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Instant Oracle: Just Add Water!

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"It's a skinny divining pool."
There's more than one way for oracles to divine the future, and this one involves bath salts.note 

An oracle immerses herself nearly or completely in water, and through contact with the liquid is gifted with visions of the future. Why water? Perhaps because of its mystic connotations as the element of change, associations with dreams, the subconscious, and the primordial. Perhaps the reflective surface of the water will be used like a Magic Mirror. Perhaps because it is reminiscent of a sensory deprivation tank... or because a busty, dripping wet oracle is sure to appeal to some. Back in the day, Greek oracles huffed volcanic fumes to get visions. The bathtub thing is probably there to help differentiate her from "normal" tarot-reading mystics, this also keeps you focused on her head and face rather than her boo— *ahem* crystal orbs.

Whatever the case, this well-moisturized sister to the Waif Prophet, Oracular Urchin, and Blind Seer plies her trade while lying in a pool of water. Prophet Eyes and seizures involving flopping like a landed fish can be expected.


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    Comic Books 
  • During Peter David's run of The Incredible Hulk, the Hulk ran around with the Pantheon, a group of heroes based on Greek mythology. Delphi was a member who could see the future when she gazed into water.
  • In The Sandman (1989), Destruction has a small pool of water which he uses for scrying and divination.
  • The Marvel 2099 version of the Vision is a precognitive woman who floats in a pool of water in the basement of the Alchemax building.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 300 is something of a meta example — the effect of the oracle levitating in mid-air with her toga floating about was achieved by having the actress filmed in a pool.
  • Altered States does this with a maverick scientist floating in a sensory deprivation tank and taking Mexican mushrooms.
  • A variation occurrs in Constantine (2005). Angela used to have extrasensory powers, but she consciously suppressed them so that people wouldn't think that she was crazy. When she needs to get them back, Constantine submerges her in a tub fully clothed and sends her to Hell. When she returns, she has her powers back and immediately starts using them. Apparently, it's because "water is the universal conduit between dimensions."note 
  • Minority Report, in a reference to the Well of Mímir, from of Norse Mythology, a well situated at one of the roots of the World Tree Yggdrasill, where the decapitated head of Mímir the deity of wisdom was kept alive by the waters of the well. The reference may also be to Urðarbrunnur, the Well of Urður, that was situated at one of the other roots of Yggrasill. Three sisters, the Witches of Fate; Urður, Verðandi, and Skuld, reside at Urðarbrunnur, where they nourish Yggdrasill with the waters from the well, and weave the fortunes and destiny of mortal men on their looms.
  • In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor goes to the "Norn Cave" and enters the pool containing "the Water of Sight" to get visions of the future destruction of Asgard, of the Infinity Stones, and the birth of Vision. This is a direct reference to the Well of Urður described above.
  • The Tragedy of Macbeth: Macbeth's second scene with the Weird Sisters see them flood his bedchamber from the rafters and throw ingredients in the water like it's a giant cauldron. After some bubbling, the reflection of a child appears in the water and tells Macbeth three prophesies. The Weird Sisters disappear and the just drains out of the room.

