In this post we will look at the names of various forms of divination and a brief definition. Later, we will take an in depth look at some of them to gain a more thorough understanding. Tarot has already been covered in this blog so that section will simply be reposted.
Please remember to be respectful regarding cultural origins of each method and do NOT practice any without instruction.
Abacomancy – a form of divination based on the interpretation of the patterns in dust, dirt, silt, sand, or the ashes of the recently deceased. Reading the patterns is believed to give some insight into the future.
Aeromancy – conducted by interpreting atmospheric conditions. Alternate spellings include arologie, aeriology and aërology
Apantomancy – a form of divination using articles at hand or things that present themselves by chance. The diviner works him/herself into a state of trance until an object or event is perceived and a divination worked out. This form of divination was used in ancient Rome by the augurs
Arithmancy – a form of divination based on assigning numerical value to a word or phrase, by means of English Qaballa, or a simplified version of ancient Greek isopsephy, or Hebrew/Aramaic gematria adapted to the Latin alphabet
Astrology – a pseudoscience that claims to discern information about human affairs and terrestrial events by studying the movements and relative positions of celestial objects
Augury – Augury is the practice of divining the future based on the movement of birds. Birds have been given special status by humans throughout history, possibly because many cultures have believed that birds are messengers of the gods. Therefore, because they fly between our world and heaven, they should know things that man does not
Automatic Writing – also called psychography, is a claimed psychic ability allowing a person to produce written words without consciously writing
Belomancy – Belomancy is the correct name for fortune-telling using arrows. Throughout history, Tibetans, Greeks, Arabians, and Chaldeans all used arrows as a tool for fortune-telling.
Bibliomancy – Bibliomancy is divination using books. To practice bibliomancy, all you must do is ask for guidance, open a book, and read whichever page or paragraph you feel drawn to; this is your message.
Bone Reading – Osteomancy – aka bone reading divination – has seen a massive surge of interest in recent years thanks to the internet and an increased interest in traditional African religions.
Brontomancy – Brontomancy means divination using thunder. This natural method of divination is pretty much a cross between divination using signs (apantomancy), divination using the weather (aeromancy), and divination using sound (cledonism). According to diviners, to hear the sound of thunder is a message of approval from the gods.
Capnomancy – Capnomancy is a form of fortune-telling that assigns meaning to the shapes formed in smoke from candles, fire, or burning herbs or incense. Accessible to most, Capnomancy is performed in the same way you would interpret the shapes of clouds. Therefore, if you have a particular talent for making out shapes in clouds, capnomancy should be a breeze.
Ceromancy – Ceromancy is divination using the shapes formed from the melted wax of a candle, and is essentially a type of candle divination. The easiest way to practice ceromancy is to solidify the wax with water.
Charm Casting – Similar to osteomancy (bone reading), charm casting involves throwing charms and interpreting how they land in relation to each other and/or reading how they fall on a divination board. Technically, osteomancy can be called casting, but casting cannot be called osteomancy unless the diviner uses bone.
Chirognomy – Chirognomy is a form of hand divination, and is the practice of reading someone’s personality based on their hand shape, fingers, etc.
Chiromancy – Chiromancy is another form of palm divination – this time, it’s the art of reading the lines in order to divine the future. Fortune-tellers read these palm lines in order to give predictions about the future.
Cledonism – Cledonomancy should not be confused with so-called ‘clear hearing’ or clairaudience. If you’re clairaudient, you have the ability to hear spirit using your psychic senses. By contrast, a cledonomancer will hear things in real life, such as words spoken by people, something on TV, or a significant song that comes on the radio during a crisis.
Conchomancy – Conchomancy is a fortune-telling method using seashells. Placing a seashell on your ear and analyzing the sound counts as conchomancy. You can also use seashells in casting divination.
Crystal Ball Reading – Sometimes called ‘scrying,’ crystal ball reading is a method of fortune-telling that uses crystal balls. Crystal balls come in all shapes and sizes and can be made from actual crystals, such as quartz, or glass.
Dactylomancy – Dactylomancy is a Greek term that translates as ‘finger divination.’ Traditionally, dactylomancy is practiced using a ring. However, technically, any form of divination that uses the finger could count as dactylomancy, but most people know dactylomancy as the type of divination that uses rings.
Dice Divination – Dice divination is a method of divination that uses dice. You can use regular dice or special fortune-telling dice created for the purpose.
Dobutsu Uranai – Dobutsu uranai is a modern type of fortune-telling horoscope that originated (and is popular in) Japan. There are 12 signs in dobutsu uranai, and like in other types of astrology, you’re assigned your sign based on your date of birth. Also like other systems in astrology, your sign is said to tell you a lot about your personality.
