Alternatively Sicomancy, Sychomancy, and Sycomanty.
Derived from the Greek sūkon ('fig') and manteia ('divination'), it is the art and practice of divining the past, the present and the future by figs and/or fig tree leaves, or sycamore leaves.
In one of its most common methods, the diviner's question or proposition is written in a fig leaf; the slower it dries, the more favorable the omen. If the leaf dries quickly, it is a negative portent.
In another form of Sycomancy, the diviner wrote names and questions on the fig leaves, which were then exposed to the winds. Those remaining furnished the answers sought.
Another form of this mode of divination employed techniques similar to Tasseomancy, where shapes and forms made by the tea leaves remaining in the cup after the tea was drunk are used for the reading. In Sycomancy, the tea was made from fig leaves.
There are hundreds of fig trees species, and in many different regions of the world they are revered as a Tree of Life or Knowledge.
In ancient Greece the fig was sacred to the god Bacchus, who was credited for its creation. The fruit symbolized reproduction, fertility, and wisdom. The fig is also mentioned 57 times in the Bible, indicating its importance. In Victorian England, if a woman dreamed of figs, it meant she would have a long, happy life, with riches and all of her wishes fulfilled. If she ever received a gift of figs that dried out, it meant ill luck and unhappiness.
A modern form of Sycomancy involves various messages written on slips of paper, rather then fig leaves. They are rolled up and then held in a strainer over a steaming pot of water. The slip of paper that unrolls first will have the correct answer. According to occult tradition, for this method to work correctly, one of the slips of paper must remain blank.
In another contemporary form of this type of divination, ivy leaves are used. They are to be placed in water for five days, and then collected for interpretation. If the leaves are still fresh and green, good health and fortune are in the person's future, but spotted, darkened leaves mean that illness or misfortune is in the horizon, in the same proportion as the number of such ominous blots.
Sycomancy, a form of Botanomancy, like most divinatory systems, is quite ancient, and 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) Buckland, Raymond, The Fortune-Telling Book: The Encyclopedia of Divination and Soothsaying, Visible Ink Press; (6) Dunwich, Gerina, A Wiccan's Guide to Prophecy and Divination, Carol Publishing Group; (7) Cunningham, Scott, Divination for Beginners: Reading the Past, Present & Future, Llewellyn Publications.
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