Sunday, August 6, 2017

Some Miscellaneous Methods

The Oracle of Human Destiny, Cagliostro’s Mystic Alphabet of the Magi, The Golden Wheel of Fortune, The Art of Invoking Spirits in the Crystal, The Various Methods of Divination

164 Aldersgate St., London, E.C.

Divination with Needles

Take five-and-twenty new needles ; set them on a plate, and pour water on them. Those which cross each other denote as many enemies of the consulting person. Ancient magic attributes many virtues to the needle. When the winding-sheet of a corpse has been sewn with it, it acquires a power of enchantment over the bridal bed, and the fulfilment of the marriage act can be prevented by its means.


This is a time-honoured method of divination by means of a cock, and it has the admirable merit of simplicity. Trace a large circle in sand, and divide it into twenty-four equal spaces, in each of which must be inscribed one letter of the alphabet, rejecting J and U, which are usually represented in ancient writings by their correspondents I and V. Put over each letter a single grain of barley or wheat, and in the centre of the circle place the cock, who is the chief agent in this divinatory rite. Carefully notice from which letters he pecks up the grain, and the order in which he proceeds during his mystic meal, for the assemblage of these letters should form a word which will give you reliable information on that question about which you had recourse to the oracle. 


Divination by onions
This ceremony is only performed on Christmas Eve, and to obtain tidings of absent persons. Place several onions on a table, and leave them undisturbed till they begin to sprout, having previously inscribed upon each the name of some absent friend. That which sprouts most speedily signifies that the person whose name it bears is in the enjoyment of vigorous health.
In the middle period of the nineteenth century the method was practised by German maidens in the hope of ascertaining particulars of their future husbands.


This method of divination is concerned with magical clairvoyance, and requires the assistance of a natural magician. It is performed in the following manner. Place some globular vases, filled to the brim with clear water, between a number of lighted waxen tapers. Make an invocation of the angelical or planetary intelligences — such as Israfel, Gabriel, or Metron, the spirit of the north — and direct the natural magician, who should be a boy or a girl of absolute and assured virginity, to gaze intently into the vases, when they will behold upon the surface of the water, amidst the reflected light of the tapers, a pictorial reply to the questions proposed by the consumers of the oracle,

(For some reason I find it less probable to find "the natural magician, a boy or a girl of absolute and assured virginity" than that this actually works :-D)


This is another method of divination by water, which must be placed in a silver vase on a clear, moonlit night. The light of a candle is reflected from the blade of a knife on to the water, on which the gazer must fix his concentrated attention. Should he possess any faculty of clairvoyance, he will read an answer to his questions either pictorially or literally represented upon the smooth and shimmering surface. 


This form of divination is considered efficacious for the recovery of things stolen, and seems to have been practised in the Middle Ages. A pearl must be placed by a fire and covered with a glass vase. The names of the persons suspected must be repeated in a loud voice above it, and at that of the guilty party, it is credibly declared that the pearl, with a sudden bound, will strike and perhaps shiver the top of the vase. If no such manifestation occurs the diviner may be certain that he is on the wrong scent, and will do well to obtain information by some other method.


This pleasing form of divination is practised by opening the works of some poet at hazard, and taking the lines on which the eye first falls as a prediction on the subject about which information is desired. The works of Homer and Virgil were generally chosen in the past, but a mine of poetic and even prophetic suggestion will be discovered in Shakespeare. A considerable gift of insight is required in the interpretation of this class of oracle, and those who consult it will do well to look below the surface for the mystic significance of the passage. A variety of this divinatory method consists in opening the book with a pin, and consulting that passage which is marked by the point of the instrument. 


A form of divination which may elicit latent clairvoyance, and was generally practised with boys, consists in rubbing oil or wax upon the nails of the seer, who turns them to the sunlight and gazes fixedly upon them. Should he possess the required pyschic power, he will perceive various figures represented on the surface of the nails, as on so many mirrors or crystals, and he will be able to afford information on the subjects which are under inquiry.


This divinatory methood was still practised in Germany during the first half of the nineteenth century. It is performed by scattering ashes thickly in some place exposed to the air and writing therein with the end of the finger any question about which information is needed. The inscribed ashes are then left for the night, and on the following morning the letters that remain legible are used as oracles, for which purpose they may be placed in their natural order, when if they form an intelligible word, it may be considered to contain the mystic sense of the oracle and an answer to the question proposed. Otherwise, the insight of the contriver must be used to extract an appropriate answer from the assemblage of letters arranged after any fashion. As destiny is supposed to decide what letters should remain legible, and what should be effaced, this intervention of the operator does not interfere with the working of the oracle, but simply manifests its message. Should other characters than those inscribed originally appear upon the surface of the ashes, there is no need for apprehension, though such interferences, according to a time-honoured custom, have been frequently ascribed to the devil.


