Divination Spells - The Spells

The Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells - Judika Illes 2009

Divination Spells
The Spells

Before you can choose a spell, sometimes you need to choose a course of action. In order to do that, sometimes you need more information than you already have—or than seems humanly available. That’s where divination comes in. Divination is the magical art of receiving information about future events right now in the present. (It is also used to achieve greater understanding of past and present happenings.) Diviners, also known as readers, use tools, rituals, spells, and systems to reveal hidden information. Diviners thus practice prophetic arts, the mantic arts, after the Greek word “mantikos,” meaning “prophet.” Words concluding with the suffix-mancy indicate some form of divination.

Once upon a time, as with shamans, every town had a respected professional diviner or two providing these prophetic services. Persecuted, driven underground, forced to practice secretly in back rooms or not at all, the loss of professional readers didn’t stop people from requiring their services. People learned to provide those services for themselves, sometimes as highly structured ritual, sometimes in the guise of party games.

The divinatory methods included here descend from those homemade arts. They do not require special texts, years of study or, in theory at least, a professional reader: in other words, complex systems like tarot, playing cards, runes, the I-Ching, and similar are not included. Some systems are obviously more suitable for some households and individuals than others, but theoretically all can be reproduced by the magical layperson.

Methods included offer the opportunity to access other realms, other beings, and other people in order to receive needed information. Some offer a source of divine inspiration; others encourage you to discover your own hidden fonts of psychic or subconscious knowledge.

Systems of divination and fortune-telling operate according to the principle of synchronicity, as do magic spells in general. Synchronicity rejects the concept of coincidence. Events occurring at exactly the same moment share something in common and may be used to reveal something about each other. The trick is learning how to recognize and understand these revelations.

As its name indicates, divination puts you in direct contact with the divine. There is a sacred, magical aspect to even the most raucous party method. Divination should be treated with the respect shown to other spells. Appropriate cleansing and protective rituals should be considered. Divination tools, even the simplest pebbles, shells or dice, are ritual tools and should be treated with similar care and respect.

How do you choose the right system for you? In some cases, the choice is obvious: certain spells were designed for specific situations. The very question needing answers, the very information required, determines the method. In some cases, your own abilities set directions: it takes a different kind of personality to scry patiently in a pan of black ink than it does to pierce a Bible passage with a needle. In other cases, let the choice choose you: the desire the spell awakens within you is its invitation to perform.

It goes without saying that every method and every incident of divination begins with a question. The most difficult part of divination may come in formulating that question. Don’t leave it vague: oracles delight in tricks, especially puns and word games. Take the time to formulate exactly what it is you wish revealed in clear, lucid, precise language. Write down the question, so that you can later compare it to the response, better interpret its nuances and implications and also eliminate arguments if performing group divination!

Alphabet Divination Spells

Books are formed from words; words are formed from letters. One school of Kabbalah suggests that the Creator formed the entire world from Hebrew letters. Individual letters, of any alphabet, may be used to provide an oracle.

Alphabet Divination (1) Basic Method

This particular method is popular in both Asia and Italy.

Write the letters of the alphabet, several times each, on individual squares of paper. Playing pieces, like Scrabble™ blocks may also be used.

Place all pieces inside a jar, ideally one with a tightly fitting cover.

Shake them up and spill the letters on the floor or table.

Look for words to provide the answer to your query.

Alphabet Divination (2) Alectromancy

Alectromancy lets a rooster choose your words for you.

Make a circle using the letters of the alphabet: use chalk to mark them on the ground or cut out letters and lay them in a circle.

Place an equal quantity of grain on top of each letter.

Put a rooster in the center of your alphabet circle and turn him loose.

Observe the order in which the rooster picks up the grains. Words may be formed or suggested, providing the oracle.

Alphabet Divination (3) Spelling Snail

Snails can spell as well as roosters can. This divination method traditionally uses fireplace ashes. A more potent version might involve writing your queries on paper, burning them and using those ashes instead. For a quick-fix method, use flour.

Make a smooth, even bed of ashes or flour.

Gently place a snail in the center of this bed.

Allow the snail to wander as it will and leave the circle when it chooses.

The shape of its trail will indicate initials, letters or images to provide your oracle.

Arrow Divination

Known as belomancy, this is an ancient method of divination mentioned in the Bible and especially popular among Babylonians, Scythians, Slavs, and Germans. Various methods are used.

Arrow Divination (1)

Attach inscriptions to an arrow and shoot it. Distance or other predetermined signal determines which inscription forms the oracle.

Arrow Divination (2)

In this version three arrows may be used; one designates an affirmative answer, the second, a negative answer and the third is left blank, because not all fates can be revealed. Separate messages can be attached to each arrow or the arrows may be distinguished in other ways.


The ancient system of augury is the ancestor of modern bird watching. Augurs foretell the future by observing birds and their flight. Although ancient Roman augurs had a codified, rigid system, it is easily adapted into a spontaneous system, especially if you feed birds regularly.

Formulate your question, and then scatter birdseed or crumbs on the ground. Step back and watch the birds partake and depart.

If the birds fly off toward the right, your answer is affirmative

If the birds fly off toward your left, the response is negative

If they scatter and fly all over the place, you lack the information needed to make a decision. The situation is more complex than it may appear

If the birds reject the food, it doesn’t mean that the oracle didn’t work. This is also a response: your question holds more significance and greater implication than you realize. Reconsider the question as well as all possible consequences, actions, and solutions.

Axe Head Divination

Divination via axe head is an ancient Middle Eastern system.

Heat the axe head until it’s red hot.

Make the axe stand so that the edge is perpendicular.

Place an agate on the edge.

If the agate stays on the axe head, this constitutes a negative response. If it rolls away, leaping off, as it were, this is a positive confirmation of your query.

Repeat up to three times for confirmation.


Although the Bible is a frequent medium for this method, bibliomancy merely means divination via the use of a book. Traditional sources for bibliomancy include the Bible, the Koran, the Vedas and Homer and Virgil’s respective Trojan War sagas. Any large book may be used; many prefer sacred texts filled with spiritual depth and vision, although dictionaries and encyclopedias, even really large catalogs, also provide great oracles.

Bibliomancy (1) Basic Method

Formulate the question.

Close your eyes.

Flip open the chosen book.

Stick your finger on a word or passage.

Read and interpret the oracle.

Bibliomancy (2) Precision Method

Pinpointing a verse with your naked finger can be clumsy and ambiguous. Did your finger actually point to those biblical lines about punishment of sins or did it just accidentally slide off those verses about reaping justly earned rewards? The following method may be more accurate.

Formulate the question while holding a needle in your hand.

With your eyes closed, randomly flip open the book.

Keeping your eyes closed pierce the page with the needle.

The needle marks the spot where your oracle begins.

Bibliomancy (3) Lord Thoth’s Trio

Thoth, Egyptian lunar god, is given credit for inventing books, magic, and dice. All are combined in the following method.

Formulate your question, while holding dice.

Close your eyes and flip open the book.

Gently, with eyes remaining closed, toss the dice onto the open book.

Read the passage indicated by the location of the fallen dice. An alternative is to read the passage indicated by the numbers shown on the dice—thus you might begin at the sixth line, third word or similar. If using numerical coordination, it’s not necessary for the dice to actually land on the page, although both methods can be integrated.

Bibliomancy (4) The Control Method

Ancient books frequently took the form of loosely bound pages or scrolls. This type of book may lend itself to bibliomancy with greater ease than the tightly bound shape of modern books. Even post-Gutenberg and standardized printed and bound books magicians still copied Homeric verses onto vellum or papyrus scrolls specifically for purposes of divination. This method also allows you to eliminate any fortunes you really don’t want to receive.

Select a sufficient quantity of text to fulfill the purpose of your divination.

Copy it onto a parchment scroll or, if for one-time use, onto a large square of paper.

Verses are selected by throwing dice or pricking pages with a needle.

Botanical Divination

Take nine thorn apple seeds. (Be careful; thorn apple, although a frequent magical component, is poisonous.) Pass them through wormwood smoke and then toss them out on a tray and interpret the patterns made.

