You’re probably familiar with the most popular methods of divination, such as tarot cards, runes, the I-ching and palmistry – but did you know that through the ages mankind has come up with hundreds of different way to try to tell the future? These methods are sometimes called “the mancies”, because most of the terms end with -mancy, which comes from the Greek mantis, meaning prophet. Here’s our pick of four you’ll love.
Bibliomancy is divination using a book. Technically and historically, the Bible should be used – the term derives from an ancient belief that if a person weighed less then the Bible, they were innocent. It is to be hoped that Bibles were hefty objects in those days!
Today, bibliomancy can be practised using any book, and it’s not the weight of the book which counts, rather its contents. The most basic method for bibliomancy is to think of a question, and then open the book at a random page.
Some people believe you should take the first complete sentence on that page, and interpret it as your answer; others believe that you should read the whole paragraph, or the whole page, to get your answer. Some people like to keep a specific book or books for bibliomancy, while others will literally reach for the first book which is to hand.
Apply some lateral thinking when you interpret the results. If you’ve asked about your marriage and the first book to hand is “Learn Car Mechanics in 14 Days” you’re probably going to have to be creative in your interpretation – but then again, this kind of creative use of imagery and symbols is essential practice for all kinds of divination, and shouldn’t be avoided.
Ceromancy is the art of interpreting melted candle wax. A good visual imagination is essential for this one, as you’re going to be looking at random blobs and shapes and divining meaning from them.
Some people practice ceromancy by leaving a candle to burn for a while and then interpreting its drips. I find that a more reliable method is to light a candle and then hold it at an angle over a bowl of cold water, so that wax droplets fall into the water and create shapes. After a moment or two, swirl the water and wait for it to settle, then get to work seeking symbols.
You don’t need a list of symbolic interpretations for this – and indeed, that defeats the whole point. A moon might mean something very different to you than it does to someone else, and that’s fine. Find symbols you can understand and relate to, and apply them to your question or problem.
Need an excuse to gaze at the clouds for a while? Here you go. Nephelomancy is the art of cloud divination. At its simplest, simply form a question in your mind before you go outdoors, and then look up – what shapes and figures can you see in the clouds which might provide you with an answer?
This method of divination takes some time, as you may not immediately see anything. In its advanced form, it’s not only the cloud shapes which matter, but their color, speed of movement, direction and sector of the sky. If nothing meaningful seems to be going on above you, give it a little bit of time. As you watch, sooner or later something will emerge, and you may be surprised at how relevant it is.
Definitely my personal favorite, oinomancy is divination with wine. This type of divination can be done on the spot, with no deliberate advance preparation, by interpreting the shapes in the stain from a spilled glass of wine; a bit like an inkblot. Obviously we try to avoid such a waste, though – so the more popular method is to pour a glass of wine and put it in front of a candle flame.
Sit back and watch the reflections and the shapes which come and go in the wine as the candle flickers. This method has much in common with scrying, and you’ll need both a good visual imagination and an open mind.
It could be said that having partaken of some of the contents of the bottle beforehand might help with the divination process – but that’s for you to discover for yourself!