Domino Divination – Domino Divination is similar to dice divination, but the system involves using regular dominos. Two domino tiles are pulled and the numbers of each are interpreted. For example, two blank tiles together predict great misfortune, but two sixes together predict happiness, success, and a good family life.
Dowsing – There are two popular types of dowsing. One type uses rods and is usually performed for the purpose of locating areas where there may be water or oil. Sometimes, divination rods are employed to find missing objects.
Etteilla Tarot – Many of the interpretations of Etteilla Tarot are wildly different from regular Tarot. For example, the Five of Coins in Etteilla is a positive card of love, whereas in modern Tarot, the Five of Pentacles is a card of poverty. There are also cards in Etteilla that aren’t found in decks today, such as Chaos and Birds & Fish. In addition to these challenges, Etteilla cards are always read with reversals, which have their own unique meanings. There are 156 interpretations to learn in Etteilla compared to the 78 of modern Tarot.
Favomancy – Favomancy is a type of divination that interprets the way beans, or sometimes peas, fall. Historians believe Favomancy to have Middle Eastern origins. It’s currently practiced in Bosnia and has historically been practiced by Islamic groups who reside in Russia.
Geomancy – Geomancy is a class of divination method that involves interpreting markings on the ground. A geomancer may interpret marks made by animals or lines that have been randomly drawn by themselves or their seeker (the person getting the reading). It was once common to employ geomancy when deciphering the meaning of a dream.
Graphology – If you make judgments of someone based on their handwriting, you’re practicing graphology. Although it still counts as a form of divination (and many consider it a pseudoscience), graphology has now evolved into the science of graph analysis.
Gypsy Fortune-Telling Cards – Gypsy fortune-telling cards are a subset of cartomancy. The cards in a Gypsy fortune-telling deck may or may not depict several things such as: Items from everyday life, such as a cat or a chair, Feelings, such as happiness or despair. Events, such as weddings or funerals. Despite using the term “Gypsy”, this is believed to be more of an Eatern European thing, rather than a Romany thing.
Haruspicy – Haruspicy is a very ancient form of divination thought to have originated in ancient Mesopotamia. A compendium of writings from 900-600 BC known as The Bārûtu contains instructions on the practice of haruspicy. The Bārûtu is one of the most significant and earliest known mentions of the method in detail; however, the texts are said to have been based on even earlier writings.
Ifa Divination – Both a religious system and method of divination, Ifá originated in Western Africa. Ifá divination is a component of several traditional African religions and is practiced by priests and priestesses.
IChing – The I-Ching is the most well-known Chinese form of divination in the West. This method involves throwing coins multiple times, taking note of how they land, and interpreting the pattern created based on the Book of Changes.
Jiaobei/Poe – Poe is a form of divination popular in Taiwan, particularly in Taoist temples. The system involves asking a question and then throwing two ‘moon blocks’ on the ground. The position in which the blocks land will give you your answer, which will typically be a simple yes or no.
Kau Cim – Kau chim is a type of fortune-telling that originated in China and is popular in Buddhist and Taoist temples. Known as Chi Chi Sticks in the West, this method involves asking a question, drawing a kau chim stick from a tube, and interpreting the meaning concerning the issue.
Kipper Cards – Kipper is a 36-card divination system that originated in Germany. Although it’s currently most popular in German-speaking communities, it’s begun to be picked up by English speaking diviners in recent years.
Lenormand – Lenormand is a 36-card reading system that uses Lenormand cards. Like several other forms of cartomancy, Lenormand began as a card game (Game of Hope) and developed into a kind of divination.
Libanomancy – Libanomancy is divination using incense smoke. To practice this method, all you must do is petition a spirit, light incense as an offering, and interpret the movement of the smoke as a message from that spirit. Some diviners would even take the way in which the incense has burned and the patterns in the ash left behind as significant.
Lithomancy – Lithomancy is the correct term for divination using stones. Although the term can apply to any rocks, in modern prophecy, it’s usually reserved for divination using crystal-tumbled stones such as amethyst and tiger’s eye.
Mahjong – Mahjong is a card game that’s popular in China. As with playing cards, dominos, and dice, mahjong cards can be employed for divination. Traditionally, mahjong is played (or read) using mahjong tiles. However, in modern times, it’s possible to buy them in card form, and this adds to its appeal for diviners.
Mi Kayu Ura – Mi kayu ura is a Japanese fortune-telling method that uses rice or beans and is traditionally performed fifteen days after the new moon.
Mirror Scrying – Mirror Scrying, especially using black obsidian mirrors, is mainly associated with Mesoamerican culture. Before mirrors, scryers used bowls of water to divine the future, but the use of water never went out of fashion. Water was still being used as a form of divination by the Mayans and Aztecs when the Spanish invaded in the 1400s. Mirrors and water hold the same symbolic meaning for many people from the region; they act as portals to the spirit world.
