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Divination

Divination

The method of obtaining knowledge of the unknown or the future by means of omens. Astrology and the utterances of oracles are usually regarded as branches of divination. The derivation of the word supposes a direct message from the gods to the diviner. Divination was practiced in all grades of primitive communities and civilizations. The methods are many and various, and, strangely enough, in their variety are confined to no one portion of the world.

Crystal gazing and such allied methods as shell hearing may be classed as divination that arises from the personal consciousness of the diviner. Of the same class is divination by dreams, automatic writing, and so forth. What might be called divination by "luck" is represented by the use of cards, the casting of lots, the use of knuckle bones as in Africa and elsewhere, or coconuts as in Polynesia. Haruspicy, or the inspection of entrails, divination by footprints in ashes, by the flight of birds, or by meeting with ominous animals, represents still a third class of divination.

The art of divination is usually practiced among primitive races by the shaman caste; among more sophisticated peoples by the professional divineras in Rome and ancient Mexico and even among modern civilized people by persons who claim the faculty of divination, such as the Spiritualist medium or the witch.

The art is undoubtedly of great antiquity. It was employed in ancient Egypt side by side with astrology, and divination by dreams was constantly resorted to, a class of priests being kept apart, whose office it was to interpret dreams and visions. Instances of dreams are recorded in the ancient Egyptian texts; for example those of Thothmes IV, king of Egypt in 1450 B.C.E., and Nut-Amen, king of the Eastern Soudan and Egypt about 670 B.C.E. The Egyptian magician usually set himself to procure dreams for his clients by such devices as the drawing of magic pictures and the reciting of magic words, and some of these are still extant. In Egypt, however, divination was usually effected by astrological methods.

In ancient China the principal method of divination was by means of the oracles, but such forms as the examination of the marks on the shell of a tortoise, are also found; they are similar to the examination of the back of a peccary by the Maya of Central America. Chinese monarchs consulted the fates in this manner in 1146 B.C.E. and found them unfavorable, but as in Egypt, most soothsaying was accomplished by means of astrology. Omens, however, were by no means ignored, and were given great prominence, as many tales in the ancient books testify.

In ancient Rome a distinct caste or college of priests called augurs was set apart to interpret the signs of approval or disapproval sent by the gods in reference to any coming event. This college probably consisted originally of but three members, of whom the king himself was one, and it was not until the time of Cæsar that the members were increased to 16. The college remained in existence as late as the fourth century, and its members held office for life.

A tenet of the Roman augurs was that for signs of the gods one must look toward the sky and glean knowledge of the intentions of the divine beings from such omens as the flash of lightning and the flight of birds.

On a windless night, the augur took up a position on a hill that afforded an extensive view. Marking out a space for himself, he pitched a tent, seated himself and covered his head, asked the gods for a sign, and waited for an answer. He faced southward, thus having the east (lucky) quarter on his left, and the west (unfavorable) portion of the sky on his right. He carefully observed every sign that came within the scope of his vision, such as lightning, the appearance of birds, and so forth. Birdsong was carefully listened to and divided into sounds of good or evil omen. The reading of omens was also effected by feeding the birds and observing the manner in which they ate. The course of animals and the sounds they made were also closely watched, and all unusual phenomena were regarded as omens or warnings. Sortilege, or the casting of lots, was often resorted to by the caste of augurs.

The election of magistrates was nearly always referred to the diviners, as was the dispatching of an army for war and the passing of laws.

In the East divination generally appears to have been effected by crystal gazing, dreams, and similar methods of self-hallucination or self-hypnotism. Divination flourished in Chaldea and Assyria among the Babylonians and Ethiopians, and appears to have been much the same as in Egypt. In the Jewish Talmud witches were said to divine by means of bread crumbs. Among the Arabs, the future was often foretold by means of the shapes seen in sand. The Burmese and Siamese pierced an egg at each end, and having blown the contents onto the ground, traced within them the outline of things to be. Divination by astrology too was common in oriental countries, as were the predictions of prophets.