A manual of occult divination would be justly deemed incomplete without some reference to the several time-honoured methods of eliciting occult information and prophetic oracles which are included under this name. Geomancy, however, is much too extensive a subject to be treated within a brief space, and fortunately, those who are anxious for a particular acquaintance with its mysteries will find every opportunity for obtaining it in the handbooks which treat of the subject. It has been studied by serious persons, among others, by Cornelius Agrippa, whose account of it will be found in the Three Books of Occult Philosophy. There are also tracts in manuscript, in which some of the conventional signs used in the art are brought into relation with other occult systems, and the results are striking.

Apart from the various conventions, Geomancy, philologically, signifies divination by earth, and one of its most simple applications consists in the scattering of a pinch of dust or earth upon a table, concentrating the prophetic faculty on the lines and the formless figures which it assumes, and thence extracting the mystic oracle. Obviously, this process is substantially identical with divination by the grounds in a tea or coffee cup.

Geomancy may also be practised by the observation of fissures and crevices naturally formed in the earth ; a biologized condition is occasionally produced on inhaling the vapours which ascend from these places, and the oracular utterances of the subject, under such influence, are interpreted in a convenient manner and consistently with the needs of the occasion.

Bituminous exhalations, which issue from the bowels of the earth and are fraught with the tenebrous mysteries of the “ concentrated centre of Nature,” are, however, comparatively uncommon, but there is yet another method of geomantic magic, which may be performed by tracing lines and circles on the ground, and then exercising the clairvoyant faculty upon their various combinations.

Finally, the most popular of all the processes is the fortuitous marking of a sheet of paper with points from right to left, and for the space of four lines. The lucidity of seership is then directed to the evolution of a mystical cosmos out of this minute chaos. In the hands of Cornelius Agrippa and Heydon, this method has been elaborated to the last degree, by the help of astrological formulae, and the doctrines of planetary influences.

Aeromancy. — The old art of predicting things to come by variations in atmospheric and kindred phenomena. The appearance of a comet, for example, announced the approaching death of some great personage. Auguries were drawn from lightning and thunder, from the forms of clouds, and even ceremonial magic obtained presages by causing the apparition of spectres in various regions of the air.

Alphitomancy. — A form of divination by means of barley meal for the discovery of guilty persons. The accused person was compelled to partake, and would do so, if innocent, without inconvenience, but in the contrary case, he showed signs of indigestion or choking.

Aleuromancy. — Paper pellets inscribed with oracular sentences were placed in a basin of flour and stirred nine times. The flour was then divided among a number of people in search of information, and each recipient applied the oracle which he received to his particular subject of inquiry. 

Anthropomancy. — A horrible rite of divination by the inspection of human entrails, usually those of children sacrificed for the purpose. It is described by Herodotus.

Apantomancy. — The fortuitous act of extracting presages from the appearance of any object unexpectedly — as, for example, a hare or an eagle. A spider seen running or spinning in the morning promised money, but in the evening news. A contrary opinion regarded all such occurrences as evil omens.

Arithmancy. — Divination by numbers, more especially in connection with their alphabetical equivalents. There are many modes of this art, and it ranks as an occult science in its more elaborate developments.

Aspidomancy. — Described as an Indian practice, but as the diviner sits in a circle, recites conjurations and passes into a kind of ecstasy, it is really a department of ceremonial magic.

Astragalomancy. — Divination by dice, two being used for the purpose, each bearing the numbers i to 6. They were cast in the ordinary manner ; the numbers obtained were translated into letters, when an oracle was obtained by rendering these into words and the words into some kind of sense.
To make the process more ceremonial and impressive, a question was written on paper and this was passed through the smoke of burning juniper wood.

Axinomancy. — Divination performed with a hatchet.
To discover hidden treasures, the weapon was held edge upward in the air and an attempt was made to balance an agate thereon. If successful, no treasure was in the neighbourhood, but in the other event it was repeated three times. If the agate rolled in the same direction, it was worth while to continue the search, but otherwise the inquirers must go further.
To discover thieves, the handle was held straight up in the air and people danced round it. When the handle shook so that the axe fell to the ground, the point of the compass to which the top of the handle was turned was the direction in which to seek for the guilty person.

Belomancy. — Divination by arrows, on a number of which the possible answers to a given question were written, and the darts drawn at hazard.

Bibliomancy. — For the discovery of sorcerers. The accused person was placed on one side of a pair of scales and a Bible on the other. If he proved the lighter, he was held innocent — on the whole, perhaps as good as any other method of testing which used to be employed for the purpose.
The Bible was also opened with a gold pin and a presage was drawn from the word on which it rested.

Botanomancy. — Performed by leaves or branches of vervain and heather after the same manner as Belomancy.
Presages were also drawn from the scattered leaves of these plants after a high wind.

Capnomancy. — Divination by smoke, obtained by the burning of vervain and other sacred plants. The shapes and direction taken were the subjectmatter of the oracles.

Causimomancy. — Divination by fire. For example, if a combustible object failed to burn, a happy omen was concluded from this object.

Chiromancy. — The inspection of lines on the hand — one of the occult sciences and the subject of many elaborate treatises, both ancient and modern.

Cledonismancy. — Divination by fortuitous words heard on momentous occasions and in its principles precisely similar to Apantomancy.

