Thursday, March 15, 2012

Beware the Ides of March

CAESAR: The ides of March are come.
Soothsayer: Ay, Caesar; but not gone.

We all know the story. On March 15, 44 B.C., Julius Caesar went to meet the senators, and the rest became well told, oft-repeated history.

Legend has it, he was warned. “Beware the ides of March,” a seer told him. He dismissed the seer and ignored the warning. In hindsight, he should have paid more attention. But that’s why it’s hindsight. It’s the past. Over. It happened, and now all your failures can be evaluated to death.

But someone knew. Sure, the seer probably just caught wind of the conspiracy through careless whispers and information leaks. But what about those how just know? Those who can see future events? Do they exist? And can they give me some (winning) lottery numbers?

Fortune telling goes back as long as there have been people. Humans have been reading anything and everything as a means to get a little inside information on what the future holds. Stars, palms, runes. But if you don’t have a pot to piss in, you’ll have to pass on uromancy (reading bubbles made by urinating in a pot). Likewise if your llama is spotted, you’ll miss out on bronchiomancy (studying the lungs of sacrificed white llamas).

Can fortune tellers really see the future, or are they just paying better attention? Do they just read the signs better than the rest of us?

Omens and warnings are out there to help lead the way. But the future isn’t set. There is no map. Every event shapes us, changes us in some way. So even if there was a guidebook at some point, it was outdated before you could say "Microsoft Update." But there are patterns to history that can be used to extrapolate a pretty good idea of what the future holds. History repeats itself. The same mistakes are made again, over and over. If you followed Pattern A, then it is likely that Outcome B will follow. If you were paying attention, you saw it coming and prepared. Similarly, if you saw Pattern A deviate into Course C, you were ready for Outcome D.

Casting of lots, such as runes or tarot cards take the possibilities of the different combinations into consideration to predict a probable future. Ranking a set of possibilities and making a supposition of events to follow. Setting the odds in a manner of speaking. Think those theories went out when ‘civilization’ took over, or they only belong to the occult? Think again. Entire cities are formed by weighing the outcomes and stacking the odds in favor of the house. Every table game, slot machine, and sports book rating in Las Vegas or Atlantic City is a form of ranking the set of possibilities. And let’s not even think about the stock market or insurance industries. Their entire existence is weighing the options and betting against you.

Luck and science combine to provide a (hopefully) favorable outcome. But have you ever just known something? Read a headline, and just know how the events are going to play out in the future, look at someone and just know who they are? Call it instinct or intuition, I think most of us have some amount of spontaneous divination. Things you’re just sure of. You can’t explain why; it just is.

Now, given the fact that there’s a fair amount of science involved with divination, do I think someone can tell my future by reading my tea leaves or from a deck of cards? I don’t know, but I’m not about to tempt fate and find out.

I’m quite happy to remain clueless and just enjoy the ride.



  1. Great post. I love Shakespeare and fortune telling and tarot cards..their origins fascinated me. However I am terrified of ouija boards..i am talking run from your house, get in the car and drive away scared. (long story) Yet I love all things paranormal.

  2. I will admit - I do have a Magic 8-Ball, a Sarcastic Ball, and a Ouja board T-shirt. I did have someone get creeped out by it, but I told him it didn't work without a pointer. (not entirely sure it didn't sound like a come on, though :P )


  3. I have Tarot cards, and I have on the occasion had visions (in my sleep) that have come true. I found out a few years ago that my Great-Grandmother was full Italian Gypsy, and she kept to the Old Ways through out her life.