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Poems from the Divan of Hafiz, by Getrude Lowthian Bell, [1897], at


Stanza 1.—There are many ways of taking omens which are still practised by the Persians. Concerning astrology and geomancy Mr. Browne questioned a learned Persian, and received the reply that there was positive proof of their truth. The Persian added, however, that the study of these sciences was very difficult, and many who professed to be acquainted with them were mere charlatans. Many dreams also, he said, were capable of interpretation, and might furnish indications to events which were yet to come. Mr. Browne relates that he consulted a geomancer, who, by means of dice, gave him much information as to his future none of which has yet been justified by the event-but on being asked to perform the less difficult task of answering some questions as to his past, turned the conversation into other channels. "I discussed," says the traveller, "the occult sciences with several of my friends, to discover as far as possible the prevailing opinion among them. One of them made use of the following argument to prove their existence: "God," he said," has no bukhl (avarice); it is impossible for Him to withhold from any one a thing for which he strives with sufficient earnestness. Just as if a man devotes all his energies to the pursuit of spiritual knowledge he attains to it, so if he chooses to make occult sciences and magical powers the object of his aspirations they will assuredly not be withheld from him."—A Year Amongst the Persians.

An omen can be taken by opening the Koran or some other well-accredited book (the Divan of Hafiz among the number), pricking a pin into the page, and following whatever directions can be drawn from the verse thus indicated. This method is frequently used before setting out upon a journey. The stars also are consulted in order to select a favourable day for embarking upon any enterprise, certain stars having special influence over men—the influence of the moon, for instance, is dangerous to life, and one of the stars in the constellation of Cassiopea is of evil presage. Besides these omens, divinations are taken from the movements and position of certain animals and birds, and from various passing events. To meet a one-eyed man is of bad omen, especially if he is blind of the left eye, or to hear an unlucky word on setting out from your house of a morning. Lane, in one of his notes to the "Arabian Nights," tells of a Sultan who was setting out on a raid, when one of his standards happening to strike against a cluster (or Pleiades, as they are called in Arabic) of lamps, he regarded this to be of evil import, and was about to abandon the expedition. "Oh our lord!" said one of his officers, "our standards have reached the Pleiades." The Sultan, encouraged by this fortunate suggestion, continued on his way, and returned victorious.

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