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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia
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Divinatory Practices

This article was written by Carl Llewellyn Weschcke on November 30, -0001
posted under Divination

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of different forms of divination and clairvoyant practice. The following lists organize some of the more familiar by the major styles. It is a preliminary effort.

Analytical Tables of Clairvoyant & Divinatory Practices

By Direct Psychic Perception of an event, object, or person (mostly contemporary)
external to and hidden from the observer, including:

  • Clairalience the smelling of odors without a physical source that provides some kind of insight.
  • Clairaudiencethe hearing of sounds and voices without a present physical source that either provides information or messages.
  • Claircognizanceknowing without reference to a physical source, sometimes experienced as a “hunch.”
  • Clairgustancetasting without a physical source that provides a stimulus leading to some kind of insight.
  • Clairsentiencethe acquisition of knowledge through the feeling and touching of an object or contact with an organic substance or part of a person or other creature.
  • Clairvoyance“clear seeing,” i.e. the perception of information without the use of physical senses and sometimes knowledge not limited to the physical dimension.
  • ESP – “ExtraSensory Perception” – basically an alternate expression for clairvoyance clearly indicating something “extra” to ordinary physical senses.
  • Futurologypredicting the future based on present conditions through ExtraSensory means.
  • PrecognitionExtraSensory perception of events that will occur in the future.
  • Premonitionwarning of a future disaster through ExtraSensory means.
  • Psychometryreading the history of an object, in particular its association with humans.
  • Remote Viewing – direct ExtraSensory perception of events at locations remote from the viewer.
  • Retrocognitionperceiving events that occurred in the past, often leading to a better understanding of present circumstances.


By Direct Psychic Perception by means of Altered States of Consciousness:

  • Dream Interpretationwhile often associated with the use of a “dream dictionary,” it really involves methods of allowing the dream “to speak” to the dreamer.
  • Oraclesmaking contact with spirits or gods usually at a special location often associated with unusual environment conditions and a dedicated person in trance.
  • Ouijawhile commonly used as entertainment, the proper use would be to enter into a trance and let the planchette spell out messages on the board printed with the alphabet and numbers.
  • Prophecyrevelation about the future, often ostensibly from a spiritual presence or deity.
  • Shamanic techniquesdeliberate repression or excessive stimulation of the physical senses through various techniques of Ecstatic or Exhaustive Dancing, Fasting, Sleep Deprivation, Bondage, Isolation, Flagellation, Psychoactive Drugs, Drumming, Sexual or Physical Exhaustion, etc.
  • Theomancy - receiving messages or answers to questions through an oracle or direct contact with Deity.


By Direct Psychic Perception by means of Extended Consciousness:

  • Astral Projectionintentional acquisition of information while Out-of-Body using the astral vehicle.
  • Aura Readingperception and interpretation of the auric field usually involving some degree of etheric or even auric vision.
  • Etheric Projectionprojection, or more communally, extension of part of the etheric vehicle (sometimes perceived as ectoplasm) to obtain information by touch or to move objects.
  • Intuitiona somewhat vague term for a non-verbal “feeling” message from the Higher Self.
  • Mental Projectionprojection of the mental vehicle. (It should be clarified the all projections involve more than just the etheric, or just the astral, or just the mental vehicle but rather are inclusive with each having one substance and level of consciousness that is predominant.)


By Indirect Psychic Perception through Another Person or Entity:

  • Animal Communicationmost often a form of Mental Telepathy by which information is transmitted between the animal and a human generally by uncharacteristic behavior.
  • Automatic Writing (aka Autography and Psychography) – unconscious written communication involving a spirit while the writer is in a trance.
  • Mental Telepathycontact and exchange of information with another person.
  • Projection of a Familiarthis is a variation of etheric projection in which a Thought Form of an animal or person is created from etheric and astral substance under direction of the projector – either with a single duty “charge,” or a longer term duty charge. It is sometimes called “indirect psychic spying” in contrast to Remote Viewing.
  • Sciomancycommunication through a spirit guide who, generally, appears spontaneously.
  • Spirit Communicationcontact with “spirits” of the deceased or other entities most often through a person acting as a “Medium” or “Channel” under the direction or “Control” of a Spirit Guide.
  • Telesthesiaindirect psychic awareness of a distant condition or happening involving a person related to the receiver. 

