Have you ever wondered what your future holds? Will you find success? True love? Is it possible that the alignment of the planets and stars, your first name, or the lines on the palm of your hand could provide the keys to predicting and planning for your future? Oregon’s historic newspapers reveal that fortune telling and divination were often newsworthy topics of interest in the early 20th century, touching on notions that continue to fascinate people and spark discussions of belief today.
Many contemporary newspapers have continued to uphold the practice of publishing daily or weekly horoscopes based on the astrological signs of the zodiac, a tradition that stems from the forecasts of almanac publications. Almanacs generally predict astronomical events, weather patterns, tides, and any other natural events related to the movement of the earth, sun, and solar system. Humans have historically relied on these movements for navigation, as well as to measure time and determine when to plant and harvest crops. Centuries of observation have revealed celestial patterns and allowed for predictions of cosmic events, such as eclipses and the appearance of constellations. The Peruna Almanac, a yearly publication produced by the Peruna Drug Manufacturing Company around the turn of the century, is described briefly in this advertisement:
Almanac forecasts have not always proven to be correct, and horoscope predictions are not always accurate either. Take, for example, the questionable assertions in this Scorpio horoscope from 1908:
The stars may or may not have the power to determine a person’s personality and fate, but what about names? According to this segment in The Springfield News, a person’s name can determine their lucky days, lucky numbers, and talismanic stones:
For example, Dorothy:
Thanks to publications such as newspapers, we have a good idea of what has taken place in the past. We also know what is happening in the present, since we are currently living in it. The future, however, will always continue to pose one of the greatest mysteries of all, unless some sort of science can be developed to travel forward in time or otherwise accurately predict the future…
The earliest Latin manuscript that describes divination based on appearance of the hands was written in the 12th century by a Christian monk. However, palmistry, otherwise known as chiromancy, has been practiced by people all over the world since the dawn of civilization. This simple diagram gives some indication of where to look and what to look for if you are interested in trying your hand at palm reading:
However, the meaning of these lines and markings is very much open to interpretation, so you might want to seek professional help for all of your palm reading needs. In the early 1900s, people with questions about their lives and futures could always go to a professional palmist and fortune teller like Madam Rosa:
From personal relationships to business endeavors, it’s comforting when a fortune teller confirms your highest hopes:
While there are a plethora of ways to predict the future, it is possible that no one will ever know for sure what the future holds. Ideas of time, the past, present and future all depend on perspective. For example, what was considered to be “the future” by the people who actually read these historic newspapers in print on the day of publication, is in fact the present time that we are living in now. Therefore, could we technically say that we are living in “the future” now? Could any fortune teller have predicted that in the year 2012, early 20th century newspapers would be made available for searching and browsing online via the internet?
Just in case your mind is not already boggled with thoughts about time, the cosmos, and fortune telling, here are a few more questions that should keep you pondering throughout the day: If we could time travel, would we still worry and wonder about the future? Would you really want to know everything that was going to happen to you in your life, before it happened? Is the future ruled by destiny and fate, or do we ultimately determine what happens in our own lives with the decisions that we make? Whatever conclusions you come to, just remember to enjoy the present as much as possible, because it will soon be part of the past!