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Fortune Tellers and Sooth Sayers

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Predicting the Future: Fortune Tellers use many methods

I’ve got an abnormal interest in fortune tellers. You’ll find at least one in pretty much everything I’ve written. Anna, in Just Like Gravity, follows the cards to Scotland where she finds a tall, dark Scotsman. Zoraida, in my Zoraida Grey series, comes from a long line of magical types who not only have the ability to tell the future, they want to control it.



As I researched, I sought out real, live fortune tellers, and even learned enough to do a few Tarot readings on my own (which I often offer for free right here.)

Tarot cards, palmistry, reading tea leaves, and numerology get a lot of press, but divination can be performed with nearly anything.  Back in the day, pale crones used to poke their bony fingers in the entrails of unfortunate creatures to predict the outcome of the next battle or the likelihood the current king would be keeping his job through the winter.

It didn’t pay to be a peasant in the wrong place at the wrong time back then.

This kind of divination can be called anthropomancy  which usually refers to the use on entrails of a human sacrifice or  splanchomancy which may require a fresh . . .er. . .excretion from said entrails. Either way, I’m glad we moved away from bodily fluids as a means of divination. No way would Facebook allow this at a Facebook party.

You’ll notice that most terms for divination techniques end with –mancy. That’s because –mancy comes from an ancient Greek word for a soothsayer or prophet. So you can probably figure out that arachnomancy is divination using spiders and ornithomancy has to do with birds and bird flight patterns.

List of Fortune Telling Methods

  • Ailuromancy: uses the behavior of felines, such as the cats’ movements or jumps to predict future events (especially the weather).
  • Bibliomancy: divination that seeks to know the future by randomly selecting a passage from a book, frequently a sacred text.
  • Molybdomancy: Divination through interpreting the hissing sounds made by molten lead or tin dropped into water.
  • Necromancy: Divination through communication with the dead.
  • Sideromancy: Divination by placing straws on a hot iron and observing the resulting shapes.
  • Spodomancy: Divination by interpreting ashes, cinders, or soot
  • Stareomancy: Divination by interpreting the classical elements of wind, water, earth, or fire.
  • Sternomancy: Divination by interpreting the marks or bumps on the solar plexus (breast to belly). Don’t do this one if you’re ticklish.
  • Trochomancy: Divination by wheel ruts or tracks.
  • Xenomancy: Divination by interpreting meetings with strangers.
  • Xylomancy: Divination by burning wood.
  • Zygomancy: Divination by using weights. I do this every day by using  the weight which registered recently on my bathroom scales to predict that salads and veggies will be recurring with depressing frequency in my kitchen for the foreseeable future.
  • Cartomancy: telling the future using cards
  • Geloscopy:  is the divination from the tone of someone’s laughter. For example, I can predict that sarcastic laughter after I have slipped on a patch of ice will result in a sudden death–and not mine.
  • Scrying: Reading the future in reflections. The Egyptians used ink’ the Mesopotamians used oil. It was the Greeks who used mirrors or metal and the Aztecs who used shiny obsidian stones.

And, of course, there are crystal balls, pendulums, water witching, astrology, and plain old premonition.

So what about you? Have you ever had your fortune told? Do you read your horoscope every day?

Tell us all about it in the comments.

Do you believe?

I believe


Or is this more like you?

Pffgt! Bullshit!

BTW–part of this post was published about a year ago. I’ve updated and added to the list because this stuff never gets old.


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