 

By Augmented Psychic Perception by means of Divinatory Tools:

  • Dowsing (see also Radiesthesia) – the use of a forked stick or bent steel clothes hanger or other metallic imitation of the forked stick in order to sense the presence of water or other resource or lost object. The instrument moves in the dowser’s hands when he walks over the searched for substance believed to radiate a perceptive energy. 
  • Handwriting Analysis – aka Graphology and Graphoanalysismeasurement and interpretation of size, shape, spacing, impression, and other factors of handwriting, including most particularly signatures, the personal pronoun “I”, and also doodles.
  • Pendulum Work (Radiesthesia) aka Divining, Dowsing, Water Witching - using a pendulum instead of a rod to determine the location of water or other resource, and also to respond to questions.
  • Related techniques include:

Cleidomancy or Clidomancy: using a key attached to a cord or string.
Coscinomancy or Cosquinomancy: using a sieve suspended from shears or tongs.
Dactylomancy or Dactlomancy: using a suspended ring.
Rhabdomancy: by using a stick or rod.

  • Scrying - seeing a vision while gazing into a transparent, translucent, or reflective object, inducing a mild trance. Such objects include:

Crystal ball gazing
Crystal gazing
Fires Scrying
Ink Scrying
Mirror Scrying
Smoke Scrying
Water Scrying
Wine Scrying

  • Tea Leaf Reading interpreting the shapes, size and patterns of wet tea leaves either by inspiration or a special dictionary of symbols. Similar practices include:

Coffee Ground Reading
Egg Yolk Reading
Strewn Rice Reading
Wine Sediment Reading 

 

By Augmented Psychic Perception by means of manually manipulated
complex Symbolic Divination Systems with established rules and meanings:

  • Cartomancyusing a deck or ordinary bridge or poker playing cards.
  • Geomancyinterpreting dots, lines and figures traced in sand, dirt or pebbles, or naturally occurring formations either intuitively or by standard meanings. It is a divinatory system prominently used by Golden Dawn magicians and with variants employed throughout Africa and parts of the Arabian Peninsula.
  • I Ching aka Yi Kingthe casting of sticks or coins to establish 64 Hexagrams each consisting of six solid or broken lines. The I Ching is the oldest and most universal system of Chinese divination originating at the very foundation of Taoism.
  • Oghams, aka the Celtic Tree Alphabeta series of sticks marked with cuts to represent each letter of the Tree Alphabet, and then thrown and selected randomly for divinatory interpretation.
  • Runessimilar to, but older and more complex than Oghams and based on a very rich mythic system of Nordic/Teutonic mythology giving definition to each image. Runes are used both in divination and in magic (as charms and spells). Runes should be ranked with Tarot Cards for their symbolic interpretation and magical use.
  • Tarot Cardsa complex deck of 78 cards illustrated with symbols and images associated with the Hebrew and Greek Kabbalah. The Tarot is the most popular and important divinatory system in the Western world. 

 

By Augmented Psychic Perception associated with
Scientifically Measurable Physical Phenomena:

  • Astrologythe most scientific system for determining the value and meaning of “the moment” by measuring the celestial positions of the Sun, Moon, Planets, and sometimes of the fixed stars and asteroids and the appearance of comets in relation to exact “birth locations” on Earth. The resultant pattern is cast as a wheel, the horoscope, and interpreted through long established meaning based on thousands of years of observation and logical associatons. The time and place of birth sets the “plan” and meaning for the life of a person, event, corporate or other legal entity, while changes to the celestial positions (transits) in relation to the birth horoscope will forecast coming events.
  • Cheiromancy – see Palmistry (aka Palm Reading)
  • GematriaEach letter of the Hebrew alphabet has a numeric value representing a different creative force. When the numeric values of the letters in particular words, names and phrases are calculated it is assumed that words, names and phrases with the same numeric value have associated or equivalent meanings. Those values and meanings may be found in Kabalistic dictionaries and are employed in divination, prayer and magic.
  • Numerology (aka Arithmancy) – a system of somewhat arbitrary assignment of numbers to the letters of the alphabet by which names and birthdates are given meaningful interpretation.
  • PalmistryLike Astrology, Palmistry is more a scientific system of divination than it is psychic – nevertheless the psychic faculties always supplement the scientific reading. Palmistry is the science of the reading and interpretation of lines and shapes in the hand, often using detailed measurements of proportionate length, width, depth, and angles of the lines and apparent symbols. The system has been extended to include the proportionate length and width of the thumb and fingers, their flexibility, lines on the knuckles, and the shapes and lines in the fingernails (also called Onychomancy when treated separately from the palm).
  • Pegomancy – see Palmistry

