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Divination Words: “dactyliomancy” to “gyromancy”,
Part 4 of 9

Words including: -mancy, -mancer, -mantic, -mantical (Greek: used as a suffix; divination, prophecy; to interpret signs so “practical” decisions can be made [related to -mania])

Divination refers to the methods or practices of attempting to foretell the future or discovering the unknown through omens, oracles, or with supernatural powers; prophesying or predicting the future; methods of "fortune telling".

dactyliomancy, dactylomancy, dactyomancy:
Divination with finger rings “… by holding a ring suspended by a fine thread over a round table on the edge of which were a number of marks with the 24 [Greek] letters of the alphabet. The ring was consecrated with a great deal of mystery.”

-Demonologia, John Bumpus, page 146; London: 1827

A ring was suspended on a string as it swang unassisted against the side of a glass indicating “yes” or “no” to questions. A ring might also be used as a pendulum to point out letters. One technique was to let a ring swing from one’s hand by a string or human hair over a circle, often the rim of a wide vase, on which letters were written. The swinging of the ring spelled out the answers to questions. Some groups use other objects; for example, the Malaysians use lemons; the Cherokees used stones or ancient arrowheads, and a modern version of the method is the Ouija board.

Divination by throwing laurel leaves on a sacred fire from a grove sacred to Appollo. If the leaves crackled in the flames, the forecast would be favorable; if they burned quietly, the prophecy was negative.
Divination by calling on demons for prophecies as in black magic.
Divination through the use of oak and mistletoe.
Divination by interpreting the crackle of a laurel branch on a fire (the same as daphnomancy).
Divination by observing dripping blood.
Divination with olive oil, or another kind of oil; and analyzing its patterns and designs on a liquid surface.
Divination by observing fire and smoke or the objects on a sacrificial fire. Eggs, flour, and incense were used for this purpose as well as shoulder blades of the sacrificed victim.
enoptromancy<: Divination from ancients by the use of a mirror and its reflections; one practice was to lower a mirror into water with only the base touching and when gazing into the mirror, recovery or death was predicted.

Divination by examining the entrails of animals.
Oriental (Persian) divination in which a person covered his head with a cloth and muttered questions above a vase of water. Stirrings on the surface would be regarded as a good omen.
Divination by examining animal entrails.
Divination with lamps.
Divination by observing the behavior or actions of a cat (or cats), ranging in predictions about changes in the weather to unexpected visitors. Dating from the Middle Ages, many of these have survived as popular superstitions.
Divination with flowers or plants, including their colors, petals, and time and place of planting. A belief that flowers radiate vibrations and have curative properties in healing disease. Many omens concerning the gathering of flowers at Midsummer’s Eve have survived to modern times; and the “good luck” commonly attributed to the finding of a four-leaf clover falls into this category.
Divination with tea leaves.
Divination by listening to stomach sounds or the use of ventriloquism, and/or with the marks on the stomach; also, divination by a trance voice coming through a psychic. Because the voice sounded very low and hollow, people thought it was coming from the stomach.

In some cases, it was thought that the voices came from trees, rivers, deep in the ground, or wherever the diviner pointed.

Divination by translating hysterical laughter into coherent terms. Perhaps it was a carry-over from ancient oracles, where persons inhaled natural gas from volcanic fissures and babbled incoherent utterances which gifted listeners interpreted as prophecies that determined the fate of nations.
Divination by the analysis of figures or lines drawn in dirt (or on paper); a system of divination by scattering pebbles, dust, sand grains, or seed on the ground and interpreting their shapes and positions; making marks on the ground with a stick (now with a pencil or pen on paper); still used by modern-day Chinese in Hong Kong and other places before construction of a building takes place.

The term “geomancy” is applied to the Chinese practice of feng-shui (wind and water). Feng-shui and ti li (land patterns) are concerned with the “dragon lines” or subtle energies of the earth in relation to the siting of buildings, and the interaction between human life and earth currents. Feng-shui experts determine the most suitable places for roads, bridges, canals, wells, buildings of all kinds, and mines in relation to earth currents; and the site of graves was especially important. Often bodies might be kept unburied for some time until a suitable burial place with harmonious currents was determined; in some cases bodies were re-buried.

In modern Germany, a geobiologist (also known as a biogeologist) checks water and magnetic veins in the earth so living-quarters (bed room, etc.) can be “properly arranged”.

graphomancy, graphtomancy:
Divination with handwriting analysis.
Divination by walking in a circle until dizziness caused a person to fall and this was interpreted in various ways. Originally, it was performed by people who moved around a circle marked with letters or symbols, until they became dizzy and stumbled, thus spelling out words or enabling a diviner to interpret the symbols. Some authorities say that it was from this that there developed wild, whirling dances by fanatics who uttered prophecies after collapsing in a state of complete exhaustion.

There once was a wizard named Nancy
Who specialized in gyromancy.
When she fell on her head,
She just shrugged and then said,
“This business is iffy and chancy.”

By Anne Ominus as seen in There’s a Word for It! by Charles H. Elster; Scribner Publishers; New York; 1996.