Alternatively Libromancy, Stichomancy and Sortes Apostolorum ('Apostle's Lots').
Originally a method of divination used to discover if whether or not a person was innocent of sorcery, Bibliomancy consisted of weighing the suspect against the great Bible in the local church. If the subject weighed less than the Bible, he or she were considered innocent. Later, Bibliomancy became attached to any divinatory use of the Bible.
A popular system of Bibliomancy was to open a Bible at random after asking a question. The passage on which one’s finger rested was supposed to have special applicability to the question posed.
Eventually the term Bibliomancy started being used for divination by books. In this case, just about any book could be used, but a grimoire was the favorite choice. Other books consulted in this way included Greek epics, collections of poetry or prose, and the works of Shakespeare. The name Rhapsodomancy has also been used for this practice, which involved opening the book at random and then interpreting the omens in a prophetic fashion, usually using the first words or sentences read.
Ancient books frequently took the form of loosely bound pages or scrolls, which was much easier to use for Bibliomantic purposes then the tightly bound shape of modern books. Even when post-Gutenberg and standardized printed and bound books were widely available, diviners and magicians usually copied the text onto pages or papyrus scrolls specifically for divination purposes.
There are many methods of selecting passages and verses when performing Bibliomancy. Some of the most common methods include throwing dice over the book, pricking pages with needles, by closing the eyes and pointing, and by randomly opening the book.
In the Middle Ages the use of Virgil's Aeneid for divination was common in Europe and known as the 'sortes Virgilianae'.
In Chamber's Encyclopedia (1868), Bibliomancy is well defined:
"Bibliomancy... a mode of divination much practised during many ages, by opening the Bible, and observing the first passage which occurred, or by entering a place of worship and taking notice of the first words of the Bible heard after entering it. The application was often very fanciful, and depended rather upon the mere sound of the words than upon their proper signification, or the scope of the passage. Prayer and fasting were sometimes used as a preparation for a mode of consulting the divine oracles, than which nothing could be more contrary to their purpose and spirit, and which was in harmony only with the notions and practices of heathenism. Bibliomancy was prohibited, under pain of excommunication, by the Council of Vannes, 465 a.d., and by the Councils of Agde and Orleans in the next century. It continued, however, to prevail for centuries thereafter, and is said to have been introduced into England at the Norman Conquest. It was essentially the same as Sortes Virgilianæ, the only difference being in the book employed."
Mohammedans practice Bibliomancy using the Koran. Bibliomancy, like most divinatory systems, is quite ancient, and has been practiced since time immemorial.
Popular fallacies of medieval times involving the Bible were also referred to as a form of Bibliomancy. Bibles laid on a child's head would induce sleep, reading from the Bible to a pregnant woman would give her a safe delivery, amongst others.
See Rhapsodomancy, Shakespeare, Astrology, Acutomancy, Agalmatomancy, Divination, Coscinomancy, Cleidomancy, Augur, Stoichomancy, Dowsing, Tarot, Heptameron, Demonology, Sortilege, Idolomancy, Demonomancy, Tephramancy, Anemoscopy, Eromancy, Austromancy, Chaomancy, Roadomancy, Capnomancy, Pyromancy, Meteormancy, Ceraunoscopy, Zoomancy, Mystic Gifts and Charms - New Age Gift Shop & Wicca and Pagan Supplies, Love Spells -- Use these powerful love spells to help you find and keep your true love, The Tarot Store, The Chakra Store, Divination & Scrying Tools and Supplies, Unique Amulets, Talismans, Good Luck Charms, and Love Tokens, Powerful Witch Doctor Spell Kits, Powerful Spells - Cast by Andreika the Witch, Webmasters Make $$$, AzureGreen - Celebrating All Paths to the Divine, ISIS - Tools for Your Soul's Journey, and The Pyramid Collection - Myth, Magick, Fantasy and Romance.
Sources: (1) Morwyn, The Complete Book Of Psychic Arts, Llewellyn Publications; (2) Walker, Charles, The Encyclopedia of the Occult, Random House Value; (3) Dunwich, Gerina, A Wiccan's Guide to Prophecy and Divination, Carol Publishing Group; (4) Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group.
| || |