 

Common types of Divination involving extended psychic awareness

The following is a selection of many divinatory systems, basically demonstrating the point that anything can be manipulated and “read” because the real meaning is found not in the object but in intentional human consciousness. In most cases, the “reading” is accompanied by a light state of trance. In some, but not all systems, there are established “dictionary” meanings. Further information may be found in the on-line Llewellyn’s Paranormal, Magical & Occult Encyclopedia.

  • Aeromancy - interpreting atmospheric and related phenomena, such as perceived images in clouds, and also:

Austromancyinterpretation of winds.
Ceraunoscopy and Keraunomancy – interpretation of thunder & lightning.
ChaomancySky Visions
Meteromancy - Shooting Stars

  • Alectormancy, Alectromancy, Alectryomancy - observing birds, usually a rooster, pick through scattered grains, and noting sequentially when the bird crows signifying a letter of the alphabet. If the rooster pecks at three grains and then crows it denotes the third letter: “c”
  • Aleuromancy - messages are written on paper and then inserted into units of dough that are then baked, such Fortune Cookies that will be selected at random.
  • Alomancy or Halomancy - interpreting images drawn in spilled salt or dry sand.
  • Alphitomancy, also called “Cursed Bread” – if a person has indigestion after eating a loaf of barley bread, he or she will be judged guilty of a crime. A similar irrational tradition involved tying a Witch (always a woman in that historic period) and throwing her in water. If she drowned, she was presumed guilty; if she survived, it was sometimes said it was by supernatural force, so again it proved guilt.
  • Amniomancy - interpreting the caul (the part of the placenta remaining on the head) at a baby’s birth.
  • Anthropomancy, Antinpomancy, Splanchomancy - interpreting the entrails of a human sacrifice.
  • Apantomancy - interpreting the chance encounter with an object, animal or person, such as a black cat crossing your path
  • Arithmancy: Divination using numbers, including:

Gematria - interpreting Hebrew bible passages by assigned numeric values to letters of the Hebrew Alphabet
Numerology - dates and words (often birthdates and names) are converted into numbers sequentially identified with the alphabet, and interpreted by a number dictionary.

  • Aruspicy, Extispicy, Haruspicyinterpreting the entrails of a sacrificed animal.
  • Astragalamancy, Astragalomancy, Astragyromancy, Cleromancy interpreting dice casts by number associations. 
  • Axinomancy - throwing an axe and observing the direction of the handle.
  • Belomancy, Bolomancy  - shooting, tossing, or balancing an arrow, and interpreting what is observed.
  • Bibliomancy or Stichomancy – reading or interpreting randomly chosen passages in books, most often religious books. Also:

Rhapsodomancy - Using a book of poetry.

  • Botanomancy - interpreting burning or burned leaves or branches.
  • Brontoscopyinterpreting the sound of thunder.
  • Capnomancy - interpreting rising smoke.
  • Causimomancy - observing changes in objects placed in a fire.
  • Ceromancy  and Ceroscopyinterpreting shapes taken by melted wax poured into water.
  • Cledomancyinterpreting random events and statements.
  • Crithomancy and Critomancyinterpreting sacrificial cakes and breads.
  • Cromniomancyinterpreting the sprouting behavior of onions.
  • Cybermancydivination through a computer.
  • Cyclomancyinterpreting the revolutions of a spinning bottle.
  • Daphnomancy - interpreting a burning laurel branch.
  • Dendromancydivination by oak or mistletoe.
  • Fractomancyinterpreting the structure of fractal patterns.
  • Geloscopy – interpreting the sound or manner of laughter.
  • Gyromancywalking or twirling around in a circle marked with letters until one is dizzy and stumbles or falls, thus spelling a prophetic message.
  • Hepatoscopy, Hepatomancy - interpreting the liver of a sacrificial animal.
  • Hieromancy and Hieroscopyinterpreting burnt offerings or ritually slaughtered animals.
  • Hydromancyinterpreting of water by color, ripples, and is ebb and flow, including:

Hydatoscopyinterpreting rainwater.
Lecanomancyinterpreting the sounds or the ripples as stones are dropped into water.
Pegomancyinterpretation of waters of sacred springs, wells, pools, or fountains.

