Divination Techniques

By Eileen Moyer
University of Amsterdam (formerly University of Iowa)

Lobi diviner, Burkina Faso, divination. Photo by Christopher D. Roy, 1983-5. 

Lobi diviners may not refuse to see a client or else they will be punished by their thil.  They receive practically nothing for their services and divining takes up so much time that the diviner often must neglect his crops. He is afforded neither high social status, nor any other particular privileges.  It should not seem surprising then that there is virtually no formal education required for Lobi diviners.  Essentially, they learn by watching other diviners at work.  Having gone to diviners throughout their lives, they have become aware of the methods used.  A diviner must pass only one test with a senior diviner in order to begin practicing himself.  During Lobi divination the client communicates only minimal information to the diviner, who must figure out what the problem is and determine the cause.  The diviner does this by asking a series of yes-no questions to the thil.  The process may involve between 800 to a 1,000 questions, and lasts approximately forty-five minutes (Meyer 1981).