By Ambica Gulati February 2000 Charts, lines, visions—what do they predict? Can we use them to look into the future, shape it as we will or are we merely acting out a script written by somebody else? Enter the world of myriad predictive sciences On the cards Tarot has 22 major cards and 56 minor cards. Major ones speak of the ‘why’ of things and minor ones tell you what is happening. Familiarize yourself with the cards. Concentrate on the question and shuffle the cards. ‘The question should be simply framed,’ advises Guneeta Dhingra a tarot reader. There are various layouts but Guneeta prefers the seven-card layout.Question: Am I likely to get a satisfactory job in the next six months?First Card: Represents the situation from the last 18 months up to the present moment. Here a page of swords depicts dreams but not enough action. Second Card: Present situation. An eight of pentacles signifies commitment to the present situation. Third Card: Next six months. A ten of cups, reversed, stands for the lesson in the previous card not having been learnt. In a work situation, it indicates a harmonious group in the past but in a competitive mood now.Fourth Card: Part of the answer. Eight of wands here indicates a positive response. Fifth Card: Energy surrounding the questioner. King of cups reversed indicates discipline can bring rewards. Sixth Card: Hopes and fears. A major card. Temperance indicates the need to reacquaint yourself with your purpose before you embark on any course of action. Seventh Card: The outcome. The emperor signifies that a disciplined approach will lead to success. Dicey answerIn ancient Egypt, Greece and the Far-East, cubes of wood, metal, ivory or glass, with their sides numbered from 1 to 6, were popular for prophesying. You need three dice. Consult the dice after sunset, in peaceful surroundings. Observe complete silence. Draw a circle with white chalk on a board or table. Reject the throw, which rolls out of the table or the circle or if it falls on the floor, it is a presage of violent quarrels. Now add the numbers on the three dice. Here is what each number signifies: Three: Good luckFour: DisappointmentFive: Happiness from an unknown personSix: Loss in worldly matters but spiritual gainSeven: Baseless accusationsEight: Unwise courseNine: Success in love affairsTen: HappinessEleven: IllnessTwelve: Act upon your intuitionThirteen: SorrowFourteen: New associationFifteen: Let your conscience guide youSixteen: Pleasant journeySeventeen: Suggestion from a stranger will guide you to future successEighteen: Great luck and happiness Any recurring number portends an important event. A dice on top of another is a warning sign. Avoid Mondays and bad weather. Leaves in a cupThe art of reading tea-leaves is probably the simplest means of divination. There is a specific ritual to be followed. Use a cup with a wide mouth with white inside devoid of any pattern. It’s best to use china leaf tea. The inquirer drinks from the cup till about one teaspoon of the liquid is left. In the left hand, move the cup three times clockwise and anti-clockwise, concentrating on the question. With the right hand, invert the cup on a saucer and drain the liquid. Now look at the tea-leaves in the cup. At first, it appears to be a dismal scene. But observing closely, you can glean pictures and symbols. The handle of the cup represents the inquirer. The position of the symbols represent timing of events. If they appear near the rim of the cup, the events are at hand, while those portrayed on the sides stand for delay, and those at the bottom pertain to remoteness. See the size also—a large one indicates large legacy and small one, small legacy. But limit your questions to once or twice a week. Angel: Good newsAnchor: Good luckBell: At the top, a betterment in position. At the bottom, sad news. Two bells denote great happinessCandle: Philanthropy, helpfulnessDemon: Evil influencesEarth: Material things over spiritual matters Charts, lines, visions—what do they predict? Can we use them to look into the future, shape it as we will or are we merely acting out a script written by somebody else? Enter the world of myriad predictive sciences Often, the capricious turns of time put you in circumstances where you are forced to wonder if you can really control your destiny. Perhaps it never hit me as strong as it did when I woke up, suffocated by a world of darkness, writhing in pain. I was the victim of an accident, somebody told me. Legs, arms and face smashed. I may lose my right arm, diagnosed the doctors. Maimed for life. ‘WHY ME?’ my heart cried out. Silence. Six months later, I walked out on crutches, stumbling, trying to maintain my balance with my left hand, right arm still encased in plaster. Leaning against the pillar I looked at the books on the pavement store. A-Z of Astrology by Mahavir Tuli. Maybe this would tell me why