Calendar Oracles

Some oracles are only delivered during specific days or, more typically, nights of the year.

Calendar Oracle (1) Candlemas

The Candlemas Bull flies through the air on February 2nd. The bull appears in the sky in the form of a cloud early in the morning on Candlemas. If you can find it, it will give you information regarding the year to come.

If the bull faces east, a bountiful year is anticipated. However, if the bull faces south, expect grain shortages. And if the bull faces west, tighten your belt. The entire year will be needy.

Calendar Oracle (2.) Christmas Eve Mirror Divination

If the following Russian Christmas divination is done correctly, allegedly your future will be shown to you in a mirror.

On Christmas Eve, sit in a darkened room containing two mirrors and lit by only two candles.

Arrange the mirrors so that one reflects the candlelight into the other.

If you can determine the seventh reflection, visions of your future should follow.

Calendar Oracle (3) Christmas Eve Onion Oracle

The onions used in this German oracle must be gathered on Christmas Eve. An onion is required for every possible solution or alternative to your dilemma. An extra one may be added to represent an unknown solution, one that awaits discovery.

Consecrate the onions to your purpose and place them on an altar.

Write your various alternatives and options on small pieces of paper.

Place each paper under a different onion.

Let this rest overnight, then the next day, plant each onion with its paper inside its own flowerpot. Mark the pots so that you know which suggested plan is contained within.

The first onion to sprout indicates your significant response.

Calendar Oracle (4) Halloween/Samhain

Allegedly any question asked during this ritual will be answered, while any wish made will be granted.

Simmer basil, rosemary, Saint John’s Wort and wolfsbane in a cauldron (wolfsbane is highly toxic; it may be wiser to delete it from the formula). Interpret the patterns made by the steam; scry by gazing into the gently bubbling liquid.

Calendar Oracle (5) New Year’s Eve

This Russian New Year’s Eve women’s divination ritual foretells the fortunes awaiting in the New Tear. In the days before private bathrooms and indoor plumbing, the bathhouse was a place of social as well as hygienic significance. It is also often a place of great magical and spiritual significance. What is now only a “bathhouse” was once the home for spiritual, shamanic, and magic rites. Babies were born in the bathhouse, healings performed, men and women readied for marriage. Post-Christianity, the bathhouse retained its power but also developed an aura of the forbidden.

In Russia, the bathhouse maintains a magical aura akin to a crossroads. The bathhouse is also the home of powerful spirits, ancient pagan deities now demoted to bathhouse guardians. Forgotten spirits tend to be grouchy spirits, although not always. This ritual takes place at night, ideally at midnight, the threshold of the New Tear.

Taking turns, women remove their underwear and approach the bathhouse backwards, skirts lifted over their heads. The bathhouse door is left partially open: each woman sticks her naked bottom through the door and waits.

If the resident spirit slaps or scratches her, this is not a good sign for the coming year. If, on the other hand, she receives a gentle and pleasurable caress, with hands rather than claws, her future shines bright, while a kiss is auspicious enough to go buy some lottery tickets.

Calendar Oracle (6) New Year

Another divination method is based upon Russian New Year’s fortune-telling games. One person is needed to supervise this group ritual.

Each individual invited to this divination party brings some sort of spring or magical formula water plus a ring or small metal charm. These trinkets should not be identical but distinctive and readily identifiable.

Each person places their charm or ring into a cauldron.

Traditionally a crucifix is also placed in the cauldron, although a pentacle, horseshoe or other sacred metal object could be substituted.

Each person pours their water into the cauldron, simultaneously making a secret wish.

When all the water has been blended together, it’s sprinkled with mugwort and oats.

Toss in one lit charcoal per participating person.

The supervisor stirs the cauldron with her or his left little finger.

The cauldron is covered.

One by one each person chants a rhyme, alluding to his or her secret wish.

Following each rhyme, the supervisor reaches into the covered cauldron and fishes out a charm. The charm provides clues as to the success of each person’s desire.

When the ritual is complete, charms and rings may be exchanged or returned to the original owner as desired, however the water cannot remain in the house. It must be immediately emptied out at a crossroads.

Ceromancy—Divination by Melted Wax

Basic Ceromancy

Carefully melt wax: it may be necessary to use a double boiler or bain-marie.

When the wax has liquefied, pour it gently into a dish of ice-cold water. The wax will harden upon impact with the water, typically forming shapes.

Allow time for the wax to solidify before removing it from the water, as it’s initially very pliable and the original shapes may be changed or destroyed by handling too quickly.

Remove the wax and interpret the shapes.

The number of shapes formed may also bear significance. Particularly auspicious-looking shapes may be transformed into amulets, preserved or carried as needed.

Ceromancy (2) An Italian Method

Place three rose hips, three nettle leaves, some cumin seeds, and a few sprigs of rue in a bowl or pan of icy water.

Bind two candles with scarlet ribbons. (The original formula specifies tallow candles, but this may be because that’s what was available.)

Place these candles within the pan of water.

Light the candles and observe the wax dripping into the water.

Lucky shapes should be carried within a red mojo bag.

Ceromancy (3) Turkish Method

A Turkish method involves group participation.

The person(s) posing the query sits in a chair, while wax is carefully melted.

One or two people hold a white cloth over the querent’s head.

Someone else holds a dish of ice water over this cloth.

The melted wax is carefully poured into the dish of cold water.

Once the wax hardens, shapes are analyzed, with the querent offering the first interpretations.

Lucky shapes are given to the querent as a lucky charm. Inauspicious, negative forms are disposed of in running water.

Children as Oracles and Mediums for Divination

Perhaps because of their innocence, perhaps because they haven’t forgotten how to access their magic powers, perhaps because of greater psychic power, children have always been favored oracles.

The earliest testimonials come from ancient mythology. Isis, searching desperately for Osiris’ body, has no success until children tell her their observations. This story epitomizes the strength and use of children in divination: the children do not understand what they have seen, they merely describe their observations. It is Isis, an adult and an experienced magician, who is able to interpret that information.

Children, in general, do not make good fortunetellers. They lack the life experience to understand the client’s problems or to deliver needed information in a constructive, graceful manner. Their strength instead comes from purity of heart and vision. Like the child who reveals the truth in the tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes, children are often able to see clearly and name what they see, without self-delusion, fear or subterfuge.

That said these are historic methods of divination and perhaps should not be used, or only under very special circumstances. The potential for abuse and exploitation is great when a child serves as an oracle. If done at all, it should be approached as a game, with no pressure placed on the child. This is both for the sake of the child and for the success of the divination. An unwilling, oppressed medium cannot deliver a true and accurate message.

Even the most experienced, accomplished diviner sometimes finds psychic vision blocked. Sometimes an oracle refuses to appear. Some futures just cannot be revealed. If a child says that they see nothing, then that is what they see. That is the sole answer of the oracle and the child must not be pressured to try to see harder or provide additional information.

Child Oracle (1) Basic Method

The simplest method of obtaining an oracle dates back to ancient Egypt and Greece. Because the child is completely unaware that he or she is an oracle, it may be the purest, most powerful method: the child is not swayed by desires to please or displease the querent. It is also the safest system, with the least potential for abuse.

Formulate your question in your mind but do not articulate it aloud. The first spontaneous words heard from a child’s voice form your response.

Child Oracle (2) Invocation of Anubis

This spell, based on practices from Alexandria in Egypt, requires a bronze bowl engraved with an image of the jackal-headed inventor of mummification, road-opener Anubis. The original spell might have expected you to actually create the engraving as part of the ritual.

Fill the bowl with water.

Float a film of oil on top.

Have the child sit on top of four bricks beside the bowl.

Place a sheer veil over the child’s head, through which he or she can see, until the divination is ready to begin.

Consecrate a magic lamp to the divination.

Place the lamp on one side of the child, incense on the other.

The querent should chant an invocation to Anubis, requesting a vision and a response to the questions. It is not necessary to state the question aloud, in the child’s hearing.

When the invocation is complete, have the child gaze into the water until he or she sees something, then have them describe it.

