Fluid | Fixed

Divination Index A-I

This index is to be considered as a rough-guide only, and it is no way definitive. The asterisks point to incomplete or suspect information needing further investigation. Spelling variations are listed with the term and related examples with the definition.

Majority of the terms are compound words with the suffix —(o)mancy from the Greek —manteia meaning prophecy which in turn comes from —mantis meaning prophet.
This method of divination uses thirteen pins (10 straight and 3 bent) as its medium. 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 heralded the birth of Jesus is one such example and weather forecasting is another. Today we have machines to do the weather observations e.g. barometer and computers. -austromancy
This form of divination is similar to the Ouija board where messages are spelled out. In this setup the rooster is the planchette. He pecks at grains that are placed on a circle of letters and the grains consumed spell out the message. As this is going on, the questioner chants an incantation.
In this divination the answers to questions are rolled into balls of dough and cooked. The balls are mixed nine times then chosen at random. A popular adaptation would be the Chinese fortune cookie.
Using fox paw prints to predict the future.
The diviner interprets future events by throwing salt crystals and analyzing the patterns, either after crystals have fallen or, as they're airborne.
This form of divination is used in judging guilt and innocence. Each "suspect" eats a barley-cake and the one who gets indigestion is the guilty party. To ensure success usually a guilty verdict, there was a special recipe used to aid in the participants' indigestion. -aelurmancy
The membrane that surrounds a newborn's head (caul) decides 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 membranes were whole and intact, the children 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 throughout history and in most of these cases the victims were women and children. -splanchomancy
This is the art of discovering or evaluating a person's character, desires and inclinations from studying their visible features. Similar to anthropometrics, this is the study of physical measurements of body features. The Italian criminologist, Cesare Lombroso claimed that certain craniofacial features could identify certain criminal types; for example murderers have prominent jaws. He based this on numerous measurements and analysis of criminals. Later, a French police officer named Eugene Vidocq took these findings and started documenting facial characteristics of criminals for identification purposes, which are still used today
Divination is read from chance meetings with animals or objects. In some cultures, it is considered a bad omen for a black cat to cross your path; and in ancient Rome, it was a good omen for a she-goat to cross your path.
A divinatory technique using numerical values assigned to lettering. 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
Predictions gained from inspecting shoulder blades and shoulders, usually on animals. There are some cultural stereotypical myths that imply armomancy. Broad and squared shoulders show strength and power, suggesting the ability to "shoulder responsibility". Oppositely, sloping and narrow shoulders is a sign of weakness and untrustworthiness.
A divination 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 matching letters.
A little known method of divination practiced by Indian shamans. The diviner sits or kneels on a shield, which is inside a drawn circle. The diviner enters a trance and while in this state he or she conjures up the devil to reveal the answer or advice. In Pierre De Lancre accounting of this practice, he refers to the source as the devil but considering he was a 16th century witch-hunter, in all probability this was not true. It was more likely the source was a spirit from the spirit world.
Form of divination that uses dice marked with letters of the alphabet. Traditionally the dice was made from small bones but modern day dice can be any material, shape or form. See an earlier form of 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 form of astragalomancy using joint bones like the knucklebones and anklebone from sheep and goats.
A form of aeromancy divination, austromancy uses the wind's behavior in predicting. Many of these prophecies are still found in our sayings today; "North winds blowing, which means cold is coming".
This is divination with a hatchet or ax, of which there are two known methods and both are for finding out direction. Direction for an item: The ax head is heated and held upright in the air. A round agate is placed on the rim of the ax. If the agate remained, the item you were searching for could not be found. When the agate rolled off, the action was repeated three times. If the agate rolled in the same direction every time this was the bearing for the item, but if it wasn't consistent you had to look farther afield. Direction for finding a person: An ax is cast into the ground so the handle is perpendicular in the air. Those involve in the search would dance around the ax until the handle fell over on the ground. The handle pointed in the direction 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 diviner randomly opens and arbitrarily places his or her finger on the page. The sentence, passage or even picture the finger points too is the prophecy or answer. Another use for bibliomancy is determination of guilty. During the Middle Ages, suspected witches were weighed against the Church's Bible. If the person outweighed the Bible (which was often the case) the person was guilty. -rhasodomancy, stichomancy
A modern divination where predictions and plans are made based on a person's biorhythm. The biorhythm is the body's natural rhythms and cycles, which starts at birth. It involves four known phases: physical emotional, intellectual and intuitional. By charting these phases, you can predict when it is the best time for a particular task.