It is remarkable that among the native races of America the arts of divination known to the peoples of the Old World were, and still are, used. These arts, as a rule, were the preserve of the medicine man and priestly class. In ancient Mexico there was a college of augurs like the auspices of ancient Rome; the members occupied themselves with observing the flight of birds and listening to their songs, from which they drew their conclusions. In Mexico, the Calmecac, or college of priests, had a department where divination was taught in all its branches, but there were many ex officio prophets and augurs.

In Peru, still other classes of diviners predicted by means of the leaves of tobacco, or the grains or juice of coca, the shapes of grains of maize, taken at random, the forms assumed by the smoke rising from burning victims, the viscera of animals, the course taken by spiders, and the direction in which fruits might fall. The professors of these methods were distinguished by different ranks and titles, and their training was long and arduous.

The American tribes as a whole were keen observers of bird life. Strangely enough the bird and serpent are combined in their symbolism and in the names of several of their principal deities. The bird appeared to the American primitive as a spirit, in all probability under the spell of some potent enchantera spell that might be broken only by some great sorcerer or medicine man.

As among the ancient Romans, the birds of America were divided into those of good and evil omen, and certain Brazilian tribes apparently thought the souls of dead Indians entered into the bodies of birds. The shamans of certain tribes of Paraguay acted as go-betweens for the members of their tribes and such birds as they imagined enshrined the souls of their departed relatives. This usage would appear to combine the acts of divination and necromancy.

The priesthood of Peru practiced oracular methods by "making idols speak," and this they probably accomplished through ventriloquial arts. The piagés or priests of the Uapés of Brazil had a contrivance known to them as the paxiuba, which consisted of a tree trunk about the height of a man, on which the branches and leaves had been left. Holes were bored in the trunk beneath the foliage, and when the priests spoke through these the leaves trembled and the sound was interpreted as a message from Jurupari, one of their principal deities.

But all over the American continent, from the land of Eskimos to that of the Patagonians, the methods of oracular divination were practically identical. The shaman, or medicine man, raised a tent or hut that he entered, carefully closing the aperture after him. He then proceeded to make his incantations, and in a little while the entire lodge trembled and rocked; the poles bent to a breaking point, as if a dozen strong men were straining at them, and the most violent noise came from within, seeming first to emanate from the depths of the earth, next from the air above, and then from the vicinity of the hut itself.

The reason for this disturbance has never been properly explained, and medicine men who were converted to Christianity assured workers among the Native American tribes that they had not the least idea of what occurred during the time they occupied these enchanted lodges, for they were plunged into a deep sleep. After the supernatural sounds had to some extent faded away, the medicine man proceeded to question the spirit he had evoked. The answers were generally ambiguous, like those of the Pythonesses of ancient Greece.

Divination by hypnosis was well known in America. Jonathan Carver, who traveled among the Sioux about the latter part of the eighteenth century, mentioned it was used among them. The Ghost Dance religion of the Native Americans of Nevada had for one of its tenets the belief in hypnotic communion with the dead.

Divination by means of dreams and visions was extremely common in both subcontinents of the Western Hemisphere, as exemplified by the derivation of the word priest in the native languages. The Algonquians called them"dreamers of the gods;" the Maya, "listeners," and so forth. The ability to see visions was usually quickened by the use of drugs or the swallowing or inhalation of cerebral intoxicants, such as tobacco, maguey, coca, the snake plant, and others. Indeed many Native American tribes, such as the Creeks, possessed numerous plants that they cultivated for this purpose. A large number of instances are on record in which Native American medicine men were said to have divined the future in a most striking manner.

For example, in his autobiography, Black Hawk, a celebrated Sac chief, related that his grandfather had a strong belief that in four years' time "he should see a white man, who would be to him as a father." Supernaturally directed, he traveled eastward to a certain spot, and there, as he had been informed in dreams, met with a Frenchman who concluded an alliance between France and the Sac nation. Coincidence is certainly possible in this case, but not in the circumstances of Jonathan Carver. While was dwelling with the Killistenoes they were threatened with a famine, and their very existence depended on the arrival of certain traders, who brought them food in exchange for skins and other goods. The diviners of the tribe were consequently consulted by the chief, and announced that the next day, at high noon exactly, a canoe would make its appearance with news of the anxiously awaited expedition. The entire population came down to the beach in order to witness its arrival, accompanied by the incredulous Carver, and, to his intense surprise, at the very moment forecast by the shamans a canoe rounded a distant headland, and, paddling speedily shorewards, the navigators brought the patient Killistenoes news of the expedition they expected.