If this is insufficient, gently and with soft voice, request further description from the child.

The oracle ends when the child says it is over.

Child Oracle (3) Cagliostro’s Method

One can observe the evolution of magical methods by contrasting the above method, dating from the early centuries of the Common Era to the following, suggested by Alessandro, Count di Cagliostro (1743—1795), a renowned and notorious alchemist, charlatan, magician, and perfumer. Although the bottom-line method is virtually identical, the specially engraved bowl is no longer part of the spell, and neither are the four bricks, reminiscent of Egyptian childbirth practices. The magic lamp has been replaced by candles, a luxury accessible to Cagliostro because of his wealthy patrons, including a king of France. Details come from his trial documents.

Arrange the ritual room.

Although the child should observe preparations, the querent should perform all needed cleansings, protection spells and other ritual.

Prepare a low table with a pan of water and a number of white candles. (Keep the atmosphere neutral so as not to influence the child diviner: you neither want to scare or intimidate the medium nor do you wish to encourage “fluffy-bunny” magic.)

Have the child sit on the floor and look into the pan of water.

Place your hand gently on the child’s head. If you haven’t already, explain what you wish done.

Step back but keep a vigilant eye on fire safety at all times. (The adult is responsible for all safety issues during ritual.) Bid the child look into the water again and just describe what he or she sees. There is no need for trance or possession. Don’t lead or influence the child’s vision, simply copy down whatever he or she says, for later analysis.

Child Oracle (4) Invocation of Archangel Uriel

Technically this oracle will not be provided by any human means but by angelic revelation. The oracle is directed towards the archangel Uriel, Master of Information, who may or may not ultimately appear in person to deliver the oracle. The ritual should be preceded by cleansing, summoning the angel, and burning fragrant incense.

Mix walnut oil with liquid tallow and/or lampblack.

Place this within your right palm or onto your right thumbnail.

The direction faced depends upon the question posed. If inquiring about money or missing treasure, face east; if robbery, face west; for murder or any other crime, as well as love and romance, face south.

Whoever holds the liquid must repeat the first seventy-two psalms in order. Allegedly wonders will then occur.

Coin Divination

Oracles tend to deliver complex responses, requiring consideration and analysis. Most methods are thus more suited to equally complex issues. Maybe you only have a simple dilemma. You really need a yes-or-no answer; choose A or choose B without discussion or ambiguity. If you need to choose between two distinct alternatives, but are unable to ascertain which choice is wiser or advisable, why don’t you just flip a coin? Determine which alternative is represented by the coin’s head and which by the tail. Flip and see which choice is yours.

This is not a flippant suggestion. Coins are closely identified with principles of metal magic and have been used for divination since time immemorial.

Although you can fish any coin out of your pocket, many readers retain one special coin for purposes of divination, treating it with the care shown to prized tarot cards or runes. I-Ching coins are recommended, as are antique coins

Metal religious medals may substitute for a coin, as can some gambling chips or any round, small disc, providing the sides are distinct

For added enhancement, request blessings and assistance from spirits devoted to metal: Brigid, the Dactyls, Hephaestus, Ogun or Scatach, for instance

Coin divination isn’t limited to simple yes-or-no questions. More complex decisions may be rendered using multiple coins, usually a set of three, sometimes thrown multiple times. Answers are determined by analyzing the number of coins that fall face up or down. Determine the question and the method of analysis before tossing the coins.

Copal Divination

Copal is a tree resin indigenous to Mexico, Guatemala and elsewhere in Central America. Used in sacred rites by the Aztec and Maya, it retains popularity for magic, healing, and spiritual use. Inhaling its aroma allegedly enhances powers of clairvoyance, however copal is also used to provide systematic oracles.

Divination by Copal (1) Guatemalan Method

Burn copal incense.

Pass fourteen kernels of corn through the smoke.

Toss the corn on the ground, then read and analyze the patterns made.

Divination by Copal (2.) Mexican Method

Although it is frequently purchased ground up and ready to burn as incense, copal is also available in the form of small balls.

Burn copal incense.

Formulate your question

Toss small balls of copal into a pot of water.

If they float, the answer is affirmative. If the balls sink, the response is negative. The likelihood of success is ascertained depending upon whether more balls or less float.

Divination by Copal (3) Fire

With your left hand toss corn kernels into a fire, and with your right hand toss copal into the fire. Observe the resulting smoke and flames.

Cowrie Shell Divination

Cowrie shells are the medium for sacred divination systems throughout Africa. They serve as the oracular voice of the orisha. However, cowrie shells may also be used in simple household divination. Cowries, once used as currency in Asia (including in China) and Africa, are frequent substitutes for coins. Substitute cowries for any coin divination spell, particularly if you’d prefer to invoke the elemental power of water instead of metal.

Slice the rounded, closed side of the cowrie off, so that the shell lands flat when tossed. (Cowries for divination may also be purchased pre-sliced.)

Determine your question and also which side of the cowrie is heads, which tails.

Crossroads Divination

Crossroads divination is based on an old Persian tradition.

Go to a crossroads on a Wednesday and just loiter.

Hang around discreetly, listening to the words of passers-by, little one-liners or snippets of conversation.

Try to apply them to your situation, considering whether the words are auspicious or not.


Dactylomancy involves divination via a suspended ring. Traditionally a wedding ring is used, although any magic ring would be equally suitable. Otherwise any metal ring may be used—gold, silver, copper, iron, or lead.

Dactylomancy (1) Basic Method

Pluck a few strands of hair and suspend the ring from those hairs. The ring will answer questions from the person whose hair it is suspended from or from anyone that person suggests.

Put a glass on the table so that the ring is suspended above it. The ring may fall within or outside the glass, whichever you prefer and is most comfortable. The ring may assert its own preference.

Gently begin to swing the ring. This divination method is something of a cross between a pendulum and table-rapping. Pay attention to the sounds the ring makes as it brushes the glass. Establish a code so that it will answer your questions.

Dactylomancy (2.) Identifying the Hex

Dactylomancy may also be used to help determine who has bewitched someone, especially to the point of illness.

Suspend a snake ring from strands of the victim’s hair. (It is not necessary for the victim to be present, although it helps. The hair however is critical.) Use this ring as a pendulum to determine from which direction the bewitchment was initiated. A code may also be established, as in the preceding spell, to determine the existence of the bewitching party.

Dactylomancy (3) Roman Method

In 371 CE, the Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus described this method of divination, a sort-of ancient cross between a ouija board and a pendulum.

Create a disc with letters of the alphabet encircling the rim.

The disc is placed on a small table or tripod. (The tripod, a three-legged table, evokes the Oracle of Delphi’s pythoness who sat upon a tripod while delivering her prophesies.)

Suspend a ring on a light thread.

Pray, petition and allow the ring to form a pendulum, spelling out answers to questions.


Those prophesying pythonesses of Delphi were reputedly stimulated to deliver their predictions by inhaling fumes emanating from a geological fissure beneath the shrine. These fumes remain a mystery: archeologists and geologists have been unable to identify traces of natural emanations. Some believe that special vision-inducing botanicals were burned, although if so, that formula remains mysterious, too. General consensus is that whatever else was in the formula, it also contained bay laurel leaves.

Daphnomancy refers to divination using bay leaves. Bay leaves have profound associations with divination. According to legend, the Delphic pythonesses delivered their oracles with bay leaves clenched between their teeth. According to another very famous legend, Daphne, Delphic pythoness, was transformed into the very first bay laurel tree when she tried to escape Apollo’s attempt to rape her.

Adding complexity to the sexual dimensions of the Daphne-Apollo myth, another famous oracular shrine was named after and presided over by Daphne herself. The oracle at Daphne, near Tarsus, was obtained by dipping bay leaves or branches into a sacred spring. The shrine at Daphne, maintained within lush, beautiful groves, was renowned or notorious, depending upon one’s perspective, for its carnal pleasures and “licentious” sexual rites. The shrine, together with its surrounding groves, was an early casualty of Christianity’s rise to power. Bay leaves, however, remain an ingredient of many magic spells and a tool for divination.

