With Samhain (Halloween) approaching, I thought I might write some posts on “witchy” themes.

Some time ago I prepared and delivered a Power Point presentation on divination to our writing group and I though, because I’m lazy that I would start with this as it’s already written (kind of, since I can’t transfer the information from the Power Point to here and have to re-type it)

Divination Meaning: From the Latin Divinare “to foresee; to be inspired by a god”

an art or practice that seeks to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge usually by the interpretation of omens or by the aid of supernatural powers  – The Merriam Webster Dictionary

Types of Divination

There are too many types of Divination to consider them all in detail. They include

Scrying                                                                     I Ching

Tarot Cards / Cartomancy                                   Stones or gems / Lithomancy

Palmistry / Chiromancy                                         Numerology

Omens                                                                     Pyromancy



Dowsing – pendulum and rods

Tea Leaf Reading / Tasseography


Dreams / Oneiromancy


Omens and Prophecies

´Omens aka portents

´an occurrence or phenomenon believed to portend a future event

´The art of reading omens is called augury

´An augury can be accidental – unusual births, flight patterns of birds, black cats etc

´Or deliberate such as examining entrails of a sacrificed chicken


´Predictions of future events/happenings from a divine/inspirational source (ie not from logistical data)

´Prophecies may be spontaneous or derived from other methods of divination

´Examples Nostradamus. Mother Shipton.

Historical Examples

Delphic Oracle


´The Cybil or Pythia was the oracle in residence at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi from 570BC to aroud

´The most prestigious and therefore the most well documented oracle. One of the most powerful women in the ancient world

´Could be noble born or peasant. Would give up her identity on becoming the Pythia

´Prophesies through trance visions

Hiera and Sphagia


´Performed before a battle

´Hiera – at the campground. Seers would slaughter a sheep and consult its innards

´Sphagia at the battlefront the seers would slit the throat of a young she goat and examine the spill of blood and last movements

´Neither general would advance until the signs had been read and revealed


divining the future by use of a reflecting object such as a crystal ball or candle flame


´The art of scrying involves auto induced trance by distracting the mind with things such as a flickering flame, flaws in a crystal, refracting light etc to allow the inner eye to ‘see’ images on a reflective surface such as a black mirror, polished obsidian, crystal ball, cup of coffee.

Palmistry /Chiromancy

´Always use the dominant hand

´Lines change over time. Photocopy hand every six months to map the changes

´The shape of the hand and fingers are as important as the lines



´Tarot as such originated in Italy in the fifteenth century but not as a divination system until the seventeenth

´Thought to have derived from a Chinese art taken up by Christian monks as a set of mnemonics

´78 cards 22 major arcana and 56 minor

´Usually four suits coins/material world/North, cups/emotional and spiritual world/West, wands /passions and burdens /South and swords/the mind and inspirations/South

´The minor arcana similar to playing cards except extra picture card, the knave

Sortilege / Cleromancy

´Divination by casting lots

´Examples runes, dice, bones, staves.

´Can use anything

´If casting bones was usually knuckle bones

´Types of runes – Nordic runes, ogham runes, witches runes


´Of the Earth

´Placing of natural or man made structures

´Ley lines

´Feng Sui

´Throwing handfuls of Earth or sand

´Similar to Casting if use sticks but more interested in how they land than what individual sigils say


´Simple – such as assigning a character number through birth date

´More complex charting within astronomical reading

´Extremely complex deducing numbers from nature and sacred geometry

´Magic squares

I Ching

Very simple but infinitely complex Chinese divinatory system using a set of symbols that can be printed on sticks cards coins etc

Can be selected individually, cast, used as totems, charms or complete charting systems


I hope you enjoyed our peep into the world of Divination. Next time, I’ll talk about Enochian Magick then maybe we’ll look at witches and black cats, the history of Halloween and the nature of the festival of Samhain itself.


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