Divination is the process in which one attempts to foresee the future using various supernatural abilities. Prophecy has been a part of people’s culture and lifestyle in every single historical period. Individuals used different divinatory methods to plan certain rituals, harvest fields, arrange meetings, and deal with lots and lots of other situations. Among currently known methods of divination, astrology is the oldest one. Astrology has been one of the most widespread and popular techniques for divining various future occurrences since the 2nd millennium BC.
Although there are numerous widespread divinatory techniques that everybody knows about, a wide range of prophecy methods are not that well-known and popular among different societies. The fact is that people usually associate divination with astrology, numerology, Tarot reading, palmistry, rune reading, crystal gazing, or lithomancy. Of course, these are the techniques that most of the psychics use for the readings. Still, there are dozens of strange methods of divination that you might never even have heard of.
Some of the strangest methods of divination include:
Further information and some interesting facts about each of the listed divination methods will be provided in the following sections.
Abacomancy, also called Amathomancy, is a divination method involving the interpretation of readings using dust, sand, or even ashes of the deceased ones. The word “amathomancy” is derived from the Greek word “amathos,” which refers to “sand.”
After dropping dust, sand, or ashes, the reader observes the pattern that can be used for forecasting the future. They might even see some symbols or even visual representations of what is going to happen.
Acultomancy is a divinatory practice that uses needles to obtain and interpret readings. The term “acutomancy” comes from the Latin word “aculeus,” meaning “needle.” The history of the technique is commonly associated with Romani people who regarded needles as their pointers.
Typically, acultomancers use 7 to 21 needles and place them in a shallow bowl full of water or onto a flat surface covered with powder. Readers then observe patterns and derive readings accordingly.
The patterns are associated with different lines. For instance, broken lines are linked with traveling or new adventures, parallel lines are related to financial issues, vertical lines are regarded as guided roads one should follow, and horizontal lines tell your fate.
Aeromancy is yet another type of divination that examines atmospheric conditions, such as winds, thunder, lightning, and meteors. Although the exact origin of aeromancy is not yet known, the first recorded texts about the divinatory technique are dated 1753. Notwithstanding, the variations of the term have been found in the Bible.
There are several subtypes of aerology that use different atmospheric conditions for divinatory purposes. For example, austromancy (not to be confused with astromancy, which is another term for astrology) observes the direction and strength of the wind to divine the future. On the other hand, ceraunoscopy considers thunder and lightning for divination. Another type of aeromancy is nephomancy, which observes clouds to derive readings. Finally, chaomancy and meteoromancy use aerial vision and meteors/stars for divinatory purposes.
Aleuromancy is a divinatory practice using flour to forecast the future. The term “aleuromancy” derives from the Greek word “aleurone” meaning “flour.” This type of divination was seen in the 2nd millennium BC when flour was poured out in tiny piles and the readings were interpreted considering the shape and orientation of these stacks.
Originally, people would write philosophical phrases and bake them inside of cakes. These cakes were later distributed to individuals willing to see the future. The modern tradition of fortune cookies can be regarded as a type of this divination technique.
Alectryomancy is a type of divination in which the reader observes the motion of a bird(s) while it pecks at grain scattered on the ground. The term “alectryomancy” comes from the Greek word “alectryon” meaning “rooster” (adult male chicken). The grain is typically placed over some letters and the diviner just reads the letters as the rooster pecks at it. This divinatory technique is somewhat similar to Ouija, which also uses a random selection of letters.
In alectryomancy, a divine might sacrifice a rooster to help him/her communicate with the gods and deceased ones.
Alphitomancy is one of the strangest forms of divination. In alphitomancy, barley cakes or loaves of barley bread are prepared. Then, suspects of a crime are fed with the slices of barley cake/bread. It is believed that whoever is guilty will get indigestion, while innocent ones will feel well.
As a matter of fact, a fetus is enclosed by an amniotic membrane, called caul. In amniomancy, diviners observe the color and consistency of the caul to provide readings and forecast the future of the baby. This form of divination can involve an examination of the embryonic sac and even amniotic fluid.
Anthropomancy, also known as splanchomancy, is a form of divination by observing internal organs of dead or dying people. In most cases, the virgin female children were sacrificed and the entrails were used for divinatory purposes.
In some cultures, especially in ancient Rome and Etruria, people would sacrifice animals and examine their intestines to divine the future. The technique was known as “haruspicy,” while the performer of the divination was called a “haruspex.”
Botanomancy involves the burning of tree branches, leaves, and herbs for divinatory purposes. The term can also be used for describing any type of divination using a plant. Some specific forms of botanomancy include sycomancy (uses figs or fig leaves), floromancy (uses flowers), and dendromancy (uses branches and leaves of plants).
