The History of Fortune Telling (Beginning and Popularity)

Tarot Reader Predicting Future

From the beginning of time, human beings have craved a glimpse into the future. As early as 4000 B.C., it seems that the art of fortune telling has been practiced in some form or fashion. While similar to divination, predicting future often takes place in a less formal setting and is not considered a religious ritual. Here is a brief history of fortune-telling and possible reasons as to why it remains so popular even today.


It is believed that the first incidences of foretelling took place in Ancient Egypt and China in the form of astrology and palm reading. Ancient peoples often looked to the stars in search of answers, and this theme continued through the Roman and Greek cultures through their mythologies. People are naturally curious and seeking answers to their troubles, and fortune-tellers provide a sense of security about what is to come, be it true or not.

Traditional Fortune Tellers

Most people, when they imagine a foreteller, conjure up the image of a woman dressed in a flowing skirt, a sash around her head, clad with ample amounts of earrings and other jewelry. This image comes from the Renaissance magic of the gypsy culture. The gypsies came originally from India and migrated to Europe, making a living as farm laborers, entertainers, and fortune telling. Their culture is associated with a long history of magic, and their methods include tea-leaf reading, palm reading, crystal ball gazing, and tarot reading.


There are several reasons that fortune-telling remains such a popular pastime. Part of the appeal of foretelling is the romantic and whimsical nature of the practice. Many people visit fortune-tellers for entertainment alone, making it popular within traveling fairs and events. On the other hand, a great many people visit fortune tellers because they truly believe in the ability to foresee what is ahead. Often oracle give just enough vague truth to make believers out of skeptics and keep them coming back for more.

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