Forms of Divination
Divination - The art or practice of foretelling the future, discovering hidden knowledge, finding the lost and identifying the guilty by using a wide range of techniques involving the conscious or unconscious use of spirit beings. Divination has existed throughout history and in all cultures; it is usually the responsibility of a priest, prophet, oracle, witch, shaman, witch doctor, psychic or other person with claimed supernatural powers. Techniques fall into two main categories: the interpretation of signs, omens, portents and lots, and direct communication with the spiritual world through visions, trance, dreams and possession.
Abacomancy - The art of foretelling future events by the observation of patterns of dust. Sometimes the diviner used the ashes of the recently deceased.
Acutomancy - A form of divination by means of sharp or pointed objects, such as needles. The diviner allows a number of these sharp or pointed objects (usually seven) to fall onto a table or any other appropriate flat surface. He then reads from the patterns they make. Another method, also known as Acutomanzia, uses thirteen pins, ten straight and three bent. They are shaken in the hand and dropped on a surface sprinkled with powder. The patterns in the powder as well as the positioning of the pins are then read.
Aeluromancy - Also Aeluromancy.Derived from the Greek aleuron ('flour') and manteia ('divination'), this is a method of divination using flour. Sentences were written on slips of paper, each of which was rolled up in a little ball of flour and baked. These were thoroughly mixed nine times and then divided among the participants, who would supposedly learn their fate. Our modern "fortune cookies" are a survival of this ancient ritual. Another method used was sloshing out a mixture of flour and water from a bowl and interpreting the patterns of floury residue left on the bottom and sides. Apollo, who was supposed to preside over this form of divination, was surnamed Aleuromantis. As late as the 19th century the custom lingered in remote districts.
Aeromancy - Also known as Nephelomancy. The art of foretelling future events by the observation of atmospheric, air or sky, phenomena. This goes beyond the range of weather prognostications, concentrating in such things as wind currents, cloud shape and formation, comets and falling stars, spectral formations, and other phenomena which are not normally seen or visible in the heavens. Even today such visions cause speculation and sometimes consternation among human viewers. Some of the different forms of Aeromancy include Eromancy, Austromancy, Chaomancy, Roadomancy and Ceraunoscopy. Franηois de la Tour Blanche says that Aeromancy is the art of divining by means of specters which are made to materialize in the air, or the depiction by the aid of demons, of future events which are projected on the clouds as if by a magic lantern. For him, thunder, lightning and the aspect of the sky and planets belongs to astrology.
Agalmatomancy - Derived from the Greek agalma ('figure') and manteia ('divination'), a form of divination by means of statues. It is closely related to Idolomancy.
Ailuromancy - Also known as Felidomancy, it is the art of foretelling future events by the observation of cats or felines movements, specially the way they jump and where they land.
Alectromancy - Also Alectryomancy and Alectormancy. Derived from the Greek alectruon ('cock') and manteia ('divination'), this is an ancient method of divination using a cock or hen which is placed in a circle of grain around which are placed letters of the alphabet. The letters close to where the bird pecks are gathered and assembled to answer specific questions. If a simple 'yes' or 'no' is required then only two piles of grain would be used. This should be done when the Sun or the Moon is in Aries or Leo. This practice was used extensively in ancient Rome, usually by magicians who wanted to identify robbers.
A kind of Alectromancy was also sometimes practiced upon the crowing of the cock, and the periods at which it was heard. Another method was to recite the letters of the alphabet, making note of those at which the cock crowed. An often remembered story involving Alectromancy is the one about the Roman emperor Valens, who wanted to know the name of his successor. Using the cock and circle of letters method, he always got spelled out the name THEOD. According to the popular stories of the time, Valens proceeded to kill all those with the name Theodorus, on the grounds that they would rob him of his kingship. Had he been a little more careful with his divination, he might have been more successful, for he was eventually succeeded by Theodosius.
Alomancy - Also Halomancy. Derived from the Greek halo ('salt') and manteia ('divination'), this is a method of divination by interpreting random patterns using salt, of which process little is known, but probably follows similar methods to aleuromancy. It is this ancient divination science that accounts for some of our modern salt related superstitions, including the one about people saying that misfortune is about to fall on the household when the salt cellar is overturned, and the one about throwing a pinch of salt over someone's shoulder for good luck.A form of Alomancy consists on the casting of salt into a fire, and is considered a type of Pyromancy.
Alphitomancy - Derived from the Greek alphitomantis ('divination using barley'), this is an ancient method of determining the guilt or innocence of a suspect person by feeding him or her a specially prepared wheat or barley loaf or cake. If the person suffers from indigestion, or finds the loaf to be distasteful, this is interpreted as a sign of guilt. There was said to be near Lavinium a sacred wood, where Alphitomancy was practiced in order to test the purity of the women. The priests kept a serpent, or, as some say, a dragon, in a cavern in the wood. On certain days of the year the young women were sent thither, blind-folded, and carrying a cake made of barley flour and honey. The devil, we are told, led them by the right road. Those who were innocent had their cakes eaten by the serpent, while the cakes of the others were refused.
