Introduction to Divination
The method of obtaining knowledge of the unknown or the future by means of omens. Astrology (q.v.) and oracular utterances (See Oracles), may be regarded as branches of divination. The derivation of the word supposes a direct message from the gods to the diviner or augur. It is practiced in all grades of barbarism and civilization. The methods of divination are many and various, and strangely enough in their variety are confined to no one portion of the globe. Crystal-gazing has been relegated to a separate article. Shell-hearing and similar methods are allied to crystal-gazing and may be classed with it, as that method of divination which arises from the personal consciousness of the augur. Of the same class are divination by dreams, automatic writing, and so forth. What might be called divination by "luck" is represented by the use of cards, the casting of lots, the use of knuckle-bones as in Africa and elsewhere, cocoanuts as in Polynesia. Haruspication, or the inspection of entrails, divination by foot-print in ashes, by the flight of birds, by meeting with ominous animals, represents the third class of augury.
The art of divination is usually practiced among savages by the shaman caste; among less barbarous people by the augur, as in Rome and ancient Mexico; and even amongst civilized people by persons who pretend divination, such as the spiritualistic medium or the witch. The art is undoubtedly of great antiquity. It was employed in ancient Egypt side by side with astrology, and divination by dream was constantly resorted to -- a class or priests being kept apart, whose office it was to interpret dreams and visions. We find instances of dreams recorded in the Egyptian texts: as for example those of Thothmes IV king of Egypt in 1450 B.C., and Nut-Amen, king of the Eastern Soudan and Egypt about 670 B.C. The Egyptian magician usually set himself to procure dreams for his clients by such devices as the drawing of magical pictures and the reciting of magical words; and some of these are still extant, such as that in the British Museum papyrus No.122. We find, however, that in Egypt augury was usually effected by astrological methods.
In ancient China the principal method of divination was by means of the oracles; but we find such forms as the examination of the marks on the shell of a tortoise, which reminds us of the examination of the back of a peccary by the Maya of Central America. We find a Chinese monarch consulting the fates in this manner in 1146 B.C. and finding them unfavorable; but as in Egypt, most soothsaying was accomplished by means of astrology. Omens, however, were by no means ignored, and were given great prominence, as many tales in the ancient books testify.
In ancient Rome a distinct caste or college of priests called Augurs was set apart to interpret the signs of approval or disapproval sent by the gods in reference to any coming event. This college probably consisted originally of but three members, of whom the king himself was one; and it was not until the time of Cæsar that the members were increased to sixteen. The college remained in existence as late as the fourth century, and its members held office for life. The tenets of the Roman augurs were, that for signs of the gods one must look towards the sky and glean knowledge of the behests of the divine beings from such omens as the lightning-flash, and the flight of birds. On a windless night, the augur took up his position on a hill which afforded an extensive view. Marking out a space for himself, he pitched a tent within it, and seating himself therein with covered head requested the gods for a sign, and waited for an answer. He faced southwards, thus having the east, or lucky quarter, on his left, and the west, or unfavorable portion of the sky, on his right. He carefully observed every sign which came within the purview of his vision: such as lightning, the appearance of birds, and so forth. The song or utterance of birds was also carefully hearkened to; and these were divided into birds of good omen and evil omen: while others referred to definite persons and events. The reading of omens was also effected by the feeding of birds and observing the manner in which they ate. The course of animals and the sounds uttered by them were also closely watched, and all unusual phenomena were regarded as omens or warnings.
Sortilege or the casting of lots was often resorted to by the caste of augurs. The election of magistrates was nearly always referred to the Auspices or College of Diviners, as were the setting out of an army for war, and the passing of laws.
In the East generally, divination appears to have been effected by crystal-gazing, dreams and similar methods of self-hallucination, or self-hypnotism. Divination flourished in Chaldea and Assyria among the Babylonians and Ethiopians, and appears to have been very much the same as in Egypt. In the Jewish Talmud we notice that witches are said to divine by means of bread-crumbs. Among the Arabs, the future is often foretold by means of the shapes seen in sand. The Burmese and Siamese pierce an egg at each end, and having blown the contents on the ground, trace within them the outline of things to be. (See Burma.) Divination by astrology too is very common in oriental cultures, and prophetic utterance is likewise in great favour.
It is remarkable that among the native races of America the same arts of divination as are known to the peoples of the Old World were and are in vogue. These arts, as a rule, are the preserve of the medicine-man and priestly class. In ancient Mexico there was a college of augurs corresponding in purpose to the Auspices of ancient Rome, the members of which occupied themselves with observing the flight and listening to the songs of birds, from which they drew their conclusions. In Mexico, the Calmecac or college or priests had a department where divination was taught in all its branches, but there were many ex officio prophets and augurs, and the reader is referred to the article on Mexico for an account of the astrological methods of casting nativities, and so forth.
