Anthropomancy (Page 2)
The human subject of an Anthropomantic ritual did not experience a pleasant death. After being disemboweled while still alive, one of the most painful ways to die, their bowels were strewn about, and the Anthropomancer or Anthropomantist then attempted to divine certain signs and omens by observing specific aspects of their slow and agonizing death. Some of the most important of these aspects came from the examination of the arrangement in which the person's entrails spilled out of the abdomen, and consequent exact time of death.
The Druids, in peacetime, usually sacrificed pairs of white bulls, but when at war, they dispatched captured enemies or criminals. The hapless "offerings" were confined within gigantic wicker sculptures, which were then burned. As the flames mounted, the priests would calmly practice their Capnomancy, Pyromancy and Anthropomancy, reading the future in the smoke and flames, and in the desperate screams of their victims.
Another type of Anthropomancy practiced by the Druids consisted in striking a man who had been consecrated for sacrifice in the back with a sword, and make prophecies based on his death-spasms. Strabo describes this method of divination:
"They stab a man in the back with a sword and then observe his convulsive movements and divine from those."
Druids also consulted the gods in the palpitating entrails of men. Human victims were cleaned, and libations were poured over their bodies. The victims were then slain ― some shoot dead with arrows, others impaled, and some simply had their throats slashed ― and omens were drawn from the manner of their fall, the movements of their limbs, the flowing of their blood, and from their insides.
Both Diodorus Siculus and Tacitus mention the Druidic custom of divining with the entrails of sacrificed victims. Tacitus said:
"The Druids consult the gods in the palpitating entrails of men."
Diodorus described it:
"The Druids discovered futurity by observing the posture in which the victim fell, from their contortions, and from the direction in which their spilled blood flowed away from their bodies."
Lewis Spence, in his An Encyclopedia of Occultism, wrote of Anthropomancy:
"Anthropomancy is divination by the entrails of men or women. This horrible usage is very ancient. Herodotus said the Menelaus, detained in Egypt by contrary winds, sacrificed to his barbarous curiosity, two children of the country, and sought to discover his destiny by means of anthropomancy. Heliogabalus practised this means of divination. Julian the Apostate, in his magical operations, during his nocturnal sacrifices, cause, it is said, a large number of children to be killed, so that he might consult their entrails."
Gibson, in his Complete Illustrated Book of Divination and Prophecy, said of Anthropomancy:
"A form of divination used by ancient Egyptians and Greeks, involving human sacrifice and the dissection of bodies. It continued intermittently through the period of the Roman Empire and was probably revived by notorious practitioners of black arts during the Middle Ages."
Gilles de Rais (1404-1440), the ill-famed French nobleman and soldier, was accused and ultimately convicted of the murder, torturing and raping of countless children. It has been speculated that he also performed Anthropomantic divination on his hapless victims.
Even the famous oracle at Delphi at one time encouraged this macabre practice, but by the 6th century BC the custom of human sacrifice had become rare in the Greek world, and eventually was outlawed entirely.
Some variants of Anthropomancy do not require an actual killing. For example, in Medieval Europe it was believed that nosebleeds foretold bad luck. By some accounts, Anthropomancy was also divination by raising the dead (See Necromancy).
Anthropomancy, like most divinatory systems, is quite ancient, and has been practiced since time immemorial, possibly from the time when primitive societies first engaged in territorial disputes, customs and religious divergences and, consequently, warfare.
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Sources: (1) Pickover, Clifford A., Dreaming the Future: The Fantastic Story of Prediction, Prometheus Books; (2) Dunwich, Gerina, A Wiccan's Guide to Prophecy and Divination, Carol Publishing Group; (3) Melton, J. Gordon and Shepard, Leslie A., Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, Gale Group; (4) Gibson, Walter B., Complete Illustrated Book of Divination and Prophecy, Independent Publishers Group; (5) Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group; (6) Buckland, Raymond, The Fortune-Telling Book: The Encyclopedia of Divination and Soothsaying, Visible Ink Press; (7) Brown, Nathan Robert, The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Paranormal, Alpha Publishers.
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