Views of an Imaginary City III – The Cloud Oracle at Marikora

viewsofanimaginarycity3The Cloud Oracle of Marikora

Rather than such messy and, when one comes to think of it, somewhat dubious sources of divination as are the reading of tea leaves and sheep entrails, in Sensuka the foretelling of future events is obtained through an altogether more pleasant and poetic method: the observation of cloud formations. This task is carried out by officially appointed priests, always of a very advanced age, who have spent their entire lives learning how to accurately interpret the prophecies contained within the tumbling masses of cumulonimbi, or in the subtle colour degradations in a streak of cirrostratus.

Although cloud divination can theoretically be carried out from any vantage point, in Sensuka the official prophecies are obtained from the great cloud sanctuary of Marikora, located in the eastern suburb of Rilito. The observation of clouds takes place upon a raised terrace at the front of the sanctuary, overlooking the bay of Rilito. Predictions are carried out each morning, except those mornings in which the sky is too overcast to distinguish any individual prophecy (other than that it is going to rain, as the age-old cloud diviner’s joke has it). For a period of two hours, a diviner will stand in the middle of the terrace, perfectly still, and observe the passing clouds. The resulting predictions (which admittedly tend to be rather cryptic) are then inscribed in a huge leather-bound book that is kept in the interior of the sanctuary, where it can be consulted by the public. Transcriptions of the latest cloud prophecies are sent to the Emperor on a weekly basis, so that the Most Exalted One’s decisions regarding the administration of the empire may be made from as informed a perspective as possible.

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