Concentrate on your question while holding bay leaves in your hand. Then either place a single bay leaf onto a lit charcoal or toss a few leaves into an open fire.

If the leaves crackle loudly and burn brightly, the prognosis is positive

If leaves sputter, refuse to burn or, worse, all flames die out, consider postponing or adjusting your plans

If flames shoot straight from the bay leaves, the signs are auspicious: all powers and blessings are with you

Divine Oracles

Oracles were once associated with shrines to deities. One of the functions of ancient shrines or spiritual centers was specifically to provide a source of divination, presumably under the auspices of the presiding spirit. Delphi, the most famous oracle of the ancient world, was originally dedicated to Gaia, Mother Earth and served by snake priestesses, who actually delivered the prophecies. Amidst great violence, Apollo, an arrival from the North, forcibly took over the shrine. The pythonesses, the snake priestesses, were retained, although their prophesies were now filtered through male priests. Delphi was not Apollo’s only oracle. Although he is most famous as the solar-affiliated lord of medicine, music and prophesy, in the guise of his familiar, a mouse, Apollo also guards grain. He provides another oracle through this venue. Once upon a time, this system of divination, known as “aleuromancy,” was available if one made a donation at Apollo’s shrine. The ancestor of the fortune cookie, it is easily reproduced at home.

Whether this oracle tastes good or is even completely baked depends entirely on whether you plan to eat the oracle once its answer is received.

Divine Oracle (1) Apollo’s Grain Oracle

Make very simple bread dough, from approximately one cup of flour, one egg and one quarter cup of water.

Write your choices or alternatives on slips of paper.

Place each within a ball of dough. Each ball must appear reasonably identical.

Bake these balls so that they’re sufficiently hard.

When they cool off, select a ball and an oracle.

Request Apollo’s blessings before initiating the oracle, if desired.

Divine Oracle (2) Apollo’s Quick Fix Oracle

A quick-fix version bypasses the connection with grain:

Write your choices onto slips of paper.

Slip these papers into identical balls rolled from kitchen foil.

Place the balls in a bowl and shake them around.

Choose your fortune.

Divine Oracle (3) Hermes

Apollo was not the only divinity with an oracular shrine. They were common to many spiritual entities. Zeus gave answers through the whispering oaks of Dodona. Ammon held forth in the Libyan dessert. The simplest oracle of all, and extremely easily reproducible, comes from that trickster master of the crossroads, Hermes.

The original oracle involved making a donation to Hermes and then postulating a question within his shrine. Incorporate Hermes as you will or merely formulate your question in a still, quiet location.

Stop up your ears and go outside.

When you are ready or at some predetermined signal (after sixty seconds, after observing the color red—you choose the signal), open your ears.

The first words heard provide your oracle. Words spoken by children hold added impact.

If venturing outdoors is impossible or inadvisable, wait for the predetermined signal and then turn on the radio. Lyrics of a song are as powerful as spoken words, if not more so.

Divine Oracle (4) Conduit to the Spirit Realm

Smoke, wax or flames from altar candles dedicated to a deity may be interpreted to provide an oracle from the actual spirit. A candle flame shooting high and bright indicates that the spirit you’ve invoked has arrived.

Drum Divination

Drums are used for summoning spirits, psychic enhancement and shamanic journeys, but also may be used for straight-forward divination. The most famous divining drums in the world once belonged to Saami shaman. Beautifully decorated, ritually enhanced and consecrated, they were standard equipment, as necessary as another tradition’s wand, broomstick or athame. During forced conversions to Christianity, the drums were outlawed and destroyed. A few original drums were preserved and remain on view in Swedish museums.

Although drums are musical instruments, the visual component is as important as the aural one when used in this method of divination. Magical designs were painted on stretched skin drumheads. Each shaman’s drum was unique, painted according to personal vision and spiritual direction in addition to common traditional motifs. Small objects were then place on the drum. As it was beaten, to the accompaniment of divining songs, the objects jumped and danced and revealed the future.

Hungarians and Saami share Finno-Ugric ancestry. Until recently a similar drum was used for divination by Hungarian country people as well as resident Romany women, although typically without the complex shamanic ritual. Improvise the basic system until it works for you.

Paint three black and three white circles onto a frame drum.

Chant and beat the drum.

In the process toss shelled cranberry beans onto the drum.

The future or the response to the oracle is determined from the patterns made by the dancing beans and painted circles.

Earth Scrying

Although it lacks the hypnotic luminosity of water, moon, glass and some gemstones, Earth provides a surface on which to scry, too.

Earth Scrying (1) Group Method

This Native American system is deceptively simple.

Clear a patch of ground so that you have smooth dirt: no grass, weeds or garbage.

Four people sit, one at each cardinal point.

The person seated in the west casts a circle with a stick, cane, wand, or knife.

Then the four individuals study and analyze the surface within the circle in order to make predictions. Observe any life-forms, insects or other, that make an appearance. Take your time; this is a leisurely system.

Earth Scrying (2.) Individual Method

This Russian Earth oracle may be performed solo:

Cast a circle on the ground.


Circle, circle, tell me true

Show my fate for me to view

Look down and see what is revealed.

Egg Divination

Paint an egg with symbolic imagery: it should be as beautiful as possible, however the design is meant to stimulate the oracular process. The eggshell will not be preserved.

Boil it.

Unpeel the egg and cut it open. Predictions are made according to the shape and hue of egg and yolk.

Fig Divination (1)

Figs were considered by many to be the tree of life. This ancient method of reading fig leaves to determine the future of your life is known as sycomancy.

Write your question, scheme or proposal on a fresh fig leaf. Retain the leaf and observe it. A leaf that shrivels up quickly provides a negative response, while a leaf that dries slowly, retaining a fresh, green appearance provides encouragement.

Trig Divination (2)

Sycomancy may be used to compare options and explore choices.

Write a distinct scheme, plan or proposal on a fig leaf, one leaf per option or choice.

Retain the leaves so that they are together under exactly the same conditions but not touching.

The leaf that remains fresh, green and youthful looking the longest represents the oracle’s choice.

If all leaves age at exactly the same pace, the indication is that there is yet another, more appropriate choice that has been overlooked. Consider your options further before making a choice.

Fire Reading (1)

Flames may be interpreted without candles or containers, although even greater fire safety vigilance must be maintained: a Slavic method creates and then burns a paper fan.

Fold paper into an accordion-style fan.

Stand it up in a vertical direction.

Set it on fire.

The oracle is received by interpreting the flames as well as shadows cast.

Fire Reading (2)

A slightly different version observes which part of the fan burns versus which part doesn’t.

Fold paper into an accordion-style fan.

Write desires or choices on each fold of the fan.

Place the paper in a fireproof receptacle and set it alight.

Only light the paper once: should the flame go out without burning the paper in its entirety, analyze remaining words versus destroyed words to receive your oracle.

Should the entire fan go up in smoke, this is an extremely auspicious sign, a blessing on your future plans.

Fire Reading (3) Capnomancy

Large ritual fires and bonfires also supply divinatory information. Capnomancy divines using images appearing in the smoke of ritual fires. Enhance the divinatory power by burning herbs associated with psychic vision: mugwort, wormwood, Syrian rue (harmel), diviner’s sage.

Fire Reading (4) Tephramancy

Tephramancy divines from what’s left in the fire’s aftermath. Ashes, cinders, and soot are examined for clues to the future. The more sacred the fire, the more seriously the information should be taken.

Sometimes the ashes reveal words and clues to your future without any added assistance. When either hearth fires or ritual bonfires go out, examine cooled ashes to see whether letters, words or shapes may be observed. This is a powerful oracle; it’s not necessary to formulate a question but merely to receive information.

Hibiscus Divination

Designate cut blossoms as a person or situation, particularly when choices must be made. Float the flowers on a bowl of water and observe.

1 Spy Oracle

This Scottish spell, believed to derive from Norse sources, is used to gain information regarding the well-being of another person far away. This game of “I spy with my little eye” can only be performed on the first Monday of the month, before sunrise, on an empty stomach and with bare feet.

