Rituals using divination blocks to forecast the nation’s fortunes in the Year of the Snake were performed at midnight at four well-known temples dedicated to Matsu (媽祖, goddess of the sea), with three of the predictions said to be medium-to-good and one being medium-to-poor.
Traditional customs dictate that many temples cast divination blocks between the hours of 11pm and 1am on the fourth day of the Lunar New Year — the day worshipers welcome gods back to Earth — to attempt to predict the fortunes of the nation, as well as assessing the outlook for various occupations.
At the Jenn Lann Temple (鎮瀾宮) in Greater Taichung’s Dajia District (大甲) — one of the nation’s most popular temples, which is known for an annual pilgrimage that has drawn hundreds of thousands of visitors and worshipers in recent years — the temple’s deputy director, Cheng Ming-kun (鄭銘坤), represented worshipers and threw the divination blocks at midnight.
“The draw indicated good luck and prosperity coming after extreme sorrow. All the bad things have been shuffled away and the nation’s fortune is stable, so the draw is interpreted as a medium-to-good one,” a staff member at the temple said.
At the Chaotien Temple (朝天宮) in Yunlin County’s Beigang Township (北港) and the Fuhsing Gong Temple (福興宮) in Yunlin County’s Hsiluo Township (西螺), the forecasts were also said to represent medium-to-good luck.
After casting divination blocks 19 times to confirm the block appointed by Matsu, the forecast for the nation’s new year fortunes was finally made at the Fuhsing Gong Temple and a staff member said that the casting indicated that “this year’s luck would definitely be better than last year’s.”
However, at Fengtien Temple (奉天宮) in Chiayi County’s Hsinkang Township (新港), the forecast was said by the staff to be slightly worse than last year, and meant that the government must pay attention and reflect upon itself according to the people’s voice, or else the nation’s progress may become bogged down and it would be unable to move forward.