Oracles were common, and in this connection an amusing Peruvian story may be recalled. A certain huaca or oracle was reported to be evil influence; orders were given to destroy it; and upon its being broken up a parrot found means to escape from within it, - thus giving us a pretty shrewd idea of the means employed by the priesthood to effect oracular utterance. In Peru, still other classes of diviners predicted by means of the leaves of tobacco, or the grains or juice of coca, the shapes of grains or maize, taken at random, the forms assumed by the smoke rising from burning victims, the viscera of animals, the course taken by spiders, and the direction in which fruit might fall. The professors of these several methods were distinguished by different ranks and titles, and their training was a long and arduous one. The American tribes as a whole were very keen observers of bird life. Strangely enough the bird and serpent are combined in their symbolism, and indeed in the names of several of their principal deities. The bird appeared to the American savage as a spirit, in all probability under the spell of some potent enchanter - a spell which might be broken by some great sorcerer or medicine man alone. As among the ancient Romans, the birds of America were divided into those of good and evil omen; and indeed certain Brazilian tribes appear to think that the souls of departed Indians enter into the bodies of birds. The shamans of certain tribes or Paraguay act as go-betweens between the members of their tribes and such birds as they imagine enshrine the souls of their departed relatives. This usage would appear to combine the acts of augury and necromancy.
The priesthood of Peru practiced ocular methods by "making idols speak," and this they probably accomplished by ventriloquial arts. The piagés or priests of the Uapès of Brazil have a contrivance known to them as the paxiuba, which consists of a tree-stem about the height of a man, on which the branches and leaves have been left. Holes are bored in the trunk beneath the foliage, and by speaking though these the leaves are made to tremble, and the sound so caused is interpreted as a message from Jurupari, one of their principal deities. But all over the American continent from the Eskimos to the Patagonians, the methods of oracular divination are practically identical. The shaman or medicine-man raises a tent or hut which he enters carefully closing the aperture after him. He then proceeds to make his incantations, and in a little while the entire lodge trembles and rocks, the poles bend to breaking point, as if a dozen strong men were straining at them, and the most violent noise comes from within, seemingly now emanating from the depths of the earth, now from the air above, and now from the vicinity of the hut itself. The reason for this disturbance has never been properly accounted for; and medicine-men who have been converted to Christianity have assured scientific workers amongst Indian tribes that they have not the least idea of what occurred during the time they occupied these enchanted lodges, for the simple reason that they were plunged in a deep sleep.
After the supernatural sounds have to some extent faded away, the medicine-man proceeds to question the spirit he has evoked, - the answers of whom for sheer ambiguity are equal to those of the Pythonesses of ancient Greece. There is little doubt that the shamans who practice this method or oracular utterance are the victims of hallucination, and many cases are on record in which they have excited themselves into a condition of permanent lunacy.
America is the touchstone of the science of anthropology, and since we have adopted it as the continent from which to draw the majority of our illustrations, it will be as well if we conclude the article on American lines for the sake of comparison. We find then that divination by hypnosis is well-known in the western continent. Jonathan Carver, who traveled among the Sioux about the latter end of the eighteenth century, mentions it as in use amongst them. The "Ghost Dance" religion of the Indians of Nevada had for one of its tenets the belief in the hypnotic communion with the dead. Divination by means of dreams and visions is extremely common in both sub-continents of the western hemisphere, as is exemplified by the derivation of the word "priest" in the native languages: by the Algonquians they are called "dreamers of the gods," by the Maya "listeners," and so forth. The ability to see visions was usually quickened by the use of drugs or the swallowing or inhalation of cerebral intoxicants, such as tobacco, maguey, coca, the snake-plant, and so forth. Indeed many Indian tribes, such as the Creeks, possessed numerous plants which they cultivated for this purpose. A large number of instances are on record in which Indian medicine-men are said to have divined the future in a most striking manner, and perhaps the following will serve to illustrate this:
In his autobiography, Black Hawk, a celebrated Sac chief, relates that his grandfather had a strong belief that in four years' time 'he should see a white man, who would be to him as a father.' Supernaturally directed, as he said, he traveled eastward to a certain spot, and there, as he had been informed in dreams, met with a Frenchman who concluded an alliance on behalf of his country with the Sac nation. Coincidence is certainly possible here, but it can hardly exist in the circumstances of Jonathan Carver. While he was dwelling with the Killistenoes, they were threatened with a famine, and on the arrival of certain traders, who brought them food in exchange for skins and other goods, their very existence depended. The diviners of the tribe were consequently consulted by the chief, and announced that the next day, at high noon exactly, a canoe would make its appearance with news of the anxiously looked-for expedition. The entire population came down to the beach in order to witness its arrival, accompanied by the incredulous trader, and, to his intense surprise, at the very moment forecasted by the shamans, a canoe rounded a distant headland, and, paddling speedily shorewards, brought the patient Killistenoes news of the expedition they expected.
