Derived from the Greek xylo ('wood') and manteia ('divination'), it is the art and practice of divining the past, the present and the future by interpreting omens from twigs, pieces of wood, or fallen tree branches.
Their shape, color, thickness and size, as well as location, formations, and patterns, are the usual characteristics taken into prophetic consideration.
In a method of Xylomancy practiced since ancient times in Slavonia, omens are taken from the shape and position of small pieces of dry wood found in one's path.
In biblical times, seers and soothsayers also divined by patterns made by fallen tree limbs, or other pieces of wood lying on the ground. If one falls suddenly, a surprise is due.
At first, only branches that had fallen naturally were considered adequate for Xylomantic significance.
In later systems of this form of Xylomancy, branches were stripped of half of their bark and tossed to the ground, forming random patterns. Those that fell bare wood up were then prophetically interpreted.
Divination of future events may also be drawn from the arrangement of logs in the fire-place. Prophetic interpretations are made from the manner in which they burn, as well as from the way they are positioned in the fire.
Other forms of divination related to Xylomancy are Dendromancy and Tephramancy, divination by the ashes of a burned tree trunk.
Undoubtedly every type of tree divination has its origins in the primitive practice of tree worship, one of the earliest forms of religion.
Lewis Spence, in his An Encyclopedia of Occultism (1920) describes Xylomancy:
"Divination by means of wood, practised particularly in Slavonia. It is the art of reading omens from the position of small pieces of dry wood found in one's path. No less certain presages of future events may be drawn from the arrangement of logs in the fire-place, from the manner in which they burn, etc. It is perhaps the survival of this mode of divination which makes the good people say, when a brand is disturbed, that 'they are going to have a visitor'."
Xylomancy, like most divinatory systems, is quite ancient, and has been practiced since time immemorial.
See Abacomancy, Dendromancy, Tephramancy, Diviner, Divination, Coscinomancy, Cleidomancy, Augur, Stoichomancy, Dowsing, Tarot, Heptameron, Demonology, Idolomancy, Demonomancy, Anemoscopy, Eromancy, Austromancy, Chaomancy, Roadomancy, Capnomancy, Pyromancy, Meteormancy, Ceraunoscopy, Zoomancy, 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) 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; (5) Buckland, Raymond, The Fortune-Telling Book: The Encyclopedia of Divination and Soothsaying, Visible Ink Press.
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