Ancient Arts Divining

Types of Divination Index A-I


A method of divination using thirteen pins (10 straight and 3 bent). They are shaken in the hand and dropped on a surface sprinkled with powder. The patterns in the powder as well as the pins are read.


Air conditions, cloud formations and other atmospheric phenomena are observed for omens and prognostications. The Star of Bethlehem that herald the birth of Jesus is one such example and weather forecasting is another.

Today we have machines to do the observations i.e., barometer and computers. austromancy


This form of divination is similar to the Ouija board where messages are spelt out. In this form the cock is the planchette. He pecks at grains that are placed on a circle of letters and the message is spelt out by the grains consumed. As this is going on, the questioner chants an incantation.


A divination where answers to questions are rolled into balls of dough and cooked. The balls are mixed nine times then chosen at random. A modern day version would be the Chinese fortune cookie.


The prediction of the future based on a fox's paw prints.


The diviner interprets future events by throwing salt crystals and analyzing the patterns, either after it is thrown or as it is airborne.


This form of divination is used in determining guilt and innocence. Each "suspect" eats a barley-cake and the one who gets indigestion is the guilty party. To ensure success, there was a special recipe used to aid in the participants' indigestion. aelurmancy


The membrane that surrounds a newborn's head (caul) was used to determine the baby's future. If the color was red this indicated then good fortunes ahead but if the color was lead there was misfortune instead.

If the membrane was whole and intact, the child would not die by drowning. It is said that even seafarers would try to buy cauls to prevent against this fate.


An ancient form divination where the internal organs of sacrificed humans are interpreted. There are many recorded cases through out history and in most of these cases the victims were women and children.


This is the art of discovering or evaluating a person's character, desires and inclinations from studying their visible features. Similar to anthropometry, which is the study of actual physical measurements of the body's features.

The Italian criminologist, Cesare Lombroso claimed that certain craniofacial features could identify certain criminal types; i.e., murderers have prominent jaws. He based this on numerous measurement analysis of criminals.

Later, a French police officer named Eugene Vidocq took these findings and started the documentation of facial characteristics of criminals for identification purposes, which are still used today.


Divination is read from chance meetings with animals or objects. It is considered to be a bad omen for a black cat to cross your path. While in ancient Rome, it was a good omen for a she-goat to cross your path.


A divination using numerical values. Letters are converted into numeric value through various methods and then added. In ancient Greece, the combatant whose name had the greatest value was predicted to win in a fight.

The Kabbalah, which is the basis of many occult philosophies, is filled with numeric divination. numerology


Supposedly divination by inspecting shoulders.


A divination system of casting small bones each with a particular meaning. This method is considered the early form of dice divination where the numbers on the dice have corresponding letters.


A form of divination practiced in the Indies. A diviner sits on a shield that is in a designated circle and enters a trance while in this state he conjures the devil to reveal the answers.


Form of divination that uses dice marked with letters of the alphabet. The dice can be any shape or form. See an earlier form this called ashagalomancy.


The Astrampsychus is a Greek handbook containing charts and tables to aid in the translation and understanding of the oracles, which were messages from the Gods.


An extremely popular form of divination that uses the celestial bodies: the sun, moon, planets, and stars. In the Kabbalah this practice is called Monen. horoscopy


Augury is used as a synonym for divination but in ancient times it was a Greek-Roman divination where birds' flight patterns or singing were interpreted to foretell future events.

Some of these practices are still used today; for example, birds' migration patterns are good indicators of seasonal changes.


A type of aeromancy divination where predictions are made from wind's behavior. Many of these prophecies still live in our sayings today, "North winds blowing, which means cold is coming".


Divination is accomplished by means of a hatchet or ax. There are two known methods; both are for determining direction. (1) Direction for an item:

The ax head was heated and held perpendicular in the air. A round agate is place on the rim of the ax. If the agate remained, the item you were searching is lost and cannot be found. In the case where the agate rolled off the action was then repeated three times.

If the agate rolled in the same direction every time that was the direction where the item lay but if it didn't you had to look farther afield. (2) Direction for finding a person: An ax is cast into the ground so that the handle is perpendicular in the air.

Those involve in the search would dance around the ax until the handle fell to the ground. The handle pointed to the direction that the person took.


An ancient Babylonian practice where arrows are tossed in the air and as they fell the direction was determined. rhabdomancy


A popular divinatory method that is still used today. A book is chosen for the purpose often related to your question. The book is randomly opened and a finger is arbitrarily placed on the page. The sentence, passage or even picture is the prophecy or answer.

During the Middle Ages, to find out if someone was guilty of sorcery- they were weighed against the Church Bible. If the person outweighed the Bible (which was often the case) the person was guilty. rhasodomancy, stichomancy


This foretelling the future by observing the body's natural rhythms evolving the emotional, physical and intellectual phases.


