Methods of Divination
The art of reading a candle’s melted and hardened wax is called Carromancy. Carromancy is one of the most ancient types of divination. Wax drippings provide hints into how effectively your magic is working and if your messages are being blocked or thwarted. Divination by dripping hot wax in water is called Ceromancy or Ceroscopy.
How to Read the Signs of Carromancy
The way that a candle deconstructs as it melts can be extremely significant. Uncovering the hidden meanings of your candles wax can be done in two ways. The first is to examine and interpret the natural forms left after your candle has burned. The way the wax pools when the candle burns down, the way it drips on the sides of the candle, or if the wax “drowns” the wick all have meaning.
During the burning process, the wax melts and forms images. Transient images are the forms that the wax takes as it is melting. These images can appear as droplets or “tears.” If the tears melt and disappear by the time the candle is finished burning, it is believed that any sorrow you carry will pass quickly. If the tears harden and remain on the sides of the candle, you may be burdened with your sorrows for a long time to come before you achieve your desired goal.
The shapes taken on by the solidifying wax are called persistent images. After a candle burns, the puddle that is left should be observed for any significance to the spell it was used with. For example, if you have conducted a love-drawing spell, a heart-shaped wax puddle is a good sign. If you are burning a candle as part of a money-drawing ritual and the wax spills over onto your altar and dries on your monetary offering, the spell is working and the money has been blessed.
If you are conducting a marriage spell and incorporating a Marriage Candle into the ritual, observe which figure – the bride or groom – burns more quickly. It can be said that this partner is the more eager of the two to get married and may dominate the other after the marriage ceremony has been performed.
Novena or glass candles are often used in Hoodoo spellwork. When you are burning an encased candle, the waxy residue left behind can offer you clues. If there is a lot of wax remaining at the bottom of the glass after the candle has burned, there may be some unfinished business left for you to explore and address. A second ritual may need to be conducted to fully resolve any lingering issues. Wax left on the sides of the glass could mean that you are subconsciously blocking yourself from achieving your desires.
Look for any black soot left behind after your glass candle has burned. If the soot is mainly at the top half of your candle, the obstacle you were trying to overcome has been unblocked. Soot appearing the entire length of the candle or at the bottom of the candle should be taken as a warning that there is negative energy that is blocking your path. You may want to consider performing an uncrossing ritual to counter the negativity.
Any white soot left on the glass is a positive message from the spirits. It is a method of spiritual communication letting you know that your request has been received and your prayers have been heard.
Wax on Water: Candle Drip Divination
Another way to observe and identify the messages from the candle’s wax is by tipping the candle over a shallow bowl of water and letting some of the wax pour into the water. This is the form of divination called Ceromancy. When you drip candle wax in water, it hardens and forms images. These images can be decoded and clarified, similar to the art of reading tea leaves.
A candle wax reading is similar to reading tea leaves, but instead of reading symbols and messages formed by wet tea leaves inside your teacup, it’s the candle drippings formed in water that we interpret. No matter what type of divination tools you use, two basic elements are required:
- A Question
- An Answer.
What You Need
- Scrying Bowl – You can use just about any type of container in place of a scrying bowl. It is best to use a cup, bowl, or shallow dish made from natural materials. Ceramic or glass are good choices. You can also use an abalone shell if you like. Avoid using plastics or aluminum containers.
- Water – You can use tap water or fresh water. If the water is drinkable, then it should be just fine for your candle wax reading.
- Candle /w matches – A plain white candle is fine, or you can use a color that corresponds to your question, for example, green represents success and abundance.
- Pencil and Paper – It is important to write your question down, this will help you to decipher the answers you might be given.
- Anointing Oil – This is optional, and the oil used would depend on the type of question asked.
Performing the Divination:
Sit with your thoughts. Meditating for a few minutes before you begin will set the mood for quiet reflection. Write your question down on a piece of paper or notepad.
Fill your scrying dish with clear water. The water should be cool or room temperature. Sit at a table with the dish sitting in front of you. Alternately, you can place the dish on the floor if you wish to sit in the lotus position during your reading.
If you are using an anointing oil, start by dressing your candle. You can also magically charge your bowl of water with three drops of the same oil with which you anointed the candle.