John Mason Brown has put on record an equally singular instance of the prophetic gift on the part of an American medicine-man. (See Atlantic Monthly, July, 1866.) He was engaged several years previously in searching for a band of Indians in the neighborhood of the Mackenzie and Coppermine rivers; but the difficulties of the search induced the majority of his band to return, until out of ten men who originally set out only three remained. They had all but concluded to abandon their search when they stumbled upon a party of braves of the very tribe of which they were in search. These men had been sent out by their medicine-men to find three whites, of whose horses, accoutrements, and general appearance the shaman had given them an exhaustive account ere they set out, and this the warriors related to Brown before they saw his companions. Brown very naturally inquired closely of the medicine-man how he had been able to foretell their coming. But the latter, who appeared to be 'a frank and simple-minded man,' could only explain that 'he saw them coming, and heard them talk on their journey.'
Crystal-gazing is in common use amongst many Indian tribes. The Aztecs of Mexico were wont to gaze into small polished pieces of sandstone, and a case is on record where a Cherokee Indian kept a divining crystal wrapped up in buckskin in a cave, occasionally "feeding" it by rubbing over it the blood of a deer. At a village in Guatemala, Stephens saw a remarkable stone which had been placed on the altar of the church there, but which had previously been used as a divining-stone by the Indians of the district. Divination by arrow was also commonly resorted to.
According to Fuentes, the chronicler of Guatemala the reigning king of Kiche, Kicah Tanub, when informed by the ambassador of Montezuma II, that a race of irresistible white men had conquered Mexico and were proceeding to Guatemala, sent for four diviners, whom he commanded to tell him what would be the result of this invasion. They asked for time to discover the future fate of his kingdom, and taking their bows discharged some arrows against a rock. They returned to inform their master that, as no impression had been made upon the rock by the arrowheads, they must prognosticate the worst and predicted the ultimate triumph of the white man - a circumstance which shows that the class to which they belonged stood in no fear of royalty. Kicah Tanub, dissatisfied, sent for the 'priests,' obviously a different class from the diviners, and requested their opinions. From the ominous circumstance of an ancient stone - which had been brought from afar by their forefathers - having been broken, they also augured the fall of the Kiche empire.
Many objects such as small clay birds, boats of boat-shaped vessels, etc., have been discovered in sepulchral mounds in North America, and it is conjectured that these may have been used for purposes of divination. As any object might become a fetish, it is probable that any object might become a means of augury. The method employed appears to have been so to treat the object that the probably changes for or against the happening of a certain event would be discovered - much, indeed, as some persons will toss coins to "find out" whether an expected event will come to pass or not. Portents, too, were implicitly believed in by the American races, and this branch of augury was, we find, one of the accomplishments of Nezahualpilli, king of Tezcuco, near Mexico, whom Montezuma consulted concerning the terrible prodigies which startled his people prior to the advance of the Spaniards upon his kingdom, and which were supposed to predict the return of Quetzacloatl, the legendary culture-hero of Anahuac, to his own again. These included earthquakes, tempests, floods, the appearances of comets and strange lights, whilst mysterious voices were heard in the air - such prodigies, indeed, as tradition usually insists upon as the precursors of the downfall of a mighty empire.
Forms of Divination
● Aeromancy (by atmospheric conditions)
● Alectryomancy (by rooster) - Divination by means of a cock that pecked grain placed on letters of the alphabet. There is a vivid description of this practice in The Ides of March by Thornton Wilder.
● Aleuromancy (by flour, including fortune cookies) - Divination from flour. Messages enclosed in balls of dough and prophetic of the future. (Note: Divination by fortune cookies is also a form of Stichomancy)
● Alomancy - Divination by means of salt.
● Aphatomancy - Divination by observation of objects that appear haphazardly.
● Alphitomancy (by barley)
● Anemoscopy (by wind)
● Anthropomancy (by human sacrifice)
● Apantomancy (by seeing animals)
● Armomancy - Divination by observation of the shoulders of a sacrificial animal.
