Alternatively Psephomancy and Psephology.
A type of Sortilege, consisting of divination by the drawing or casting of pebbles or beans.
Sometimes the pebbles or beans are marked with special symbols or colors relating to health, success, travel, communications, etc.
Pebble and bean selection are said to be critical for an accurate prognostication. The selected pebbles have to be of approximately the same size and preferably smooth.
Depending on the technique used by the diviner, special characters, such as sigils, letters, numbers or symbols, should be drawn or engraved in the pebbles or beans. Color can also be applied to the beans, possibly coordinating with meanings related to personal health, success, love, etc. The stones can be either thrown out after mixing in a bag or drawn out at random.
Nathan Bailey, in his An Universal Etymological English Dictionary (1727) states:
"Psephomancy, a divination by pebble-stones, distinguished by certain characters, and put as lots into a vessel; which, having made certain supplications to the gods to direct them, they drew out and, according to the characters, conjectured what would happen to them."
Pessomancy has been practiced, in one form or another, all over the world. Many African witch doctors keep bags of "wise stones" that they cast to foretell the future. In the Arab tradition, the pebbles are turned out into a heap, and the omens read one at a time as the stones are drawn at random.
You can practice this form of Pessomancy today. Gather thirteen white, or light colored, and thirteen black, or dark colored stones. All should be of approximately the same size. While asking your yes/no question, place the pebbles in a small bag or a metal bowl. Shake the stones at least twice. Then repeat the question a second and third time. With your eyes closed, reach into the bowl or bag and grab a handful of stones. Place them on a surface, a table or the ground. If there are more white pebbles than black, the answer to your question is favorable. If more black stones have been collected, the answer is no. If you've retrieved an equal number of each, there is no answer at this time. You will need to try again later.
In Scotland and Wales it was a Pagan costume at one time for persons to cast a white pebble bearing their name into the All Saints Eve bonfire known as the 'Coel Coeth.' In the following morning, after the fire had died out, the pebbles would be checked to see if any were missing from the ashes, and any person whose name was written on a missing pebble was believed to be destined to fall ill or die within the ensuing twelve months.
Pessomancy, like most divinatory systems, is quite ancient, and has been practiced since time immemorial.
See Bibliomancy, Radiesthesia, 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, Felidomancy, Horoscope, Horary Astrology, Zodiac, Numerology, Love Spells -- Use these powerful love spells to help you find and keep your true love, Unbroken Curses, Mystic Gifts and Charms - New Age Gift Shop & Wicca and Pagan Supplies, The Chakra Store, The Tarot 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) 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) Cunningham, Scott, Divination for Beginners: Reading the Past, Present & Future, Llewellyn Publications.
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