  • Ichthyomancy – interpreting the behavior, or the entrails, or fish.
  • Lampadomancy - interpreting the flame of a candle, torch, or lamp.
  • Libranomancy or Livanomancyby interpreting the smoke made by burning incense.
  • Lithomancydivination with crystal or gems by their reflected light or their placement when cast.
  • Lychnomancy - interpreting the flames of three candles.
  • Metoposcopy – interpreting the lines and wrinkles of the forehead.
  • Moleoscophy – interpreting the moles of the body.
  • Molybdomancyinterpreting the hissing sounds as molten lead, or tin, when dropped into water.
  • Oculomancy – interpreting the eye, also

Iridologyinterpreting the iris of the eye.

  • Oenomancy or Oinomancyinterpreting wine.
  • OmphalomancyInterpreting the shape of the first born’s navel, or the knots in the umbilical cord to determine the number of children that mother will have in her lifetime.
  • Onomancythe interpretation of names.
  • Oomancy, Ooscopy, Ovomancydivination with eggs.
  • Phyllorhodomancy – Interpreting the sound made by slapping a rose petal against the hand.
  • PhysiognomyReading a person’s character by interpreting the facial features.
  • Podomancy - by interpreting the lines and details of feet.
  • Pedomancy - by interpreting the impression made by a footprint.
  • Phyllordomancyinterpreting the sound made when slapping a rose petal between the hands.
  • Premonition: A warning of a future event, typically an accident or disaster.
  • Prophecy - A vision or revelation of the future, typically provided by a deity.
  • PsychomancySoul Reading, perceiving a person’s values and beliefs
  • Pyromancy - by watching fire
  • Pyroscopy - by burning paper
  • Schematomancy - observing and interpreting the face.
  • Selenomancy - interpreting the appearance and phase of the moon.
  • Sideromancy - by placing straws on a hot iron and observing the resulting shapes.
  • Spasmatomancy interpreting convulsions
  • Spatalamancy - interpreting skin, bone, or excrement, including:

Scapulimancy, Scapulomancy, Patulamancy -  interpreting the cracks in the burned shoulder bones of an animal
Scatamancy - interpreting excrement
Spatilomancy - interpreting animal excrement

  • Spodomancy - by interpreting ashes, cinders, or soot
  • Stareomancy - interpreting the classical elements of wind, water, earth, or fire.
  • Sternomancy - interpreting the marks or bumps on the solar plexus (breast to belly).
  • Stolisomancy - interpreting a person’s style of dress
  • Sycomancyby writing a question on a leaf and observing how quickly the leaf dries.
  • Tephramancyby interpreting the ashes of burnt tree bark.
  • Tiromancy - by interpreting the holes in cheese
  • Transataumancy - by accidentally seeing or hearing.
  • Trochomancy - by interpreting wheel ruts or tracks.
  • Uromancy or Urimancy - by interpreting the appearance of urine.
  • Urticariaomancy - by the location of an itch. (e.g. your palms itch, you’ll get money or your nose itches, someone is thinking about you)
  • Water Witching – see Dowsing
  • Xenomancy - by interpreting meetings with strangers.
  • Xylomancy - by interpreting burning wood
  • Zoomancyinterpreting  the appearance and behavior of animals, including:

Ailuromancy - interpreting the behavior of cats.
Entomancy - interpreting the behavior of insects

Arachnomancy - interpreting the behavior of spiders
Myrmomancy - interpreting the behavior of ants
Skatharomancy - interpreting a beetle’s tracks

Hippomancy - interpreting the behavior of horses
Myomancy - interpreting the behavior of mice and rats
Ophiomancy interpreting the behavior of serpents
Ornithomancy - interpreting the behavior, flight, and song of birds
Theriomancy - interpreting the movements of groups of animals.

  • Zygomancy - Divination by using weights. 

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