Derived from the Greek zoion ('an animal') and manteia ('divination'), it is a general term for the art and practice of divining the past, the present and the future by observing the appearance and/or behavior of animals.
It could be argued that every method of divination using animals, such as Alectromancy, Felidomancy, Apantomancy, and Arachnomancy, are forms of Zoomantia.
In one form or another, prognostication by observing animal behavior has been practiced since pre-historic times. Ancient hunters and gatherers, as well as agricultural and pastoral cultures, made use of Zoomantia.
The ancient Etruscans divined by watching the movements of hens and roosters, the Babylonians studied sleeping oxen's reaction to having their heads splashed with water, and the Hittites watched eels.
African cultures are habitually involved with animal divination. For example, the African Zandes (also spelled Asande or Azande), a central African tribe, practice Myrmomancy — the observations of ants eating food to discern the future. They also use termites and their mounds to make predictions. The Dogon, a western African tribe, examine paw patterns left by jackals to make prognostications.
Many other cultures practice Zoomantia, in one form or another. For example, Polynesian tribal leaders coax a beetle to crawl over a murder victim's grave so that its tracks are prophetically read to indicate the murderer's name.
There are also many ancient superstitions associated with Zoomantia. In medieval times, it was believed that the bansheelike howling of dogs portended death and calamities. A bat, pigeon, or robin redbreast that flew into the house was assumed to be an evil omen, as well as the flight of swallows or jackdaws down the chimney. If an owl showed itself in the sunlight, it predestined bad luck. If one flew up against the window at night, it was an omen that a family member would soon die.
In the Victorian era, it was believed by many that a hare running through the town was a sure sign that someone there would soon be visited by fire. In China, the prediction of earthquakes by the observation of animal abnormal behavior has been practiced since ancient times. According to occult tradition, weather forecast can also be acknowledged by the observation of animal, fish and bird activity.
A type of Zoomantia, often called Theriomancy, consisted of divination by the movement of beasts, or wild animals. This type of fortune telling still is very popular among African aborigines.
On yet another form of Zoomantia, predictions were taken from the appearance and behavior of imaginary or psychic animals, such as unicorns, sea-monsters, or salamanders, typically seen only by the diviner.
Zoomantia is a form of augury.
See Diviner, Astrology and Divination, Myrmomancy, Bibliomancy, Numerology, Divination, Demonomancy, Acutomancy, Agalmatomancy, Coscinomancy, Cleidomancy, Augur, Stoichomancy, Dowsing, Tarot, Heptameron, Demonology, Sortilege, Idolomancy, Demonomancy, Tephramancy, Anemoscopy, Eromancy, Austromancy, Chaomancy, Roadomancy, Capnomancy, Pyromancy, Meteormancy, Ceraunoscopy, Zoomancy, Felidomancy, 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.
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