Amniomancy - A method of divination by means of the membrane which sometimes envelopes the head of a baby at birth. From the inspection of it, the diviner predicts what sort of future the newborn will have. This membrane, called caul, if read-colored signifies that the child in question will have a happy life. But if the membrane's lead-colored, the infant will have misfortunes.
Anemoscopy - Divination by means of the study of winds. This type of divination involves the observation of wind direction and strength, including the shape of dust clouds lifted by it. A different method is posing a question and then tossing a handful of dirt, sand or light seeds into the air; the answer comes in the form of the small dust cloud made by the flying particles. Another process uses a pendulum, allowed to move only by the wind, positioned over a circle graph or a set of letters, glyphs or runes. Yet another technique consists of listening to the sound of the wind and interpreting its message.
Anthropomancy - Derived from the Greek anthropos ('man') and manteia ('divination'), this is a method of divination by the entrails of dead or dying men or women, through sacrifice. This horrible and barbaric practice of divination is very ancient, and was outlawed long time ago. This practice was sometimes also called Splanchomancy (divination by examining the entrails of sacrificial victims). Also, by some accounts, divination by raising the dead (see necromancy). Heliogabalus (the Roman emperor Varius Avitus Bassanius, 205-221 AD, also known as Elagabalus, killed with his mother by the Praetorian guard for deviant and perverse practices) was one of the known practitioners of this type of divination. Julian the Apostate (Flavius Claudius Julianus, 332-363 AD, another Roman emperor, nephew of Constantine the Great), in his pursuit of magical knowledge and operations, also caused a large number of children to be slowly sacrificed in moonlit rituals, so that he might consult and interpret the movements in their entrails.
Apantomancy - A method of divination by forecasts made from any objects which happen to present themselves and omens drawn from chance meetings with animals, birds, and other creatures. A classic example is the founding of Mexico City on the spot where ancient Aztec diviners and soothsayers saw an eagle flying from a cactus plant carrying a live snake. This is represented in the Mexican coat-of-arms of today.
Arithmomancy - Also Arithmancy. A term from the Creek arithmos ('number') and manteia ('divination'), relating to divination by numbers; esoterically it is concerned with the science of correspondences between gods, men and numbers, as taught by Pythagoras. The Caldeans also practiced this type of divination, as well as the Platonists and Pythagoreans. Arithmancy is also a part of the Jewish Kabbalah.
Armomancy - A method of divination by the inspection of someone's shoulders. The ancients judged by this means whether a victim was suitable for sacrifice to the gods.
Aspidomancy - A little known method of divination by forecasts made from advice given to a diviner by the Devil himself. The soothsayer traces a circle and positions himself inside it, and by the means of conjuration, invokes the satanic advisor. Then the sorcerer goes into a trance and falls into an ecstasy, in which he or she supposedly establishes spiritual contact with the king of Hell. The performer only emerges from this state to tell things that his client wishes to know.
Astragalomany - A term derived from the Greek astragalos ('dice' or 'knucklebone') and manteia ('divination') and applied originally to a method of telling the future from the throw of small bones (usually sheep bones), but nowadays is also applied to the throw of dice, since they were once made from bones. On the small bones method, the bones are thrown and readings are taken from the patterns formed upon a formal pattern or grid.
Astrology - The pseudo-scientific study of the influence of the celestial bodies on the Earth and its inhabitants. Astrologer is a person who practices astrology, predicting or determining the influence of the planets and stars on human affairs. Astrology appears to be one of the most ancient of the surviving occult sciences, and evidence of a highly sophisticated system in Babylonian and Egyptian cultures has survived. Popular astrology is concerned with the reading of a horoscope chart cast for the moment of birth in some cases complex methods of progressing the planets of the birth chart enable the astrologer to predict the future for the person for whom the chart was cast. The chart is interpreted in terms of the influence of the zodiacal signs and the various different powers which the planets possess in these signs. A variety of different house systems is linked with interpreting the directions in the person's life in which planetary and other influences will manifest themselves. The planetary effects are not considered only in terms of zodiacal placing (on the basis that Mars in Leo is different from Mars in Cancer, for example), but also in terms of the angles which they may or may not hold to each other; this realm of astrology is the study of aspects.
Augury - The general art of divination, covering many forms of it, but applying chiefly to interpretations of the future based on various signs and omens, mostly related to the appearance and behavior of animals, which is called Zoomancy. Also, a promising sign of the future.
Austromancy - Divination by means of the study of winds and interpreting cloud shapes. This method of divination is further branched into Anemoscopy (divination solely by winds) and Nephomancy (divination solely by clouds).
Axinomancy - Also Axiomancy. A term derived From the Greek axine ('axe') and manteia ('divination') and applied to an obscure form of divination from the heating of an axehead in the embers of a fire. Another method of Axinomancy recorded among the ancient Greeks is that of placing an agate stone on a red-hot axe; its motion is taken to indicate the identity of someone guilty of a crime. Yet another method is through the observation of how an ax or hatchet quivers or points when driven into a tree or post. The term Axinomancy also covers other methods of prediction, or answering questions, by means of an axe and sometimes of a saw.
