The Wiccan's Dictionary of Prophecy and Omens

The Wiccan's Dictionary of Prophecy and Omens

by Gerina Dunwich

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Divination—the art of obtaining knowledge of the future or of secret things—has played an important role in ancient cultures and religions as well as in modern times. It was once a method of sacred communication with the spirit world and a way to determine the will of the gods by means of visions and predictions. In the present age, divination, including astrology, palmistry, and the I Ching, continues to be a popular method of looking into the future or past, as well as revealing that which was once unknown. In fact, a large number of our contemporary customs and superstitions are remnants of the once-powerful divinatory rituals of the ancient pagan religions. The Wiccan's Dictionary of Prophecy and Omens details over two hundred methods of divination, from those used in antiquity to those in use today. It traces the history of these practices and provides examples of nearly every known divinatory art. This is an essential resource for followers of today’s Wiccan lifestyle by modern Wiccan expert Gerina Dunwich.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780806539669
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 11/27/2018
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 160
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

Gerina Dunwich is the author of over two-dozen books on witchcraft and the occult. Her articles, poetry and interviews have appeared in numerous publications, including Playgirl, American Woman, Moving Words, and in Llewellyn's calendars and datebooks. She lives in Upstate New York.

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ABACOMANCY The art and practice of divination by reading omens in patterns of dust (possibly including the ashes of the dead).

The origin and precise method of this unusual form of divination is unknown; however, like most of the divinatory methods covered in this book, abacomancy most likely dates back to ancient times.


AEROMANCY (also spelled aerimancy) The art and practice of divination by the air, the winds, and various atmospheric phenomena such as spectral formations, comets, the shapes of clouds, and so forth.

This method of divination, which reaches beyond the scope of weather prognostication, dates back to the earliest of times and was practiced by diviners around the world in one form or another.

Aeromancy, in the most precise sense of the word, covers mainly the art and practice of divination by a current of air; however, in medieval times, divination by nearly any phenomenon of the heavens became classified under the title of aeromancy. In modern times, it continues to be used for primitive weather forecasting, among other things.



ALECTRYOMANCY (also known as alectoromancy and alectromancy) The art and practice of divination involving a rooster or a black hen. A circle, which is divided into twenty-six equal pie-shaped parts, is drawn on the ground. Each part of the circle represents a different letter of the alphabet and contains a wheat seed or grain of corn. After the appropriate prayers and magickal incantations are recited, the rooster or hen (often with its claws cut off or tied together) is placed in the center of the circle and allowed to eat. The letter from each part of the circle where it picks up a seed or grain is recorded and then used to spell out a divinatory message.

It is said that this method of divination works best when the Moon is positioned in the sign of the Ram (Aries) or the sign of the Lion (Leo).

Another version of alectryomancy consists of reciting the letters of the alphabet at dawn and then writing down the ones that are said at the same time the crowing of a rooster is heard.

These methods of divination are popular throughout Africa where they are believed to have originated.

ALEUROMANCY The art and practice of divination by messages baked inside special cakes or cookies which are then selected at random.

The origin of aleuromancy can be traced back to China, where it was performed in ancient times for men and women of great nobility. To gain a better understanding of what the future held in store, the diviner would choose from an assortment of special tea cakes into which tiny essays based on philosophical tenets were baked. Upon breaking open the tea cake, the message contained within would be revealed and interpreted.

In Europe, aleuromancy is responsible for the old custom of baking a cake containing a coin of silver. According to the tradition, the person who receives the piece of cake with the coin is either blessed with an abundance of good luck throughout the ensuing year or entitled to have one secret wish granted.

In ancient Greece, small pieces of paper containing various messages were rolled up in small balls of flour, mixed up nine times, and then given to those who desired to know their destiny.

This particular form of divination was ruled by the god Apollo (one of the epithets of Apollo was aleuromancy).

The ancient practice of divination by messages baked in small balls of flour continues to be practiced in modern times in the form of fortune cookies.

ALOMANCY The art and practice of divining future events by interpreting the symbolic patterns made by the sprinkling of salt.

Another method involves casting a handful of salt into a fire and then interpreting whatever omens may appear in the flames.

The old and well-known superstition that spilling salt brings bad luck, and that a pinch of salt sprinkled over the left shoulder averts the misfortune, most likely stems from the ancient practice of alomancy, which is also known as "halomancy."

ALPHITOMANCY The ancient art and practice of divination to identify a guilty person by using a leaf of barley or a special barley cake that can be ingested only by persons who are innocent. If a man or woman accused of a particular crime falls ill in any way (or even if his or her stomach rumbles) after swallowing a bite of the barley cake, it is an indication of guilt.

This old method of divination is also known as critomancy, and is similar to the art and practice of crithomancy, which is divination by grain or corn.

AMNIOMANCY The art and practice of divination by observation of the caul on a child's head at the time of birth. (A caul is a fetal membrane that covers the head of some infants at the time of their birth.)

The ancient Romans believed that when a child was born with a caul, it was an omen of phenomenal good luck. In certain parts of the world, it was believed that a person born with a caul naturally possessed second sight, could never be bewitched, and would never die by drowning.