John Mason Brown recorded an equally singular instance of the prophetic gift of an American medicine man (see Atlantic Monthly, July 1866). Difficulties experienced while searching for a band of Native Americans the Mackenzie and Copper-mine rivers had forced the majority of Brown's band to return home, until out of ten men who originally set out only three remained. They had almost decided to abandon their search when they stumbled upon a party of braves of the tribe they sought. These men had been sent out by their medicine man to find three white men. The shaman had given them an exhaustive account of the men's horses, equipment, and general appearance before they set out, and this the warriors related to Brown before they saw his companions. Brown asked the medicine man how he had been able to foretell their coming. The shaman, who appeared to be "a frank and simple-minded man," could only explain that "he saw them coming, and heard them talk on their journey."

Crystal gazing was in common use among many Native American tribes. The Aztecs of Mexico used to gaze into small polished pieces of sandstone, and a case is on record in which a Cherokee Indian kept a divining crystal wrapped in buckskin in a cave, occasionally "feeding" it by rubbing over it the blood of a deer. At a village in Guatemala, the traveler John L. Stephens saw a remarkable stone that had been placed on the altar of a temple, but that had previously been used as a divining stone by the Indians of the village.

Divination by arrow was also common. According to Fuentes y Guzmán, the chronicler of Guatemala, the reigning king of Kiche, Kicah Tanub, when informed by the ambassador of Montezuma II that a race of irresistible white men had conquered Mexico and were proceeding to Guatemala, sent for four diviners, whom he commanded foretell the result of the invasion. Taking their bows they discharged some arrows against a rock. They returned to inform their master that, because no impression had been made upon the rock by the arrowheads, they foresaw the worst and predicted the ultimate triumph of the white manan incident that shows that the class to which they belonged stood in no fear of royalty. Kicah Tanub, dissatisfied, sent for the "priests," obviously a different class of diviners, and requested their opinions. From the omen of an ancient stone (brought from afar by their forefathers) having been broken, they also foretold the fall of the Kiche empire.

Many objects such as small clay birds, boats, or boat-shaped vessels, have been discovered in sepulchral mounds in North America, and it is conjectured that these may have been used for purposes of divination.

Portents, too, were implicitly believed in by the American races. Nezahualpilli, king of Tezcuco, near Mexico, was accomplished in this type of divination. Montezuma consulted him concerning the terrible prodigies that startled his people before the advance of the Spaniards upon his kingdom, and that were supposed to predict the return of Quetzalcoatl, the legendary culture-hero of Anahuac, to his people. These included earthquakes, tempests, floods, and the appearance of comets and strange lights while mysterious voices were heard in the air.

Divination has persisted in modern civilizations. Perhaps one of the most remarkable diviners was Nostradamus (Michael de Nostradame, 1503-66) who published hundreds of prophecies in enigmatic verses. Many believe these prophecies refer to events that have occurred through the centuries and that some will be fulfilled in the near future. The seventeenth-century astrologer William Lilly predicted the Great Plague of London in 1665 and the Great Fire in the following year.

In addition to such gifted individuals who seemed to be able to discern future events through signs and visions, there are also popular techniques by which ordinary people believe they can gain knowledge of the hidden present or future. As well as the popular practice of astrology, there are many fortune-telling systems such as dream interpretation, palmistry, and the tarot cards. Many such systems were successfully revived in the occult boom of the 1960s. Perhaps one of the most interesting revivals was that of the ancient Chinese system of the I Ching, where divination of present and future events is associated with a deeper philosophy of the function of destiny in human affairs.

Psychical researchers have recorded many cases of spontaneous prevision of future events, although there is as yet no satisfactory explanation for such phenomena involving clairvoyance, telepathy, or dreams.