● Arithmancy (by numerology)
● Asipidomancy - A little known form of divination practiced in the Indies, as we are told by some travelers. The diviner or sorcerer creates a magic circle, takes up his position therein seated on a shield, and mutters certain conjurations. He becomes entranced and falls into an ecstasy, from which he only emerges to tell things that his client wishes to know, and which the devil has revealed to him.
● Astragalomancy (by dice; see also Cleromancy) - Divination by means of knucklebones.
● Astrology (by celestial bodies)
● Astromancy (by celestial bodies, aka Astrology; antiquated term)
● Astro-Numerology (through an integration of Astrology and Numerology)
● Astro-Tarot (through an integration of Astrology and Tarot)
● Augury - a form of divination that observes the behavior of birds. It was extensively cultivated by the Etrurians and Romans. The Romans had an official college of augurs, the members of which were originally three patricians. About 300 B.C. the number of patrician augurs was increased by one, and five plebeian augurs were added. Later the number was again increased to fifteen. The object of augury was not so much to foretell the future as to indicate what line of action should be followed, in any given circumstances, by the nation. The augurs were consulted on all matters of importance, and the position of augur was thus one of great consequence. In what appears to be the oldest method, the augur, arrayed in a special costume, and carrying a staff with which to mark out the visible heavens into houses, proceeded to an elevated piece of ground, where a sacrifice was made and a prayer repeated. Then, gazing towards the sky, he waited until a bird appeared. The point in the heavens where it first made its appearance was carefully noted, also the manner and direction of its flight, and the point where it was lost sight of. From these particulars an augury was derived, but, in order to be of effect, it had to be confirmed by a further one. Auguries were also drawn from the notes of birds, birds being divided by the augurs into two classes: (i) oscines, "those which give omens by their note," and (ii) alites, "those which afford presages by their flight." Another method of augury was performed by the feeding of chickens specially kept for this purpose. This was done just before sunrise by the pullarius or feeder, strict silence being observed. If the birds manifested no desire for their food, the omen was of a most direful nature. On the other hand, if from the greediness of the chickens the grain fell from their beaks and rebounded from the ground, the augury was most favorable. This latter augury was known as tripudium solistimum.
● Austromancy (by wind and clouds)
● Axiomancy (by axes) - Divination by means of a hatchet or a woodcutter's axe. It is by this form of divination that the diviners predicted the ruin of Jerusalem, as is seen from Psalm LXXIII. Francois de la Tour-Blanche, who remarked upon this, does not tell how the diviners made use of the hatchet. We can only suppose that it was by one of the two methods employed in ancient times and still practiced in certain northern countries. The first is as follows: When it is desired to find a treasure, a round agate must be procured, the head of the axe must be made red-hot in the fire, and so placed that its edge may stand perpendicularly in the air. If it remains there, there is no treasure, if it falls, it will roll quickly away. It must, however, be replaced three times, and if it rolls three times toward the same place, there the treasure will be found. If it rolls a different way each time, one must seek about for the treasure. The second method of divination by the axe is for the purpose of detecting robbers. The hatchet is cast on the ground, head-downwards, with the handle rising perpendicular in the air. Those present must dance round it in a ring, till the handle of the axe totters and it falls to the ground. The end of the handle indicates the direction in which the thieves must be sought. It is said by some that if the divination is to succeed, the head of the axe must be stuck in a round pot, but this, as Delancre says, is absurd.
● Belomancy (by arrows) The method of divination by arrows, dates as far back as the age of the Chaldeans. It existed among the Greeks, and still- later among the Arabians. The manner in which the latter practised it is described elsewhere, and they continued its use though forbidden by the Koran. Another method deserves mention. This was to throw a certain number of arrows into the air, and the direction in which the arrow inclined as it fell, pointed out the course to be taken by the inquirer. Divination by arrows is the same in principle as Rhabdomancy.
● Bibliomancy (by books, especially the Bible; see also Stichomancy) - A method of discovering whether or not a person was innocent of sorcery, by weighing him against the great Bible in the Church. If the person weighed less than the Bible, he was innocent. There are many variants of the term, however. Bibliomancy is sometimes associated with a form of divination that seeks knowledge of the future by randomly selecting passages from a book, usually a sacred text. (See Stichomancy and Libromancy)
● Biorhythms - divination
● Botanomancy (by burning plants) - A method of divination by means of burning the branches of vervein and brier, upon which were carved the questions of the practitioner.
