Fortune Telling in Guatemala

By Steve Mullaney

The I Ching is a classic Chinese Confucian text which allows its readers to divine the future based on a number of signs that can be observed. The seven minutes that I spent researching this on Wikipedia revealed that there are a bunch of different lines that are read that could mean anything from “ascending” to “prospering” to “gnawing bite”. Apparently, you can read tea leaves or bones or sticks or anything that looks like a bunch of lines in order to know your fate. That prompted to me the question: what is the Guatemalan equivalent?

Extensive study within our esteemed municipal library led me to the famous book ¡Ay, Chingado! …

…which, coincidentally enough, was written by Confucius’ cousin, José Confucius.  Within this book one can tell one’s fortune by looking at something more common than sticks or tea leaves: drunkards that are passed out in the street. Below are some highlights from ¡Ay, Chingado! Impress your friends today!

Drowning Eagle Posture (face down, arms spread like wings): Encountering a floating eagle is a sign of poor luck. You should expect great opportunities to present themselves and then disappear.  You will, like the drowned eagle in front of you, fly smack dab into a heavy, solid object and then lie crumpled in the dirt. Metaphorically, of course.

Dancing Toad Posture (legs crouched underneath body, on one side): The dancing toad has traditionally foretold great romantic luck in the near future. When encountering the dancing toad you should take note of what the drunkard in front of you is wearing and then try to fashion yourself in the complete opposite style for the best chance of success.

Moaning Badger Posture (face down, moaning loudly): The moaning badger posture usually elicits head shaking and “tsk-tsk’s” from passers-by. It also elicits head shaking and tsk-tsk’s from José Confucius, who believes that if you are going to get blackout drunk you could at least be a silent drowning eagle instead of a noisy moaning badger.

Proud Rooster Posture (leaning against a wall): Sponsored by the National Brewery SA (Gallo, orgullosamente la mejor cerveza), the proud rooster denotes the drunkard’s pride in drinking the best beer in Guatemala. This posture denotes wisdom, however, it’s fairly easy to pickpocket proud rooster’s so it’s a pretty poor trade-off of wisdom for poverty.

And, with that, you now know everything there is to know about traditional fortune telling. Make sure to mention this to your host family if you really want to impress them.

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