Light the candle wick. Hold the candle upright over the water for a moment, focusing on your question. Allow a good amount of wax to pool around the wick. When the flame is fully burning and the wax has begun dripping, tilt the candle about an inch away from the water’s surface. Holding the candle over the dish allow the candle wax to drip into the water. Pour the molten wax flow from the lit candle while you ask the question.
Find your patience and let the candle get a nice pool of wax rather than a few drips. Don’t move the bowl or touch the water. Let the wax and water blend naturally.
Allow the wax to drip onto the water. The tiny drops should merge together into shapes. If they do not, you must focus harder on your question. Wax will move in the water and will continue to float around during the reading, giving you an interesting interaction between drips of wax. After a minute or two, a definitive shape will appear on the water. As it hardens, snuff out your candle. Look at the shape. Study it to see what it looks like and touch it to see if you receive any messages from the wax.
Sit quietly while you peer into the water to review the candle wax drippings. Take care to look at the shapes and the fluid movement of the floating wax particles. Individual clumps of wax may look like an animals, objects, or numbers. Also, look at the drippings as a whole to see if they are forming a complete picture. It may appear like a piece of abstract artwork that speaks to you. Allow your intuitive self to form impressions about the various wax formations. Thoughts and impressions can be fleeting so consider writing them down as they come to you for future scrutiny.
It’s kind of like staring up at the clouds, using your imagination to “see” things in the clouds … like a dragon, a house, a dog… etc. You will get your answer if you really look and put these shapes together.
If you use a clear bowl for your wax divination, you can place an astrological chart at the bottom of the bowl to give you a quick reference as to what house or part of the querent’s life the symbol floats. The closer to the center, the further away the issue is (or in the past); the closer to the edge of the bowl, the closer it is to arriving.
Numbers can indicate days, weeks, months or even years. Letters can represent clues to a person’s name or place. A circle could indicate the end of a cycle, such as a completed project. A cluster of dots might indicate a group of people. If there is one formation sitting a distance from the rest of the drippings it could represent isolation or going off on a distant trip. There are no right or wrong ways to interpret the candle wax… have some fun with it!
Once you read the wax in the bowl and it is fully cooled, pick it up. The bottom of the wax dripping will hold even more symbols and interesting messages. Wax reading is very three-dimensional!
Sometimes you will receive a little “surprise” in the wax. A special symbol that has great meaning for you. This is a gift that will bring amazing luck and miracles to you. If you see one, carefully break the shape off the glob of wax and place it under your pillow for 7 days. You’ll be amazed at what happens.
An Alternative Method:
An alternative method is to melt the candle completely and pour it into a bowl of ice water. The candle can be melted using a microwave oven, a conventional oven, or on the stove top using a double boiler. Be very careful when using any of those methods because candle wax is extremely flammable.
The candle can also be floated on top of the water, and then allowed to melt completely down. As the wax melts, it will pool on the water and create shapes. This method is best used with smaller votive candles that will melt fairly easily.
The most popular form of divination in Poland is pouring hot wax onto cold water. The wax is first melted over fire in a small mug, and then poured through a keyhole. People wait until it hardens properly in the cold water, then the pieces of wax are held against a candle to produce shadow on a wall. Its shapes symbolize things that will happen in the upcoming year.
Instead of a key, in the old days people used woven straw or a horseshoe. Those who find it impossible to get a proper key sometimes cut a shape of a key out of hard cardboard.
You can also melt crayon wax and use that instead. Put the pieces of crayon in a spoon, and hold the spoon over a candle flame until it melts. Then pour the melted wax into the bowl.
Do your best to be confident in your findings. Try not to dismiss them as implausible or ridiculous. Remember that images can mean different things to different people. A star may be a happy image representing freedom and faith, or it can be a sad image representing loss. What you see in your wax drippings is a very personal thing and should not be influenced by anyone but you.
- Choose a candle color that contrasts with the color of your scrying bowl to better see the wax formations.
- The more you practice the better you will become at intuiting the answers to your questions.
- Candle waxing can be used as a sun and moon ritual. Set the water-filled dish outdoors under the moonlight overnight to soak up lunar energies. At sunrise or early morning do your reading outdoors in the sunlight.
