Derived from the Greek ouron ('urine') and manteia ('divination'), it is the art and practice of divining the past, the present and the future by interpreting omens from the observation of human or animal urine.
Urine divination has been practiced, in one form or another, by most ancient cultures. The criteria for interpretation varied extensively. Certain traditions took omens from its color, others from its taste, its flow patterns, or by the patterns formed when it hits the ground or in a swirling bowl.
The ancient Romans practiced Urimancy by looking for bubbles in the chamberpot after making water. If bubbles were present, and they were large and spread far apart, was an indication that one would soon be receiving a very large sum of money. This was also considered a good omen, especially as related to the emotional areas of life. But if the bubbles were small and close together, this was seen as a bad omen, illness, loss or death of a loved one. Lack of bubbles was also considered to be a bad omen.
It is said that pregnant women would use Urimancy to determine the sex of the child they would soon give birth to. Women who were about to be married would also use this type of divination to find out if the marriage would be a good one and how many years of happiness to expect.
Urimancy was employed as well by the witchfinders in the 16th and 17th centuries. A common practice was to place iron nails, pins, needles, or half horseshoes in a bottle filled with the urine of the accused person, and then stopping it up with a cork. If the accused suddenly fell ill or if the cork popped out of the bottle on its own accord, it was taken as a sign of guilt.
Parallels with Urimancy can be found in medicine, where the examination of urine is used as a diagnostic tool. The medical community agrees that the study of one's urine is said to reveal many things about a person's daily life. For example, if the person's urine is clear in color, the person may not be drinking enough water, leading to dehydration. If the urine is very yellow, almost brown in color and has a strong odor, there might not be enough water in the person's system.
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Sources: (1) Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group; (2) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing; (3) Dunwich, Gerina, A Wiccan's Guide to Prophecy and Divination, Carol Publishing Group; (4) Pickover, Clifford A., Dreaming the Future: The Fantastic Story of Prediction, Prometheus Books.
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