It may seem a crazy notion that observing animals (Alectryomancy, Zoomancy, and Theriomancy) can be used to foretell ones future. But then on the other hand, selecting random tarot cards out of a pack of seventy-eight or deciphering a hand full of pebbles or seashells thrown to the ground also challenges the logic in us all. There are hundreds if not thousands of divinational systems (methods to forecast the future) that operate by intuitive rather than scientific or rational means. The premise of all these techniques is in the belief that there is a spiritual world that parallels our own. This incredible world is inhabited by highly intelligent beings often known as spirit guides or guiding angels who lovingly aid the human race in its development.
The actual process of how pebbles land in a particular pattern and why a particular tarot card was chosen and not another is as much a mystery to the experienced psychics as it is to the public. However, the key to building a rapport with any of the mantic arts (articles used to focus the intuitive process) is to first adopt a frame of mind in which there is a sense of suspension of ones everyday beliefs.
More than 2,400 years ago the people of ancient Italy (Etruscians) practised Alectryomancy. By utilising a hen or rooster the psychics of those days would draw a circle on the ground, around it where drawn twenty of the Etruscian alphabet. In front of each letter was placed a kernel of grain. The hen or cock was placed in the circle. As the bird ate the grain, the psychic would note down the letters next to the piece of grain and use this to predict the future or to answer a question asked by some one requesting guidance. This form of divination is related to the Ouija board, by the random selection of letters. In contrast, the Babylonians would splash water three times on the head of a sleeping ox. A psychic would interpret the future through observing seventeen possible reactions the ox would make. If for example both eyes opened the answer was yes. If only one eye opened the answer would be a maybe, and if they remained closed the answer was no.
Alectryomancy is still practised in many parts of the world. The African tribe of Zande uses a method where by two leaves are placed in an ant hill, if the ants eat the one on the left first the answer is yes, if the one on right, the answer is no. In the United States and Canada Groundhog Day is a traditional festival celebrated on February 2. If a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day and fails to see its shadow because the weather is cloudy, winter will soon end. If the groundhog sees its shadow because the weather is bright and clear, it will be frightened and run back into its hole, and the winter will continue for six more weeks.
Cats have always held a fascination for people and in some cultures held in high esteem. Felidomancy is divination through observing the behaviour of both domestic and wild cats. If a cat sneezes, licks its face or sleeps with its back to the fireplace, it is said to rain, if a black cat crosses your path in the British Isles its a sign of good luck (bad luck in the USA). A cat at a wedding is to assure a long happy marriage. All these predictions and omens stem from the age-old art of Felidomancy. Cats have often played an important part in religious and occult ceremonies in India and held in reverence by the Egyptians, Incas and Chinese.
In the Celtic divination system of Hippomancy horses where trained to walk in certain areas of consecrated groves. Psychics and priests would then make predictions from the observations of their movements; the prints left in the ground and even the amount of dust created. The custom of hanging horseshoes on the wall dates back to the times of Hippomancy. In England in the 1500s they where hung in farmhouses as a charm against evil.
In Scandinavia psychics of the time would meditate as they watched fish swim within a stream or lake. Ichthyomancy was treated with great reverence and interpreting their movements could indicate anything from a successful battle to the sex of a child.
The divinational system of Ophimancy (observing the behaviour of snakes) is practised in many civilisations. Snakes were considered God-like creatures and messengers of information and omens. For example a coiled snake might mean be patient whilst one that was ready to strike meant act now with regards to the questioners predicament. Ornthomancy is divination by observing the flight of birds. It was practised in ancient Greece and Rome where the psychic would foretell the future by travelling to a holy place, and blindfolded, interpret the meaning of birds passing overhead with the aid of an apprentice who would describe them to him/her.