|A crystal ball, symbolic of divination|
Bone and Dice Divination: The Art of Astragalomancy
Sortition was an important concept in the ancient world, especially in Greece and Rome where the casting of lots was used to to select government officials. Sortition was considered by the Greeks to be a purer, less corruptible form of democracy than holding elections. It had in the past at times been popular to believe that casting lots indicated the will of the gods. Included amongst possible items used to conduct the process, were marked sticks and pebbles.
There are numerous instances of the casting of lots in the Bible. The Bible does not condemn the practice; which is a bit of a conundrum, as it does cast a pall upon other divination practices.
How is it Performed?
Countries in Central and East Asia have their own history of divination, some methods involving dice and one even involving doughballs, as in Tibet. Doughball divination is interesting enough; balls of dough ensured to be equal in size, are stuffed, each with a choice of possible answer to the query posed. For three days they are left to sit, untouched by anyone, near a sacred object or statue. Prayers are spoken. At the end of that time the cover is removed from the bowl. A worthy lama rolls the doughballs around, he allows one to fall out; this is done in close proximity to the sacred object. The answer held within that ball is deemed the correct one. Though not identical to the casting of lots, with the response defined by drawing from pre-marked objects, in a sense it is a similar process.
Divination that makes use of colors or symbols rather than numbers is known as pessomancy (also psephomancy, psephology). In this form of divination different colors and numerals are ascribed different meanings and portents. There are other methods of divining from this same practice that branch off into determining the meaning of the cast by the position of the objects and the nature of their relationships with each other, and thus the process is called thrioboly, and in other instances geomancy. By these descriptions, reading runes is a form of pessomancy/thrioboly.
Practices relative to the above have also been recorded in parts of Africa. In the past and into modern times, practitioners have used objects such as wooden dice and etched bones in their prognostications.
|Wellcome Images via Wikemedia Commons. CC BY 4.0|
Another simpler method in use today, is to draw a circle with no divisions in it. The practitioner then throws three dice and those that land outside of the circle are ascribed varying degrees of good or bad luck. It is often considered a sign of good luck if all of the dice land outside of the circle; however, if only one or two die land outside, it's considered bad luck. The dice that land inside of the circle are added together. Many diviners who use three, six-sided dice have a list of 18 possible interpretations. This is because with three dice the highest sum that can be achieved is 18. Thus, every possible sum of the dice has a different interpretation ascribed to it.
Interpretation and What Affects It
Many traditions are also sensitive to the timing and frequency of divination. Conventions differ with some traditions claiming Mondays and Wednesdays are poor days to throw dice and others saying that they are ideal days. Most traditions agree that dice should not be thrown more than two or three times per person per day.
Rolling dice, by Dionaea.com
Cleromancy, by Starzkarmic Kyra
An interesting post on fortune telling, at Psychic Nirup
Book: Fortune Telling, by Raymond Buckland
Read about various forms of divination on Wikipedia
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