Handbook on Religion in China
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Handbook on Religion in China

Edited by Stephan Feuchtwang

Informative and eye-opening, the Handbook on Religion in China provides a uniquely broad insight into the contemporary Chinese variations of Buddhism, Islam and Christianity. In turn, China's own religions and transmissions of rites and systems of divination have spread beyond China, a progression that is explored in detail across 19 chapters, written by leading experts in the field.
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Chapter 8: Fate, destiny and divination

William Matthews


After setting out the framework in which to describe and understand the many different techniques of divination, or fortune-telling, that have been used in China and been revived in both rural and urban China, this chapter goes on to describe the most prevalent, as they are currently practiced and legitimated. Correlative forms of divination, such as those using the throwing of coins or yarrow stalks, or using the eight characters of a client’s time and date of birth, are purely cosmological. Communicative forms of divination address the efficacy of gods and spirits and signal whether they are responsive, particularly when this is done by spirit possession.

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