Belomancy - Also Bolomancy. Divination using feathered arrows. Labels are attached to the arrows, and the advice or oracle tied to the one which travels farthest is taken as valid. It was anciently practiced by the Babylonians, Scythians, Greeks and Arabians, among others. Sir Thomas Browne describes it in Pseudodoxia Epidemica, and is also mentioned in Ezekiel 21:21. Another method deserves mention. A certain number of arrows were thrown into the air, and the direction in which they inclined as they fell, pointed out the course to be taken by the inquirer.
Bibliomancy - A method of divination to discover if whether or not a person was innocent of sorcery. It consists of weighing the suspect against the great Bible in the local church. If the subject weighed less than the Bible, he or she were considered innocent. This term is also used for divination by books in general.
Botanomancy - A method of divination by means of the burning of leaves and tree branches. Usually vervain (any of a group of herbs or low woody plants with often showy heads or spikes of five-parted regular flowers) and/or brier (a plant with a thorny or prickly woody stem) were used, and the questions for which answers were sought, had to be carved upon the branches prior to their burning. Botanomancy is a form of Pyromancy.
Capnomancy - Also known as Libanomancy, it is a form of divination by interpreting the movement of smoke rising from a fire, especially smoke from sacrificial offerings, which augured well if it rose lightly from the altar, and ascended straight to the clouds; but the opposite if it hung about. Capnomancy is a form of Pyromancy. Another method was to cast some jasmine or poppy seeds upon burning coals to observe the smoke behavior and sniff it, and then draw omens from the alleged findings. A third method yet was to breath the smoke from a sacrificial fire... The same term was used of divination by means of a trance induced by ingesting smoke from a specially prepared drug.
Carromancy - A form of divination by means of melting wax. After heating wax in a brass bowl until it is a liquid, the diviner slowly pours it into a container of cold water. This action creates discs of wax which move and group themselves in certain patterns, which are then read by the carromancist. This method is very similar to Ceroscopy.
Cartomancy - A form of divination by means of playing cards. The most popular form of such divination is performed using the tarot. See the Tarot section.
Castromancy - A form of Hydromancy involving looking into images on the surface of water in a glass or magical receptacle. If spring water is used in this method of divination, or if the diviner uses a sacred pool or spring, then it is termed Pegomancy. Some diviners prefer to color their water with black ink in order to give a more reflective surface. Often a distinctive receptacle is chosen for the darkened water, on the grounds that the more they like the objects used, more accurate their divination will be.
Catoptromancy - Also Enoptromancy and Caloptromancy. A form of divination technique utilizing a mirror, which was turned to the moon to catch the lunar rays. The sought after answers usually appeared in characters of blood on the face of the moon, or rather, in its reflection on the mirror. This is a very ancient form of crystal gazing. Another method, used for 'medical' prognostications, involved hanging the mirror by a thread over a fountain or pool of water. After the mirror was slowly lowered until its base barely touched the surface of the water, some incense was burnt and prayers were recited. The presage of death or recovery was arrived according as the to the face that appeared in the mirror. If it was a fresh and healthy image, recovery was imminent; but if instead a ghastly aspect was represented, death was sure to come swiftly.
Catoxromancy - A form of divination by means of looking glasses. This method is also known as Catoptromancy.
Cattabomancy - A form of divination using vessels made of brass or other metals.
Causimomancy - Also known as Causinomancy, it is form of divination technique involving objects placed in a fire. If they fail to ignite, or burn slowly, it is a good omen. Causinomancy is a form of Pyromancy.
Cephalomancy - A form of divination technique using the skull or head (sometimes boiled) of a donkey or goat.
Ceraunoscopy - Also known as Keraunoscopy, it is a form of divination practiced by the ancients consisting of making prognostications by the examination of certain phenomena of the air, such as thunder and lightning. Ceraunoscopy is further branched into Brontoscopy (divination solely by thunder), and Ceraunomancy (divination solely by lightning).
Ceromancy - A form of divination by omens taken from figures produced by dropping melted wax into water. This method of divination is sometimes also called Ceroscopy.
Ceroscopy - Also called Ceromancy, it is a fascinating form of divination by means of melted wax, which is poured onto cold water to congeal. The diviner foretells the future from the various shapes of the hardened wax. Another method is by observing the bubbles formed at the time the melted wax is poured into the water.
Chalcomancy - A form of divination, in this case by listening to the sounds and tones made by striking metal bowls with a mallet.
Chaomancy - A form of Aeromancy, in this case divination using aerial visions, usually forming in the clouds. Sometimes also by the appearance of a comet's tail (also known as Cometomancy).
Chartomancy - Divination using writing papers or cards.
Cheiromancy - (Palmistry).
Chirognomy - The study of the form of the hand, involving such aspects as general proportions, shapes of the fingers and mounts, texture, color and resiliency of the skin, and the classification according to hand types. Also known as Palmistry.
Chresmomancy - A form of divination, in this case by listening to the ravings of a lunatic.
Cledonomancy - An informal divination technique in which the practitioner ascribes significance to (apparently) random events and/or chance remarks.
Cleidomancy - Also Clidomancy. Derived from the Greek kleis ('key') and manteia ('divination') this term is applied to a large number of different methods of foretelling the future through the use of a key.