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 way is to use the leaves from a particular tree and write messages on them, then throw them into the wind to point to the future actions. Another variation involves burning of leaves, branches or herbs; the resulting fire and smoke contains the omens. -alomancy
This is divination by interpreting the lungs of sacrificed animals
An early Greek divination using smoke's intensity as well as its ascent and motion to predict omens. The smoke is specifically produced for the divination using various burning agents, like incense, plants, or sacrifice. If the smoke is thin and rises vertically, it is a good omen.
Divinations by means of a reflection, often with a mirror but other items are used as well. A mirror is placed so it catches a reflection of another substance. Usually this is something that is hard to hold, for example moonbeams or water reflections. The captured reflections in the mirror are interpreted. The Greek Pausaias said that this method of divination was used among the Achaeans to foretell the health of a person by a mirror immersed in water. There is a later medieval method that uses a phial and candle to divine theft. A young maiden approaches a phial of holy water, with a lit candle of sanctified wax, chanting, "Angelo bianco, angelo santo, per la tua santita et per le mia virginita mostra mi, che ha tolto tal cosa." The thief's image would appear on the glass vial. [1] -crystal gazing, enoptomancy
A method of divining still practiced today using card decks. Although many decks have been used since their inception, a specialized one has evolved especially for fortune-telling called -tarot.
A Persian divination using feet much like palmistry uses the hands. The size, shape and form of the entire foot are considered as well as the foot lines when forming a reading. 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
This is a subcategory of aeromancy that applies mainly to air and in particular thunder and lightning. -chaomancy
A divination using wax from candles; the seer melts the wax into a liquid then pours into a bowl containing cold water. The resulting shapes are read -molybdomancy
A subcategory of aeromancy, the diviner interprets clouds and their shapes or other anomalies like comets.
The study of the hand for prediction, the shape, form, lines, palms, finger and fingernails are all used to create a reading. This is commonly known as palmistry. For example, a person with square fingers and proportionately wide palm suggests a logical, pragmatic person who can be overskeptical.
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 from the Greek and Roman days where omens of good and evil were prophesized from chance remarks spoken without premeditation. This is comparable today to the Freudian slip, parapraxia, or what everybody calls the slip-of-the-tongue.
This refers to divinations that use keys in their foretelling. There are various ways to do this. One method is to take a house key and enclose it inside a Bible on the 50th Psalm. The bible is sealed shut and suspended on a nail. Guilt is proved when Bible rotates 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. This is also known as sortilege. -pessomancy
A Greek divination where a sieve, tong or shears are balanced or suspended to decide guilt. The practice is either to balance the "tool" on the thumb or middle fingernail of two facing individuals, or to tie the "tool" on a thread and suspend it. The suspect's names are spoken and when the guilty person's name is mentioned the item moves. It is also used to discover secret admirers. -cleidomancy
This form of divination prophesizing omens from cakes, made from meal or grain often scattered over sacrificial victims. What is read is the spread pattern.
In this divination omens are read from onion sprouts. Besides omens, cromniomancy was used to decide between two alternatives. A person would write the alternatives on two onions then 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 use objects or substances with a reflective surface such as crystals, water, ink, treacle and mirrors. The purpose of reflective surface is to aid diviners into a meditative state where they receive visions. In ancient times this practiced was aided by invoking spirits. -hydromancy, captromancy, enoptromancy
The divination practice where one consults a spinning object like a wheel or bottle for answers. One type 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 idea.
This is thought to be one of the earliest forms of radiesthesia. This divination uses a ring primarily as a pendulum. Although, in one method, the ring is dropped into bowl of water and its position at the bottom decides the outcome. The inside bottom of the bowl may contain a special pattern to aid in the prediction. A variation of this would be to suspend a ring by a thread in a vessel filled with water and shake; the amount of times the ring hits the vessel's wall determines the prediction.
Divination by burning laurel branches for sound. During the burning of the laurel, if crackling is heard this is a good sign but if the sound is absent the opposite is true. -empyromancy -empyromancy
A divination aided by demons. Oracles are received from demons but they are considered unreliable because the source is not to be trusted. The problem is in recognizing the demons from other benevolent spirits. Some sources link necyomancy to demonomancy, but this is a mistake. It is clearly connected to necromancy. The confusion comes from earlier translations of the word ‘devil' that had a simpler meaning of a dead person's spirit or ghost instead of the Christian Devil. [2]
This is a specific form of botanomancy where either oak or mistletoe is used in the divination.
It is 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.
Ancient Greek divination by observing the fire and smoke of burned sacrifices.
Enoptomancy is a specific form of catoptromancy that use mirrors for its divination.
Predicting through the appearance and behaviors of insects. There are many superstitions and popular folklore about bug and insects. For example, crickets bring luck to a house and take it away when they leave, and when they sing they forecasts coming rain. In Edgar Allen Poe's The Telltale Heart, the sound that the deathwatch beetle makes as it 'taps' it mating call is used to predict imminent death of a household member.