Dowsing, or water-witching, is another form of divination, although it relates mainly to the discovery of hidden water, metals, or other information. The use of a twig or rod by the operator is reminiscent of the magic wand or the tripod of occult magicians in the practice of necromancy. It also seems related to the rationale of table turning, planchette and Ouija board in Spiritualism. Divination proper, however, is a system of interpreting hidden knowledge rather than eliciting information through the intervention of spirits. One development of dowsing of special interest is the art of radiesthesia, where pendulums are used instead of a dowsing rod, for the purpose of eliciting a wider range of information, such as ascertaining states of health or disease, prescribing remedies, tracing missing persons, or even divining distant events.

Some of the seventy or so most well defined systems of divination such as axinomancy, belomancy, and capnomancy are the subject of separate entries in this encyclopedia, as are such specialized related studies as astrology, crystal gazing, and palmistry.

Popular interest in divination continues to flourish in modern times and even to increase with the uncertainties and anxieties of economic and political life. Gypsies are still reputed to have hereditary talents for fortune-telling.

National newspapers carry daily astrological indications, and the use of tarot cards is widespread, but the art of divination still seems to require some basic or developed talent that no mechanistic system can entirely dispense with. A pertinent statement is that of the psychical researcher Count Cesar de Vesme: "Any system is good for the man gifted with super-normal powers, and any system is bad for the man not so gifted."

Sources:

Aylesworth, Thomas. Astrology and Foretelling the Future; A Concise Guide. Danbury, CT: Watts, 1973.

Barrett, Sir William, and Theodore Besterman. The Divining Rod: An Experimental and Psychological Investigation. London, 1926. Reprint, New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1926.

Besterman, Theodore. Crystal Gazing. London, 1924. Re-print, New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1965.

Black Hawk. Autobiography. St. Louis, Mo., 1882.

Bouche-Leclerq, Auguste. Histoire de la Divination dans l'Antiquite. 4 vols. Reprint, New York: Arno Press, 1975.

Collins, Rodney. The Theory of Celestial Influence. London: Stuart & Watkins, 1955.

Connor, W. R. Roman Augury and Etruscan Divination. New York: Arno Press, 1976.

Deutch, Yvonne, ed., and F. Strachan, comp. Fortune Tellers. London, 1976. Reprint, New York: Black Watch, 1974.

Ebon, Martin. Prophecy in Our Time. New York: New American Library, 1969. Reprint, London: Alhambra, 1971.

Freedland, Nat. The Occult Explosion. New York: G. Putnam's Sons, 1972.

Gibson, W. B., and L. K. Gibson. The Complete Illustrated Book of Divination and Prophecy. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1973. Reprint, London: Souvenir Press, 1974.

Grand Orient [A. E. Waite]. Complete Manual of Occult Divination. 2 vols. Reprint, New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1972.

Halliday, W. R. Greek Divination: A Study of Methods and Principles. London: Macmillan, 1913.

Hill, Douglas. Fortune Telling. London: Hamlyn, 1972.

Jahoda, G. The Psychology of Superstition. London, 1969. Re-print, Baltimore, Md: Penguin, 1971.

Kao, James. Chinese Divination. Smithtown, N.Y.: Exposition Press, 1980.

Legge, James, trans. I Ching; Book of Changes. 1899. Reprint, New York: Dover Publications, 1963.

Manas, John H. Divination: Ancient and Modern. New York: Pythagoran Society, 1947.

McIntosh, Christopher. The Astrologers and Their Creed. London: Hutchinson, 1969. Reprint, New York: Praeger, 1970.

Miall, A. M. Complete Fortune Telling. Greenberg, 1950. Re-print, Hackensack, N.J.: Wehman, 1962.

Rakoczi, Basil Ivan. Foreseeing the Future. New York: Harper & Row, 1973.

Saltmarsh, H. F. Foreknowledge. London: G. Bell, 1938.

Schoenholtz, Larry. New Directions in the I Ching. New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1975.

Waite, Arthur Edward. The Occult Sciences. 1891. Reprint, Se-caucus, N.J.: University Books, 1974.

