People of the ancient world were fascinated and awed by the forces of nature surrounding them. Earthquakes, storms and other phenomena were generally regarded as signs from heaven. Individuals and groups arose to formulate explanations for these events, and pass the knowledge along to the tribe. The priests and priestesses of mysticism, who were often called oracles, claimed union with the divine through meditation and trance-like contemplation. Primitive mysticism offered mankind the first, tenuous links with the powers that shaped their world, and represented the first move toward the organized polytheistic and monotheistic religions to come.