Dictionary of Divination


DivinationPerhaps the simplest definition of “divination” is that it is an attempt at obtaining “divine” knowledge, that is, knowledge that would not normally be obtainable my mere mortals.  Most frequently, the knowledge sought is knowledge of the future.  

It is not difficult to understand Man’s desire to have such knowledge.  Instead of being at the mercy of the gods, or of Fate, or of nature, Man would prefer to exercise control over his destiny – or, if control should not be possible, then he at least would like some foreknowledge of what awaits him, so that he might better prepare for the future.

The list that follows represents a gathering of information concerning the major types of divination and their variations. 

  • Aeromancy – By air.
  • Alectryomancy (also Alectoromancy) – By poultry.   Grains are placed on each letter of the alphabet.  Then a cockerel with claws cut eats the grain, spelling out something.
  • Arithmancy (also Numerology) – By numbers.  
  • Astrology – also known as astromancy or horoscopy.  Divination by study of the movements of heavenly bodies, particularly the major planets.
  • Axinomancy – By hatchet.
  • Botanomancy – By herbs.  
  • Capnomancy – By smoke.  
  • Carromancy – By melting wax.  
  • Cartomancy – By cards.  This term may be used for any types of cards, including tarot cards, playing cards, and cards specifically produced for divinatory purposes.  
  • Catoptromancy – By mirror.  Also see Scrying.
  • Cephalomancy – By donkey’s head.
  • Chiromancy – By the palm of the hand.  Also known as palmistry.
  • Cledomancy – By words.  
  • Cleromancy – By lots.  
  • Cromniomancy – By onions.
  • Gastromancy – By the sounds of the stomach.  
  • Hydromancy – By water.
  • I Ching.  Divination system based on the Book of Changes.
  • Idolomancy – By idols.  This form of divination is, of course, closely related to oracles.
  • Lampadomancy – By lamps or candles.  
  • Lecanomancy – By precious stones dropped in water.
  • Numerology (also see arithmancy) – By numbers.
  • Oniromancy – By dreams.
  • Onychomancy – By the fingernails.
  • Ornithomancy – By bird flight or song.  
  • Ouija, also known as ouija board or spirit board.  
  • Palmistry – By the hands.  also, chiromancy.
  • Podomancy – By the feet.
  • Pyromancy – By fire.  
  • Runes.  
  • Scrying – By crystal balls, magic mirrors and the like.
  • Spatalamancy – By skins, bones or excrement.
  • Sycomancy – By figs.
  • Tasseography – By tea leaves.  (Or, alternately, by coffee grounds.)
  • Tyromancy – By the coagulation of cheese.