One method involved writing a question on a key and placing the key in or with a Bible, which was then hung in such a way as will permit it to turn the direction of movement dictating the response. Sometimes both should be hung upon the ring-finger of a virgin, which then had to softly recite some magical words thrice (this particular method had to be performed when the sun or the moon were in Virgo). Another method involved placing the key in a clenched fist and allowing a pregnant woman to touch one of the two proffered fists. If she touched the one in which the key was held, then it was claimed that the child would be a girl.
Cleromancy - A form of divination by means of dice. Sometimes the term was used to denote any method of divination involving the throwing of small objects similar to dice, like pebbles, beans, small sticks or bones; anything, in short, suitable for lots. This method of divination was common in Rome (usually consecrated to the god Mercury, regarded as the patron of this type of divination) and Egypt.
Coscinomancy - Also known as Coskiomancy. A form of divination similar to Cleidomancy, but using a hanging sieve instead of a key. Another method also employed a pair of tongs or shears besides the sieve, which were supported upon the thumb nails of two persons, who look at each other, or the nails of the middle finger may be used. This type of divination was usually used to discover thieves and criminals in general. It is said (Potter's Greek Antiquities) that "a thread was tied 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 or she, at whose name the sieve whirled round or moved, was thought guilty."
Critomancy - Also known as Crithomancy, it is form of divination by the study of barley cakes in hope of drawing omens from them. The paste of cakes which are offered in sacrifice, is closely examined, and the sought for answers are drawn from the flour which is spread upon them.
Cromniomancy - A form of divination by the significance of omens drawn from the color, smell, direction and form of onion sprouts.
Crystalomancy - Also known as Crystal Gazing; it can also be spelled Crystallomancy. A very ancient form of divination by means of transparent bodies such as a crystal globe (either spherical or oval, most used among modern crystal gazers), polished quartz and precious stones (especially a beryl), or indeed any transparent object. In some cases, a pool of water was used, although this method is also known as Hydromancy. It was held that those who had the gift, by gazing fixedly and deeply into a polished crystal ball, could see what would happen in the future or what was actually happening elsewhere. To gaze into the crystal ball is to see into the future, to seek inspiration to answer questions.
Cyclomancy - A form of divination by the significance of omens drawn from the turning or spinning of a wheel or wheels.
Dacryomancy - A form of divination, in this case by tears and/or crying.
Dactyliomancy - Also called Dactylomancy, it is derived from the Greek dakterlios ('finger ring') and manteia ('divination'), and it is applied to a number of methods of divining the future with the aid of rings. Sometimes a ring is used as a pendulum, at other times it is dropped into a bowl of water, its position at the bottom determining the prediction or the response to a formulated question. The inside bottom of the bowl may contain a special pattern to aid in the prognostication. A variation to this would be to dangle a ring by a thread in a vessel filled with water and shake; the amount of times it hits the vessel's wall determines the prediction. Another method used the pendulum over an Ouija board or over letters laid out on a table, and depending on the direction the ring swung, the answers were spelled out. Still another method, for which no detailed account is available, was practiced using gold, silver, copper, iron or lead rings. They were to be placed on the finger-nails in certain planetary conjunctions; it was said that wedding rings were ideal for this purpose. Dactyliomancy is thought to be one of the earliest forms of Radiesthesia.
Daphnomancy - This method of divination required listening to the noise made by laurel branches crackling in an open fire. The louder the crackles, the better the omens. If crackles were absent, the prognostic was bleak. Daphnomancy is a type of Pyromancy.
Demonomancy - Also known as Necyomancy, it is a method of divination by the summoning and/or the aid of demons. It may be argued that all divinatory techniques are done with the aid of spirits, and that virtually all popular methods of foretelling the future work through the agency of certain demons.
Dendromancy - This forgotten method of divination is associated with the oak and mistletoe. No details of it are currently known.
Dermatoglyphics - From "derma" (meaning skin) and "glyphs" (meaning carving), it is the study of the skin ridges in the hands. Dermatoglyphs is primarily concerned with the fingerprints, although on some hands glyphs are found on the palm itself.
Dictiomancy - A form of divination, in this case by using a dictionary.
Dowsing - An ancient form of divination using a forked stick, bent wire, or pendulum to locate people, objects and substances. The technique can be used to find underground water, minerals, oil, pipes and cables; it is also used to locate lost objects, missing persons and murder victims, and to diagnose illnesses. The ancient Egyptians and Chinese used dowsing, and during the Middle Ages in Britain and Europe it was a common technique for finding coal deposits. It is not clear how dowsing works. When the dowser finds the right location, the dowsing stick begins to twitch in the dowser's hand, sometimes violently. The notion that divining rods somehow pick up vibrations from earth force fields, does not explain the ability of those who use maps in their homes, far away from the actual field sites. In World War I dowsers were used by the army to help find mines and unexploded shells; dowsing rods were used by American troops in Vietnam to locate mines, buried mortars and booby traps; some oil, gas and mineral companies use dowsers to complement conventional geological analysis. The pendulum technique is often used for diagnoses in alternative medicine. The pendulum is suspended over a patient's body, changes in its movement and rotation indicating healthy or unhealthy areas.