Cleidomancy. — Divination by a key, for the discovery of theft and murder. The key was placed in a book with the ring outside and the book was tied up. The Querent held the key by his finger placed in the ring and whispered the name of a suspected person. If innocent, the key did not stir ; but if this was the guilty party, it moved so violently that the string round the book was broken.

Cosquinomancy. — A method of discovering theft by mean's of a sieve placed upon pincers held by two fingers of each hand only. Suspected names were recited and he was judged guilty at whose name the sieve, shook or turned over. It was serviceable for other misdeeds.

Critomancy. — A mode of drawing presages from meats offered in sacrifice and barley flour strewed upon sacrificial victims.

Crystallomancy. — Divination by means of a crystal - but this is a form of clairvoyance, and as such is well known at the present day.

Dactylomancy. — Divination by rings made under certain stellar aspects ; but finger-ring lore is too large a subject for a record in this place.

Daphnomancy. — Divination by the laurel, a branch of which was cast into the fire. If it crackled in burning, this was a happy augury, but the contrary result was ominous.

Demonomancy. — A department of Black Magic, being the evocation of demons and the obtaining from them of answers to specific questions.

Eromancy. — Said to be a Persian practice. A vessel was filled with water; the Querent covered his head with a linen cloth and uttered his wishes in a low voice. If the water bubbled, it was a fortunate prognostic.

Geloscopy. — The curious art of extracting characteristics from laughter, but scarcely a form of divination, as the term is understood.

Gyromancy. — The ceremony of circumambulating a circle about which letters were traced. This was continued till giddiness ensued and the performers fell to the ground. The letters covered in their fall gave oracles, for those who could interpret them, concerning future things.

Hippomancy. — The extraction of oracles from the neighing of horses.

Hydromancy — The prediction of things to come by means of water, and of this there were many forms, of which I will mention one. A vessel was filled with water and a ring suspended over it by means of a thread. This ring was caused to strike the sides of the basin a certain number of times, and presages were drawn from the movements caused in the water.

Ichthyomancy. — Divination by the entrails of fish.

Lampadomancy. — The extraction of prognostics from the form, colour and various movements in the light of a lamp. Sparks from the wick meant news. 

Libanomancy. — Divination by incense, accompanied by prayers relative to the question at issue. The incense was cast upon fire and the smoke carried the prayers to heaven. If they were to be granted, the fire consumed the incense; but if not, as it had to be cast at hazard, the incense either fell away or was not consumed. For some obscure reason, this practice was void in respect of death and marriage.

Myomancy. — Divination by rats and mice, another variety of Apantomancy, with special reference to the cries of these creatures.

Oculomancy. — The art of identifying a thief by the turn of his eye, said to have been accompanied by certain superstitious ceremonies.

Œnomancy. — -Divination by wine, with special reference to the colour observed when drinking it and to any other circumstances from which an interpretation could be derived.

Omphalomancy. — Divination by the navel of newborn first children, to ascertain what future conceptions awaited the mother. It was determined by the number of markings or bands.

Onomancy. — Divination by names, but enough has been said on this subject in our earlier sections. There were, however, several methods. 

Oomancy. — Divination by the outer and inner forms of eggs. The most impenetrable secrets of the future were said to yield their mysteries to this process.
A modern method is to break an egg slowly into a glass of water, and the shapes assumed by the white part are supposed to furnish presages.

Ophiomancy. — Divination by the movements of serpents.

Ornithomancy. — Divination by the flight, songs and cries of birds. I do not think that the laws of this art have come down to us.

Pegomancy. — Divination by springs of water, performed by dropping stones therein and observing their movements.

Phyllorhodomancy. — Divination by rose-leaves, which were made to clack in the hand and the sound resulting was interpreted. 


Psychomancy. — Divination by spirits, but especially the spirits of the dead and therefore a department of ceremonial magic on its worst side.

Pyromancy. — Divination by fire, with the help of some ground pitch cast thereon. If it lighted quickly, there was a favourable augury.

Rabdomancy. — The ancient form of divination by staves, mentioned by Ezekiel and Hosea. A staff was chosen and peeled on one side ; it was then thrown in the air, and if, on falling to the ground, the peeled side was uppermost, but the reverse on the second trial, this was a happy omen. 

Sciomancy. — Another variety of necromantic art, but more especially concerned in the evocation of astral reflections to ascertain future things.

Sideromancy. — Divination with a red-hot iron on which some kind of spangles were cast and were said to give star-like reflections in burning.

Sycomancy. — Divination by the leaves of the fig-tree, on which questions were written. If the leaves dried quickly, it was a bad omen, and the contrary in the alternative case.

Tephramancy. — Divination by the cinders of a fire which had consumed a sacrificial victim.

Theomancy. — A part of the Jewish Kabalah, being a study of the mysteries resident in Divine Names. It was held to be the highest of all the practical sciences arising out of the secret wisdom of Israel.

Tiromancy. — Divination by cheese, but of this art I have found no particulars.

Xylomancy. — Divination by the help of pieces of dry wood found on the road — also by the casual arrangement of sticks of fire-wood and the way in which they burn.

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