this accident had to happen to me. In times of need, astrology indeed. Or perhaps numbers. Each of us has a personal number, which creates harmony or disharmony, claim experts. Or you could study the lines on your palm and try to foresee your future, all with the help of a book on palmistry. You could even opt for tea-leaves, tarot cards, handwriting, or even the ubiquitous dice. But is time a straight chain of events with everything predestined? If not, then how much is fated and how much depends on the choices we make? And to what extent do predictive sciences really predict the future? WHY? Why do people turn to astrology in the first place? Trauma or simply curiosity? ‘For a number of reasons,’ explains K.N. Rao, well-known astrologer and director of the Institute of Astrology at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Delhi. ‘It could be the excitement or fatality of the present, uncertainty about the future and even a memory of the past.’ But do these timeworn systems actually work? ‘Our predic foretelltions come true, so we can say that they work. But, yes, they are based on desh (place), kaal (time) and patra (individual).’ Each individual has to be given separate counsel. However, Professor Yash Pal, renowned Indian scientist, disagrees. ‘Astrology is known to be as old as astronomy. The panchang (almanac) records the planetary positions but human beings have a habit of reading more than what actually exists. Probably that is why astrology works more for those who believe in it,’ he says. Even Mukul Sharma, futurist and columnist, calls these systems cold-reading. ‘It’s poppycock. Where is the rational or scientific basis?’ But, both Rao and Gayatri Devi Vasudev, editor of Bangalore-based The Astrological Magazine and daughter of the famous Indian astrologer B.V. Raman, claim that all men of science or even skeptics should study the principles and application of astrology before they opinionate on it. ‘So, I decided to start this institute of astrology. We are not manufacturing seers but we want to spread awareness about this science and remove the stigma attached to it,’ elucidates Rao. And Gayatri has compiled essays illustrating the scientific basis in her book Astrology and The Hoax of Scientific Temper. Supports Nirmala Sewani, Jaipur-based astrologer: ‘If we can believe in all that is written in the Vedas, then why do we shun astrology?’ BACK IN TIME Let’s travel back thousands of years—to the Vedas. There we find traces of Jyotish (divine) Vidya (knowledge). In other civilizations too, stargazing was a human pastime, so old that we can’t fathom its origins. As civilizations advanced, they added philosophy and mathematics to the earlier forms. Thus creating astrology. ‘It was developed to find peace through an inner awareness,’ says Rao. Ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Chinese and Mayans all contributed to its development. Notes Jai Maharaj: ‘Researches from Dr Percy Seymour, UK-based astronomer and astrologer, uses the cause/effect chain to explain astrology in his book Astrology: The Evidence of Science. Some material forces and/or arrangement of matter (gravity, electromagnetism, nuclear energies, planets, orbital relations) cause a specific and predictable type of personality and life pattern.’ The birth horoscope is a basic tool of astrology. It is a map of the solar system at the exact time of birth. Astrology explores ways in which we share traits with cosmological patterns and regularities through our ascendant and moon signs. Ascendant is the zodiac sign arising at the time of birth and moon sign is the sign in which the moon is placed at the time of birth. These two form the basis of all Vedic astrological predictions. In different parts of India, different systems are used. ‘Despite certain differences, there are similar trends of analyzing the horoscopes,’ acknowledge both Rao and Gayatri who work with Vedic astrology. But western astrology takes into account the sun sign, the placement of sun in the birth horoscope. Differences arise here. However, Mohinder Chopra, USA-based astrologer, has combined certain western techniques with Vedic astrology to ‘improve accuracy’. But both Nirmala and Chopra claim Vedic astrology to be superior to any system. According to Rao and Gayatri, we also need to modify the classical interpretations to suit the needs of today. But Joseph Edamaruku, president of the Indian Rationalists Association and bureau chief of Kerala Sabdam newspapers, repudiates all these arguments. ‘The Vedas were written thousands of years back. Technology wasn’t as advanced as it is today. Even astrologers acknowledge that Rahu and Ketu, two of the navgrahas (nine planets) central to astrology, are not planets. So, how can they treat them as having any influence on our lives?’ He adds: &lsquo
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