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(Y was late, so Z is late.)

I originally had a long post on the Zodiac, which I somehow managed to delete, so for Z I have Zygomancy. This is divination by weights.

Wikipedia lists it but doesn't have a corresponding article. According to it involves suspended weights, or weight comparison, and was practiced by the Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Persians.

In general the practice seems to have been based on whether an object was easy or difficult to lift, or whether it was perceived to be light or heavy. Pendulum dowsing also falls into this category.

The best example of Zygomancy I can think of is the witch trial in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

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(Several days late as we decided to go and see Avengers: Age of Ultron, and I didn't have anything queued up.)

Also known as scrying, specifically by water (which, unsurprisingly, is also called hydromancy). According to Wikipedia this can include the study of the ripples produced by pebbles dropped in a pool, along with some other more complicated methods involving drops of oil, rings shaken in bottles, or speaking words over a glass of water and studying its "spontaneous ebullience".

Hydromancy was apparently forbidden in Renaissance magic, along with geomancy, palmistry, divination by fire or weather, divination by bones - specifically shoulder blades (scapulimancy), and necromancy. It's not clear if divination by other parts of the body was acceptable, or why shoulder blades were so offensive. Demonology was also banned.
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Also known as xenomantia or xenomancie, so I'm good for X this time around.

According to this is the art of divination by studying the actions of the first stranger or strangers you meet. As such it falls into the general category of omens. The name is derived from the Greek xenos (stranger) and manteia (divination).

In general it was the physical actions that were studied, although it was apparently considered bad luck in Ancient Greece to encounter a priest riding a donkey.
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Anyone who's ever been a teenage girl has probably tried this one: drip wax from a lit candle into a bowl of water and, like reading tea-leaves, see what shapes you get. These are open to interpretation - a ring for marriage, a plane for travel, etc. As with tea leaves, it's quite difficult to figure out what a blob is supposed to be although I suppose what's good for one works for the other. Here's a method.

Another method of wax divination is to watch the way it drips down the candle: ask a question, if it drips mostly down the right the answer is yes, if left no, and if both then no answer is possible.

Wax isn't the only way to divine with candles. There's also the less messy method of meditating on the flame, or its reflection. If you decide to give candle divination a try, make sure to do so safely.
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This one's a bit of a cheat, because I already had tea leaves for T and needed something for V.

The Vampire Tarot is a tarot deck by Robert M. Place that tells the story of Bram Stoker's Dracula. As far as I can tell, it's read like any other tarot deck. Standard tarot decks have four suits, like playing cards but with four "face cards" (with a knight as well as the jack/knave, king, and queen). They also have a set of "trumps" which are the named cards like the Tower and Death, all of which have their own meaning. The deck features Edgar Allen Poe as the Knight of Stakes, and Jonathan Harker as The Fool.

Bonus wacky V - videomancy, which Wikipedia describes as divination by video however doesn't provide an article to describe how that actually works. They do helpfully provide a links to the articles on both film and video though, in case you don't know what those are.
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While researching for these blog posts, I came to the conclusion that human beings will use pretty much anything to try to make sense of the world, and this confirmed it. As the name suggests, this is divination using urine. According to it was practiced as far back as ancient Rome, where the practice was to look for bubbles. Other methods included examining colour, smell, flow patterns, and even taste.

Occultopedia suggests that urimancy was used by 16th and 17th century witchfinders, who apparently saw no irony in using occult practices to find witches. Iron objects were put in a bottle filled with the urine of the accused. If the corked popped out of the bottle, or the person became ill, they were guilty.

Another distasteful U is umbilicomancy, which is apparently divination by umbilical cord.
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Tasseomancy, otherwise known as reading tea leaves. According to The Complete Book of Fortune, the method is to use a tea with well-defined leaves, rather than a dusty blend as this produces a sludgy blob. Use the tea loose, and drink until about a teaspoon of tea is left. Hold the cup in the left hand and turn three times anti-clockwise while thinking of the question you want answered. Slowly invert the cup on the saucer and leave a minute or so for the liquid to drain away.

Turn the cup back over and interpret the pictures made by the leaves.

Steve Roud, in A Pocket Guide to Superstitions of the British Isles, says that this methd of divination has been popular for around 300 years, with the first recorded references to it being made around the late 1720s. The earliest three references are between 1726 and 1731: he believes that this closeness indicates it was fashionable and new at the time. Many early references refer to coffee grounds, before tea overtook them in popularity.
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This is described in Steve Roud's Superstitions of the British Isles as a complicated method of discovering thieves and lost items. It is recorded in use in Britain from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries.

The method was that the shears were stuck in the rim of a sieve, and supported by two people on their fingers. They would then ask the apostles Peter and Paul if certain people had taken the missing object, and the sieve would turn around at the nomination of the guilty party.