see extispicy [4]
This is probably the pronunciation durative of aeromancy. Clifford Pickover lists it in his book as 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 or her wish. If bubbles appeared on the surface of the water, it is a good sign that your wish will come to fruition. [5]
Inspecting animal and human entrails for divination or extispicy was a common practice throughout the ancient world. According Tacitus, an important historian of Roman Antiquity, the Celts "sacrificed captives, and in order to discover the will of the Gods consulted the entrails of men". [6] Other Roman writers like Strabo, Diodorus Siculus, and Julius Caesar have similar accounts of Celtic and Gallic extispicy. The Romans were appalled by this custom despite they, themselves sacrificing humans for entertainment. Romans preferred animal sacrifices and in particular the bull. In their ritual there were four stages:examination of the animal, its entrails, the sacrificial fire and the food offerings that accompanied the animal. If entrails were excessively bloody or of livid color, the entrails foretold disaster and should the priest drop the entrails, the disaster was imminent. If the heat of the sacrificial fire was lacking it was a bad omen. -hepatomancy, haruspicy, extispicy
The practice of observing birth defects both in animals and humans for divination.
The Chinese practice over architecture and decor placement to promote harmony. The practice is based on the belief that a structure should not be put where it interferes with the flow of the earth's energies know as "dragon lines". This is accomplished by keeping the arrangement 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.
This is divining by low guttural voices or sounds coming from the stomach. In some situations, the sounds may not appear to come from the seer who is making them. Some speculate that the diviner throws his voice similar to ventriloquism while others suggest channeling. Divination can also done by listening to the stomach's natural sounds. Additionally, there is divination with a pot-bellied glass vessel filled with water, which sits in front of a candle. Images and messages appear in the vessel. 
This divination analyzes a person's laughter to determine their character.
AAn ancient system of divining that discloses truths and meanings hidden within words and numbers. Originating with the Babylonians but made popular through Jewish mysticism with the Cabbalists. Each letter of an alphabet corresponds to a number. Words are assigned a number according to their sum of letters, which in turn corresponds to another word with the same numerical value. The Cabbalists believe the Hebrew Scriptures are filled with this coding and therefore the Bible as well. Gematria is the forerunner of modern numerology.
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.
Divination by writing, a person's handwriting is analyzed to find out their character and personality traits. This practice dates from 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; it uses a whirling motion. A person twirls around within a circle of letters and as the individual stumbles about and contacts the letters, the omen is spelled 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 the circle.
Halomancy is divination by salt. There is a specific (causimomancy) method where salt is thrown into the flames. The resulting flames are then interpreted, if the salt did not burn when thrown into a fire, it's a good omen. In Armagh, on Halloween Night the mistress fills thimbles of salt for each member of her household and turns them upside down onto a plate. The following morning the stacks are examined to see if any have fallen down, if one has then that person will die within the year. [7] Some points to consider when using salt for rituals. One, it is a household agent which can be used to put out kitchen fires although an ample amount is needed; and two, modern salt has anticaking agent added so it won't clog our saltshakers.
A specific form of extispicy divination where the liver of sacrificed animals, and in particular sheep, is examined. In Babylon this practice was popular, so much so, that they had a specialized priest called a 'bara' to perform this service. The Babylonians thought the liver was a "vehicle" by which the gods revealed their plans. See extispicy for details on the entrails' method
According to its etymological breakdown this is divination by means of blood. See extispicy for an example.
It is the overall term for divination involving sacrificed animals.
This divination observes horse's movements and actions like their neighing or stamping, to predict outcomes.
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 used for divination by 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 water in response to an action (e.g. waves, ripples, bubbles), examine the matter subjected to the water's influence, or the diviner will use the water's reflective 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 foretold by flipping coins or more traditionally yarrow stalks. The pattern is compared to 64 hexagrams found in the I Ching book, each with a special meaning.
Ichnomancy is divination by observing the posture, position, and footprints of both animals and humans
This is divination by fish, especially their entrails. In cultural folklore, if you dream of fish, someone you know is pregnant. Also, you may not want to use fish as sacrifice because burning fish bones is considered unlucky.


[1] Darker Superstitions of Scotland –John G. Dalyell p.520(?)
[2] Dictionary of Early English –J.T.Shipley (necyomancy, necyomanty)
[4] Dreaming The Future –Clifford A. Pickover, p.78
[5] Ibid p.184
[6] Publius Cornelius Tacitus, The Works of Tacitus, vol. 2 -Annals Book 15
[7] Ulster Folklife –edited R.H. Buchanan, p.227

The Leviathan –Thomas Hobbes
The Golden Bough
–Sir James G. Frazer
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 Esoteric Runology –Edred Thorsson
Biblioteca Arcana
The Mystica Online Encyclopedia –Alan G. Hefner
The Art of Haruspicy –John Opsopaus