● Capnomancy (by smoke) - Divination by means of wreaths, which consisted in two principal methods. The more important was the smoke o he sacrifices, which augured well if it rose lightly from the altar, and ascended straight to the clouds; but the contrary if it hung about. Another method was to throw a few jasmine or poppy seeds upon burning coals. There was a third practice by breathing the smoke of the sacrificial fire.
● Cartomancy (by cards, e.g., playing cards, tarot cards, and non-tarot oracle cards; see also Taromancy)
● Catoptromancy (by mirrors) - is a species of divination by the mirror, which Pausanius describes: "Before the Temple of Ceres at Patras, there was a fountain, separated from the temple y a wall, and there was an oracle, very truthful, not for events, but for the sick only. The sick person let down a mirror, suspended by a thread, till its base touched the surface of the water, having first prayed to the goddess and offered incense. Then looking in the mirror, he saw the pressage of death or recovery, or of a ghastly aspect." Another method of using the mirror was to place it at the back of a boy's or girl's head, whose eyes were bandaged. In Thessaly, the response appeared in characters of blood on the face of the mon, probably represented in the mirror. The Thessalian sorceresses derived their art from the Persians, who always endeavored to plant their religion and mystic rites in the countries they invaded.
● Causimomancy (by burning) - Divination by fire. It was a good omen when combustible objects cast into the fire don't burn.
● Cephalomancy (by skulls)
● Ceraunoscopy (by thunder and lightning) Divination practised by the ancients by the examination of the phenomena of the air, thunder, and lightening.
● Ceromancy, or ceroscopy (by placing melted wax into cold water) Divination by interpretation of melted wax dropped on the floor.
● Ceroscopy - Divination by wax. The process was as follows. Fine wax was melted in a brass vessel until it became a liquid of uniform consistence. It was then poured slowly into another vessel filled with cold water, in such a way that the wax congealed in tiny discs upon the surface of the water. The magician then interpreted the figures thus presented as he saw fit.
● Chaomancy (by aerial visions)
● Cheiromancy, or palmistry (by palms) where the grooves of the hand are interpreted as signs.
● Chirognomy (by hands)
● Cleromancy (by casting lots or by bones; including divination by use of dice or dominoes; For divination by use of dice, see also Astragalomancy) was practiced by throwing black and white beans, little bones or dice, and perhaps stones: anything, in short, suitable for lots. A method of practicing cleromancy in the streets of Egypt is mentioned under the head of Sortilege, and the same thing was common in Rome. The Thriaen lots, named before, meant indifferently the same thing as cleromancy: it was nothing than dicing, only that the objects used bore particular marks or characters, and were consecrated to Mercury, who was regarded as the patron of this method of divination. For this reason an olive leaf, caled "the lot of Mercury," was generally put in the urn in order to propitiate his favor.
● Clidomancy, or cleidomancy (by keys) - should be exercised when the sun or moon is in Virgo, the name should be written upon a key, the key should be tied to a Bible, and both should be hung upon the nail of the ring-finger of a virgin, who must thrice softly repeat certain words. According as the key and book turns or is stationary, the name is to be considered right or wrong. Some ancients added the seven Psalms with litanies and sacred prayers, and then more fearful effects were produced upon him, or he lost an eye. Another method of practicing with the Bible and key, is to place the street door key on the fiftieth-psalm, close the volume and fasten it tightly with the garter of a female; it is then suspended to a nail and will turn when the name of the their is mentioned. By a third method, two persons suspend the Bible between them; holding the rig of the key by their two forefingers.
● Coffee Grounds Divination, Coffee Tasseography: see Tasseography
● Cometomancy (by comet tails)
● Coscinomancy (by hanging sieves) - is practiced with a sieve, and a pair of tongs or shears, which are supported upon the thumb nails of two persons, who look one upon the other, or the nails of the middle finger may be used. Potter, in his Greek Antiquities, says: "It was generally used to discover thieves, or others suspected of any crime, in this manner: they tied a thread to the sieve by which it was upheld, or else placed a pair of shears, which they held up by two fingers, then prayed to the gods to direct and assist them; after that they repeated the names of the persons under suspicion, and he, at whose name the sieve whirled round or moved, was thought guilty." In the Athenian Oracle it is called: "the trick of the sieve and scissors, the coskiomancy of the ancients, as old as Theocritus." It was used to discover love secrets as well as unknown persons.
● Critomancy (by barley cakes) - Divination by means of observing viands and cakes. The paste of cakes which are offered in sacrifice, is closely examined, and from the flour which is spread upon them, omens are drawn.