There are many resources, including online sources and books, that can help provide meaning into the images that you see during your candle reading. It is important to remember that the most important interpretation comes from within you. Trust in your instincts and tap into what a particular image means most to you. Start with your own intuition and experience before looking up a symbol.
A Sampling of Symbols and What They Might Mean:
- Airplane – A trip of a disappointment
- Anchor – Your loved one is true
- Arrow: direction, focus
- Baby – Troubles are coming
- Ball or Balloon – Your problem will not last very long
- Beans – Money difficulties
- Bed – A vacation would be good for you
- Bells – A wedding
- Bird: vision, clarity, news will reach you soon
- Book: imagination, tradition
- Boot: travel, work, industry
- Bridge – Take a chance
- Broom – Make a change
- Candle: search for truth, spiritual growth
- Cat: impetuousness, curiosity, a friend is untrue
- Chain – Go ahead with your plans
- Chair: marriage, stagnation
- Circles: great success, reconciliation
- Cloud – Something or someone threatens you
- Coins: material security
- Crown: leadership, ego
- Cross: religious quest, do not fear for you are protected
- Crown – Sickness
- Cup – Bitter quarrel with a friend
- Dog: loyalty, dependability
- Ear – Be alert for an opportunity to advance in your work
- Egg – New developments soon
- Eye: soul, introspection
- Fan – A surprise is in store for you
- Feather: flight, independence, wanderlust, the problem will be solved
- Fish – Someone will betray you
- Flame: creativity, art
- Ghost – Someone from the past is looking for you
- Grass – Good fortune is approaching
- Hand: helpmate, relationship
- Hat – A change of location is indicated
- Heart: love, emotion, partnership
- House – Better times are coming
- Key: knowledge, education, opportunity
- Kite – Your wish will come to naught
- Ladder – Take steps to change your attitude toward an old friend
- Leaf or leaves: fertility, nature, energy, things will be changing soon
- Letters: references to the names of friends or relatives
- Lion – An unpleasant situation is developing
- Moon: denial, female intuition, more money
- Mountain – Good friends are willing to help you
- Numbers: indicators of spans of time, such as months or years
- Owl: wisdom, isolation, nocturnal
- Pants – You will be tempted
- Pen – Expect a letter from a relative
- Pin – Your lover may be attracted to another
- Pipe – Peace and comfort
- Ring – Marriage may be possible in the near future
- Scissors – Separation
- Shoe – Be suspicious of a new acquaintance
- Shovel: manual labor, hidden depths
- Snake – Be on guard against an enemy
- Spider web – Pleasant happenings
- Squares: the need for caution
- Star: spirituality, popularity, happiness
- Sun: enlightenment, happiness, children, good fortune
- Table – An abundance of blessings
- Tree: family, stability, a good time for new undertakings
- Triangles: good karma
- Umbrella – Trouble is coming
- Vase: material concerns
- Walking stick – Get out of the house and visit friends
- Wheel – One who has been away will return soon
- Witch – Danger will pass you by
- Worm – Business troubles ahead if you are not careful
Figs were considered by many to be the tree of life. This ancient method of reading fig leaves to determine the future of your life is known as sycomancy.
Write your question, scheme or proposal on a fresh fig leaf. Retain the leaf and observe it. A leaf that shrivels up quickly provides a negative response, while a leaf that dries slowly, retaining a fresh, green appearance provides encouragement.
This is also an excellent way to choose between various alternative actions. If you have a number of different ideas, plans, choices, schemes, proposals or scenarios, write each one on a fig leaf — one leaf per option or choice.
Retain the leaves so that they are together under exactly the same conditions but not touching. The leaf that remains fresh, green, and youthful looking the longest represents the oracle’s choice.
If all leaves age at exactly the same place, the indication is that there is yet another, more appropriate choice that has been overlooked. Consider your options further before making a choice.
Molybdomancy is a form of divination by molten metal. The idea being that the future can be divined, and answers can be obtained by studying the various shapes taken by metal when it is melted and cooled.
A simple example is as follows:
For this you need a little lead such as the sticks provided for use in soldering. Place a small piece of this in an old spoon and hold it over a hot flame until it melts. Then, thinking of the question you want answered, toss the molten lead into a metal bucket filled with water.