This is the ability to perceive subterranean springs and currents by sensation and is supposedly named after Bleton of France. dowsing


This is a general term for divination using plants and herbs. One method is to use the leaves from a particular tree and throw them into the wind. alomancy


This is divination by interpreting the lungs of sacrificed animals


A term used for smoke and fume divination. The smoke that read is specifically produced for the purpose of the divination. For example, branches of vervain and briar, on which the questions have been carved, are burned. The smoke produced from this element indicates the answer.


A form of divination that uses a mirror. A mirror is placed so that it catches a reflection of another substance. Usually this is something that is hard to hold, for example moonbeams or water reflections.

Then the reflections in the mirror are interpreted. Mirror divination is similar to crystal gazing.


A method of telling someone's fortune by using a deck of cards. Although many decks can be used a specific one has developed over time called tarot.


A Persian divination using feet much like palmistry uses the hands. The size, shape and form of the entire foot are taken into consideration in addition to the lines.

This is still a serious science in India and Pakistan. Cartopedist are sought in matters of marriage, jobs and even solving crimes.


Divination derived from an object's behaviors when placed in fire. It is a good omen when something combustible doesn't ignite. Common items that have been used in this method are animals, humans, salt, leaves, sticks and incense.


The skull or head of a donkey or goat is used to perform divination. kephalonomancy


A sub-category of aeromancy divination that pertains mainly to air and in particular thunder and lightning. chaomancy


A divination using wax from candles. Wax is melted into liquid form then it was poured into a bowl containing cold water. The resulting shapes, which are usually circular, are then read. molybdomancy


A sub-category of aeromancy that interprets clouds and their shapes or figments in the air like comets.


All aspects of the hand are studied. The shape, form, lines, palms, finger and fingernails are interpreted. This is commonly known as palmistry.

It is said that a hand with square fingers and proportionately wide palm indicates a logical, pragmatic person who can be over-skeptical.


Divining by 'clacking' two stones together.


Form of ESP (extra sensory perception) where divinatory information is heard audible only to the person with this talent.


Form of ESP (extra sensory perception) where the divinatory information is seen. This is commonly known as second sight.


This divination dates back to the Greek and Roman days where omens of good and evil were ascertained from chance remarks that were spoken without premeditation.


A divination for interpreting guilt that uses the movements of a suspended key. There are various methods to this practice. One method is to take a house key and enclose it inside a Bible on the 50th Psalm.

The bible is then sealed shut and suspended on a nail. Guilt is established when Bible turns as the suspect's name is mentioned. dactyliomancy


A very ancient technique of divination of throwing lots using small objects like beans, stones,sticks, shells, dice, bones, or pottery shards. These objects are read either by inscriptions the may be on them or by the patterns they make. pessomancy


A Greek divination where a sieve, tong or shears are balance or suspended to determine guilt. The method was either to balance the "tool" on the thumb or middle fingernail of two individuals facing each other or to tie the "tool" on a thread and suspended it.

The suspect's names are spoken and when the guilty person's name was mentioned the item moved. It was also used to discover secret admirers.


This form of divination determines omens from food that has been offered in sacrificial rituals.


A form of divination where omens are read from onion sprouts. Besides omens, cromniomancy was used to make decisions between two alternatives.

A person would write the alternatives on two onions and plant them at the same time and under the same conditions. The first one to sprout was the "correct" answer or choice.


A mode of divination practiced since ancient times that uses objects or substances with a reflective surface such as crystals, water, ink, treacle and mirrors.

The purpose of reflective surface is to aid the diviner into a meditative state where the visions are received. In ancient times this practiced was aided by the invocation of spirits. hydromancy, captromancy, enoptromancy


Practice of divination where one consults a spinning object like a wheel or bottle. One form of consultation is direction. When at a crossroad, take a bottle and lay it horizontally on the ground and spin.

When it stops spinning, the neck of the bottle will point to the road where your destiny lies. The popular game, "spin the bottle", is based on this concept.


This is thought to be one of the earliest forms of radiesthesia. This divination uses a ring primarily as a pendulum. In another method, the ring is dropped into bowl of water and its position at the bottom determines the outcome.

The inside bottom of the bowl may contain a special pattern to aid in the prediction. A variation to this would be to suspend 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.


An ancient form of divination where laurel branches are burned. During the burning of the laurel, if crackling is heard this is a good sign but if it is absent the opposite is true. empyromancy


A divination that uses the aid of demons. Oracles are received from demons however this is considered unreliable because of its source is not to be trusted.


A specific form of botanomancy where either oak or mistletoe is used in the divination.


It is actually a mythical cup that existed in ancient Persia. It was believed to contain the elixir of immortality as well as the universe. When one looked inside it, the cup would reveal great truths.


