by Craig Shrives

What Is Sortilege?

Sortilege is divination (i.e., prediction) by the drawing of lots. Latin provides the origin for this term, which literally means to select fate (sors fate + legere to select). The basic premise implies that the randomness of the draw can shape or lie within the scope of one's destiny.

Applications of similar randomness exist today in the form of lotteries, the dealing of playing cards, selection of those for jury service, and even mixing up doubles partners at one's local tennis club. It must be said that in all of those examples one's fate is governed by choosing to take part in the first place.

A well-known use of modern-day sortilege (or weak management) is 'drawing the short straw' for an onerous or unpopular task.

Sortilege: The Art of Divination through Random Selection

Sortilege, also known as cleromancy or the casting of lots, is an ancient practice of divination that involves making predictions or gaining insights through the random selection of objects or symbols. This method of divination has been employed across different cultures and historical periods, offering a unique approach to understanding the unknown and seeking guidance.

The origins of sortilege can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where the casting of lots was a common method of decision-making and seeking spiritual guidance. It was often used in matters of great importance, such as predicting outcomes of battles, determining rulers, or understanding divine will.

The process of sortilege typically involves using objects or symbols, referred to as lots, that are marked or differentiated in some way. These lots could be stones, sticks, shells, cards, or any other tangible items. Each lot is associated with a specific meaning or interpretation.

To perform sortilege, the practitioner typically shakes or scatters the lots, allowing chance or fate to determine the selection. The chosen lots are then interpreted based on the predetermined meanings associated with them. The interpretations may rely on the symbolism of the object itself, its position in relation to other lots, or even the intuition and experience of the practitioner.

Sortilege can be used in various ways, depending on the purpose and context. It may be employed to answer specific questions, provide guidance in decision-making, gain insight into future events, or offer clarity and direction in personal matters.

It's important to note that sortilege, like other forms of divination, does not guarantee absolute certainty or control over future outcomes. It is a tool for seeking guidance and exploring possibilities. The interpretations derived from sortilege are subjective and rely on the beliefs, intuition, and experience of the practitioner or individual seeking insights.

In contemporary times, sortilege has adapted to modern practices and technologies. For instance, the random selection of numbers or symbols through dice, playing cards, or computer-generated algorithms can be seen as a form of sortilege. Online platforms and mobile applications have also emerged, offering virtual lots and interpretations for individuals interested in exploring this ancient divinatory art.

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