Moleosophy – Moleosophy is a system of divination that assigns special significance to moles. The shape or body part on which a mole appears is interpreted as symbolizing good fortune or bad luck in that area. For example, a mole on the face is often called a beauty spot or beauty mark because it’s considered to be a sign of beauty.
Necromancy – Necromancy is a method of divination that uses the spirits of the dead. Because there’s usually some ritual component involved, necromancy is also classed as a type of magic or witchcraft.
Nephomancy – Nephomancy is a method of divination that involves seeing shapes in clouds and interpreting those shapes as being signs of spiritual significance. For example, you may know the form of an anchor and take this as a message that your life is about to get more consistent.
Nggam – Nggam is a Cameroonian method of divination that interprets the movement of crabs or spiders. While it’s possible to come up with your own system and ‘rules’ using the movement of spiders or crabs, this is not true for Nggam. Unless you’re willing to travel to Cameroon to learn directly from the Mambila people, practicing Nggam is going to be difficult, if not completely impossible.
Numerology – See Arithmancy
O-Mikuji – A Japanese method of divination, O-mikuji involves randomly selecting a scroll of paper that has a pre-written prophecy on it. O-mikuji scrolls are available to visitors at many Japanese temples and shrines, and you can receive one after donating. The message you receive could be viewed as being fortunate or unfortunate; it just depends on your luck on the day.
Ogham – Ogham is a type of divination that claims ancient British origin (although some historians discredit this), and which uses sticks to predict the future or gain advice. Each rod in ogham is engraved with a letter from the Ogham alphabet (which, unlike our Latin alphabet, actually is ancient in origin). The Ogham alphabet is of Irish origin, leading me, personally, to believe that this practice is of ancient Celtic origin.
Oneiromancy – Because dreaming is natural, Oneiromancy, or dream interpretation, is possibly one of the most ancient methods of divination out there. It’s only human nature to have a dream and then wonder what the significance is behind it.
Oracle Cards – Oracle cards are a form of cartomancy. While most other types of card divination are used for fortune-telling, Oracle cards tend to focus mostly on giving advice. Oracle cards are readily available online and in shops, so this is an accessible method of divination. Here at Divination & Fortune Telling, we have an article that outlines how to read Oracle cards.
Ouija – Despite their short history, ouija boards have many legends and superstitions attributed to them. In popular culture, they’re associated with demon conjuring, possession, and poltergeist activity. Therefore, due to their demon-attracting reputation (however false this idea), they’re often avoided by those who are new to divination or especially superstitious.
Palmistry – Palmistry is divination by reading someone’s hand. Today, Palmistry is certainly one of the most popular methods of divination.
Phrenology – Phrenology was once classed as a science, and involved reading someone’s health, character, and temperament based on measurements taken of their skull. Originating in Great Britain, the system has fallen out of favor in recent years.
Plastromancy – Plastromancy is a type of divination that involves burning the shell of a turtle and interpreting the burn makes or cracks made as a result of being exposed to the heat.
Playing Cards – Yes, even an ordinary pack of playing cards can be used for fortune-telling. Many card readers read with playing cards before they move onto other methods of cartomancy (card divination).
Pyromancy – Pyromancy is divination using fire. Technically, candle divination, xylomancy, and any divination involving burning fall under the more general category of pyromancy.
Rhabdomancy – Rhabdomancy is divination using rods or sticks. Belomancy and dowsing rods come under the subdivision of rhabdomancy.
Runes – Rune divination is a prevalent method of divination that uses runes to predict the future or get advice. The system originated in Northern Europe. According to Scandinavian mythology, the god Odin hung himself from a tree for nine days to learn the secrets of the runes.
Scapulimancy – Scapulimancy is a type of osteomancy (bone divination) that uses shoulder blade bones (scapulae). In ancient times, the shoulders of sacrificed animals were examined, and messages from the gods/spirits were deciphered from any shapes or markings found.
Tarot – Tarot divination is a form of cartomancy (card divination) that uses special Tarot cards. Similar to playing cards, Tarot has four suits (Wands, Cups, Swords, and Coins) plus Court cards (Kings, Queens, Knights, and Pages). Unlike playing cards, Tarot cards have 22 extra cards, including Death, The Devil, and The Lovers.
Tasseomancy -Tasseomancy, also known as tea leaf reading, is one of the best-known types of fortune-telling thanks to in part to its popularization due to the Harry Potter franchise.
Teraphim – Teraphim were small idols used in divination that were popular enough to be mentioned several times in the Bible, although their exact function has been lost to time. It’s possible they were either selected as a form of lots, consulted in mediumship, or both. Probably the closest you can get to teraphim nowadays is fetishism.
Xylomancy – Xylomancy is a type of divination that involves burning wood. There are two main methods of practicing Xylomancy: creating a fire or burning wood. Because of its accessibility, xylomancy can be easily practiced in modern times.