Methods of divination  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Innumerable methods of divination can be found around the world, and many cultures practice the same methods under different names. During the Middle Ages, scholars coined terms for many of these methods — some of which had hitherto been unnamed — in Medieval Latin, very often utilizing the suffix -mantia when the art seemed more mystical (ultimately from Greek mantis, prophet) and the suffix -scopia when the art seemed more scientific (ultimately from Greek skopein, to observe). Names like drimimantia, nigromantia, and horoscopia turned up, along with a slew of other esoteric (and distinctly Medieval) "sciences" such as phrenology and physiognomy.

Of course, some forms of divination are much older than the Middle Ages, like haruspication, while others (such as megapolisomancy or coffee-based tasseomancy) are born of the 20th and 21st century.






  • eleomancy/elaeomancy: by oil (Greek elaion, olive oil + manteia, prophecy)
  • emonomancy → see Template:Sm aboveTemplate:Citation needed
  • empirimancy: by experiment/experience
  • empyromancy Template:IPA: by burning (Greek empurios, fiery + manteia, prophecy)
  • enochian chess: by playing a four·handed variant of the game
  • enoptromancy Template:IPA → see under Template:Sm below (Greek enoptron, looking glass + manteia, prophecy)
  • enthusiasm: speeches by those supposed to be possessed by a divine spirit <ref>Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan (1651). "Lastly, to the Prognostics [who] have added innumerable other superstitious ways of Divination[:]...Sometimes in the insignificant Speeches of Madmen, supposed to be possessed with a divine Spirit; which Possession they called Enthusiasm..."</ref>
  • entomomancy/entomancy: by insects (Greek entomon, insect + manteia, prophecy)
  • eromancy Template:IPA: by water vessels exposed to air (Greek āēr, air + manteia, prophecy) — cf. aeromancy
  • extispicy/extispication Template:IPA: by the remains of sacrificed animals (Latin exta, entrails + specere, to look at)




  • hagiomancy: by saints (Greek hagios, holy + manteia, prophecy)
  • halomancy Template:IPA → see Template:Sm above.
  • hakata: by bones or dice
  • haruspicy/haruspication Template:IPA → see Template:Sm below (Latin haru-, entrails + specere, to look at)
  • hematomancy/haematomancy Template:IPA: by blood (Greek haima [haimat-], blood + manteia, prophecy)
  • hepatoscopy/hepatomancy Template:IPA (also haruspicy, haruspication): by liver (Greek hēpar [hēpat-], liver + -skopiā, observation)
  • hieromancy/hieroscopy Template:IPA: by studying sacrifices' entrails (Greek hieros, holy + manteia, prophecy)
  • hippomancy → see under Template:Sm below.
  • horoscopy Template:IPA: aspect of the Stars at nativity <ref>Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan (1651). "Lastly, to the Prognostics [who] have added innumerable other superstitious ways of Divination[:]...Sometimes in the aspect of the Stars at their Nativity; which was called Horoscopy, and esteemed a part of judiciary Astrology..."</ref> (Greek hōrā, season + -skopiā, observation)
  • hydatomancy: by rainwater (Greek hudatis, raindrop + manteia, prophecy)
  • hydromancy/hydroscopy → see under Template:Sm below
  • hyomancy: by wild hogs (Greek hūs, swine + manteia, prophecy)
  • hypnomancy Template:IPA: by sleep (Greek hupnos, sleep + manteia, prophecy)





