-mancy, -mancer, -mantic, -mantical
(Greek: used as a suffix; divination, prophecy, fortune telling; to interpret signs so “practical” decisions can be made [related to -mania])
It isn't so much the things we don't know that gets us into trouble. It's the things we know that aren't so.
If you keep on saying things are going to be bad, you have a good chance of being a prophet.
The precise origins and method for abacomancies have been lost in time, but it apparently is like most divination techniques, quite ancient.
During the processes of acutomanzias, the pins or needles are shaken and when they fall on a table covered with a light film of talcum-powder, their formations in the powder and their positions are studied for possible revelations about a person's future.
For many centuries, humans believed that the wind was actually the breath of their deities. Alternately, some thought that specific types of winds, particularly hot winds, were the work of demons.
In medieval writings on divination, the term aeromancy (usually spelled "aerimancy") was expanded to include almost all phenomena occurring in the air, such as forecasting the weather.
"It is a widespread belief that killing or mistreating a cat will bring ill fortune, probably from ancient religious beliefs that cats were sacred animals."
In Africa, a black hen or a gamecock is used. An African diviner sprinkles grain on the ground and when the bird has finished eating, the seer interprets the designs or patterns left on the ground.
This type of divination has been attributed to the famous philosopher Iamblichus, who died about the year 330 A.D., after restoring various mystic rites dating back to the times of the ancient oracles.
His followers did quite well until Valens became roman emperor of the East and began a campaign to stamp out oracles, soothsayers, astrologers, and even philosophers, since their tendency was to favor those practitioners of the mystic arts.
The Roman mystics traced a large circle on the ground and divided it into sections bearing the letters of the Greek alphabet. Grains of wheat were sprinkled on the letters and a white rooster was placed in the center of the mystic circle.
From then on, the sponsoring seer, or seers, watched while the inspired fowl moved from one letter to another, spelling out a message as it pecked at the grains. That message was interpreted as the answer to the question mutually chosen by the observing seers.
A "wheat-corn" was placed on every letter, beginning with "A", during which the depositor must repeat a certain verse.
Additional esoteric steps were taken, then the rooster within the circle was watched to see which letters he pecked the grains from, and upon these additional grains must replace those taken by the rooster because some names and words might contain the same letters twice or more times.
Supposedly, the letters should be written down and put together, and they would infallibly reveal the name of the person about whom an inquiry was made.
In Africa, where this is practiced, the diviner sprinkles grain on the ground and allows the birds (a black hen or a gamecock) to peck at it. When the bird has finished, the seer interprets the patterns that remain on the ground.
The ancient Greeks wrote sentences on pieces of paper rolled up in balls of flour. The balls were mixed up nine times and distributed to those who wanted to know their future. Appollo was supposed to have presided over this form of divination.
This system has survived in the custom of baking a coin or ring in a large cake, which is then divided among guests, one of whom is lucky and finds the gift.
The use of salt in various divinations, probably dated from its ancient use as an offering to pagan gods, because of its scarcity and necessity.
In some cases, before eating, each suspect was required to say, "If I am deceiving you, may this piece of bread choke me."
According to Walter Gibson and Litzka Gibson in their The Complete Illustrated Book of Divination and Prophecy, in 1053, "Earl Godwin of Wessex, England, collapsed while taking this test to support a false oath, and died a few days later. This case has frequently been cited as a strong argument in favor of alphitomancy as a divinatory process."
Another version explains, "The suspects were rounded up. Each was required to say, 'If I am deceiving you, may this bread act upon me foul.' A portion of barley or wheat bread was then served to each suspect.
Those innocent of the crime supposedly would suffer no ill effects, while the guilty person would experience an attack of indigestion so painful that it was impossible to conceal it."