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Divination

124. Divination

See also 24. ASTROLOGY ; 174. FUTURE ; 252. MAGIC .

aeromancy
1 . the art or science of divination by means of the air or winds.
2 . Humorous. weather forecasting. Cf. austromancy .
alectoromancy, alectryomancy
a form of divination by recording the letters revealed as a cock eats kernels of corn that cover them.
aleuromancy
an old form of divination using meal or flour. aleuromantic , adj.
alomancy
halomancy.
alphitomancy
a form of divination involving the examination of barley.
ambulomancy
a form of divination involving walking, usually in circles. Cf. gyromancy .
amniomancy
a form of divination by examining the embryonic sac or amniotic fluid.
anthracomancy
the art of divination through the study of burning coals. anthracomantic , adj.
anthropomancy
a form of divination using the entrails of dead men. anthropomantist , n. anthropomantic , adj.
arithmancy
numerology.
armomancy
a form of divination involving the shoulders of animals. Cf. spatulamancy .
aspidomancy
a form of divination involving examination of a shield.
astragalomancy
a form of divination involving dice or knuckle-bones, in which letters are marked on the faces of the dice and the future is foretold from the words formed as the dice fall. Also called cleromancy .
astrology
a form of divination involving the relative positions of heavenly bodies. Also called genethlialogy, genethliacs .
astromancy
divination by observation of the stars. Also called sideromancy .
augury
1 . the art of f oretelling the future by means of signs, originally by the flight of birds; divination.
2 . an omen or portent from which the future is foretold. augur , n. augurial , adj. augurous , adj.
austromancy
divination by observing the winds, especially the south wind. Cf. aeromancy .
axinomancy
a form of divination involving the use of an axhead. axinomantic , adj.
belomancy
divination in which marks or words are placed on arrows which are then drawn from a quiver at random.
bibliomancy
a form of divination using books or the Bible in which passages are chosen at random and the future foretold from them.
botanomancy
a form of divination involving the examination of plants.
capnomancy
a form of divination involving smoke.
cartomancy
a form of divination involving playing cards.
catoptromancy
a form of divination involving a crystal ball or mirrors.
cephalomancy
a form of divination involving the head.
ceraunomancy
a form of divination involving thunder or thunderbolts.
ceromancy
a form of divination involving dropping melted wax into water.
chalcomancy
a form of divination involving brass vessels.
chaomancy
a form of divination involving aerial visions.
chiromancy, cheiromancy
palmistry.
chronomancy
a divination to determine the precise time for action.
cleidomancy, clidomancy
a form of divination involving a key or keys.
cleromancy
astragalomancy.
coscinomancy
a form of divination involving a sieve and shears. coscinomantic , adj.
crithomancy
a form of divination involving the strewing of grain over the bodies of sacrificed animals. crithomantic , adj.
crystallomancy
a form of divination involving crystal-gazing.
cubomancy
Rare. a form of divination involving thrown dice. cubomantic , adj.
dactyliomancy
a form of divination involving finger rings.
demonomancy
a form of divination involving a demon or demons.
empyromancy
a form of divination involving a fire and smoke.
enoptromancy
a form of divination involving a mirror and its reflections.
extispicy
haruspicy. extispex , n. extispicious , adj.
gastromancy
1 . a form of divination involving listening to stomach sounds.
2 . a form of divination by gazing into a crystal ball or a glass full of water. Cf. crystallomancy . Also called crystal-gazing . gastromantic , adj.
geloscopy, gelotoscopy
a form of divination that determines a persons character or future from the way he laughs.
genethlialogy, genethliacs
astrology.
geomancy
a form of divination that analyzes the pattern of a handful of earth thrown down at random or of dots made at random on paper. geomancer , n.
graphology
1 . a form of divination involving analysis of handwriting. Also graptomancy .
2 . a technique of personality analysis involving the examination of handwriting.
graptomancy
graphology def. 1.
gyromancy
a form of divination involving walking in a circle. Cf. ambulomancy .
halomancy
a form of divination involving the use of salt. Also called alomancy .
hariolation
the act or art of prognostication or divination; soothsaying.
haruspicy, haruspication
a form of divination from lightning and other natural phenomena, but especially from inspection of the entrails of animal sacrifices. Also called extispicy . haruspex , n. haruspical , adj.
hematomancy, haematomancy
divination by means of blood.
hieromancy
a form of divination involving sacrificial remains or sacred objects. Also called hieroscopy .
hippomancy
a form of divination involving the observation of horses, especially by listening to their neighing.
horoscopy
1 . the art of casting horoscopes or divinations based upon the relative positions of heavenly bodies.
2 . the position of the sun and stars at the time of a persons birth. horoscoper, horoscopist , n.
hydromancy
a form of divination involving observations of water or of other liquids.
ichnomancy
the analysis of the personality and appearance of people by studying their footprints. ichnomantic , adj.
ichthyomancy
a form of divination involving the head or entrails of fishes.
idolomancy
a form of divination involving idols.
lampadomancy
a form of divination involving observation of the flame of a torch or lamp. Cf. lychnomancy .
lecanomancy
a form of divination involving the examination of water in a basin.
lithomancy
a form of divination involving rocks or stones.
logarithmomancy
a form of divination involving logarithms.