  • labiomancy Template:IPA: by lips (Latin labium, lip + Greek manteia, prophecy)
  • lampadomancy Template:IPA: by flame (Greek lampas [lampad-], light + manteia, prophecy)
  • lecanomancy/lecanoscopy Template:IPA: by a basin of water (Greek lekanē, basin + manteia, prophecy)
  • letnomancy: by secrets (English let no (one see) + Greek manteia, prophecy)
  • libanomancy Template:IPA: by smoke from incense (Greek libanos, frankincense + manteia, prophecy)
  • literomancy Template:IPA: by a letter in a written language (Latin lītera, letter + Greek manteia, prophecy)
  • lithomancy Template:IPA: by gems or stones (Greek lithos, stone + manteia, prophecy)
  • logarithmancy Template:IPA: by logarithms (English logarith(m) + Greek manteia, prophecy)
  • logomancy Template:IPA: by words (Greek logos, word + manteia, prophecy)
  • lots: divination through chance, or the drawing or tossing of lots<ref>Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan (1651). "Lastly, to the Prognostics [who] have added innumerable other superstitious ways of Divination[:]...Sometimes, in mere Lottery, as Cross and Pile; counting holes in a sieve; dipping of Verses in Homer, and Virgil; and innumerable other such vain conceipts..."</ref>
  • lunamancy → see Template:Sm below (Latin lūna, moon + Greek manteia, prophecy)
  • lychnomancy Template:IPA: by candles (Greek lukhnos, lamp + manteia, prophecy)





  • pallomancy: by pendulums (Greek pallein, to sway + manteia, prophecy)
  • palmistry/palm reading → see under Template:Sm below (Latin palma, palm)
  • papyromancy: by folding paper, especially paper money (Greek papūros, papyrus paper + manteia, prophecy)
  • pedomancy → see under Template:Sm below (from podomancy, influenced by Latin pēs [pēd-], foot)
  • pegomancy: by fountains (Greek pēgē, spring + manteia, prophecy)
  • pessomancy: by pebbles (Greek pessos, oval pebble + manteia, prophecy)
  • pecthimancy/petchimancy: by brushed cloth (possibly akin to Greek pekein, to card wool, or pēktē, netting + manteia, prophecy)
  • phobomancy: by feelings of fear (Greek phobos, fear + manteia, prophecy)
  • photomancy: by fields of light (Greek phōs [phōt-], light + manteia, prophecy)
  • phrenology (also organoscopy): by the configuration of one's brain (Greek phrēn, mind + -logiā, study)
  • phyllomancy: by leaves (Greek phullon, leaf + manteia, prophecy)
    • sycomancy: by fig leaves (Greek sūkon, fig + manteia, prophecy)
    • tasseography/tasseomancy (also kypomancy): by tea leaves or coffee grounds (French tasse, cup + Greek -graphiā, representation)
  • phyllorhodomancy: by rose petals (Greek phullon, leaf + rhodon, rose + manteia, prophecy)
  • physiognomy/physiognomancy: by faces (Greek phusis, nature + -gnōmoniā, interpretation)
  • phytognomy: by the appearance of plants (Greek phuton, plant + -gnōmoniā, interpretation)
  • plastromancy: by cracks formed by heat on a turtle's plastron (English plastron + manteia, prophecy)
  • pneumancy: by blowing (Greek pneuma, breath + manteia, prophecy)
  • podomancy/pedomancy → see under Template:Sm below
  • portenta (also, ostenta): study of natural phenomena<ref>Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan (1651). "Lastly, to the Prognostics [who] have added innumerable other superstitious ways of Divination[:]...Sometimes in Monsters, or unusual accidents; as Eclipses, Comets, rare Meteors, Earthquakes, Inundations, uncouth Births, and the like, which they called Portenta and Ostenta, because they thought them to portend, or foreshow some great Calamity to come..."</ref>
  • psephomancy: by lots or ballots (Greek psephos, pebble + manteia, prophecy)
  • pseudomancy: by false means, such as Peter Answers (Greek pseudēs, false + manteia, prophecy)
  • psychognomy: by phrenological notations (Greek psūkhē, soul + -gnōmoniā, observation)
  • psychomancy → see Template:Sm¹ above (Greek psūkhē, soul + manteia, prophecy)
  • pyromancy/pyroscopy: by fire (Greek pūr, fire + manteia, prophecy)