Although the earliest description in Britain was Reginald Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft in 1584, the general method is recorded as far back as Ancient Greece, and is referred to by the poet Theocritus in his Idylls.
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This is divination by poetry, sort of a more literary version of Bible-dipping. This can be done by opening a book randomly and choosing a verse at first sight, another method is to write several verse or lines on pieces of paper, then choose one at random from a container.

According to Wikipedia this is an ancient method of divination used at least as far back as Ancient Rome, where the name of the particular method depended on the poet uses, eg Praenestinae sortes Virgilanae for Virgil.

The sibylline books were used for this by 6th Century Greek Oracles. They weren't actually books, rather loose leaves that could be shuffled and drawn at random, and were burned in 83BC. A replica collection was also destroyed, in AD 405. The prophecies of the Greek Oracles were famously vague.

The practice became generally known as bibliomancy when people started using the Bible as their text of choice, a term which now applies generally to the use of books. The earliest recorded instance of Bible use is 1693, although the Wikipedia article doesn't give any details of the circumstances.
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This is, as you might expect, an alternative spelling of Kabbalah, and literally the only entry for Q on Wikipedia's extensive list of divination methods. It's an esoteric school of thought that originated in Judaism.

According to Wikipedia, the definition "varies according to the traditions and aims of those following it", which makes it difficult to cover in a single blog post. Perhaps unsurprisingly for a practice which originates in a living religion, there are many different traditions. From the Renaissance onwards Jewish Kabbalah was studied by non-Jews, which led to the absorption and adoptions of the ideas found there. The main article splits off into separate Kabbalistic traditions, including Christian Cabala and Hermetic Qabalah, two of the resulting practices which developed independently of the source.

Wikipedia also states that it was through these non-Jewish associations that Kabbalah became linked with occult practices that were forbidden in Judaism itself - apart from to an elite few through the method of theurgic Practical Kabbalah.

The entry for Practical Kabbalah states that it's the appeal to an occult power other than God which is unacceptable to Judaism - however there is no such restriction on understanding the past, "or coming to a greater understanding of present and future situations", possibly through dreams.

Christian Cabala declined during the Enlightment, and the article doesn't contain any mention of divination at all. The entry for Hermetic Qabalah suggests that this flourished in the Western mystery tradition (although a citation is needed) and became a central component of Western occult magic.

None of the articles suggest anything about the methods of divination involved in these traditions, other than dreams.
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Officially called Cartomancy, for those who don't have a tarot deck, playing cards can be used for fortune telling. According to The Complete Book of Fortune you should first take out all the cards from two to six, leaving a 32 card deck, however a number of methods I found on the internet leave them in.

The individual suits are said to have their own meanings, as do the face cards, although these also appear to vary by source.

As with tarot, a simple three card spread can be used, although The Complete Book of Fortune contains a complicated layout called the Temple of Fortune that uses all 32 cards. (I've also just spotted it contains a tarot spread called Etteilla's Great Figure of Destiny which uses 66 of the 78 card deck.) The book contains numerous methods of divination by games of patience, with games called The Carpet, The Wizard, and The Windmill. I wasn't able to find the spreads for any of these online, although I did find a history of divination by cards over at, and a useful section on different historical methods of fortune telling by cards over at World of Playing Cards.

Finally, if you want to have a go yourself, there are (one of many) instructions here.
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This is divination by dreams, not by using an Oraculum but by interpreting them. Although I suppose you could describe the dream books found in many households as modern versions.

The Complete Book of Fortune states a "generally held belief", that I've never heard before, that "dreams go by opposites". It doesn't really describe what this means except that, while we spend the day with our conscious mind comparing and contrasting things, the unconscious mind has no power of contrast so when we dream of black it may really be white. Which may just be an overcomplicated was of saying that dreams don't make sense, but the time I dreamed of a burning fish tank I was fully aware that the water shouldn't be on fire.

Man has been interpreting dreams since he's been having them, and many ancient civilisations believed they were divine messages. These days we tend to attribute them to physical causes (illness, stress, too much cheese before bedtime), even if there are plenty of books out there that will tell you that dreaming of your teeth falling out means the end of a friendship.

I've personally found that dreams are usually my brain trying to tell me something I'm not hearing while awake. Nothing to do with the future, but often the solution to a problem I may not even realise I'm having. If I'm anxious and I know it, I dream about being chased. If I start dreaming about toilets - specifically being unable to find one that isn't overflowing, or where the cubicle actually has a door - it means I need to take stock of what's bugging me, because something is and I'm not thinking about it.

Essentially, dreams are the subconscious talking. Sometimes it talks rubbish, sometimes it just tells a funny story, but I've found that by paying attention, it can provide an insight into waking life.
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This is another from The Complete Book of Fortune and one of my favourites, because it's absolutely bonkers. It was apparently found in Napoleon's effects after his defeat at Leipzig in 1813, having originally been discovered in an Egyptian royal tomb. You can handily find it here if you want to play.

