Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bird Brains

Are you desperate to find an unrecognised significance in an early modern text?
New Age Practitioner!
Do you want some suggestions to help keep you ahead of the pack?

Find your fortune here:


John Gaule, A Collection out of the best approved authors (running title, ‘the Mag-Astro-Mancer posed and puzzl’d’ (1657), pp. 165-6.

"Stareomancy, or Divining by the elements; Aeromancy, or Divining by the air; Pyromancy, by Fire; Hydromancy, by water; Geomancy, by earth; Theomancy, pretending to divine by revelation of the Spirit, and by the Scriptures, or word of God; Daemonomancy, by the suggestion of evill daemons or Devills; Idolomancy, by Idolls, Images, Figures; Psychomancy, by mens souls, affections, wills, religious or moral dispositions; Antinotomancy, by the entrails of men, women or children; Theriomancy, by Beasts; Ornithomancy, by Birds; Icthyomancy, by Fishes; Botanomancy, by herbs; Lithomancy, by Stones; Cleromancy, by lotts; Oniromancy, by dreams; Onomatomancy, by Names; Arithmancy, by numbers; Logarithmancy, by Logarithmes; Strenomancy, from the breast to the belly; Gastromancy, by the sound of, or signes upon the belly; Omphelomancy, by the navell; Chiromancy, by the hands; Paedomancy, by the feet; Onychomancy, by the nailes; Chephaleomancy, by the braysing of an Asses head; Tuphramancy, by ashes; Capromancy, by smoak; Livanomancy, by the burning of Frankincence; Carromancy, by melting of Wax; Lecanomancy, by a basin of water; Catoxtromancy, by looking-glasses; Cartomancy, by writing in papers; Macharomancy, by knives or swords; Chrystallomancy, by glasses; Dactylomancy, by rings; Coseinomancy, by seives; Axinomancy, by sawes; Cattabomancy, by vessells of brasse, or other metal; Roadomancy, by starres; Spatalamancy, by skins, bones, excrements; Sciomancy, by shadowes; Astragalamancy, by dice; Osnomancy, by wine; Sycomancy, by figgs; Typomancy, by the coagulation of cheese; Alphitomancy, by meal, flour, or branne; Crithomancy, by grain, or corn; Alectromancy, by Cocks, or Pullen; Gyromancy, by rounds or circles; Lampadomancy, by candles and Lamps; And in one word for all, Negromancy, or Necromancy, by inspecting, consulting or divining by, with or from the dead."

'Gastromancy' by the sound of the stomach strikes me as being as good a means to foretell the future as any, in a strictly local kind of way. But 'by the coagulation of cheese'? Some of these John Gaule, a writer given to a rhetorical display of 'copia', may be making up. Others are still known about, and practised.

~ All this reminded me that long ago, in the days of the football pools, we tried ‘alectromancy’, using the family budgerigar. The ‘pools’ involved selecting 16 teams out of the English and Scottish leagues, and each Saturday, you hoped that your selected team numbers would include, ideally, just the 8 scoring draws of that day (for an optimal win). So I wrote 92 numbers on pieces of paper, screwed them up into balls, set the bird in their midst, and we all waited until Bobby pecked at 16. Unfurled, these were our set numbers, for years. They never came up.

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