Walk sunwise around your home with your eyes closed until you arrive full circle at the entrance once again.

Without opening your eyes, make a circle with your finger and thumb.

Put it up to your eye, open your eye and look through the circle.

The omen is the first object or sight that meets your eye. A sacred symbol is especially auspicious.


Lampadomancy is the ancient art of divining via a lamp. Magic lamps may be crafted from brass or stone, however the most common traditional lamp is formed from earth, terracotta. The oracle is determined by the appearance and duration of the flame. Lampadomancy was once a very common form of divination, dating back to the days of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Because candles were once rare and expensive, magic lamps were more commonly used.

Magic lamps haven’t changed much, basically consisting of a terracotta dish filled with oil, the sides proportionately high so that oil and flames are contained. A coiled linen strip resting in the oil and hanging over the edge creates a wick. Similar lamps, reproductions as well as ancient artifacts, are available through antiquarians, but this is a very simple, even child-like design, easily crafted or improvised. The outside of the lamp can be painted or otherwise embellished if desired.

The type of oil used in the lamp varies. Although olive oil evokes associations with The Arabian Nights, Aladdin, genies in bottles and magic lamps, actually in ancient days olive was among the more expensive oils in Arabia, Mesopotamia, and Egypt. The Egyptians, who even by modern standards possessed an extensive repertoire of oils for perfumery, cooking, sacred healing and magical purposes, apparently favored palm oil for lamps: an oil still popular in many African and African-derived spiritual traditions.

Lampadomancy (1) Traditional Method

Charge and consecrate a magic lamp.

Formulate your question.

Light the wick and read the response.

Gaze at the lamp, focusing on the flames, as well as any shadows cast behind the lamp.

Watch the flames: analyze the number of points of flame. Observe in what direction the flame leans, whether it’s high, low, dim, bright, noisy and sputtery or silent. This is a patient art. Does the flame burn clean or is it smoky? If the flame goes out abruptly, this is not a positive sign.

Lampadomancy (2) The Louisiana Magic Lamp

Although lampadomancy retained its popularity in India and Arabia, it fell out of favor in the West. With the arrival of kerosene lamps in America in approximately 1869, lamp magic was revitalized. The revival was strongest in Louisiana, where it still retains some popularity. The Louisiana Magic Lamp is typically a hurricane or kerosene lamp, fueled by some blend of castor oil, olive oil and kerosene—usually two parts kerosene to one part oil. It is read in similar manner to the ancient oil lamp.

Lotus Root Divination

Lotuses, beautiful, pristine blossoms emerging from mud, invoke images of purity and fairness so this method has more nuances than a mere tossing of the coin.

Write or inscribe the letter “N” (for “no”) on one side of the root.

Write or inscribe the letter “Y” on the other side to represent the affirmative response. (Adapt this spell to suit your specific query, if needed.)

Toss the root up in the air; the side that lands on top delivers the response.

Love Oracles

“He loves me, he loves me not!” All you have to do is count the petals before beginning that rhyme to receive the desired oracle. Other oracles are not as easily controlled. Romance is so vital a topic special divination systems have evolved solely to chart its progress.

Love Oracle (1) Acorns

Will a couple remain together?

Gather well water and place it in a crystal bowl. (Substitute spring water if you have to.)

Take two acorns; name one for each member of the party. Charge them with your query.

Drop the acorns into the bowl of water.

If they remain together, so will the couple.

Love Oracle (2) Apples of Love

Should you be lucky enough to have a choice of wonderful lovers, this spell helps you choose wisely between them.

One red apple is required to represent each potential love.

Carve a person’s name into each apple using a rose thorn.

Place the apples in a dark secret place where no one else will disturb them. They must not touch each other.

Check the apples daily: the apple that resists rotting, that stays freshest longest is your true lover.

Once the decomposition process starts you may wish to maintain a more frequent eye, to prevent confusion and mistakes.

Apples are sacred to Aphrodite, Genius of Love. Invoke her assistance and blessing on this oracle if you wish.

Love Oracle (3) Apple Alphabet

Peel an apple while simultaneously reciting the alphabet. When the peel breaks, the letter reached is your true love’s initial. (Keep reciting the alphabet until the peel either breaks or is removed completely.)

Love Oracle (4) Apple Peel

Peel an apple in its entirety: the peel can’t break, the entire peel must be removed in one long slice. If the peel does break, begin again with a fresh apple.

While peeling, concentrate on your query: who is your true love? Who will you marry? And so forth.

When the apple has been completely peeled, throw the peel over your left shoulder without looking.

Once it’s landed on the floor, turn around and consider the shape: the apple peel should land in the shape of an initial or some other oracular response to your query.

Love Oracle (5) Barking Dog

This oracle depends upon a barking dog. Ideally this will be a strange dog, either within a building or behind a gate. It cannot however be a dog that barks without provocation.

Provoke the dog to bark: knock at the door or the gate with a silver or stainless steel spoon, while saying, “Bark, dog bark! Fetch me my true love!”

Pay attention: the direction of the very first bark indicates where your true love may be located. The nature of the bark also indicates something of the nature of your love: a big, strong, healthy bark is an auspicious sign.

Love Oracle (6) Boneset

Two boneset roots are required in this Cayuga spell to determine whether love will flourish.

Designate each to represent one person. Hold the roots together to see if they will intertwine. If they will, the signs are auspicious for relationship and romance. If they do not, reconsider this romance (or keep looking for better bonesets).

Love Oracle (7) Boneset Love Amulet

Intertwining boneset roots may be transformed into an amulet to draw and preserve the love indicated by the previous spell:

Wrap them toward you in a piece of red cloth.

Tie securely with red thread or ribbon.

Wear as a charm or hide in safe place.

Love Oracle (8) Christmas

After dinner on Christmas Eve, take your tablecloth to a crossroads and shake it out. A man will pass by and say something to you as he passes; it might be something as innocuous as “Good evening” or even “Merry Christmas.” No, this isn’t your true love, at least not necessarily, however something about this man—his build, height, general nature—should reveal something about the soul mate for whom you search.

Love Oracle (9) Daphnomancy

Bay leaves provide a barometer to assess a relationship’s future prognosis. Place two bay leaves side by side on burning charcoal.

If they’re reduced quickly to ashes, your relationship is harmonious and your future looks bright

If the leaves crackle while they burn, this will be a tempestuous, volatile love affair

Bay leaves that crackle fiercely and jump apart, warn that another partner should be found, or perhaps one should consider the advantages of solitude

Love Oracle (10) Dark Moon Spell

Go to a deserted hut, ruined building, or bathhouse during a Dark Moon night.

Bring a mirror and a torch with you; the torch will serve as your sole source of illumination.

Place the mirror opposite the open door and gaze into it.

At midnight, the image of your true love should appear in the mirror.

Love Oracle (11) Mystery Dinner Date

Choose the place and time for this enchanted dinner date carefully. This is a Russian spell and that magical tradition suggests casting the spell in the bathhouse; consider what serves as a magically charged threshold for you. Choose an auspicious date too: May Eve, Midsummer’s Eve, Halloween, or maybe a date with special significance for you.

Set a romantic table for two.

Place a mirror and a candle on the table. (This should be your only source of light.)

Seat yourself at the table; gaze into the mirror and the flame.

At midnight, your true love should appear, whether in person or in a vision.

Love Oracle (12) Irish Halloween Cabbage Patch Game

This oracle benefits those wishing to have the identity of future husband or lover revealed, as well as providing a good party game. This ritual must be accomplished on Samhain/Halloween.

Participants are blindfolded and set loose in a cabbage patch. Everyone is allowed to pull up one—and only one—cabbage. The size and shape of the cabbage head and stem reveals details concerning your future lover’s body. The quantity of Earth clinging to roots foretells his financial status: a rich lover’s root is packed with dirt, and the taste of the cabbage heart reveals his temperament.

After eating it, if this cabbage satisfies and pleases you, put the stem over your front door to guide your lover toward you.

