Ursula K. Le Guin’s popular and beloved novel, The Left Hand of Darkness, is an amazing book for many reasons but what caught my imagination in a very personal way is a form of divination, called “Foretelling” in the novel, and the wisdom brought forth by Le Guin in the scenes and characters portraying this practice.
Read a full post on The Left Hand of Darkness here.
The foretelling takes place in the land of the Fastnesses: The land of the Foretellers and the tradition of the Handdarata. The Handdara is described as, “a religion without institution, without priests, without hierarchy, without vows, without creed: I am still unable to say whether it has a God or not. It is elusive. It is always somewhere else. Its only fixed manifestation is in the Fastnesses, retreats to which people may retire and spend the night or a lifetime”(54-55).
In rituals of intensely heightened sexual energy, nine Foretellers create a web of charged connectedness, then listen for an answer to the question they have been presented. It is an enormously expensive undertaking for both parties. Those who ask must pay a lot because those who are the Foretellers expend large amounts of their life force in the process.
The main recipient in the group listening ritual is the “weaver.” In an astoundingly profound passage, the weaver explains that for Foretellers, the nature of the question is extremely important. “The more qualified and limited the question, the more exact the answer… Vagueness breeds vagueness. And some questions of course are not answerable”(60).