  • scapulimancy/scapulomancy (also spatulamancy, omoplatoscopy): by bovine or caprid shoulder blades (Latin scapula, shoulder blade + Greek manteia, prophecy)
  • scarpomancy: by old shoes (Italian scarpa, shoe + Greek manteia, prophecy)
  • scatomancy: by excrement (Greek skōr [skat-], excrement + manteia, prophecy)
  • schematomancy → see under Template:Sm below
  • sciomancy¹ (also shadowmancy): by shadows (Greek skiā, shadow + manteia, prophecy)
  • sciomancy²: by spirits (of the same origin as sciomancy¹)
  • scrying: by gazing (shortened from descrying)
    • crystal gazing: by reflective objects
      • catoptromancy/captromancy (also enoptromancy, djubed): by mirrors (Greek katoptron, mirror + manteia, prophecy)
      • gastromancy¹ (also crystallomancy, spheromancy, crystal ball gazing): by crystal ball (Greek gastēr, belly [i.e., round object] + manteia, prophecy)
      • hydromancy (also ydromancy): by water (Greek hudōr, water + manteia, prophecy)
  • selenomancy: by the moon (Greek selēnē, moon + manteia, prophecy)
  • shadowmancy → see Template:Sm¹ above (English shadow + Greek manteia, prophecy)
  • sideromancy: by burning straw with an iron (Greek sidēros, iron + manteia, prophecy)
  • sikidy: by drawing sixteen lines in sand (perhaps a Malagasy transliteration of English sixteen)
  • skatharomancy: by beetle tracks (Greek skatharōn, spot + manteia, prophecy)
  • slinneanachd/slinnanacht: by animal shoulder blades (Scottish Gaelic slinnean, shoulder blade)
  • solaromancy: by the sun (Latin sōl [sōlār-], sun + Greek manteia, prophecy)
  • somatomancy: by the human form (Greek sōma [sōmat-], body + manteia, prophecy)
    • cephalomancy (also craniognomy): by skulls (Greek kephalē, head + manteia, prophecy)
    • cheiromancy/chiromancy (kī'rə·măn·sē; also palmistry, palm reading): by palms<ref>Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan (1651). "Lastly, to the Prognostics [who] have added innumerable other superstitious ways of Divination[:]...Sometimes in...Palmistry in the lines of the hand; in casual words, called Omina..."</ref> (Greek kheir, hand + manteia, prophecy)
    • cheirognomy/chirognomy Template:IPA: by hands (Greek kheir, hand + -gnōmoniā, interpretation)
    • podomancy/pedomancy (also cartopedy): by the soles of one's feet (Greek pous [pod-], foot + manteia, prophecy)
    • rumpology (also natimancy): by buttocks (English rump + Greek -logiā, study)
    • schematomancy: by the face (Greek skhēma [skhēmat-], figure + manteia, prophecy)
  • sortilege: by the casting of lots, or sortes
  • spasmatomancy: by convulsions (alteration of *spasmodomancy, from Greek spasmos [spasmōd-], spasm + manteia, prophecy)
  • spatilomancy: by animal excrement (Greek spatilē, excrement + manteia, prophecy)
  • spatulamancy → see Template:Sm above (from scapulimancy, influenced by Latin spatula, splint)
  • spheromancy → see under Template:Sm above (Greek sphaira, sphere + manteia, prophecy)
  • sphondulomancy: by spindles (Greek sphondulos, spindle + manteia, prophecy)
  • splanchnomancy → see Template:Sm above (Greek splankhna, innards + manteia, prophecy)
  • spodomancy: by soot (Greek spodos, wood ashes + manteia, prophecy)
  • stareomancy: by the four elements (Greek stais [stair-], dough + manteia, prophecy)
  • stercomancy: by seeds in bird excrement (Latin stercus, excrement + Greek manteia, prophecy)
  • sternomancy: by ridges on the breastbone (Greek sternon, breastbone + manteia, prophecy)
  • stichomancy → see Template:Sm above
  • stigonomancy: by burning writing onto bark (Greek stizein [stigōn-], to brand + manteia, prophecy)
  • stoicheomancy/stoichomancy → see under Template:Sm above
  • stolisomancy: by fashion (Greek stolis, garment + manteia, prophecy)
  • sycomancy → see Template:Sm above
  • symbolomancy: by things found on the road (Greek sumbolon, sign + manteia, prophecy)