Love Oracle (13) Halloween Daphnomancy

A more private Halloween love oracle/ritual:

Sit before a low but steady fire in the fireplace. Gaze into the flame.

Focus on your beloved or on your desires. Formulate your question.

Have a small supply of bay leaves at hand. Without taking your eyes off the fire and your mind from your desire, toss a small handful of bay leaves into the fire.


Laurel leaves that burn in the fire.

Draw to me my heart’s desire.

Once the flames die down, repeat again for a total of three repetitions.

If flames shoot up, or leaves crackle and pop, you’ve received very auspicious signs: your wishes will be fulfilled. However, quiet leaves and dim flames counsel patience or perhaps a change of plans.

Love Oracle (14) Halloween/Nutcrack Night

Halloween was once nicknamed “Nutcrack Night” in Great Britain; this spell echoes that old name.

Find a matched pair of chestnuts; designate one for yourself, the other for the other party.

Place them side-by-side in the burning fireplace.

Keep an eye on your beloved: if it burns bright, so does his or her love. If the nut cracks and jumps, it signals infidelity, inconstancy, nervous, unsure or untrue intentions. If the nut doesn’t burn, his or her heart is cold towards you. However, if both nuts burn together at a harmonious, steady pace, this relationship could be a keeper.

Love Oracle (15) Knot Spell

Is Love True? A simple spell helps you find out.

Make seven knots in a thread.

Set it on fire.

If the flame passes several knots, your love is true and strong, the more knots passed, the stronger.

Love Oracle (16) Long-term Love Oracle

Allegedly a very accurate spell for those possessing the patience to await its results:

Plant a bed of pansies in the shape of a heart.

If they thrive and flourish, your love will too.

If not…

Love Oracle (17) Midsummer’s Love Oracle (1)

On Midsummer’s Eve place a piece of wax in an unwashed sock.

Sleep with it under your pillow.

In the morning, remove and melt the wax.

Pour it into a dish of cold water.

The shape the wax assumes as it hardens will reveal something of your future love life.

Love Oracle (18) Midsummer’s Love Oracle (2)

“Midsummer men” refers to the plant, orpine, so called because these plants are symbolic of people in this Midsummer’s divination spell. (Yes, those people may be women, however that doesn’t seem to have been taken into account.)

On Midsummer’s Eve, plant two cuttings of orpine side by side, designating one to represent you, the other to represent your lover.

Keep an eye on them: if the plants flourish and especially if they grow towards each other, your love is strong and future happiness and stability is predicted.

If one or both plants does not flourish, this is not an auspicious romantic sign. Clues may be interpreted by the orpine’s behavior.

Love Oracle (19) Midsummer’s Love Oracle (3)

Journey to a crossroads on Midsummer’s Eve.

Sprinkle hempseeds while repeating nine times:

Hempseed, hempseed

Hempseed I sow

Hempseed, hempseed

True love, come help me mow!

Allegedly one of two things should now happen: either your true love will genuinely pass by, or a vision of your true love carrying a scythe will appear.

Love Oracle (20) Saint Andrew’s Eve (1)

Sit alone in your bedroom on Saint Andrew’s Eve, November 30th. At precisely midnight fling the door open to catch a vision of your true love.

Love Oracle (21) Saint Andrew’s Eve (2)

Sit in a dark room across from two mirrors, with a candle placed in between.

Stare into the candle flame maintaining complete silence.

As you focus on the candle, choose a number and begin to count backwards.

As you finish, turn to the nearest dark corner and study the shadows. The shape or form of your true love should be apparent.

Love Oracle (22) Seven Bean Spell

This spell simultaneously sets a snare to capture your heart’s desire but also serves as an oracle to advise whether your target will ever love you. Does romance stand a chance?

Arrange seven beans in a circle on a path where your target is certain to walk. (Tonka beans are most effective but you may use any other beans at hand.) Conceal them under leaves and dirt, or, if the path is inside, under newspapers or socks on the floor.

You can watch as long as you’re hidden from view.

If he steps on the beans, brushes up against them or in any way comes in contact with them, the romance will be a success. If he steps over the beans, this is especially auspicious; if he misses the circle completely, starts on the path but then deviates from it, the charm is ineffective. He is not the lover for you. Reconsider your desires and actions.

Love Oracle (23) Yarrow

Although the oracular system the I-Ching now uses coins, the original system used stalks of yarrow to reveal one’s destiny. In this spell, yarrow reveals whether love is reciprocated.

Walk barefoot at midnight in a patch of yarrow under a Full Moon.

With your eyes closed, pick a bunch of flowers. Offer a libation or small exchange at the spot where the flowers were picked.

Take them home and place them under your bed, your pillow or in a bedside drawer.

At dawn, or when you awake, check your flowers. If the flowers remain fresh, this is a positive sign: your love is reciprocated. If even the dew remains, this is extremely auspicious. If the flowers have dried, withered or faded, try again at the next Full Moon, or consider another lover!

Lunar Divination

A particularly bright full moon, shining low on a cloudless night provides an extremely powerful scrying surface. When the moon presents this face, venture out so that you are exposed to the moonbeams. Although the divination may be performed indoors or in the shadows, your own psychic reception is enhanced by exposure to moon light.

Lunar Divination (1)

Gaze up at the moon.

Pose your question in your mind.

Keep gazing and let answers and inspiration come to you.

Lunar Divination (2)

Lunar scrying may be enhanced:

Reflect a pan of water, magic mirror or crystal ball in the moonlight.

Gaze within the medium, rather than or in addition to the moon, for the desired information.

Lunar Divination (3)

Place a dish, bucket or pail of water so that it captures the light of the full moon.

Surround the water with four lit torches, creating a circle or magical area.

Gaze into the water but also pay attention to the interplay of the candle flames, to reveal the information required.

Lunar divination enhanced by water simultaneously draws down the moon, producing lunar-charged water (see page 51). Reserve the water for future spell-casting.

Lychnomancy—Divination by Candle

Candles not only accompany or constitute magic spells. Any candle, lit for any purpose, can simultaneously serve as an instrument of divination. Candles can also be used purely as instruments of divination.

Candle flames, wax, shadows, smoke, and ashes provide running commentary on a spell’s likelihood of success. Although lychnomancy involves divination by flame, it is also always worthwhile to observe patterns made by melting candle wax as well. In addition to flame and wax, candles provide another oracle: patterns made by smoke. Experienced diviners can coordinate oracles received from all three sources. Beginners may wish to choose one venue of divination to start with.

Lychnomancy (1) The Simplest Method

Light a white candle.

Gaze into the flame.

Allow visions, words, and inspiration to enter your mind.

This simple method may be enhanced:

Place the candle between you and a mirror

For purposes of direct communication, place the candle between you and an image. This may be a sacred image, a votive statue for instance, or the image of an actual person or animal, who may or may not be currently alive. Gaze at the image through or over the flame

Lychnomancy (2) Ivy

This method is traditionally used to discover who is working malicious magic against you.

Charge a yellow candle with your query and desires.

Wrap ivy around the candle.

Burn the candle: the person should become known to you, although this may occur in dreams.

Lychnomancy (3) Queen of the Meadow

Botanicals can enhance this method:

Place a Queen of the Meadow root inside a glass of water.

Place this glass beside a burning white candle.

Gaze into the flame, to obtain visions of the future.

Lychnomancy (4) Multiple Candles

Multiple candles may also be used. Divination in this case is achieved by analyzing the appearance and behavior of the flames and the relationships between them.

Arrange three candles, so that they form a tight triangle or pyramid.

Should one flame burn particularly high, vivid and bright, this is extremely auspicious, a sign of good fortune

Should one candle abruptly go out before the others, the situation may be detrimental for the person involved

Rising and falling flames indicate a cautionary warning

Back and forth movement generally indicates evolving circumstances, perhaps the inherent changeability of the situation

Flames twisting in spirals indicate a warning to beware of hidden plots and false friends


The most ancient mirrors were not crafted from glass but from smooth metal surfaces, typically copper, polished so that reflections appeared. Reproductions of ancient Egyptian mirrors are available and lend themselves very well for divination. A metal mirror must be polished sufficiently to display a reflection when one looks within. This may require some maintenance.

