Apantomancy (page 2)
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. Another example is that of American Indian babies, that were often named for the first animal their mothers saw after giving birth.
In Yorkshire, England, 19th century fishermen were convinced that if a four-legged animal, especially a dog, happened to cross their paths while they were on the way to their boats in the harbor, it was an ominous portent. So great was their fear that many believed the only way to prevent the pending disaster was to kill the animal harbinger.
In some parts of England it was also once believed that if a weasel crossed your path, it was an omen of treachery. In order to avert it, one was supposed to drop a coin on the road at the precise spot where the weasel crossed. The logic behind it was to avoid the disaster by transferring the bad luck to whomever found the coin and was unlucky enough to pick it up.
Another superstition related to Apantomancy says that if a hare crosses your path from right to left, it foretells a disastrous journey ahead. However, if the hare crosses your path from left to right, it means good luck will soon be coming your way. In the Victorian era, it was also believed by many that a hare running through the town was a sure sign that someone there would soon be visited by fire.
In ancient Europe, a chance meeting with a white mouse suggested good luck, but seeing a buzzard was considered a certain sign that someone was about to die.
Seeing an bat, a raven, or an ass foretold ill. A spider seen running or spinning in the morning promised money. Seeing a blue bird meant happy days ahead. If a dog follows a girl home, a handsome husband will follow the dog.
Interpretations of the same encounters vary among cultures. In the United States, a black cat crossing one's path is often considered a sign of bad luck. while in Britain it can have the opposite meaning.
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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) Gibson, Walter B., Complete Illustrated Book of Divination and Prophecy, Independent Publishers Group; (4) Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group.
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