The word divination comes from the Latin divinare, meaning “to foresee” or “to be inspired by a god.” To practice divination is to uncover hidden knowledge by supernatural means. It is associated with the occult and involves fortune-telling or soothsaying, as it used to be called.
From ancient times, people have used divination to gain knowledge of the future or as a way to make money. The practice continues as those who claim supernatural insight read palms, tea leaves, tarot cards, star charts, and more.
God tells us His view of divination in Deuteronomy 18:10: “There shall not be found among you . . . anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens.” First Samuel 15:23 compares rebellion to the “sin of divination.”
Practicing divination is listed as one of the reasons for Israel’s exile (2 Kings 17:17). Jeremiah 14:14 spoke of the false prophets of the time, saying, “They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.” So, compared to God’s truth, divination is false, deceitful, and worthless.
As Luke traveled with Paul and Silas in the city of Philippi, he recorded an encounter with a diviner: “We were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling” (Acts 16:16). The girl’s ability to penetrate mysteries was due to a demon that controlled her. Her masters received “much gain” from their slave. Paul eventually exorcised the demon (verse 18), freeing the girl from her spiritual bondage and angering the slave owners (verse 19).
Divination in any form is sin. It is not harmless entertainment or an alternate source of wisdom. Christians should avoid any practice related to divination, including fortune-telling, astrology, witchcraft, tarot cards, necromancy, and spell-casting. The spirit world is real, but it is not innocent. According to Scripture, those spirits that are not the Holy Spirit or angels are evil spirits.
Christians need not fear the spirits involved in divination; neither are Christians to seek wisdom from them. The Christian’s wisdom comes from God (James 1:5).