Entomomancy - A form of divination from the appearance and behavior of insects. Entomomancy is a type of augury.
Eromancy - A type of divination, this time by omens taken from the air. Eromancy is a form of Aeromancy.
Eromanty - A form of divination by means of the examination of the water inside a vase, practiced by the Persians. After enveloping his/her head in a napkin and exposing the vase filled with water to the open air, the diviner would mutter over it the objects of their desires. If the surface of the water showed bubbles, this was regarded as a fortunate prognostication. Eromanty is a form of Hydromancy.
Extispicy - Also known as Extispicium (also the name of one of the instruments used in the practice of it), Splanchomancy (see Anthropomancy), Haruspicy, Aruspicy, Hieroscopia, and Hieroscopy. Divination by means of the examination of the entrails of sacrificed animals, which afterwards were burnt in a sacrificial fire. Sometimes the observation of how the flame burnt the sacrifice was also necessary for the prognostication. This form of divination is sometimes considered to be part of augury. The practice of Extispicy came to the Greeks and Romans from either the Etruscans or the earlier cultures of Babylonia and Assyria. Its underlying theory was that when an animal usually a sheep or an ox was sacrificed, it was absorbed by the god to which it had been offered, creating a direct channel to the deity. By opening the carcass, the haruspex presumed to peek inside the god's mind and watch the future being created. This somewhat grisly ancient method of divination is still practiced today in remote parts of the world. For the Gurung, a farming people living in Nepal, the shape and color of a sacrificed chicken's lungs may foretell sickness or good fortune. The extispices of the Roman religious colleges were the aruspices or augurs.
Floromancy - A type of divination, this time by omens taken from flowers. Floromancy is based on the belief that flowers radiate vibrations, react to a sympathetic or hostile environment and are affected by electric shocks. The term Floromancy is sometimes also used for the belief that flowers have the power to cure disease.
Gastromancy - Also known as 'Divination from the Belly'. An ancient form of ventriloquism, with the voice sounding low and hollow, in a sepulchral tone, as if issuing from the ground. Prognostications were given in a trance-like state.
Geloscopy - Divination by the means of interpretation of someone's tone and/or manner of laughter.
Genethlialogy - Divination by the means of calculating someone's future from the position and influence of the stars at birth.
Geomancy - From the Greek ge ('earth') and manteia ('divination'). Originally an Arabic technique which depended upon interpreting figures derived from making marks in the sand or earth, it is divination by the Element of Earth, meaning by the observation of points on the Earth or by the patterns made by throwing some earth into the air and allowing it to fall on a flat surface.
Graphology - Also known as Handwriting Analysis, it is a method of assessing a person's character and personality from his or her handwriting.
Gyromancy - From the Greek guros ('circle'), and manteia ('divination'). Said to be a method of divination in which the diviner walks around a circle of letters until he or she is too dizzy to continue; the letters against which he stumbles or the direction of the fall are supposed to spell out a prophetic message.
Hepatoscopy - A form of Extispicy which involved the divination from an examination of the liver of sacrificed animals.
Hieromancy - Also Hieroscopy and Hieroscopia. A method of divination which involved the foretelling of future events from an examination of objects of ancient sacrifice, such as burnt offerings and slaughtered animals.
Hippomancy - A form of augury which involves divination from horses.
Hydromancy - From the Greek Hudromanteia (hudro=hydro/manteia=mancy), it is also known as Ydromancy and Hydrascopy. This is a name given to various different methods of predicting the future by means of water or rain. One technique supposedly involved a basin full of water which, at the command of the diviner, is activated by spirits in order to vibrate to a point where it appears to boil and give off meaningful sounds. Methods of disturbing water (by means of suspended rings or by means of pebbles being dropped into the bowl) are also described as legitimate hydromantic techniques, and some diviners are supposed to read from the reflections on the surface or from the color of water, as well as from the movement of water in fountains or the pattern of ripples formed after an object is cast into the pool. Some of these techniques are Lecanomancy, Pegomancy, Eromanty and Castronomancy. Our modern "tea leaf" and "coffee ground" psychic readings date from this ancient method of divination.
Ichthyomancy - A form of augury which in this case is divination from the shape and/or the entrails of fish.
Idolomancy - A form of metal or stone divination using idols or images. It is closely related to Agalmatomancy. In ancient times, when temple priests were trained in the art of making automata, allegedly huge metal or stone statues were made to come to life and make utterances about the future. Also there was a widespread believe that spirits were capable of inhabiting statues, and could be made to reveal secrets of futurity by those who knew how.
Iridology - The study of the iris of the eye in order to diagnose disease. Iridology is based on the assumption that every organ in the human body has a corresponding location within the iris and that one can determine whether an organ is healthy or diseased by examining the iris.
Lampadomancy - Sometimes also called Lychnomancy, it is form of divination using a single oil lamp or a torch flame. As with Lychnoscopy, the diviner reads presages from the movements of the flame. An alternate method is also practiced, consisting of of reading the spots of carbon deposited on paper sheets held over the flame. On yet another method, the diviner uses the lamp as a means of "attracting spirits to the flames", in the hope of consulting them regarding future events. In this method, usually a specially designed lamp is employed, on the belief that grotesque forms will attract the spirits.