● Cromniomancy (by onion sprouts)
● Crystallomancy/Scrying (by crystals or other reflecting objects) - A mode of divination practiced from very early times with the aid of a crystal globe, a pool of water, a mirror, or indeed any transparent object. Divinations by means of water, ink, and such substances are also known by the name of hydromancy (q.v.). Crystal gazing may be a very simple or a very elaborate performance, according to the period in which it was practiced, but in every case the object is to induce in the clairvoyant a form of hypnosis, so that he may see visions in the crystal.
● Cybermancy (via computer oracles)
● Cyclomancy (by wheels)
● Dactylomancy - A term covering various forms of divination practiced with the aid of rings. One method resembles the table-rapping once used in spiritualism. A round table is inscribed with the letters of the alphabet, and a ring suspended above it. The ring, it is said, will indicate certain letters, which go to make up the message required. It was used, according to Ammianus Marcellinus, to find Valen's successor, and the name Theodosius was correctly indicated. Solemn services of a religious character accompanied this mode of divination. Another form of dactylomancy of which there is no detailed account, was practiced with rings of gold, silver, copper, iron, or lead, which were placed on the finger-nails in certain conjunctions of the planets. A wedding ing is, however, most in favor for purposes of this sort. Another way is to suspend the ring with a glass tumbler, or just outside of it so, that the ring on being swung may easily touch the glass. As with table-rapping, a code for an affirmative, twice for a negative answer, and so on. Suspend above a sovereign, the ring will indicate the person from whose head hair has been taken, or, if requested, another other member of the company.
● Daphnomancy (by burning laurel wreaths) - Divination by means of the laurel. A branch is thrown in the fire, if it crackles in burning it is a happy sign, but if it burns without doing so, te prognostication is false.
● Demonomancy (by demons) - Divination by means of demons. This divination takes place by the oracles they make, or by the answers they give to those who evoke them.
● Dice divination (see also Astragalomancy and Cleromancy)
● Dominoes divination (see also Cleromancy)
● Dōbutsu uranai (by one's animal horoscope)
● Empyromancy (by burning)
● Eromanty - On of six kinds of divination practiced among the Persians by means of air. They enveloped their heads in a napkin and exposed to the air a vase filled with water, over which they mutter in a low voice the objects of their desires. If the surface of the air shows bubbles it is regarded as a happy prognostication.
● Extispicy - (from the exta of sacrificed animals) so named from exta and spicere, to view, consider was applied to the inspection of entrails chiefly. The officers were Extispices or Aruspices, and one of the instruments they used was called by the same name as the craft, an extispicium. The Erturians were the first and also the most learned, who practiced extispicy, and Romulus is said to have chosen his first Aruspices from among them. The art was also practiced throughout Greece, where it had a consecrated priesthood cnfined to two families. The Roman Aruspices had four distinct duties, to examine the victims before they were opened, to examine the entrails, to observe the flame as the sacrifice was burnt, and also to examine the meat and drink-offering which accomplished it. It was a fatal sign when the heart was wanting, and this is said to have been the case with two oxen that were immolated on the day when Caesar was killed. If the priest let the entrails fall, or there was more bloodiness than usual, or if they were livid in color, it was understood to be a portent of instant disaster.
● Favomancy (by beans; a form of cleromancy)
● Floriography (the language of flowers)
● Gastromancy or divination from the belly, is now generally explained by ventriloquism, the voice in both cases sounding low and hollow, as if issuing from the ground. Another method of practicing ancient gastromancy connects it with crystal seeing, as vessels of glass, round, and full of clear water, were used, which were placed before several lighted candles. In this case, a young boy or girl was generally the seer, and the demon was summoned in a low voice by the magician. Replies were then obtained from the magical appearances seen in the illuminated glass vessels.
● Geomancy (by earth), includes Feng Shui divination.
● Geloscopy (by laughter)
● Graphology (by handwriting)
● Gyromancy (by dizziness) Was performed by going round continually in a circle, the circumference of which was marked by letters. The presage was drawn from the words formed by the letters on which the inquirers stumbled when they became too giddy to stand. The object of this curcumcursation was simply to exclude the interference of the will, and reduce the selection of letters to mere chance. In some species of enchantment, however, the act of turning round was to produce a prophetic delirium. The religious dances, and the rotation of certain fanatics on one foot, with their arms stretched out, are of this nature. These cases really indicate a magical secret, of which, however, the deluded victims rarely possessed any knowledge. In the phenomenon of St. Vitus's Dance, and the movements of the convulsionares, manifestations of spiritual intelligence were quite common.