This produces a satisfying cloud of steam and when the lead is fished out it will have taken a strange shape in which all kinds of things can be read. If the shape provides no clear conclusion, then it can be held up in front of a candle and the shadow thrown on the wall can be further studied.
In Finland this is still carried out regularly and horse-shoe shaped ingots and special ladles can be found in market places at this time of year.
From: The Winter Solstice
Lampadomancy is the ancient art of divining via a lamp. Magick lamps may be crafted from brass or stone, however the most common traditional lamp is formed from earth, terracotta. The oracle is determined by the appearance and duration of the flame. Lampadomancy was once a very common form of divination, dating back to the days of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Because candles were once rare and expensive, magick lamps were more commonly used.
Magick lamps haven’t changed much, basically consisting of a terracotta dish filled with oil, the sides proportionately high so that oil and flames are contained. A coiled linen strip resting in the oil and hanging over the edge creates a wick. Similar lamps, reproductions as well as ancient artifacts, are available through antiquarians, but this is a very simple, even child-like design, easily crafted or improvised. A quick google search will show that hand made oil lamps can be created with bottles, tea pots, and a variety other containers.
The type of oil used in the lamp varies. Although olive oil evokes associations with The Arabian Nights, Aladdin, genies in bottles and magick lamps, actually in ancient days olive was among the more expensive oils in Arabia, Mesopotamia, and Egypt. The Egyptians, who even by modern standards possessed an extensive repertoire of oils for perfumery, cooking, sacred healing and magickal purposes, apparently favored palm oil for lamps: an oil still popular in many African and African-derived spiritual traditions.
Although lampadomancy retained its popularity in India and Arabia, it fell out of favor in the West. With the arrival of kerosene lamps in America in approximately 1869, lamp magick was revitalized. The revival was strongest in Louisiana, where it still retains some popularity.
The Louisiana Magick Lamp is typically a hurricane or kerosene lamp, fueled by some blend of castor oil, olive oil and kerosene – usually two parts kerosene to one part oil. It is read in similar manner to the ancient oil lamp.
Here’s the traditional method of divination via Magick Lamp:
Charge and consecrate a magick lamp. Formulate your question. Light the wick and read the response. Gaze at the lamp, focusing on the flames, as well as any shadows cast behind the lamp.
Watch the flames; analyze the number of points of flame. Observe in what direction the flame leans, whether it’s high, low, dim bright, noisy and sputtery, or silent. This is a patient art. Does the flame burn clean or is it smokey? If the flame goes out abruptly, this is not a positive sign.
This system is based on the concept that your connection with a particular stone or metal at times during your life reflects your need for its specific energy on the direction of your path.
Ancient diviners had splendid collections of stones and metals that they had the querist (the person questing for information) choose from. Today we may make our own collections, using samples found on our journey. It is not necessary to have fabulous, expensive stones and metal samples – rough uncut forms work quite effectively.
You may have the querist select three or four in order of preference, or just one to use for a specific question. You might also have them pick one for past, one to represent present, and one for future. If you work with the stones every day, you will begin to find your own best way to utilize them.
After a stone or metal has been selected, you might ask why that one seemed attractive in regard to the issue being discussed. If you do this before you interpret, you will find it amazing how many times the querist already “knows” the property of the stone and has chosen the exact one most needed at that time. You might also advise the querist to obtain a similar stone for use as a totem.
Traditional Meanings of Stones:
- Amethyst: Rich stone of love, good fortune, and positive spiritual magick. Can indicate a new spiritual awakening.
- Coral: Strong protection against all kinds of personal misfortunes. Can indicate deep emotional turbulence.
- Diamond: Strong attraction to power, luxury, and wealth; also attracts friendships. Can indicate the strengthening of a relationship.
- Emerald: Powerful stone for one’s present inner vision and psychic abilities. Can indicate negativity being averted.
- Garnet: Stone of honesty, truth, purity, and compassionate benevolence. Can indicate overactive selflessness.
- Jade: Sacred balancing stone for overall harmony and personal power. Can indicate a need for spiritual serenity.