A lead-colored caul is believed to be an omen of great misfortune for the child; a red one reveals that the child will grow to be strong and blessed with a life filled with joy.

This method of divination gets its name from the Latin word amnion, which means a membrane.

ANTHROPOMANCY An ancient and gruesome form of divination by means of interpreting the intestines of sacrificed children and women, much in the same fashion as haruspicy (divination by inspecting the entrails of slaughtered or sacrificed animals).

This horrible method of divination was believed to have been practiced regularly by the Emperor Julian the Apostate, and was at one time encouraged by the oracle at Delphi. However, by the sixth century B.C., the custom of human sacrifice had become "rare and repellent to the conscience" in the Greek world and was eventually outlawed entirely.

APANTOMANCY The art and practice of drawing omens from chance meetings with animals or birds. (The old superstition of the black cat bringing bad luck when it crosses a person's path is one example of apantomancy which has survived to the present day.)

In Yorkshire, England, nineteenth-century fishermen were convinced that if a four-legged animal (especially a dog) happened to cross their paths while they were on the way to their boats in the harbor, it was an ominous portent. So great was their fear that many believed the only way to avert the pending misfortune was to kill the animal harbinger.

Meeting a rabbit or hare, according to the sixteenth century Gospelles of Dystaues, was an "evyll sygne." By the nineteenth century, a magickal method of protection against the bad omen of the hare was devised. It consisted of spitting over the left shoulder and then reciting the following charm:

"Hare before, trouble behind.
Change ye, Cross, and free me."

It is said that if a hare crosses your path from right to left, it foretells a disastrous journey ahead. However, if it crosses from left to right, it means good luck will soon be coming your way.

In some parts of England it was once believed that if a weasel crossed your path, it was an omen of treachery. In order to avert it, you were supposed to drop a coin on the road at the precise spot where the weasel crossed. The logic behind this was to avert the bad luck by transferring it to whomever found the coin and was unlucky enough to pick it up.

Apantomancy has been practiced throughout the world, probably since prehistoric times. Nearly all animals known to man have been connected with the arts of divination, but it seems that in Europe, Great Britain, and the United States of America, cats, dogs, hares, bats, birds, and farm animals are the types of animals interpreted more often than others.

ARITHMANCY (also known as arithmomancy) The art and practice of divination by interpretation of numbers and letter values. It was practiced mainly by the ancient Greeks and Chaldeans, and is the forerunner of numerology.

Arithmancy (which takes its name from the Greek words arithmos meaning numbers, and mancy, which means divination, was devised in Athens by the sixth-century philosopher Pythagoras, who used it for character analysis as well as forecasting the future and fate of others.


ARMOMANCY (also known as scapulomancy) The art and practice of divination by observation of the shoulder bone of an animal, usually one that has been properly sacrificed.

In China, it was a common practice among ancient diviners to apply heat to the symbol-inscribed shoulder bone of an ox until cracks forming various patterns appeared. These patterns would then be interpreted.

(In addition to ox bones, Chinese diviners also were known to use the carapace, or shell, of a tortoise in the same manner.)

As oxen were quite expensive, only those knowledge seekers possessing great wealth could afford to have their futures divined by means of armomancy.

Divination by the shoulder bone of animals was also popular in ancient times among the Mohammedan diviners.

ART OF THE LITTLE DOTS A relatively modern form of geomancy. It is quite simple and is performed in the following way: If you are right-handed, hold a pen or pencil in your left hand (or vice versa for lefties) over a blank piece of paper. Close your eyes, clear your mind of all distracting thoughts, and then quickly tap the tip of the writing instrument on the paper one hundred times. Open your eyes and look at the paper. You will see that a pattern has been formed by the random dots. Focus your eyes and mind on the dot pattern until you are able to interpret its meaning.

ASPIDOMANCY The art and practice of divination by sitting on a shield within a magick circle and falling into a trance while reciting ancient occult formulas. Once the state of trance has been entered, the diviner is then able to experience divinatory visions and/or to communicate with various gods and spirits in order to receive spiritual advice or insight into events yet to occur.

Aspidomancy was a method of divination popular at one time among the shamanic diviners of many Native American Indian tribes.

ASTRAGALI Special divinatory dice used by the augurs of ancient times. They were carved from the four-sided knucklebones of sheep and decorated with dots, much in the same way as modern dice, or other symbols possessing divinatory significance.

Astragali were popular fortune-telling tools among the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians.

ASTRAGALOMANCY (also spelled astraglomancy) The art and practice of divination by dice.

In primitive times, small bones such as the vertebrae were inscribed with special divinatory symbols and used by diviners to give answers to questions. In ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt, the four-sided knucklebones of sheep were employed. (See ASTRAGALI) Modern dice, as we know them, were believed to have been first used by the Egyptians around 1400 B.C.

To divine by dice is a fairly simple procedure. First, a list of twenty possible answers numbered from four to twenty-four must be written out. A question is asked out loud, and then a pair of ordinary dice are thrown. Their numbers are added together and written down. The dice are then thrown a second time, and their numbers are added to the first. The resulting number is then matched to the corresponding answer on the numbered list.