Lecanomancy - A form of hydromancy consisting of divination by interpreting the patterns and ripples left on the surface of water from a basin when precious stones are dropped in.
Libranomancy - Divination through examination of smoke from incense. The air in the area must be still while the casting takes place.
Lithomancy - Divination by studying light reflected by precious or colored stones. The gemstones are usually cast on black cloth for the reading.
Livanomancy - Also known as Knissomancy, it is divination through examination of burning frankincense, a fragrant gum resin from trees of a genus (Boswellia of the family Burseraceae) of Somalia and southern coastal Arabia. This is an important incense resin that was used in ancient times in religious rites and also in embalming.
Logarithmancy - Divination through logarithms, or logarithm tables.
Lychnoscopy - Sometimes also called Lychnomancy, Lychnoscopy is divination by the aid of three candles arranged in a triangle. The diviner reads presages from the movements of the three flames. Lychnoscopy is a form of Pyromancy.
Macharomancy - Also known as Machaeromancy, it is divination by knives or swords. One of the most popular methods of Macharomancy consists of placing a consecrated athame or dagger in the center of a circle bordered with letters and numbers. After asking the spirits a question, the athame is spun around in a spin-the-bottle fashion. Each time it stops, the letter or number its blade points to is written down. This continues until the answer is spelled out, usually scrambled or in a foreign or ancient language such as Latin or Greek.
Mantike - In ancient Greece, a form of divination used specifically to seek advice concerning a future action. Mantike was very popular until the introduction of astrology, and was used by both individuals and states. Popular methods employed were the interpretation of sacrificial victims' entrails (Extispicy) or by the flight and behavior of birds (Oionoscopy).
Metoposcopy - From the Greek metopon, it is the science of the frontal lines, the art of interpreting the character and foretelling the destiny of an individual by the facial wrinkles or lines, especially those of the forehead. Metoposcopy was developed by the renown mathematician, physician, and astrologer Gerolomo Cardano (1501-1576), also known as Jerome Cardan. His work covered over 800 facial illustrations associated with character, temperament, destiny and astrological signs.
Moleoscopy - A method of assessing character from moles on the body. Moles on the surface of the body have always been a source of mystery and have been thought to bring luck both good and bad or to have endowed the bearer with mysterious powers.
Molybdomancy - A form of divination by using molten tin or lead. One popular method of Molybdomancy was to get the omens from interpreting the noises and hisses of molten lead when dropped into water. Another system read futurity in the shapes formed by the molten metal solidifying in the water. Yet another technique involved the observation of to which directions spilled liquid metal on a flat surface would flow.
Myomancy - A type or subdivision of Zoomancy, consisting of divination by means of rats or mice. This method was extensively practiced in Egypt, Rome and Assyria. Some diviners interpreted the omens by the noise made by the rodents, but the most popular form involved allowing a caged mouse its freedom, and reading futurity in the direction and/or manner in which the little mammal escaped. Other less popular methods included freeing the mouse inside an especially constructed maze reading the auguries or answering questions according to the route the creature had taken and a very unusual technique of reading the critter's dropping patterns.
Myrmomancy - A form of divination by the observation of ants behavior, specially their eating habits. This is a form of Entomomancy.
Necromancy - Also known as Nagomancy, it is a form of divination by communication with the dead, one of the claimed black arts practiced by witches and magicians. The classic case of necromancy is the witch of Endor, described in the Bible (1 Samuel 28), who summoned the spirit of Samuel in the presence of Saul. This biblical episode was widely accepted as irrefutable evidence for the existence of witchcraft. Necromancy (from Greek words meaning dead' and 'divination'), a word corrupted by medieval Latin writers into nigromantia, can be divided into two main branches: divination by means of ghosts, and divination from corpses, both of which represent related forms of forbidden knowledge. The second method led to the disinterment of corpses and rifling of graves for the grisly charms which magicians and witches considered necessary for the effective performance of the magical arts. To evoke the dead the magician needed to obtain the help of powerful spirits, both for his own protection and to compel the corpse or ghost to submit to his will. A spell from ancient Greece calls upon the powers of the mighty Kore, Persephone, Ereshkigal, Adonis, Hermes and Thoth, to bind the dead. According to a ritual described by Seneca, the Roman dramatist, the summoning of the dead involved not only a burnt sacrifice but a blood-drenched altar.
Nephomancy - Divination by clouds. It consists of prognostications taken from the color, position in the sky and shape of the cloud. This type of divination was extensively used by the Druids, who called it Neladoracht.
Nephromancy - Divination by the examination of the kidneys of sacrificed animals. This is a form of Extispicy.
Nomancy - The art or practice of divining the destiny of persons by the letters from their names. Sometimes this term is also used for divination by a person's features.
