One of the greatest aspects of living and traveling in Taiwan is the opportunity to delve into the anomalous daily practices of local life. Experiencing the unfamiliar helps us to broaden our horizons while also gaining a deeper appreciation of local culture. In Taiwan many ancient Chinese practices and traditions have been preserved, so travelers and expats can easily seek out treasures from a bygone era.
One tradition that is still upheld and practiced regularly is fortune telling. Booths can be found throughout the city, usually around temples or night markets. In Taiwanese society, fortune telling is a revered and essential component of social and business culture.
The role of the soothsayer is essential when businessmen are making important investments or management decisions. They also help people socially by resolving personal issues and inner conflicts.
If you are traveling to Taiwan, the fortune telling booths may be particularly busy around holidays, and they are especially occupied in the days and weeks before the Chinese New Year. Many of these soothsayers use Chinese astrological charts to determine one’s fate. They also typically use techniques such as palm reading and investigating a client’s facial lines and features.
However, my favorite are the ones that use birds to chose the cards for the client.
Personally, I have always been enchanted by the idea of fortune telling. Though I am unsure how much truth may lie in the reading, I am still fascinated by the process and experience. One day, I suddenly had the urge to finally give Taiwanese fortune telling a try. My brother was visiting me, so I wanted to give him an experience that was truly unique to Taiwan. I was most enthralled at the opportunity to try out the bird fortune telling.
My brother and I went to the underground shopping market that is connected to the Longshan Temple MRT station. I chose this location, because I had previously been informed that there were English speaking translators and fortunetellers. Bird fortunetellers can be found by other temples and night markets; however many of these locations can only offer readings in Chinese.
As I sat down at the booth I was greeted with warm smiles and curiosity. The translator explained to me that I needed to deeply ponder the question that I sought to have answered.
Once I knew my question, I was then told to speak it to the birds. It was a bit difficult to ask the birds my question with a straight face, however I did my best to act as serious and composed as I could.
I stared at the birds and uttered, “Will I go to graduate school at NCCU this fall?” Suddenly, the birds became very spirited. As the fortuneteller opened their cage, the birds began vigorously pecking at the bright orange envelopes. These feathered creatures were quite eager to determine my fate!
The fortuneteller then laid out my cards in a past, present, future layout. She told me I was very lucky and hardworking, and that I would soon benefit from my determination and hard work. Honestly, I found her interpretation to be quite vague, and it seemed she was just trying to please me. I wondered if she was reluctant to say negative things due to me being a foreigner.
I decided to dig a little further and ask her what I need to watch out for, or should I have any concerns or worries. She then took my hand and asked to look at my tongue. She told me that my father should take care of his heart, and I should eat more mushrooms. It was quite interesting, indeed!
Whether one believes in the credibility of these soothsayers, participating in Taiwanese fortunetelling is a memorable and alluring experience. I highly recommend paying a visit to these feathered fate readers to see what the future has in store!