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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Term: Alphitomancy

DEFINITIONS

Alphitomancy: A form of divination by grain, especially barley. According to one tradition, if it was believed that an unknown person in a group were guilty of a crime, they would all be given cakes made of barely to eat. The person who developed indigestion was guilty. What would happen if several people got indigestion, or if none did, is not discussed.

Alphitomancy: The use of wheat or barley bread to determine guilt. Suspects were gathered together, and each made to repeat, “If I am deceiving you, may this bread act upon me foul.” The loaf was sometimes rubbed with vervain, and then a portion of bread was consumed by each suspect. The guilty person who suffer severe and painful indigestion while the innocent would not be affected.


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