Also known as Hepatoscopy.
A form of Extispicy which involved the divination from an examination of the liver of sacrificed animals, mainly sheep.
This gruesome type of divination was common practice among the ancient Romans, Babylonians, Etruscans, and Hittites.
Of the many different forms of divination practiced in antiquity, liver divination was one of the earliest and was regarded as the most authoritative. Later on, other organs were also included and it became standard practice in civil administration when decisions of state had to be made, in military campaigns and also at critical junctures in the lives of those individuals who could afford it, to consult a diviner who would examine entrails. Such diviners were omnipresent in ancient Mesopotamian society.
The liver, instead of the heart, was considered the center of life by the Babylonians, and as such was a sacred organ.
The liver is partitioned into four lobes, which could be interpreted or associated with the four elements or any other significant quadrisection. The surface was then divided into 50 square segments, each with its own connotation. There were also essential layers within the body of the liver, each with its own esoteric conception. But the main thing observed by the diviners was the liver's pyramid-shaped projection called the processus pyramidalis. A large processus pyramidalis was considered a very good omen; a cleft one was a sign of trouble, and a missing one was considered as the gravest omen of them all.
Liver-Gazing was a form of liver divination in which the diviner observed the liver's shiny surface, pretty much in the same way crystal gazing was performed.
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Sources: (1) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing; (2) Zolar, Encyclopedia of Ancient and Forbidden Knowledge, Souvenir Press Ltd; (3) Pickover, Clifford A., Dreaming the Future: The Fantastic Story of Prediction, Prometheus Books; (4) Dunwich, Gerina, A Wiccan's Guide to Prophecy and Divination, Carol Publishing Group; (5) Buckland, Raymond, The Fortune-Telling Book: The Encyclopedia of Divination and Soothsaying, Visible Ink Press; (6) Naydler, Jeremy, The Future of the Ancient World: Essays on the History of Consciousness, Inner Traditions Publishers.
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