Alternatively Psycomancy, Sciamancy, Sciomantia, Sciomantie, and Scyomancy.
Derived from the Greek skia ('shadow, outline') and manteia ('divination'), it is the art and practice of divining the future by shadows, or by the shades or shadows of the dead, in this case a form of Necromancy.
A common method was to observe the size, shapes, and changing appearance of shadows, thus drawing a prophetic conclusion.
It was considered a very bad omen to project a headless shadow (or no shadow at all). According to legend, such a person will lose their life within the course of the current year.
Paracelsus, in his Nine Books Of the Nature of Things (1674), states:
"The ancient Chaldeans and Grecians, if in times of War fearing to be driven away, or banished, they would hide their Treasure, would mark the place no otherwise than propose to themselves a certain day, hour and minute of the year, and did observe in what place the Sun or Moon should cast their shadow, and there did bury and hide their Treasure. This Art they call Sciomancy, i.e. the Art of Shadowing. By these Shadowings many Arts have had their ground, and many hid things have been revealed, and all Spirits and Astral bodies are known."
Henry Cockeram in The English Dictionarie (1623), also remarks that Sciomancy is "divination by shadowes", as Randle Cotgrave also mentions it in Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues:
"Sciomance, divination by conference with the shadows of dead men."
François Rabelais, in his La vie de Gargantua et de Pantagruel (a connected series of five novels written in the 16th century), also writes "if you be afraid of the Dead, as commonly all Cuckolds are, I will make use of the Faculty of Sciomancy."
Sciomancy is, like most divination techniques, quite ancient, and it has been practiced since time immemorial.
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Sources: (1) Walker, Charles, The Encyclopedia of the Occult, Random House Value; (2) Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group; (3) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing; (4) Pickover, Clifford A., Dreaming the Future: The Fantastic Story of Prediction, Prometheus Books; (5) Dunwich, Gerina, A Wiccan's Guide to Prophecy and Divination, Carol Publishing Group.
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