An ancient form divination that is stilled used today. It uses a forked stick (or divining rod) to locate water or precious minerals; also known as water-witching.


Demon divination.


Smoke divination from burning laurel leaves. dappnomancy


Foretelling the health of a person by use of a mirror submerged in water.


Divination by examining the entrails of animals. hepatomancy, haruspicy, extispicy


A Persian divination that uses air and water. A vessel, filled with water, is exposed to the air (often by breath) while the diviner with a low voice chants his/her desire. If bubbles appeared on the surface of the water, it is a good sign that your desire will come to fruition.


It is a general term for the inspection of entrails, for the purpose of divination. It can be either animal or human. Disaster was indicated if the entrails were excessively bloody or they were a livid color. Should the priest drop the entrails, disaster was imminent.

The Romans would perform this divination in a ritual that consisted of four stages; first they would examine the sacrifice, then they would open it up and examine its entrails. The offering would then be put into the fire where the flames were examined as they burned the sacrifice and finally the food offerings were consumed.


The practice of observing birth defects both in animals and humans.


The application practiced in China concerning the placement of structures. The practice is based upon the belief that a structure should not be situated where it interferes with the flow of the earth's energies know as "dragon lines". This is accomplished by keeping the structures complementary.

For example, a (sharp) corner of one house should not face the (smooth) side of a neighboring house, if it does, the occupant of the neighboring house believes that a great misfortune will befall him. However, to destroy and rebuild a house is costly. The common solution is to place a magical icon of dragon or monster facing the threat to protect against the evil influence.


A modern form of pattern divination: in this case the structures of fractal geometric patterns are interpreted.


An ancient method of divination where a low guttural voice is heard but does not appear to come from the seer who is making them. Some speculate that the diviner throws his voice similar to ventriloquism. Within these guttural sounds the prophecy is revealed.


This divination analyzes a person's laughter to determine their character.


An ancient system where truths and meanings are hidden within words. Each letter of an alphabet corresponds to a number. Numerical values of words are totaled up and then these words are said to correspond with other words sharing the same numerical value.


This form of divination determines someone's future from the position of the stars and planets at the time of his/her birth. astrology


A system of divination that uses the earth's components to make patterns that are then deciphered. An individual will draw a vertical line intersected by three horizontal lines in the dirt; a set of 12 pebbles is then thrown on this pictograph.

The stones are then read in relation to the lines in the earth. The vertical line represents you and the three horizontal lines represent time.


A person's handwriting is analyzed to establish their character and personality traits. This practice dates back to ancient times, probably when writing was in its infancy. Aristotle went as far to say that he could define a person's soul from his handwriting.


A divination method that combines the planchette and cyclomancy. A person twirls around within a circle of letters and as the individual stumbles about and makes contact with the letters, the omen is spelt out.

The end of the message comes when the person falls. This method can be simplified further by leaving out the letters and just read the position that person fell in relation to a the circle.


A causimomancy method of fire divination that involves throwing salt into the flames. The resulting flames are then interpreted.


Haruspicy is the examination of the livers and entrails of sacrificed animals. See extispicy for details on the entrails' method and hepatoscopy for the liver.


A specific form of haruspicy divination where the liver of sacrificed animals is examined.

In Babylon this practice was very popular, so much so, that they had a specialized priest called a 'bara' to perform the service. The Babylonians thought the liver was a "vehicle" by which the gods revealed their intentions.


It is the overall term for divination involving sacrificed animals.


A divination that observes horse's movements and actions.


Astrological forecast of a person's future based on the aspect of the planet and stars either at a given moment, at birth or by his/her zodiac. genethlialogy


A specific form of hydromancy where rainwater is used.


A general term for divination methods that use water. The variations of hydromancy are as prolific as the substance itself. However they seem to fall into one of three categories.

The diviner will either examine the effect of water on matter, examine the water's action on it, or he/she uses the water's properties for scrying or gazing. crystalomancy, eromancy

I Ching

The I Ching or Book of Changes is an ancient Chinese system of divination. An oracle is cast by flipping coins or more traditionally yarrow stalks. The pattern is then compared to 64 hexagrams found in the I Ching, each with a special meaning.


Specific form of haruspicy where a fish's entrails and head are read for predications.

  • Who are You? 101 Ways of seeing Yourself —Malcolm Godwin
  • An Encyclopedia of Occultism Volumes I & II — edited by Melton J Gorden
  • The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft —Rosemary Ellen Guiley
  • Encyclopedia Britannica
  • A Wicked Pack of Cards —R. Decker, T. Depaulish and M. Dummett
  • Runelore: A handbook of E soteric Runology —Edred Thorsson
  • Biblioteca Arcana
  • The Mystica Online Encyclopedia —Alan G. Hefner
Divination Index J-R



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