Divination and Early Daoism

Prof. Dr. Stephen Bokenkamp

As is well known, early medieval Daoists held that their methods of communication with the deities rendered them immune to the forces that shaped the fates of other mortals. Proudly, they declared "My fate is with me, not with Heaven". But they were also prey to the doubts and uncertainties that beset other mortals. Gradually, their prescriptions against mantic practices were relaxed. In addition, it is possible to see in the ritual measures ealry Daoists used to replace fortunetelling a measure of the sway those methods still held on their imaginations. My study will encompass both sorts of evidence - the ritual acts that replaced mantic practice and the evidence for the reinstatement of certain mantic practices in Daoist ritual protocols.

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