There were sorcerers, too, who foretold the future. Some sorcerers drank themselves into unconsciousness with special concoctions they had prepared. When they recovered they told what they had dreamed and foreseen.

Fire was also used to foretell events. This divination by fire was a most impressive ceremony. The people of Huaro, near Cuzco, who were fire diviners, were highly respected and feared. Even the emperor fasted for three days to attend one of their fire-divining sessions.

At the ceremony a diviner placed two ceramic burners, or braziers, opposite each other. As he fed chips into the fires of the braziers, his assist-ants, hidden behind a wall, kept the flames under control by blowing into long copper tubes connected to the braziers. The fire diviner, weeping and chanting, invoked the spirits of living and dead people to come to his aid. Food and drink were placed on the floor near the fire, as offerings to them. The diviner questioned the spirits and, through ventriloquism, voiced their replies. In the meantime the assistants blew on the fires in the braziers, and the flames leaped high with each reply. This meant that a new spirit had appeared.

There were many other ways of foretelling the future. A priest might sacrifice a llama and study its markings to determine what the outcome of a battle would be. For less important questions a priest sacrificed and examined the lungs of a guinea pig, or even a bird. A man might scoop up a handful of pebbles and count them to see whether his plans would succeed or fail. If the number of pebbles was even, he would succeed; otherwise he would fail. Some men sought omens for the future in a wad of coca leaves. They spat the coca juice onto the palms of their hands. If the juice ran evenly down two extended fingers, the outcome of the plan would be favorable. If the juice ran down unevenly, it was a bad sign.


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