● Hepatoscopy, or haruspication or hepatomancy (by liver)
● Hippomancy (by horses) - A method of divination practiced by the ancient Celts, who kept certain white horses in consecrated groves. These were made to walk immediately after the sacred car, and auguries were drawn from their movements. The ancient Germans kept similar steeds in their temples. If on leaving these on the outbreak of hostilities they crossed the threshold with the left forefoot first, the presage was regarded as an evil one, and the war was abandoned.
● Hydromancy (by water)
● I Ching divination (ancient Chinese divination using I Ching): (However, as performed by some diviners with heavy reliance on an accompanying I Ching manual, this is, in effect, also a form of Bibliomancy/Stichomancy)
● Icthyomancy (by fish) - Divination by the inspection of the entrails of fish.
● Lampadomancy (by light) - Divination by means of the flame of a lamp.
● Lecanomancy (by a basin of water) - Divination by means of dropping precious stones into water and listening to the resultant sound.
● Libanomancy (by incense) - Divination by means of incense smoke.
● Libromancy (by book(s); see also: Bibliomancy, Stichomancy)
● Literomancy (by a letter in a given written language)
● Lithomancy (by precious stones) A species of divination performed by stones, but in what manner it is difficult to ascertain due to historical obscurities.
● Mahjong divination (by Mahjong tiles)
● Margaritomancy (by bouncing pearls) - Divination by pearls. A pearl was covered with a vase, and placed near the fire, and the names of suspected persons pronounced. When the name of the guilty one was uttered the pearl was supposed to bound upwards and pierce the bottom of the vase.
● Metagnomy (by visions)
● Meteormancy (by meteors)
● Metoposcopy (by foreheads)
● Moleosophy (by blemishes)
● Myomancy (by rodent behaviour)
● Myrmomancy (by ant behaviour)
● Nephomancy (by clouds)
● Nggàm (by spiders or crabs)
● Numerology (by numbers)
● Oculomancy (by eyes)
● Oeonisticy - Divination by the flight of birds.
● Oinomancy (by wine) - Divination by means of wine.
● Ololygmancy - Divination by the howling of dogs.
● Omphalomancy (by umbilical chords) - Divination by the navel.
● Oneiromancy (by dreams) - The interpretation of dreams. The magicians-of ancient Egypt were skilled in inducing dreams prognos-ticative of the future.
● Onomancy (by names) - it has been properly said more correctly signifies divination by a donkey, than by a name; and the latter science ought to be termed Onomamancy, or Onomatomancy. The notion that an analogy existed between men's names and their fortunes is supposed to have originated with the Pythagoreans; it furnished some reveries to Plato, and has been the source f small wit in Ausonius, which it may amuse the classical scholar to collate from his epigrams. Two leading rules in the science of Onomancy were first, that an even number of vowels in a man's name signifies something amiss in his left side; an uneven number a similar affection on the right; so that, between the two, perfect sanity was little to be expected. Secondly, of two competitors, that one would prove successful the numeral letters in whose name was summed up exceeded the amount of those in the name of his rival; and this was one of the reasons which enabled Achilles to triumph over Hector.
● Onychomancy (by fingernails) - Divination by the finger-nails. It is practiced by watching the reflection of the sun in the nails of a boy, and judging the future by the shape of the figures which show themselves on their surface.
● Oomantia, or ooscopy or ovomancy (by eggs) - Two methods of divination by eggs. Was often as simple as putting eggs on a fire and observing how they broke. An example under the former name is related by Suetonius, who says, that Livia, when slie was anxious to know whether she should be the mother of a boy or girl, kept an egg in her bosom at the proper temperature, until a chick with a beautiful cockscomb came forth. The latter name denotes a method of divining the signs or characters appearing in eggs. The custom ofpasche or paste eggs, which are stained with various colours, and given away at Easter, is well known, and is described at considerable length by Brand. The custom is most religiously observed in Russia, where it is derived from the Greek Church. Gilded or coloured eggs are mutually exchanged both by men and women, who kiss one another, and if any coolness existed previously become good friends again on these occasions. The egg is one of the most ancient and beautiful symbols of the new birth, and has...
● Ophiomancy (by snakes) - Divination by observation of serpents.
● Oracle-books divination (e.g., Chinese: I Ching (Book of Changes), Ling Ch'i Ching (Spiritual Chess Classic), I Lin (Forest of Change), T'ai Hsüan Ching (Canon of the Supreme Mystery); African: Ifá; Western: Sabian Symbols): See also Stichomancy/Bibliomancy
● Orniscopy, or orinthomancy (by birds of flight) is the Greek word for augury, the method of divination by the flight or the song of birds, which, with the Romans, became a part of their national religion, and had a distinct priesthood. For this reason it is treated in a separate article.
