Forms of Divination - Past and Present

Divination in one form or another has been with us throughout the ages. Humankind has always strived to "see" the future.

Following is a selection of divinatory methods that have been and in some cases, are still being used by those who would be seers. As always, this is not meant to be a conclusive listing. We hope that this small offering will encourage you to do further research into this fascinating subject.

Abacomancy - This form of divination uses the patterns found in dust. Generally the ashes of the recently departed are used.

Aeromancy - Divining by observing natural phenomena, such as comets, falling stars, wind, clouds, rainbows and so forth.

Ailuromancy - This is divination by observing and forming readings from the movements of felines

Aleuromancy - The word is brought to us from the ancient Greeks, "aleuron" (flour) and "mantaia" (divination). It is an ancient method of divination that was thought to be presided over by the God "Apollo". On small pieces of paper, sentences were written. These were then rolled up into little balls of flour. After being thoroughly mixed nine times, they were handed out to the curious onlookers, who read them to determine their fate. A modern version of this method is the "fortune cookie".

Alectryomancy - Again the word is from the Greeks "alectruon" (cock) "manteia" (divination). This method was a favorite of the ancient Romans. First a circle was drawn with all of the letters of the alphabet inscribed around the rim of the circle. Then grain was poured around the rim of the circle, covering the letters. Next a hen or cock is released into the circle. This can be a black fowl or white fowl, depending on your beliefs. And then the letters that the fowl eats the grain from, are used for the reading. In the case of a yes or no answer, only two piles of grain are used. One pile for yes and the other for no.This method is used when the sun or moon is in Aries. A modern version of this method is the ouija board.

Alphitomancy - "alphitomantis" (using barley to divinate). Originally this started out as way to prove one's innocense or guilt. The person be accused was given a loaf made of barley under the assumption, that a guilty man could not swallow the bread. Whereas an innocent man could.

Amniomancy - A form of divination used primarily in the Victorian era in England and surrounding areas. The "caul"  (the membrane that occasionally covers the head of a newborn child) is read to determine the child's fortunes in life. If it is red colored, the child will be very fortunate, but if it is lead colored, the child will face ills and misfortunes.

Anthropomancy - This perverse method of divination is the reading of human entrails of a dead or dying person. Two noted Roman emperor's practiced this arcane art. One was Varius Avitus Bassanius (212 - 221 C.E.) He was first appointed as a priest of the sun God "Elagabal". Then at the age of 15, he became a Roman emperor. He, along with his mother was later put to death for their perversive acts.
The second was Flavius Claudius Julianus (332 - 363 C.E.) He was the half brother to Constatine the Great. And a well trained mystic in his own right.

Apantomancy - Divination by reading into a chance meeting with a bird, animal or any other object.

Arachomancy - Divination by observing the characteristics of a spider.

Arithomancy - "Arithmos" (number) "manteia" (divination).This form of divination is also known as "Numeromancy". It is based on the concept of "Pythagoras" (circa 530 B.C.E.) that the universe is mathematically constructed and can therefore be broken down into numbers. Primarily 1 through 9, plus 0. 

Ashagalomancy - Divination by casting small bones. Each bone has a assigned interpretation. Dice are also used in this method.

Cartomancy - Divination through the use of playing cards. Tarot is an example of this form.

Catoptromancy - Divining by catching the moon's rays in a mirror and reading the answers that appear on the image of the moon.

Cephalomancy - Divination using the head or skull of a goat.

Ceremancy -  Divining by observing the shapes taken by melted wax poured into a glass of water.

Chaomancy - The art of divination by observing cloud formations and on occsaion, a passing comet in the sky.

Crystalomancy - The art of crystal gazing. Using a crystal ball. While softly gazing ino the ball or crystal, soft mists will appear. And then these will give way to a vision or reading.

Daphnomancy - When burning laurel in the fireplace. And you hear a crackling sound, this represents good luck. But no sound represents no such luck.

Eromancy - This method of divination is done by interpreting the movement of air.

Entomancy - This is Augury. The method of divining by observing the movement of animals,. Or in this case, Insects.

Geomancy - Earth divination. Creating figures, by randomly poking marks in the ground with a pointed stick. These figures are then applied to the charts (Shield and House) and then a reading is done.

Gyromancy - In this method, a circle is formed. And then the outer edge of the circle is marked with the letters of the alphabet. The querent then spins around in the circle until extrememly disoriented. Whichever letter the queent sway or stumbled to, would be used in the interpretation of the question asked.

Halomancy - This covers the different mehtods of using salt to divinate. In some cases by random patterns. In anther case by throwing salt into a fire and so forth.

Hippomancy - This form of divination involves "augury". This is the interpretation on an animals movement. In this particular case, it would be horses.

Hydromancy - This divination form, involves observance and interpretation of water or rain.
Also known as "Lecanomancy".

I - Ching - This method is done by casting 50 yarrow sticks or three coins, six times. In order to make each line of a hexagram. Which is then interpreted according to the Book of Changes. Originaly this method was called "Turtle Oracle" It was developed from the verses penned by Fu Hsi (2953 - 2838 B.C.E.) I - Ching is considered to be an oracle type of divination.

Ichthyomancy - This divination involves doing a reading from fish entrails.

Libanomancy - Interpreting omens from smoke, for example, smoke from a camp fire.

Mechaeromancy - First make a small circle and line the outer edge with the letters of the alphabet. And then take a charged "Athame" and spin it around in the circle. Whichever letter is pointed at, is used in the reading.

Myomancy - This is a type of "Augury" or divination by observing the movements of animals. In this case it is mice or rats.

Myrmomancy - Another form of "Augury" or divining by the movements of animals. In this case it's ants.

Necromancy - This is divination by invoking the dead. Communicating with the dead.

Omphilomancy - This form of divination is done by interpreting the navel.

Oneiromancy - This divination represents omens that are drawn from the interpretation of dreams.

Ophiomancy - This is a form of Augury or divination done through observing the movements of a snake.

Ornithomancy - The Greeks favored this method. It is the divining of the flight of songbirds.

Pedomancy - This is a reading done on a person's footprint. Generally the person steps into a special clay.

Pegomancy - This is the art of tossing a stone into the water and then interpreting the rings that are created.

Phyllorhodomancy - The ancient Greeks would take the leaves from a rose and place them in their hands and slap them together. They would make a divination according to the sound given off.

Psychomancy-This is a method of interpretation by contacting and asking the spirits a question.

Pyromancy - There are different forms of divination that fall into this category, all involving the reading of omens from fire. One such method is when a fire is lit and it burns steady, it represents a positive omen. Or if it is hard to light or sputters and so forth, then it is a bad omen.

Scalpulomancy - The Babylonians would offer a sacrifice by burning. And then would do an interpretation on the burned shoulder blade. This was usually a sheep or goat.

Solmancy - This is divination by interpreting the rays of the sun.

Stichomancy - This form of divination is done by opening up a book and randomly picking out a passage, which is then used to interpret the answer to the question that was asked.

Theomancy - This is the art of consulting an oracle that is inhabited by deity.

Tasseomancy - This divination is done by reading tea leaves. After the querent has drank a cup of unfiltered tea, the leaves remaining in the bottom of the cup are then interpreted according to the shapes taken by the tea leaves.

Xylomancy - This method of divination involves interpreting the small dried pieces of wood that one found in their path while walking through the forest. This is a favorite method of the Slavic people.