Numerology - Also known as Numeromancy and Arithomancy. A system of divination and occult practice based on the idea that the universe is mathematically constructed, and all things can be expressed in numbers, which correspond to vibrations. Because all letters, words, names, birth-dates and so on can be expressed in numbers, which in turn are ascribed complex religious and mystical meanings, a person's life, personality and destiny can be determined. Occult numerology began with Pythagoras who, from certain observations in music, mathematics, and astronomy, believed that all relations could be reduced to number relations ('all things are numbers'). This formed the basis of a mystical system expanded upon by later Greek philosophers. Jewish Kabbalah mysticism (see Gematria), ancient near Eastern religions (especially in Babylon and Egypt), and the Hindu, Buddhist and Chinese faiths have all erected elaborate divinatory systems based on mystical numerological correspondences. In most occult systems only the numbers 1 to 9, together with 0, are considered in any depth, for all numbers greater than 9 can be reduced to a single digit by adding the digits together. This reductionism is the main tool of numerological divination. Consider the number 642 which can be reduced to (6 + 4 + 2 = 12), and then (1 + 2 = 3). The number 642 is therefore equivalent to the symbolic number 3. Each number has its own characteristics and values (male/female, strong/passive, harmony/disharmony and so on) and also corresponds to a letter of the alphabet. Various formulae can be applied to a person's name, birthday and birthplace to determine a person's character and destiny. Numerology is also used to determine propitious days for certain activities, such as selecting marriage partners or choosing a baby's name.
Oenomancy - Also known as Oinomancy, it is a form of augury which in this case is divination by wine. This divination system is very ancient and there are various methods of performing it, such as:
from the patterns left by spilled wine in a cloth or paper.
Oionoscopia - Also known as Oionoscopy and Ornithomancy, it is a method of divination from the flight and behavior of birds. It was very popular in ancient Greece, when it was used for mantike. Alternate methods of Oionoscopia read omens from the sound and the colorful appearance of birds. It's suspected that the philosopher Anaximander was able to predict an earthquake in Sparta in the sixth century due to his observation of the behavior of the local birds.
by the appearance of wine poured in libation.
by the sediment in a glass or bottle of wine.
by the color and peculiarities of wine.
Omphilomancy - Also known as Omphalomancy, it is divination by the navel. This method of divination has two forms. One consists on the interpretation of the belly button; by its size and shape an individual's personality and/or fate is revealed. The second form is based on interpretation of the umbilical cord; the number of knots in the umbilical cord of a newborn baby shows how many more brothers or sisters are to come.
Oniromancy - Also known as Oneiromancy, it is a method of divination and prophecy by means of dreams. Nightmares also fall into this category, although occult tradition maintains that bad dreams are the work of demons.
Ouija - See Occultopedia's information on the Ouija Board.
Palmistry - The practice of psychically reading an individual's past, present and future, as well as health and character, by studying the lines, shape and texture of the individual's hands, fingers and wrists.
Phrenology - Also known as Cranioscopy and Bumpology, it is a pseudoscience based on the study of the structure of the human skull to determine a person's character and/or mental capacity.
Pedomancy - Divination by examining the footprint of the person to be divined upon. The footprint should be in clay; either special magical clays, or special materials mixed with the clay should be used.
Psephomancy - Also known as Pessomancy, it is a type of sortilege, consisting of divination by the drawing or casting of pebbles or beans marked with special symbols or colors relating to health, success, travel, communications, etc.
Physiognomy - Character analysis by using facial features, sometimes supported by the notion that certain facial characteristics have had associations with animals. Often associated with Astrology, Physiognomy has been also used as a type of divination, sometimes being defined as "divination by the means of the face." Habitually included in early magical books, it is also considered to be an early form of Phrenology. Another important branch of Physiognomy was based on the idea that there were seven facial types, linked with the seven planets.
Podomancy - Divination by examining feet.
Psychomancy - Divination by men's souls, affections, wills, religious or moral dispositions. Also, by questioning spirits.
Pyromancy - Divining by fire. The presage was good when the flame was vigorous and quickly consumed the sacrifice, but, if in the other hand, if it was slow to consume the victim, the presage was evil. This type of divination was widely practiced by the vestals in the temple of Minerva at Athens. They were in charge of making prognostications by the observation of the perpetually burning fire there. The ancients divined not only by observing sacrificial fires, but also the flames of torches. If the flame formed a single point it was a good omen; bad if it split in two. Curiously, three was a better omen then one. Bending of the flame was taken as sickness for the healthy, and death for the sick. Its sudden extinction was presaged as the coming of a frightful disaster or catastrophe. In another pyromantic system, the diviner throws objects into the flames, and makes the prognostications from the manner they burn. Another method, supposedly used by those gifted with higher prognostic vision, was to observe the activities of the fire elementals, the fire-souls or salamanders which sport in the flames. (Different forms of pyromancy include Alomancy, Pyroscopy, Sideromancy, Lychnoscopy, Daphnomancy, Causinomancy, Lampadomancy, Capnomancy and Botanomancy.)
Pyroscopy - A form of pyromancy in which divination is performed by burning a sheet of paper on a white surface and examining the resulting stains.
Radiesthesia - Any form of divination that involves the use of a pendulum, including dowsing, cleidomancy, coscinomancy and dactylomancy. The term itself refers to the study of rays or the fine radiation supposedly emitted by every animated or inanimated material, and the assumption that it can be measured with radiesthetic instruments such as pendulums, rods or single-handed rods.