  • taromancy → see under Template:Sm above
  • tasseography/tasseomancy → see under Template:Sm above
  • technomancy: by technology (English techno(logy) + Greek manteia, prophecy)
  • technical analysis: by patterns in the chart of a financial instrument
  • temurah: by anagrams
  • tephramancy/tephromancy (also tuphromancy): by cremation ashes (Greek tephrā, ash + manteia, prophecy)
  • theomancy: foretelling events, prophecy<ref>Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan (1651). "Lastly, to the Prognostics [who] have added innumerable other superstitious ways of Divination[:]...and these kinds of foretelling events, were accounted Theomancy or Prophecy..."</ref> (Greek theos, god + manteia, prophecy)
  • theriomancy Template:IPA: (also zoomancy): by animal behavior (Greek thēr, wild animal + manteia, prophecy)
    • ailuromancy/aeluromancy Template:IPA (also felidomancy): by cats (Greek ailouros, cat + manteia, prophecy)
    • alectryomancy/alectoromancy Template:IPA: by rooster behavior (Greek alektruōn, cockerel + manteia, prophecy)
    • augury: by bird formations<ref>Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan (1651). "Lastly, to the Prognostics [who] have added innumerable other superstitious ways of Divination[:]...Sometimes in the Casual flight, or feeding of birds; called Augury..."</ref> (Latin augur, diviner)
    • hippomancy Template:IPA: by horse behavior (Greek hippos, horse + manteia, prophecy)
    • ichthyomancy Template:IPA: by fish behavior (Greek ikhthūs, fish + manteia, prophecy)
    • myomancy Template:IPA: by rodent behavior (Greek mūs, mouse + manteia, prophecy)
    • myrmomancy Template:IPA: by ant behavior (Greek murmēx, ant + manteia, prophecy)
    • nggàm: by spider or crab behavior (Mambila nggàm, divination)
    • ophidiomancy/ophiomancy: by snakes behavior (Greek ophis [ophid-], snake + manteia, prophecy)
    • orniscopy/ornithomancy (also auspicy/auspication, avimancy): by bird migration (Greek ornīs [ornīth-], bird + -skopiā, observation)
  • thumomancy: by one's own soul, presage<ref>Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan (1651). "Lastly, to the Prognostics [who] have added innumerable other superstitious ways of Divination[:]...Sometimes in their own hopes and fears, called Thumomancy, or Presage..."</ref> (Greek thūmos, soul + manteia, prophecy)
  • topomancy: by geography and geological formations (Greek topos, place + manteia, prophecy)
  • transataumancy: by things accidentally seen or heard
  • trochomancy: by wheel ruts (Greek trokhos, wheel + manteia, prophecy)
  • tuphromancy → see Template:Sm above (from tephramancy, influenced by Greek tuphos, smoke)
  • turifumy: by shapes in smoke (Latin tūs [tūr-], incense + fūmus, vapor)
  • typomancy¹: by typographical errors (English typo + Greek manteia, prophecy)
  • typomancy²: by curds (from tyromancy, influenced by Greek tupōma, something which has been molded)
  • tyromancy/tiromancy: by cheese (Greek tūros, cheese + manteia, prophecy)


  • umbilicomancy: by umbilical cords (English umbilic(al cord) + Greek manteia, prophecy)
  • umbromancy: by shade (Latin umbra, shadow + Greek manteia, prophecy)
  • uranomancy/ouranomancy: by the sky (Greek ouranos, firmament + manteia, prophecy)
  • uromancy/urimancy: by urine (Greek ouron, urine + manteia, prophecy)
  • urticariaomancy: by itches (New Latin urticāria, hives + Greek manteia, prophecy)


  • videomancy: by films (English video + Greek manteia, prophecy)



  • xenomancy: by strangers (Greek xenos, stranger + manteia, prophecy)
  • xylomancy: by burning wood (Greek xulon, wood + manteia, prophecy)
  • xylomancy (also): by analyzing the texture of wooden boards



  • zoomancy → see Template:Sm above (Greek zōion, being + manteia, prophecy)
  • zygomancy: by weights (Greek zugon, yoke, balance + manteia, prophecy)

See also

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