First, make a random series of marks in four lines:


Then count up the numbers of marks (if more than 9 only count the extras), making note of which lines are odd and which even like so:


Then refer to a chart called the Oraculum, which has the star patterns across the top and a list of questions down the side.  This in turn will tell you which additional chart to look at for the answer to your question. So for my pattern and the question "Shall I have success in my undertakings?" the Oraculum tells me to refer to table I. Table I tells me "Your fortune will shortly be changed into misfortune."

Thanks, Napoleon.
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This is the practice of character analysis by looking at forehead wrinkles, a kind of palmistry for the face (or facepalm, if you will). It was invented in the sixteenth century by mathematician Gerolamo Cardano. Somewhat unhelpfully, there were only seven planets when it was invented, and it doesn't appear to have been updated since Cardano died from starving himself to death to fulfil a prediction that he'd die at 75.

The Wikipedia entry for Practical Kabbalah also describes reading the face as a whole, and reading auras emanating from the face, as a form of metoscopy.
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According to Wikipedia this is divination by stones or the light reflected from them, although it doesn't provide much more information than that. I assume that the steroetypical crystal ball is related to this practice, although modern ones tend to be made of glass. states that there is little recorded history of lithomancy. Although the earliest recorded mention of the practice is the late 800s, the techniques have been lost. Witchipedia also proivides a suggested technique.

Just for fun, bonus L is Llewellyn.  Not a method of divination, but a Mind, Body and Spirit publisher with an online tarot-reading section on their website. Which is fun and also has some lovely artwork.
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This is divination through the patterns of smoke, traditionally that of frankincense. Various factors, such as the speed the incense burned at, the patterns of the smoke and which direction it went in, were all taken into account. states that this form of divination was used in ancient cultures, such as the Ancient Egyptians and Romans, and that sugar, salt, and flour have sometimes been used as alternatives.

Knissomancy is part of a family of divinations called pyromancy, which as the name suggests is divination based on fire.
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Jyothisha, or Jyotish, is, according to Wikipedia, a traditional Hindu system of astrology and astronomy. It's also known as Vedic astrology, so I double-checked I had something for V before using it here - but really, there was nothing else for J.

Jyotisha is divided into the three branches of Siddhanta ("Indian astronomy"), Samhita  - "mundane astrology", which deals with nationally important but hardly mundane events like wars and earthquakes - and Hora, which is detailed "predictive astrology".

There are sixteen divisional charts, known as Varga. Like Western astrology there are twelve signs of the zodiac, although the two traditions measure these differently. Wikipedia notes "Jyotiṣa uses primarily the sidereal zodiac (in which stars are considered to be the fixed background against which the motion of the planets is measured), whereas most Western astrology uses the tropical zodiac (the motion of the planets is measured against the position of the Sun on the Spring equinox)." Over time the differences have led to some drift - in Jyotisha the placement of the planets is still consistent with the actual zodiac, whereas in Western astrology planets fall into the following sign about two thirds of the time. Which might explain why some people born one sign in Western astrology later end up being another.

Jyotisha can be studied as a subject in some Indian universities.
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I originally had itching for this letter, however technically used it for E instead since that was a much harder letter to find anything for. Then I was going to do I-Ching, but that's really obvious, right?

So instead I have Ichthyomancy, which is (according to also known as Ichyomancy, Ichthiomantia, and another four names also beginning with I. It is, as the name suggests, divination by fish.

Observing the appearance and behaviour of the fish falls into the category of theriomancy, which is the study of animals and their behaviour. Often the fish was placed in a consecrated pool. Interpreting the entrails and heads is a form of augury, and falls into aruspicina - the same messy branch as yesterday's haruspicy.
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This is the technical term for the decidedly non-vegetarian practice of reading animal entrails, which the Romans apparently "borrowed" from the Etruscans. According to Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, practitioners were called haruspices, singular haruspex.

Bonus H, since this is a short one: the practice of looking specifically at the liver is called hepatoscopy. According to The Book of Divination by Anne Fiery this particular method was particularly favoured by the Babylonians and Etrurians, who believed it had been bestowed on them by Tages, Jupiter's grandson.
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According to Ann Fiery's The Book of Divination, this is a method of fortune-telling that originated in North Africa in the ninth century, which consisted of reading randomly drawn lines in the sand. It was later appropriated by twelfth century European mystics who applied the technique to marks on paper.

Think of a question, then draw sixteen lines made up of random dots. Just like for the Dream Oraculum, you're only interested in whether these lines have an odd or even number of dots. You then translate these into four figures (using lines one to four, five to eight, etc).

From here it becomes even more horrifically complicated, as you then combine each row of these to create a series of "daughter" figures, and then use the "daughters" to create "nephews". You then consult a chart which tells you what it all means.

I can't help but think those twelfth century mystics had far too much time on their hands, and that the original method of drawing lines in the sand was far less complicated.

The Wikipedia article mentions that the term applies to any form of divination that involves interpreting handfuls of sand or stones tossed on the ground. If I'd only read that first I could have saved myself a lot of typing.

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