Rhabdomancy - Divination performed by using sticks, sometimes called after the French term, baguettes. In fact, Rhabdomancy really has nothing to do with divination, but is an occult means of seeking out hidden things. In medieval Europe, Rhabdomancy was widely used as a reliable means of searching for water or for underground silver. Dowsing is now more accurately used in place of Rhabdomancy for those practices which are not concerned with predicting the future.
Rhapsodomancy - A form of Bibliomancy in which the divination is performed by using a book of poetry.
Roadomancy - Divination by stars, also known as Astromancy. Roadomancy is a form of Aeromancy, and on its turn is also divided in many forms or types, such as Meteoromancy (divination by meteors and falling stars observation) and Cometomancy (divination by omens taken from comets).
Runes - An ancient Norse and Germanic alphabet the symbols of which were ascribed magical properties and used mainly for charms and inscriptions, on stone, wood, metal, or bone. Perhaps derived ultimately from the Etruscan alphabet, the runic alphabet was spread throughout Europe, Russia and Britain by Viking invaders, and Rune usage was at its height during the Dark Ages. There were several different systems of runes. In Britain the earliest alphabet had 24 letters divided into three groups of eight. The groups were named after Norse deities: Freya, Hagal, and Tiu. The use of runes had died out by the fifteenth century as the Roman Catholic Church eclipsed paganism. In the late nineteenth century German occultists revived interest in runes, which became associated with Teutonic racial superiority. The Nazi swastika is the runic symbol for Thor's hammer, also symbol of the Earth Mother, and the runic S symbol was used by the SS, the Nazi secret police.
Scapulomancy - Also known as Spatulamancy, it is a form of augury or divination by examining the patterns or cracks and fissures on the burned (after being roasted over an open fire) shoulder-blade (scapula) bones of an animal. It was widely practiced in ancient Babylon.
Scatomancy - A form of divination by the examination of egested food (feces, excrement).
Sciomancy - Also called Sciamancy, it is a form of divination by shadows or by communicating with the ghosts of the dead.
Selenomancy - Divination by observation of the moon.
Solmancy - Divination by interpreting the patterns formed by the rays of the sun.
Sortilege - Divination by the casting or drawing of lots. Sometimes also called Cleromancy.
Spatalamancy - Divination using skin, bone or excrement.
Spodanomancy - A type of divination consisting of writing in ashes.
Spodomancy - Also known as Tephramancy or Tuphramancy, it is a method of divination by means of the cinders, ashes or soot from sacrificial fires. The specific type of spodomancy that used patterns formed in the ashes of burn offerings made to the gods was often called Tephromancy.
Stareomancy - Divination using the elements.
Sternomancy - Divination by the marks from the breast to the belly, or also by speaking through the chest (believed to be an early form of Ventriloquism).
Stichomancy - A method of divination using books. This is also called Bibliomancy, and consists of throwing open a book and selecting a random passage for the purpose of divination.
Stoicheomancy - A type of Bibliomancy, but using solely the books of Homer and/or Virgil.
Stoichomancy - A type or subdivision of Bibliomancy, but using a pin. The blindfolded querent or diviner sticks the pin in a text (usually the Bible) opened at random. The marked word relates, as gnomic response, to the query posed. There are many variations of this type of divination.
Sycomancy - A method of divination by figs or fig tree leaves. The diviner's question or proposition is written in a fig leaf; the slower it dries, the more favorable the omen.
Tarot - An ancient form of divination. Your own electro-magnetic energy field, intent, your essence, and the part you play in life, allows the Tarot Cards to be used as a tool to help guide you on your path. The Tarot deck comprises cards, which represent archetypal images, whose origins are rooted in European Mysticism. These images usually correspond with your unconscious intent, potential and destiny, and subsequently, you may recognize the value of the guidance contained therein. The cards can be considered as the representations of your own archetypal qualities, and by bringing this information to the conscious thinking level, you may be stimulated to consider change, growth and revelation for your highest god.
Tasseography - Most commonly known as teacup reading, it is divination by using tea leaves, or the interpretation of the shapes and forms that are made by tea leaves that remain in the cup after the tea has been drunk. Another name for it is Tasseomancy.
Theomancy - Most commonly known as divination by divinely inspired oracles, such as at Delphi in ancient Greece. Divination by the evocation of sacred names, by the revelation of the words of God or drawn from the responses of oracles among heathen nations were also known as Theomancy.
Tyromancy - Also known as Tiromancy and Typomancy, it is divination by the patterns formed by the coagulation of cheese.
Urimancy - Divination by observation of urine, either by its color, by its taste, by its flow patterns, or by the patterns formed when it hits the ground or in a swirling bowl.
Xenomancy - Divination by studying the first stranger to be found or who appears.
Xylomancy - 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."
Zoomancy - Divination by the appearance and/or behavior of any type of animal. Another type of Zoomancy, often called Theriomancy, consisted of divination by the movement of beasts, or wild animals. Yet another type of Zoomancy was predictions from the appearance of imaginary or psychic animals, such as unicorns, sea-monsters, or salamanders. Zoomancy is a type of augury.
Zygomancy - Divination by using weights. The original form of Bibliomancy (being weighed against the Bible) was a form of zygomancy.