Modern glass mirrors are more readily available and also more obviously mimic the reflective power of water. Traditional Italian magic mirrors possess a glass face but a highly ornamented metal backing, enhanced by depictions of spirits and other sacred images. These may be used to communicate with the specific deity or deities depicted. Because many display Turanna, the Etruscan Venus, they are also excellent for receiving information and spiritual advice regarding romance.

Mirrors in general have potent associations with spirits of love like Hathor and Aphrodite, as well as mermaid spirits. They are wonderful love and romance oracles. Images of Hathor form the handle of most ancient Egyptian mirrors: these may also be used as a device to communicate with this most primal, powerful spirit.

Mirror Divination (1) Basic Method

Gaze within the mirror and allow your mind to wander.

Mirror Divination (2)

A Chinese mirror divination combines scrying with aural oracles. The first part of the spell must be conducted in private, while the second half requires the unknowing participation of another.

Place a sieve upon a cold, unlit stove.

Place a basin of water and/or a mirror within the sieve.

Focus on your query.

When you have achieved the correct frame of mind, go outside.

The first words that you hear, whether positive or negative, provide your response. Analyze as needed.

If it is impossible to go outside into the presence of others, turn on a radio instead.

Mirror Divination (3)

Catoptromancy, a specific type of mirror divination, is used to answer medical queries. Enhance clairvoyance with burning incense.

Hang a mirror by a thread over a fountain or pool of water.

Slowly lower the mirror until its base barely touches the surface of the water.

Gaze within the mirror to receive information regarding a patient’s recovery or to receive recommendations for treatment.

This method is based on rituals practiced at a Greek shrine to Demeter. It was originally accompanied by prayers and petitions directed towards her. Incorporate these as you will.

Mirror Divination (4)

Determine what it is you wish to see before initiating this spell. Although it is most frequently cast as a love oracle, any request may be made.

Place two mirrors opposite each other on a table.

Place two candles on either side of each mirror.

Sit between the mirrors with their candles.

Gaze into the mirrors until the desired image appears.

For romantic divination, to view a love oracle, get undressed prior to sitting between the mirrors, either completely or just down to sexy lingerie. Loosen your hair, have a glass of wine, if desired: the goal is to seduce the image into appearing for you.


Ceromancy, the oracle of melting wax, actually derives from an older form of divination, molybdomancy. Molybdomancy uses identical methods, however the medium used is metal, typically lead or tin. Once upon a time, wax was a far more precious, expensive commodity than scrap metal, particularly in ancient Rome, where metaphysical texts recommended that practitioners steal lead from sewer pipes. Wax is much easier to work with, however metal has its own advantages. Metal has specific magical and astrological associations. Tin is under the dominion of Jupiter, traditionally the planet of expansion and good fortune. Lead carries the attributes of Saturn, a planet with a somewhat dour, stern, even malefic reputation.

Substitute either metal for wax in any ceromancy spells.


In addition to their role as teachers, guardians and inspirers of magic, snakes are also tools of divination. Ophiomancy refers to divination by snake: theoretically it requires more than one snake to accomplish. Those with access to a snake pit, filled with writhing snakes will find this a profound method.

Formulate your question. The response comes from observations of the snakes’ movements and especially from the display of their skin’s color and geometric patterns. Use the same methods as if you were scrying from water, oil, or ink (see below).

Oracle Sage

Oracle Sage’s Latin name, Salvia divinorum, “diviner’s sage,” indicates its use as an oracle. It’s believed to be the legendary oracular substance of the Aztecs.

This is not a divination system; instead oracle sage allegedly opens the gates of psychic ability, similar in effect to whatever Delphic pythonesses were inhaling. Burn, breathe and see what you discover.

Pendulum Divination

Certain botanicals allegedly create excellent pendulums. Try it: attach an orrisroot or angelica root to a cord and use as a pendulum.


Psephomancy is the art of divining with pebbles. Mark beans or pebbles with signs or colors to indicate your different choices, place them in a drawstring bag and shake them up. Either toss them all out and interpret the manner in which they fall or randomly draw them out, as a response to your query.

Salt Divination (1)

Toss the salt or let it dribble through your fingers. Interpret the patterns it makes in the air as it falls.

Salt Divination (2)

Pour salt through a sieve, shaking and moving the sieve while the salt is poured. Afterwards, observe and interpret the patterns created.

Salt Divination (3)

Throw salt into fire. Interpret the resulting flames, their color, height, patterns, and so forth.


At its absolute most basic, scrying means divination via a smooth surface. Perhaps scrying was invented when someone, gazing into a lake’s smooth surface, fell into a trance and received visions and psychic messages. Lakes aren’t always tranquil nor are they accessible to all. Other more consistently available techniques were developed.

Ancient images of Kybele, the Magna Mater, perhaps the most primal deity of all, show her holding and gazing into a pan of water. This method remains as effective as ever. Its major requirement is patience and the ability to still one’s mind: this isn’t a quick-fix method. The mind needs time and freedom to float and explore. These methods are particularly suited for those born under the astrological water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces) as well the watery air sign, Aquarius.

Scrying (1) The Original Method

If one has access to a particularly tranquil lake, this method remains extremely effective. Sit beside the water and gaze into the glass-like depths. Let your mind be still and see what happens.

Scrying (2) Kybele’s Method

Fill a shallow pan with water.

Allow it time to achieve stillness and tranquility.

Gaze within the water or gaze at the surface, whichever suits you.

Scrying (3) Oil

Some prefer other materials for scrying:

Fill a shallow pan with oil.

Gaze at the surface or into the oil and allow inspiration to approach.

Scrying (4) Ink

An alternative is ink: some find black ink’s stillness and depth soothing. Fill a small shallow dish with black ink. Gaze into the ink to receive an oracle.

Scrying (5) Oil and Water

Oil and water don’t mix. This detail creates patterns that enhance divination:

Fill a shallow pan with water.

Once it is still, add several drops of oil.

Observe the behavior of the oil: does it form a shimmery surface or create a rainbow? Patterns formed by the oil may also be interpreted. This method is particularly beneficial for queries regarding the Evil Eye.

Scrying (6) Egyptian Method

An ancient Egyptian variation instructs specifically how and what to observe. Although it may be performed for oneself, the Egyptians, at least during the early years of the Common Era, preferred using a child, ideally a pre-pubescent boy, as a medium. Contact with spirits may be established as well as revelations of future events.

Fill a flat dish with water.

Spread a thin film of oil over the water.

As the film thins out, the colors will disappear. Follow them.

Scrying (7) The Vessel

Although the oracle is obtained from whatever is poured into the dish, the vessel itself is not inconsequential. A special vessel, charged and consecrated, or perhaps embellished with sigils, texts and images, may produce a clearer, more potent oracle. In addition, any vessel that the diviner likes or finds attractive may simply be more effective for that person. On the other hand, the simplest vessel, the one at the end of your arm can be extremely effective:

Cup the palm of your left hand.

Pour some black ink into the palm of your hand.

Gaze into the ink to receive an oracle.

Scrying (8) Thumbnail Approach

Many methods of divination demand peace, privacy and (sometimes) expensive materials. Oil was once a luxury item: to fill a pan or dish with it, perhaps solely for the purposes of divination, was for many an extravagant gesture. A very ancient divinatory system minimizes expenses and can be performed fairly spontaneously:

Place one small drop of oil on your thumbnail. (Traditionally the left thumbnail is used.)

Shine it so that it is smooth.

Gaze within to see the future or receive information.

Scrying (9) Small Thumbnail Approach

Children are favored oracles for thumbnail divination. The child may accomplish the first two steps independently.

Place a bit of oil on a child’s thumb.

Polish it until it’s shiny and smooth.

Have the child gaze at the nail.

Pose your question directly to the child or simply allow the child to describe what he or she sees. It is not necessary for the child to know or understand the question.

Scrying (10) Buffed Nail Approach

To really cut down on expenses or to maximize the potential for spontaneity, buff your thumbnail to a high polish. No oil is now required. Gaze at the nail, turning it a bit, if necessary, so as to catch the light. Allow inspiration to reach you.