- Lapis Lazuli: Stone of connection to the spiritual realms, between the worlds. Can indicate strong spirit guides are present.
- Moonstone: Stone of gentle passions and faithful supportive love. Can indicate a need for greater receptivity.
- Opal: Somewhat tricky stone of mystical attunement and perceptive gifts. Can indicate superstitious beliefs.
- Ruby: Regal stone of one’s present loyalty, faith, and powerful courage. Can indicate the quest of a spiritual warrior.
- Sapphire: Powerful stone of synthesis, peace, harmony, and healing. Can indicate a need for magical studies.
- Topaz: Active stone of protection, focus, and achievement of goals. Can indicate a need for self-confidence.
- Turquoise: Soothing stone of personal peace, Nature wisdom, ideals. Can indicate scattered energies.
Traditional Meanings of Metals
- Aluminum: Ingenuity, perception, creativity, and practical materialism. Can indicate a career change.
- Copper: Self-healing abilities, inspirational gifts, friendly nature. Can indicate a need for flexibility.
- Iron: Protective nature, strong supportive tendencies, willfulness. Can indicate possessiveness and pride.
- Lead: Mystical tasks to be achieved, karmic debts to be balanced. Can indicate piety and martyrdom.
- Silver: Receptivity, emotionality, psychic gifts, projecting power. Can indicate a secretive nature.
- Tin: Friendliness, expansiveness, joyful tasks present, positive outlook. Can indicate an overactive ego.
The same meanings and significances apply if a specific stone or metal shows up unexpectedly in your own life, or if you feel a particular draw to a stone or metal.
Other stones and metals can be added to your collection as you discover the meanings and significance they hold. A good book for study is “Love is in the Earth” by Melody.
Ailuromancy or aeluromancy , also known as felidomancy, is a form of theriomancy. It is divination using cats’ movements or jumps to predict future events, especially the weather.
Cats have been revered as magical since the time of the ancient Egyptians. One of the most common methods of ailuromancy utilizes the movements and behaviors of a cat to predict upcoming weather patterns.
Weather forecasting With Cats:
- A cat washing itself is believed to be a forecast of rain.
- If a cat sneezes it will rain.
- If the cat turns its tail to a fire or any substituting heat source, it foretells a possible change in weather, particularly the coming of heavy rain or hard frost.
- If a cat sits with its back to the fire, it is a sure sign of frost.
- If a cat curls up with its forehead touching the ground, it indicates that storms will happen in the near future.
- To see a cat wash behind its ears is a sign that a visitor will call.
- If a fisherman’s wife keeps a black cat in her house, her man will return safely from sea.
Gloom and doom:
- If a cat leaves a house when there is illness within, and will not be coaxed back, the sick person will die.
- A sick person will die if he or she dreams of cats or sees two cats fighting.
- If a cat sneezes three times in a row, everyone in the family will come down with a cold.
Your cat may also assist in divination:
Leave a door open and think of a question that can be answered yes or no. Call your cat into the room and notice which paw it first places on the floor. If it is the right forepaw, the answer is yes; if the cat steps with the left, the answer is no.
Collected from various sources
This I have never seen done, only heard it described by an African-American woman born in Tennessee whose grandfather did it, circa 1945-50, when he was very old and she was young. She told me that he would only read the bones outdoors in the yard, sitting on the dirt and throwing them into a circle drawn in the dirt.
She asked me if I knew enough about reading possum bones to refresh her childhood memories of her grandfather’s method, but alas, I did not; however, according to Eoghan Ballard of the University of Pennsylvania, this woman’s grandfather was throwing the bones according to a system used by Bantu people throughout Southern Africa; the bones are usually knuckle bones, marked with dots and crosses.
The reading of knuckle bones led, quite naturally, to the use of dice in divination, and in America dice reading, especially when performed according to one of the popular 19th century French methods, has more or less replaced reading the bones among African-Americans.
Source: Lucky Mojo
In bone divination, bones of various sorts are ritually tossed onto a mat, an animal hide, or into a circle drawn in the dirt, and the resulting patterns interpreted.
Throwing the bones is an ancient practice traditional to many regions of the world, including Africa, Asia, and North America. The number and type of bones employed, as well as the inclusion of other small objects, such as pebbles, shells, and hard nuts, varies quite a bit from culture to culture.