logomancy
a form of divination involving the observation of words and discourse.
lychnomancy
a form of divination involving lamps. Cf. lampadomancy .
manticism
the art of divination and prophecy. mantic , adj.
mantology
Obsolete, the art of fortune-telling. mantologist , n.
margaritomancy
a form of divination involving the examination of pearls.
meteoromancy
a form of divination involving the observation of meteors.
metopomancy
Rare. a form of divination involving examination of facial features.
molybdomancy
Rare. a form of divination by studying the motion of molten lead.
moromancy
a form of divination that is flawed or foolish.
myomancy
a form of divination through observation of the movements of mice.
necromancy
1 . the magic practiced by a witch or sorcerer.
2 . a form of divination through communication with the dead. Also called nigromancy . necromancer, necromant, nigromancien , n. necromantie , adj.
nephelognosy
divination by the observation of clouds.
nomancy
a form of divination involving the examination of letters, possibly from a graphological point of view. Cf. onomancy .
numerology
a form of divination involving numbers. Also called arithmancy .
oenomancy, oinomancy
a form of divination involving observation of the colors and other features of wine.
omoplatoscopy
a form of divination involving the examination of shoulder blades. Cf. armomancy, scapulomancy, spatulamancy .
omphalomancy
a form of divination in which the number of knots in a new-borns umbilical cord are counted to foretell the number of children the mother will have later.
oneiromancy
a form of divination involving dreams. oneiromancer , n.
onomancy, onomomancy
a form of divination involving the letters of a name. Cf. nomancy .
onychomancy
a form of divination involving examination of the fingernails.
oomancy
a form of divination involving eggs.
ophiomancy
a form of divination involving snakes.
ornithomancy, ornithoscopy
a form of divination involving the observation of birds, especially in flight.
osteomancy, osteomanty
divination by the examination of bones. osteomantic , adj.
palmistry
a form of divination involving analysis of the appearance of the hand, especially of its various lines. Also called chiromancy, cheiromancy .
pedomancy
a form of divination involving the study of the soles of the feet. Also called podomancy .
pegomancy
a form of divination by studying springs or fountains. pegomantic , adj.
pessomancy
a form of divination involving pebbles. Also called psephology, psephomancy .
phyllomancy
a form of divination involving the examination of leaves.
podomancy
pedomancy.
psephology
pessomancy.
psephomancy
1 . pessomancy
2 . a form of divination involving the study of marks made on pebbles which are drawn at random from a container.
pseudomancy
a form of divination that is deliberately false or misleading.
psychomancy
a form of divination involving communication with the spirits of the dead.
pyromancy
a form of divination involving fire or flames.
pythonism
a form of divination in the manner of Pythia, the Delphic priestess.
rhabdomancy
a form of divination involving a rod or wand, especially to locate objects or materials beneath the ground, as water or precious metals; dowsing.
rhapsodomancy
a form of divination involving verses.
scapulomancy
a form of divination in which a shoulder blade is heated in a fire and the resulting cracks in the bone are consulted for omens. Cf. armomancy, omoplatoscopy, spatulamancy . scapulomantic , adj.
scatomancy
a form of divination by examination of excrement.
schematomancy
divination of a persons future from observation of physical appearance.
sciomancy
a form of divination through communication with the spirits of the dead. sciomantic , adj.
scyphomancy
a form of divination involving the use of a cup.
selenomancy
a form of divination involving observation of the moon.
sibyl
Ancient Greece and Rome. a woman with oracular or prophetic powers, the most celebrated being that of Cumae. sibyllic , sibylic, sibylline , adj.
sibyllist
1 . a believer in or follower of the sibyls.
2 . a believer in their prophecies.
sideromancy
1 . astrom ancy.
2 . a form of divination involving observation of the sparks, shapes formed, etc., when straws are burnt against a red-hot iron.
sortilege
a form of divination involving drawing lots.
spasmatomancy
a form of divination used to foretell disease by observing spasms or twitching of the potential sufferers body.
spatilomancy, spatalamancy
a form of divination involving the examination of animal feces.
spatulamancy
a form of divination by means of an animals shoulder blade. Cf. armomancy, omoplatoscopy, scapuloniancy . spatulamantic , adj.
spodomancy
a form of divination through the uses of ashes. spodomantic , adj.
sternomancy
a form of divination involving examination of the breastbone.
stichomancy
a form of divination involving lines of poetry or passages from books.
stignomancy
a form of divination involving the examination of writing on or carving in the bark of a tree.
sycomancy
a form of divination involving figs or fig leaves.
telegnosis
clairvoyance or other occult or supernatural knowledge.
tephramancy, tephromancy
a form of divination involving the examination of the ashes remaining af ter a sacrifice.
theomancy
a form of divination involving the responses of oracles or other soothsayers.
theriomancy
1 . a form of divination involving wild beasts.
2 . a form of divination based upon observation of the movements of animals. Cf. zoomancy .
tyromancy
a form of divination involving observation of cheese, especially as it coagulates.
uromancy
Rare. a form of divination by studying urine. uromantic , adj.
xylomancy
a form of divination involving pieces of wood.
zoomancy
a form of divination based upon the observation of animals or their movements under certain circumstances. Cf. theriomancy .

