A classic example of Apantomancy is the founding of Mexico City on the spot where ancient Aztec diviners and soothsayers saw an eagle flying from a cactus plant carrying a live snake. This is represented in the Mexican coat-of-arms of today.
From the Greek apantomai for 'to meet', it is the art and practice of divination by omens drawn from chance meetings with animals or things.
The old superstition of the black cat bringing bad luck when it crosses a person's path is one example of Apantomancy which has survived to present day.
Forecasts were usually made from chance meetings with animals, such as birds, cats, dogs and hares, making Apantomancy closely related to Zoomancy. However, another branch of Apantomancy dealt with prognostications made from any objects which happened to present themselves, or that were 'at hand', sort of speak. It could be argued that these were chance meetings with inanimate things.
Chance encounters with animals have been, and in some parts of the world still are, believed to be full of meaning. In Medieval Europe, accidentally meeting a hare or a goat foretold imminent good luck.
But according to Henry Watson's Gospelles of Dystaues (1507), it was an evil sign to meet a rabbit or hare. By the 19th century, a magical method of protection against the hare was devised. It consisted of spitting over the left shoulder and reciting the following charm:
"Hare before, trouble behind.
Change ye, Cross, and free me."
Spence Lewis, in An Encyclopedia of Occultism, defined Apantomancy:
"Apantomancy: Divination by means of any objects which happen to present themselves. To this class belong the omens drawn from chance meetings with a hare, an eagle, etc."
Gibson, in his Complete Illustrated Book of Divination and Prophecy (1973), wrote of Apantomancy:
"Apantomancy was divination from omens depending on observations of chance objects, meeting certain types of animals, or other unusual occurrences. In ancient times such events were frequently interpreted by oracles, and their importance persisted through the Middle Ages, even up to modern times. From them have stemmed countless superstitions that many people still believe may bring them good or bad luck, though the interpretations may vary in different localities."
Apantomancy has been practiced around the world since pre-historic times, and nearly every living thing have been connected with the mantic arts. But it seems that in Europe, particularly Great Britain, and in the United States of America, cats, dogs, hares, bats, birds and farm animals are the types of animals interpreted more often than others.