According to ancient occult tradition, Fridays and Sundays are the two most unfavorable days for the casting of the dice.


ASTRAGYROMANCY Another form of astragalomancy or divination by dice. Three dice are cast into a circle about twelve inches in diameter. (If any or all of the dice fall out of the circle during the first two tries, the time for dice casting is said to be inauspicious, and you should not try again until a later time. Three misses in a row is considered an extremely unlucky sign.) The total face value of the dice is interpreted in the following manner:

Three is an indication of good luck. You may soon be receiving some unexpected good news.

Four is an indication of disappointment or a streak of bad luck. This is a time for you to be extremely careful.

Five means that your wish will be granted. A new friendship will soon be established.

Six is an indication that you will soon part with your money. Also, beware of dishonest friends.

Seven is an indication of sorrow and also setbacks. People are talking behind your back.

Eight is an indication that you will soon receive the blame for something which you may or may not be responsible for.

Nine is an indication of a wedding (either yours or someone close to you), luck in love, or a reconciliation of some kind.

Ten is an indication of a career advancement, or the birth of a child.

Eleven is an indication of sickness, a separation, sorrow for you or a loved one.

Twelve is an indication that you will be the recipient of happy news, either by phone or by mail.

Thirteen is a very bad omen, indicating sorrow, grief, and worry.

Fourteen is an indication that there is a secret admirer or a helpful friend.

Fifteen is an indication of disagreements, dishonesty, and gossip.

Sixteen is an indication of travel in store for you in the near future.

Seventeen is an indication that changes will soon be occurring. A possible change of residence within a year's time.

Eighteen is a very good omen, indicating success in all ventures, money, and happiness.

Another method of astragyromancy employs a circle divided into a dozen equal, pie-shaped wedges, each assigned a different letter of the alphabet from A to L. Three dice are cast into the circle, and the letters that are landed on are then interpreted using a prepared list of corresponding messages.

ASTRO-DIVINATION The ancient occult science of casting astrological charts to answer specific, personal questions and/or to solve problems based on the position of the heavenly bodies at the time of the inquiry.

Also known by the name of Horary astrology, this form of astrological divination dates back to the fifth century B.C. (The word horary is derived from the Latin word hora, meaning hour.)

ASTROLOGY (also known as the science of the stars.) An ancient occult art and science, dating back to the third centuryB.C. that judges the influence of the planets in the solar system on the course of human affairs.

In astrology, a planet's influence varies according to which section of the zodiac it is in.

The two main types of astrology are Mundane and Horary. Mundane astrology, which is based on the premise that the Earth's physical structure is affected by cosmic influences, deals with the prediction of large-scale phenomena such as earthquakes, political trends, and wars. Horary astrology is a method that uses charts for answering specific questions and/or for solving problems.

The other branches of astrology include: Electorial astrology, which calculates appropriate dates and times for undertaking important events such as marriage, travel, and so forth; Inceptional astrology, which deals with the outcome of a particular event whose date, time, and place have already been established; Medical astrology, which correlates zodiac signs and planetary influences with diseases and malfunctions of the bodily organs; Natal astrology, which focuses on the horoscope of the heavens for the precise moment of an individual's birth; Predictive astrology, which predicts future events in an individual's life; and Astrometeorology, which uses the science of the stars to forecast weather patterns and conditions.

The twelve astrological signs of the zodiac and their attributes are as follows:

ARIES (March 21–April 20)

Symbol: The Ram Element: Fire Masculine/Positive Planetary Rulers: Mars and Pluto Gemstones: Coral and diamond Most compatible with: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius, and those with Moon in Aries.

TAURUS (April 21–May 21)

Symbol: The Bull Element: Earth Feminine/Negative Planetary Ruler: Venus Gemstones: Carnelian and emerald Most compatible with: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn, and those with Moon in Taurus.

GEMINI (May 22–June 21)

Symbol: The Twins Element: Air Masculine/Positive Planetary Ruler: Mercury Gemstones: Agate and alexandrite Most compatible with: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius, and those with Moon in Gemini.

CANCER (June 22–July 23)

Symbol: The Crab Element: Water Feminine/Negative Planetary Ruler: The Moon Gemstones: Moonstone, pearl, and all white gemstones Most compatible with: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces, and those with Moon in Cancer.

LEO (July 24–August 23)

Symbol: The Lion Element: Fire Masculine/Positive Planetary Ruler: The Sun Gemstones: Amber, ruby, and all yellow or golden-colored gemstones.

Most compatible with: Leo, Sagittarius, Aries, and those with Moon in Leo.

VIRGO (August 24–September 23)

Symbol: The Virgin Element: Earth Feminine/Negative Planetary Ruler: Mercury Gemstones: Sapphire and sardonyx Most compatible with: Virgo, Capricorn, Taurus, and those with Moon in Virgo.


Excerpted from "The Wiccan's Dictionary of Prophecy and Omens"
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Copyright © 1999 Gerina Dunwich.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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Table of Contents

Also by Gerina Dunwich,
Title Page,
Cosmic Oracle,
Further Reading,
Selected Bibliography,
Cross Reference Guide,

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