Botanomancy is also related to pyromancy. Pyromancy, in general, is a form of divination involving fire. The term should not be confused with papyromancy, in which a diviner folds and unfolds a piece of paper to forecast the future. This technique will also be discussed later in the article.
A divinatory technique involving the use of smoke is known as capnomancy. In capnomancy, a reader makes a fire and observes the movement of the smoke. The thickness of the plumes of smoke uncovers some important details about your life. For instance, thin and straight plumes of smoke indicate some good events to happen. On the contrary, thick and curly plumes are associated with bad omen. Besides, if you see the smoke touching the ground, you need to act as fast as possible to prevent something really unfortunate from happening.
Dactylomancy uses a ring for divinatory purposes. In some cultures, a ring is used as a pendulum right above the surface, engraved with symbols or letters. The ring then tells the diviner the symbols or letters that are included in a message that answers a given question.
In other cases, a ring is hung from a glass and it is swung to touch the sides. Next, a diviner introduces a specific code, such as a single touch for No and two touches for Yes. Lastly, a question is asked and the ring is believed to give the answer.
Extispicy, also known as haruspicy, is a form of divination that examines the internal organs of sacrificed animals. A person practicing the divinatory technique is known as a haruspex. The method comes from the Etruscan religion and pays greater attention to the liver of sacrificed animals, most commonly domesticated birds and sheep. The tradition was later spread to the city of Rome, Babylonia, ancient Greece, and ancient Italy. The technique of reading omens from the liver is also associated with the term “hepatoscopy.”
Believe it or not, even flowers have a unique language. For that reason, numerous psychics and mediums refer to cryptological communication by means of the arrangement of different flowers. The form of divination that uses flowers as the main tool of fortune-telling is known as floriography.
Plants, especially flowers, have specific meanings and carry certain value in various cultural traditions throughout Africa, Asia, and Europe. Besides, almost every flower species has its unique meaning. The definitions are typically based on the appearance or behavior of the specific plant.
Although it might seem quite ridiculous, some diviners provide readings based on examination of an individual’s laugh. They believe that personal traits, as well as his/her fate, is rooted in the way he/she laughs. What diviners do is that they wait for the customer to laugh hysterically. While the client is laughing, a psychic carefully observes the laugh and makes some prophecies.
Gyromancy is another unusual divinatory practice, in which individuals walk around the circle until they feel dizzy and fall down. How the method works is that a particular territory is marked with letters or symbols. An individual receiving the reading walks within the circle until he/she stumbles or falls on one of the engravings. It is believed that the letter or symbol on which the person falls has a significant meaning in his/her life.
Personal characteristics and fate can also be predicted by simply looking at the lines on an individual’s forehead. Metoposcopy was also used to determine the age of an individual and the years he/she had left to live. Taking its origin during the period of classical antiquity, the divinatory technique was significantly expanded and popularized during the medieval period.
Due to the fact that critics doubted the credibility of the technique, the practice of metoposcopy was even banned by Pope Sixtus V in the late 16th century.
Papyromancy, also known as paper fortune-telling, is a divination technique that derives readings through folding a paper. Papyromancy techniques are commonly associated with “origami,” the art of folding papers. Although the term “origami” is sometimes linked with the Japanese culture, it can describe any paper folding practice.
It is believed that a real papyromancer can interpret the reading and forecast the future by folding and unfolding any piece of paper. How the technique works is that a diviner observes the creased lines formed as a result of folding and unfolding a paper. Some papyromancers might even use a piece of paper with an image and interpret the reading based on the resulting illustration.
Somatomancy is one of the most widespread divinatory practices involving divination by observing different parts of the human body. While you might think of palmistry (chiromancy) when talking about the prophecy by the human body, there are lots and lots of other types of techniques.
For instance, cephalomancy examines skulls to derive readings and even forecast the future. On the other hand, podomancy is a type of somatomancy that observes lines and soles on an individual’s feet.
Although it sounds ludicrous, some diviners observe human buttocks just the way palmists examine the palms. The type of somatomancy that divines by looking at the lines, dimples, and folds on buttocks is known as rumpology.
Theriomancy, also known as zoomancy, is a broad divinatory practice that inspects the behavioral patterns of different animals to derive the readings or predict the future. The term “theriomancy” comes from the Greek word “ther” meaning “wild animal.”
Some of the most common forms of theriomancy include:
The last divinatory technique on the list is phrenology, a pseudoscience that considers the dimensions of bumps on an individual’s skull for divination. The obtained measurements can be later used to predict various mental traits as well as personality characteristics. According to phrenology, the brain has particular areas that are responsible for different functions. The method believes that these areas influence the presence of bumps and their location on the skull.
Bumps have been observed for a couple of applications, including racism, education, psychology, psychiatry, and psychology. The visual appearance of bumps on an individual’s skull has been associated with various issues linked with the applications mentioned earlier.