In the traditions of some cultures, the bones, shells, and/or nuts that are to be thrown are left in their natural state; in other cultures they may be shaped and marked, much like dice, dominoes, or the cut cowrie shells used in Obi and Diloggun divination.
Marked bones are often used in groups of two or four to obtain yes or no answers, as well as more detailed information. There is quite a bit of evidence to support the idea that gaming dice, often casually called “the bones,” may have had their origin in marked bone divination, as there are still forms of divination in which the markings of the spots and dots on dice or dominoes are used to read fortunes for clients.
As a hoodoo practice, casting or throwing the bones has deep traditional roots in African culture, especially as developed among the sangomas or divining healers of the Zulu, Swazi, Xhosa, and Ndebele traditions in southern Africa. Trained as herbalists, spirit mediums, and diviners, they fulfill an important role in their culture, equivalent to that of a root doctor in the United States or an obeah practitioner in Jamaica.
Mingling of African traditions with Native American and European forms of divination have produced quite a lot of variation in hoodoo practices. Traditional items used by Southern-style hoodoo doctors and spirit-led fortune tellers who employ these ancient methods of divination include bones, stones, coins, stalks, or shells. Additionally, some who follow this style of divining with natural curios may also perform augury by inspection of natural botanical and zoological curios such as owl pellets.
According to Catherine Yronwode, a well known author and practitioner in the world of Hoodoo, there are three basic forms of bone divination:
- Heated and cracked bone reading:
a form of Pyromancy. Usually done by heating the shell of a turtle, ox scapulae, or turtle plastrons in fire and then interpreting the cracks that form. This began and was primarily practiced in ancient China, in the late Shang Dynasty.
- Mathematical systems of bone reading:
Geomancy. An example of this is Hakata, a very interesting form of divination found in Africa, where one would interpret hand-made tablets by the markings inscribed there on.
- Spirit-led interpretive bone reading:
Cleromancy. This is a Shamanic from of divination. It is used, and varies greatly, among many different cultures and beliefs. A wide array of animal bones are used in Shamanic bone reading. The bones carry different meanings and energies according to what animal they belonged to, and what type of bone it is (tooth, claw, hand bone, etc.)
Although there is no single system of bone or curio divination used by all African American practitioners, some old-timers read a set of chicken bones or ‘possum bones, and do so only on the ground rather than a table-top, after the manner still practiced in Africa to this day. Others mix pebbles with their bones, as some sangomas do, and might read on a table-top — but no matter what natural curios are included, the practice is still called “throwing the bones.”
Hoodoo bone readers consider it traditional to keep their divination bones in a basket, bowl, or bag on or near their altar when not in use and to cast them out onto a mat, a hide, or a circle to read them, which are African techniques of working. Each bone may have a meaning, and the patterns among the bones may be significant as well.
For example, in one family tradition, nine chicken bones are used, and each bone has a meaning:
- wing bone signifies travel
- neck bone signifies poverty
- wish bone signifies good fortune
In addition to being used in rites of throwing, bones are also ritually manipulated in other ways for the purpose of telling the future for a client. For instance, they may be burned in a fire and the resulting chars and cracks examined in order to determine specific answers.
Bones, as well as other body parts, may also be used as a means to communicate mediumistically with the dead and with spirits, through psychometry.
Many diviners believe that one’s set of bones should be special and unique to the individual. You simply cannot go out and buy a bone divination set. Bones can be gathered, bought, obtained from different sources, but the completion of the set and power lay with the the individual’s personal contributions.
Practitioners of Hoodoo will use a wide array of bones along with artifacts or game pieces to represent a specific person. The Sangomas, an African people who greatly influence the Hoodoo tradition, believe that it is their ancestors speaking through the bones; so to aid in communication, will carry a porcelain doll head containing dirt from the grave site of the ancestral spirit they work with.
Among the Mongolians, four unmarked sheep knuckle bones are thrown, each of which has four distinguishable sides, which produces an array of 36 possible answers to any given question. The name for this system of divination is shagai, often rendered in English as “Complicated Fortune Telling.” In addition to functioning as a system of divination, shagai can also be played as a gambling game.
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