Scrying (11) Egg Water

Because of the symbolism of the egg, this divination system is particularly beneficial for questions having to do with fertility, pregnancy, and children.

Fill a jar or glass three-quarters full with cold water.

Using a pin, make a small hole in the top and bottom of a raw egg.

Let a few drops of egg white fall into the water.

Watch and wait. During the next several hours, the egg white will spread through the water, forming images that can be interpreted.

To enhance this method, place the glass before a lit white candle.

Scrying (12) Pegomancy

Scrying may be accomplished by observing movements of water. This method, known as pegomancy, requires beginning with a reasonably smooth surface, although it’s not necessary for it to be as mirror-like as needed for regular scrying.

Drop or toss stones into still, living water, such as a lake or spring. Interpret the resulting ripples, rings and movement. Appearances of living creatures stimulated by your actions should also be noted and interpreted. In other words, a sea monster or even a turtle or fish, appearing in response to your toss of a pebble should be considered significant.

Scrying (13) Crystal Vision

Scrying is also accomplished by gazing into mirrors, crystal balls, and polished and uncut gemstones: the use of polished round crystal balls was, according to legend, popularized by Romany diviners. Clear quartz, smoky quartz, and aquamarines may be read in similar manner. Among the more difficult skills to be achieved with scrying is getting the gaze right: look intently, but also leisurely, with eyes just slightly out of focus. Try using peripheral vision instead of a direct gaze as a starting point.

Gaze within the crystal.

When shadows or shapes appear, follow them.

Scrying (14) Gemstone Vision

The most luxurious tools of divination may be star sapphires and star rubies. If you have access to one, allow it to reveal secrets to you.

Gaze at the center of the gemstone’s cross, with eyes slightly out of focus.

Allow your mind to wander.

This method may also be attempted with staurolite, alias cross-stone or fairy-stone. These crystals possess profound magic power yet lack the luminosity of star sapphires and rubies, making scrying more difficult.

Scrying (15) Scrying with Cups

Once upon a time, diviners used cups in the manner of crystal balls.

Fill a large wine glass with spring water or Holy Water. (Marie Laveau Water may be used as well providing it’s made with lavender water not lavender essential oil.)

Add a few drops of liquefied palm oil.

Place a white candle behind the glass.

Calmly gaze into the glass until visions appear.

This next method of divination requires a matched pair of stones, pebbles, crystals or sea-shells. They must be of roughly the same size and texture but of distinct colors or patterns, thus easily distinguishable by sight, not touch. This method is easily spontaneously performed in the woods or at the beach, wherever natural materials are readily available. Should you find a successful, matched pair, keep them in a mojo bag, preferably together with powdered mugwort for psychic enhancement.

Determine which of the pair represents an affirmative response, which the negative.

Close your eyes and don’t peek.

Let your fingers play with the stones, rearranging them, as you formulate and focus on your query. Move them around, don’t try to keep track of which one is where; just focus on the question, with your eyes closed.

When you’re ready, pick one up, then open your eyes and see your answer.


Sideromancy involves divination by heated iron. Traditionally iron was heated in the fire until red-hot; the method was once reserved exclusively for iron-workers, proficient in magic but also able to safely heat and handle iron. This has evolved into a household divination, although great care must be taken.

Cast iron pans are heated over a fire or placed in the fire of a hearth.

Heat the iron to whatever temperature is safe and realistic for you.

Remove the iron from the fire.

Drop an odd number of straws onto the pan. Broom straws are traditional, although dried yarrow stalks make a powerful substitute, because of their connection with the I-Ching.

Interpret the resulting movement and shapes as well as the nature of the smoke and flames.

Sieve Divination

Although now typically considered nothing more than common kitchen tools, once upon a time, sieves held powerful associations with magic and were identified with magic as frequently as broomsticks or cauldrons. (Although witches may have flown through the air on broomsticks; they set out to sea in sieves.) Divination by sieve is particularly ancient.

Sieve Divination (1)

Coscinomancy refers to a specific form of divination via sieve. Ancient Athenians called it “the trick of sieve and scissors.” It is most often used to help identify a thief.

The sieve must be suspended in air. This may be accomplished by several methods: attach string or threads to the sieve, use a pair of shears to hold the sieve up, or hold the sieve aloft by balancing on two fingers or two fingers belonging to two different people.

Pray for sacred guidance.

While holding the sieve aloft, begin chanting the names of those held in suspicion. Allegedly the sieve, shears or both will swirl at a significant person’s name.

Sieve Divination (2)

Trick of sieve and scissors, indeed! At least as far as this experienced diviner is concerned, coscinomancy may be the single most convoluted, unwieldy system of divination of all. I can barely visualize it, let alone describe it. Another ancient method, still in use throughout the Middle East, puts a sieve to better use.

Pour sand through the sieve. If reading for another person, the reader pours the sand, while the querent holds and shakes the sieve or vice versa. The result will be hills and valleys of sand. If reading for oneself, interpret the way the sand lies. If reading for another, have them draw a line through the sand with a finger. Observe how the sand shifts, watch the patterns and read.

Sieve Divination (3)

This method works best with a flat bottom sieve, a grain winnow or finely perforated frame drum. This method is excellent when one needs to analyze or choose between two different options or actions.

Cover half of the inside of the sieve with white flour.

Cover the other half with charcoal powder.

Use an existing pendulum or create one with a stick and some string. (A mugwort or wormwood twig is ideal.)

Let the pendulum swing within the sieve and watch lines and patterns appear.

Smoke Divination

Toss a handful of poppy seeds into a fire.

Observe the smoke.

If the smoke ascends, straight and light, this is an auspicious, positive response. However, if the smoke hangs low, heavy and dark, this is an ominous, negative response.

Steam Oracle

Focus upon your question while boiling thistles in water.

Lower the heat, but allow it to simmer.

Keep your ear near the steam and listen carefully for sounds and answers to emerge.

Alternatively remove the pot from the heat source. Place it on a flat surface where you can sit or lie beside it as the steam rises. However, this way, you must be quick: the steam won’t last long.

Tongue Stones

“Thunderstones” and “lightning stones” are names used to refer to small meteorites, actual lightning-struck stones, various odd rocks or unearthed ancient artifacts. Amongst Bulgarian and Serbian Romany, these are known as “tongue stones,” because they can speak with you.

Tongue stones are sacred, charged with tremendous power and are reserved for use during an emergency. This is not an everyday method of divination for trivial decisions but only for a genuine crisis. When the path is crucial but unclear, a tongue stone provides council.

At night, the stone is smeared with animal fat, such as lard or other cooking fat.

Bury the stone deeply under earth and grass, forming a mound.

Urinate on the little hill and let it sleep overnight.

Next day, dig up the tongue stone.

If the stone still feels greasy, your undertaking should meet with success. If it feels rough, all the grease has gone, your plan won’t work. Find another. Should the stone display reddish marks, this warns of a dangerous undertaking. And if plenty of earth and grass cling to the stone, your plan will bring good luck and fortune, although it may not work out exactly as you’ve anticipated.

Traditional Materials Divination

Let Earth bestow the gift of divination upon you: in North Africa, the media used in this system of divination are described as “traditional materials” to distinguish them from tarot, playing cards, dominoes or other commercially manufactured methods. Materials are collected over time, as they turn up: small stones found on the ground or washed from the sea, abandoned snail and crab shells, sea shells, roots, clavicle or other sheep bones, the upper and lower jaws of animal carcasses taken from food sources or from road kill, etc., etc.

Collect materials as they appear, cleansing and preparing as needed, and keep them in a basket, covered by a silk scarf. When you wish to read the oracle, gently shake the basket or mix it by hand, but do not allow anyone to see the materials within the basket. Should anyone uncover the basket or observe how the items are falling before they have been tossed to the ground, the process must be halted.

Eventually throw the traditional materials onto the ground. Using your finger, a knife or stick, draw a cross through the materials and interpret the patterns in quadrants.