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divination

divination, practice of foreseeing future events or obtaining secret knowledge through communication with divine sources and through omens, oracles, signs, and portents. It is based on the belief in revelations offered to humans by the gods and in extrarational forms of knowledge; it attempts to make known those things that neither reason nor science can discover. It is known that divination by means of crack patterns in shells was practiced in China as early as the 2d cent. BC In the West, before divination spread throughout the Greco-Roman world, various branches of the practice as used by the Chaldaeans were considered superior to all the sciences. Among those branches the most significant were the study of the flight of birds, the study of water and water patterns, the study of the entrails of sacrificial animals (haruspication), and the inspection of animals' shoulder blades (scapulimancy). The Greeks placed their greatest trust in the wisdom of the oracle. Divination was essential to all the religions of classical antiquity; no state and hardly any individual would have dared undertake a significant action without first consulting the gods. Divination persists to the present day in crystal gazing, palmistry, fortune-telling, and astrology.

See W. R. Halliday, Greek Divination (1913, repr. 1967); W. B. and L. R. Gibson, The Complete Illustrated Book of Divination and Prophecy (1973).

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Divination

Divination. The art or skill of divining (sc., by use of ‘divinity’ or deity) that which is unknown—e.g. the future, the identity of culprits, lost items, the best partner for marriage, etc. Divination may be entirely divorced from the gods, and usually is undertaken by recognized and designated specialists who use mechanical means or manipulative techniques. J. Collins (Primitive Religion, 1978) attempted a classification of ten methods: (i) by dreams; (ii) by presentiments; (iii) by body actions; (iv) by ordeals; (v) by possession; (vi) by necromancy; (vii) by animals or parts of dead animals; (viii) by mechanical means, using objects; (ix) by patterns in nature; and (x) by observing other patterns, e.g. that death always comes in threes.

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"Divination." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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divination

div·i·na·tion / ˌdivəˈnāshən/ • n. the practice of seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown by supernatural means. DERIVATIVES: di·vin·a·to·ry / diˈvinəˌtôrē/ adj.

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"divination." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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divination

divination Divination is an act which tries to foretell the future or discover the origin of a situation—usually of a calamity or illness. It does this through the consultation of an oracle or deity by a religious specialist, the diviner.

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"divination." A Dictionary of Sociology. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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divination

divination Foretelling the future by interpreting various signs. Divination is a form of magic with worldwide distribution. Omens are often thought to be found in cards, palms, or the entrails of sacrificed animals.

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"divination." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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