● Ouija board divination - (from the French oui and the German ja: yes), a wooden tripod on rollers which, under the hand of the medium, moves over a polished board and spells -out messages by pointing out letters with its apex. As an invention it is very old. It was in use in the days of Pythagoras, about 540 B.C. According to a French historical account of the philosopher's life, his sect held frequent seances or circles at which "a mystic table, moving on wheels, moved towards signs, which the philosopher and his pupil, Philolaus, interpreted to the audience as being revelations supposedly from the unseen world." An improvement of the original ouija board is the finger-like pointer at the narrow end, and a simplification is the replacement of the wooden board by a piece of alphabetical cardboard. If the pointer and the roll at the apex is replaced by a pencil thrust through a bored hole so as to form the third leg the ouija board is transformed into a planchette. As a rule the ouija board as a method of communication is slow and laborious. But it frequently works with those who fail to get automatic writing with a pencil. Modern boards have the letters of the alphabet, numerals and Yes/No.
● Palmistry (by palm inspection)
● Pegomancy (by spring water)
● Phrenology (by the shape of one's head)
● Phyllorhodomancy (by rose petals) - Divination by rose-leaves. The Greeks clapped a rose-leaf on the hand, and judged from the resulting sound the success or otherwise of their desires.
● Plastromancy (by cracks formed by heat on a turtle's plastron)
● Psychomancy Divination by spirits or the art of evoking the dead. See Necromancy.
● Pyromancy, or pyroscopy (by fire) or divining by fire, has been alluded to in Extispicy. The presage was good when the flame was vigorous and quickly consumed the sacrifice; when it was clear of all smoke, transparent, neither red nor dark in color; when it did not crackle, but burnt silently in a pyramidal form. If it as slow to consume the victim, the presage was evil. Besides the sacrificial fire, the ancients divined by observing the flames of torches, and even by throwing powdered pitch into a fire; if it caught quickly the omen was good.
● Rhabdomancy (by rod or stick)
● Rhapsodomancy (by poetry) - Divination by means of opening the works of a poet at hazard and reading the verse which first presented itself.
● Runecasting (by Runes)
● Scatomancy (by droppings, usually animal)
● Scapulimancy (by bovine or caprid scapulae, i.e. shoulder bones)
● Sciomancy (by spirits)
● Sideromancy (by burning of straw)
● Slinneanachd (by animals' shoulderblades)
●Speal Bone, Divination - A form of divination used in Scotland. A speal bone, or blade bone of a shoulder of mutton is used, but details of the method are wanting. A common soldier, accompanying Lord Loudonon his retreat to Skye, told the issue of the battle of Culloden at the very moment it was decided, pretending to have seen the event by looking through the bone.
● Spodomancy (by ash) - Divination by means of the cinders from sacrificial fires.
● Stichomancy (by books and/or lines; see also: Bibliomancy, Libromancy)
● Stoicheomancy - A method of divination which is practiced by opening the works of Homer or Virgil, and reading as oracular statement the verse which presents itself. It is a branch of rhapsodomancy.
● Stolisomancy (by clothing) - Divination from the manner in which a person dresses himself. Augustus believed that a military revolt was predicted on the morning of its occurence by the fact that his valet had buckled his right sandal to his left foot.
● Sycomancy - Divination by the leaves of the fig tree. Questions or propositions on which one wished to be enlightened were written on the leaves. If the leaf dried quickly after the appeal to the diviner, it was an evil omen; but a good augury if the leaf dried slowly.
● Taromancy (by specially designed cards: Tarot; see also Cartomancy)
● Tasseography (or Tasseomancy) (by tea leaves or by coffee grounds): From French tasse [cup], which in turn derives from Arabic tassa [cup].
● Tephramancy (by bark ashes) A mode of divination in which use is made of the ashes of the fire which had consumed the victims of a sacrifice.
● Tiromancy (by cheese) - Divination by means of cheese. It is practiced in diverse ways the details of which are not known.
● Xylomancy (by burning wood) - Divination by means of wood, practiced particularly in Slavonia. It is the art of reading omens from the position of small pieces of dry wood found in one's path. No less certain presages of future events may be drawn from the arrangement of logs in the fire place, from the manner in which they burn, etc. It is perhaps the survival of this mode of divination which makes the good people say, when a brand is disturbed, that, "they are going to have a visitor."
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