Generally, the art and practice of divination by bones, or by casting bones, specially knuckle and ankle bones.
This practice is believed by some to have originated in Africa, while others assert that it began on the steppes of central Asia. Regardless of the origins of this practice, bone casting was used not only to foretell the future, but to cast spells and influence future events as well.
Animal and human bones have been used by soothsayers for centuries in the performance of divination. In Astragalomancy, a form of Aurispicy, small bones are used like dice.
The number of bones used in Haurispicy can be as low as four or greater than sixty, according to the preference and skill of the diviner.
Bones used in Haurispicy have to be prepared in a variety of ways, supposedly to obtain the approval of divinatory spirits and/or deities, and may be ritually burnt or carved with runes, grooves, and/or mystical symbols.
One common method of Haurispicy is to cast a predetermined number of bones into a circle marked on the ground or on a table. Any of the bones falling outside the circle are discarded. Remaining bones are read according to their position inside the circle, their relationship to each other, and the way they finally rest. The drawn circle itself can be divided into sections of special divinatory significance.
South Africa diviners use a specially marked bowl into which five knuckle bones are cast. These bowls usually have symbols around the rim and a cowry shell carved at the center, and each of the bones represent something different, which may be positive or negative. Interpretation is based on the proximity of the bones to the symbols around the rim and the relationship to the central cowry shell marking.
The Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert simply cast their bones to the ground, using no circle or bowl, making their prognostications based in the way the bones fall and their placement in relation to each other.
The Zulu diviners sometimes cast other objects with their divination bones, such as hoof tips, shells and or teeth.
See Divination, Haruspex, Radiesthesia, Astrology, Acutomancy, Agalmatomancy, Coscinomancy, Cleidomancy, Augur, Stoichomancy, Dowsing, Tarot, Heptameron, Demonology, Sortilege, Idolomancy, Demonomancy, Tephramancy, Anemoscopy, Eromancy, Austromancy, Chaomancy, Roadomancy, Capnomancy, Pyromancy, Meteormancy, Ceraunoscopy, Zoomancy, Felidomancy, Horoscope, Horary Astrology, Zodiac, Numerology, Bibliomancy, 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) Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group; (2) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing; (3) Buckland, Raymond, The Fortune-Telling Book: The Encyclopedia of Divination and Soothsaying, Visible Ink Press.
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