Taoist Divination Practices and Rituals

The main philosophy of Taoism is about “Life and Death.” Taoism teaches people to know Death before Life and look beyond Death. Taoism tries to convey the message of the circle of continuity, which is to look deeply into Death and see life as a moving circle. “Life and Death” are two sides of the same coin. Life represents “Yang,” and Death represents “Yin.”

The concept of Yin and Yang exists in the daily life and culture of Chinese people. For example, Yang is sunlight and Yin is the moon; Yang refers to man and Yin refers to woman.

To pray and ask for guidance from divinity or ancestors, the Chinese use Moon blocks or Jiaobei blocks to resolve worries and issues in life. The Moon blocks are a divination tool, widely used in Chinese traditional religions. The Moon blocks are made of wood or bamboo, and created into a crescent shape. Each block has two sides. The round side is conventionally Yin; the flat side is conventionally Yang. When praying, the Moon blocks must be used in pairs and flip blocks to get the answer.

Four possible answers to Moon blocks

  1. Divine Blocks: One block is round, and another is flat. That means a “yes” answer.
  2. Angry Blocks: Both blocks are round. That means a “no” question. It’s said that the divinities are angry with this question.
  3. Laughing Blocks: Both blocks are flat. It’s said that the divinities are laughing because the believers already know the answer.
  4. Standing Blocks: One or both blocks fall but stay upright on the platform. It rarely happens. And if it happens, the believer is very happy because they believe that the bad will turn into good with the help of the divinities.

Besides Moon blocks, Fortune Sticks are widely used in temples. The divination tool is made of bamboo slat and put in a bucket. Picking a divination slip for predicting the future is a popular religious practice in Taiwan.

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