Also known as Amathomancy (from the Greek amathos, for sand), it is the art and practice of foretelling future events by the observation of omens in patterns of dust (or in the dust), dirt, ashes or sand.
The precise origins for this mode of prognostication have been lost in time, and not much is known about it, but it is with certainty, like most divination techniques, quite ancient.
It is acknowledged that the way the dust was distributed, disturbed, or blown into layers was interpreted much as the patterns left by tealeaves in a teacup, in Tasseography, or dirt patterns in Geomancy.
In some forms of Abacomancy, the dust, dirt, sand, or sacrificial ashes, were to be read after being sprinkled over a silver tray.
Some diviners used a tipped instrument of some sort, such as a wand or dowel, to spread and/or disturb the divinatory agent (dust, sand, ashes, etc).
In one of the forms of this type of divination, the diviner would use the ashes of the recently deceased. On the tenth night after the death of a person, he who fired the funeral pyre was required to sift some of the ashes, near which a lamp was placed. The whole was then covered with a basket. The next morning the ashes were examined, and the deceased ghost was said to have migrated into the animal whose mark appeared on the ashes.
Meaningful patterns for interpretation in Abacomancy include:
Small circles — denotes a coming marriage.
Large circles — misfortune at hand.
Long line — a coming journey.
Short line — a visitor is arriving soon.
Short, separate lines — denotes a lack of purpose from the inquirer.
Triangle — signifies business success.
Cross — a love connection is at hand.
Square — danger in the horizon, the inquirer needs to be cautious.
Bird shape — important news are on the way.
Sword or arrow — if pointing up, success and peace; pointing down, failure or illness.
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Sources: (1) Dunwich, Gerina, A Wiccan's Guide to Prophecy and Divination, Carol Publishing Group; (2) Aldrich, Chris, The Aldrich Dictionary of Phobias and Other Word Families, Trafford Publishing; (3) Bonnerjea, Biren, L'ethnologie du Bengale, Paris, 1927; (4) Buckland, Raymond, The Fortune-Telling Book: The Encyclopedia of Divination and Soothsaying, Visible Ink Press.
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