  • The Guild Navigators in Dune are a similar concept (and inspired Battlestar Galactica (2003)'s Hybrids), adapted to life in a spice-filled environment which granted them precognition and the ability to navigate at FTL speeds. They spend most of their lives inside of zero gravity tubes filled with spice-laden air rather than a tub of water, but same concept.
  • According to More Information Than You Require, the Electoral College determines the winner of the American presidential election while suspended in tanks of nutrient-enriched slime. Rutherford B. Hayes successfully rigged the election of 1872 by offering them higher quality nutrient slime.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Aeron Greyjoy apparently experiences prophetic visions after having nearly drowned. He worships an aquatic god.
    • The fool Patchface nearly drowned and has lost his sanity. He regularly speaks in prophetic riddles and rhymes.
  • One of the primary methods of prophecy in the Memory Of The Earth series is floating thermal springs at the heart of Basilica.
  • In the second series and onward of Warrior Cats, the medicine cats must travel to the Moonpool and drink from the pool in order to have prophetic dreams and speak with their ancestors.
  • Septimus Heap: While not being properly an oracle, Scrying into times past works by seeing the reflection of the moon in a pool of water.
  • Tales of the Branion Realm: In The Granite Shield, Seeing is done by drinking special potions, but in one location is traditionally done by slipping into hot springs, in the caves where their God (of fire) is said to have once resided.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Cylon Hybrids in Battlestar Galactica (2003) are humanoids that lie in a tub of water. In addition to serving as the Basestar's Wetware CPU, their rambling dialogue often includes hints at the greater mysteries of the series. Concept art reveals that their humanoid appearance only applies to their upper bodies, and below the water their torsos extends into slug-like lumps instead of legs.
  • Played for Laughs and subverted in an episode of Community where Annie finds Chang has put Garret in a pool of water to try to invoke precognition, in a setup similar to Minority Report. All that happens is that Garret gets sick... which Chang is convinced is a success, because Garret warned him that would happen.
  • In Minority Report (2015), as in the movie to which it is a sequel, Adam, Dash, and Agatha are submerged in a "milk bath" that allows their powers to be exploited by PreCrime.
  • The Librarians 2014:
    • The Lake Foundation, being the successors to the Lady of the Lake from Arthurian legend, have the ability to see through time and space (among other powers) thanks to being submerged in water.
    • A later episode introduces the Oracle of Delphi, who takes the trope quite literally. She turns a Nevada high school swimming pool into Delphi water, which enchants every pair of swim goggles dipped in it to show their wearers visions of the future.
  • Fringe: Walter finds that submerging Olivia is a good way of triggering her Cortexiphan-related powers.
  • Played with in the Stranger Things episode "The Bathtub", where the sensory deprivation tank magnifies Eleven's powers and allows her to explore the Upside-Down more freely. The kids manage to MacGyver one out of a kiddie pool, 1500 pounds of de-icing salt, and a set of taped-over chemistry goggles. Eleven floating in the jerry-rigged sensory deprivation tank while searching for Will and Barb certainly calls to mind the image of a submerged oracle.

    Myths & Religion 

    Video Games 
  • In Tales of Legendia, Shirley Fennes (and probably every other Merines) is able to restore her vitality and magical powers through being submerged in water. These powers ultimately allow her to become the vessel of the game's all-seeing Ocean God.
  • In Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, there are two Fortune Teller sisters living in Harapa. One sees the long-term future in a crystal ball, the other sees the short-term future in a bowl of water. The latter remains upbeat and helpful to the player characters, even in the middle of a continent-wide disaster.

  • Given a Lampshade Hanging in The Order of the Stick. An oracle (who is also a kobold) laments that he always has people come to him with questions while he's in the bath. You would think, as an oracle, he would know better...
  • Justified in Wayward Sons. Cassandra has the power to invoke prophetic holograms, which generate huge amounts of heat. Thus, she does her prophecy stuff in the water, naked.
  • Homestuck:
    • Rose Lalonde, later confirmed as a Seer of Light, is elementally associated with water. Her house is on water and her planet is a vast, technicolor ocean with a chalk beach with a built-in Character Arc of her developing her powers to restore life to it.
    • Light in general, an Aspect associated with knowledge, clarity, and divination, is associated with water; Vriska is a light player and her planet is also mostly ocean, themed around cartography and treasure hunting like a pirate. It is presumed inverse, Void, is associated with water as well, but in the sense of an impenetrably dark ocean.

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of The Simpsons featured Lisa gaining new insights into other people while submerged in a sensory-deprivation tank.

    Real Life 
  • There's quite a few prophecy "games" involving mirrors and bowls of water. There's a Chinese game played during the moon festival in which a girl looks into a bowl of water to find her husband.

Alternative Title(s): Dehydrated Oracle