to be effective using scientific research. These are regarded as pseudoscience or superstition by almost all people with a scientific education.
The Romans in classical times were great practicers of divination. One method of Etruscan origin was practiced by special haruspices, who examined the internal organs of animal sacrificial victims, with special attention to the liver: from this they deduced the will of the gods to whom the sacrifice was made.
These days, popular methods of divination associated with gypsies are:
- card reading, using ordinary playing cards or a special set of tarot cards. This has been practiced since playing cards came into use (first in Italy in the 14th century), but some practitioners claim ancient Egyptian origins derived from wisdom originating from the Egyptian scribe-god Thoth.
- reading of a crystal sphere; other reflecting objects have been used for this purpose too.
One of the most popular methods of divination worldwide today is astrology, which is practiced in many ways according to different traditions.