This study of the Christian roots of the Occult, or/and Esoteric, and Natural Magic will start with the second century CE when a new method of prognostication emerged in the Greek-speaking world. Names and terms were converted to their numerical values (via psephic calculations, better known as gematria) and then analyzed to predict the future. There are scores of Greek manuscripts that attest to the variety of techniques and the popularity of numerological prognostication throughout the Byzantine and modern-Greek eras. The few numerological techniques that have been published are not well known. We present here among others six major types of Greek numerology, as well as a few of the many variations and suggest ways in which Christian scholars used these texts. Plus where Clement of Alexandria, opposed ‘Christian Gnostics’ like Marcus 'Magus', Clement himself promoted the ‘esoteric’ Christianity popularized by the ‘Occult Philosophy’ (a bestseller) that even left its mark on modern ‘occultists’ like Rudolf Steiner who was to design his own modernist “Occult Science.” Plus also present day ‘alternative writers’ continue to be influenced by ‘esoteric insights’ today.
See Case Study P.1:
Titus Flavius Clement was a major Christian scholar whose religious thinking culminates in his description of the ideal Christian, the "True Gnostic", to which especially books VI and VII of the Stromateis are devoted. Working in Alexandria he called himself a ‘non-Gnostic Christian’ and was instead convinced that there existed a secret and esoteric Christian tradition alongside that which was openly transmitted by the Church: edge (gnosis), handed down in unwritten form from the apostles through a succession of teachers, has come to a few people' (Strom. VI, 61, 3). Clement attacked the Gnostics for their claim to be the only true Christians and their rejection of faith as a sufficient base for salvation, but he had also much in common with them. He quotes many Gnostic teachers from the 2nd century, and not always disapprovingly. One of the scholarly problems of his Excerpts from Theodotus is the difficulty to distinguish clearly between the Gnostic quotations and Clement's own comments.(See A. Choufrine, Gnosis, Theophany, Theosis: Studies in Clement of Alexandria's Appropriation of his Background, New York, 2002).
A first and indispensable characteristic of the true Gnostic is his moral perfection and detachment from worldly things (strong influence of Stoic ethics). His knowledge not only concerns God and good and evil, but also the whole world: 'He possesses the most precise truth about the world from its creation to its end, having learned it from the Truth itself' (Strom. VI, 78, 5)' It is a spiritual knowledge, which derives from revelation and is to be found in the words of the Logos, i.e. in the divine scriptures. Therefore, an important part of the esoteric tradition is the capacity to read the hidden the hidden meaning of Scripture by means of allegorical exegesis. This provides the Gnostic with a perfect knowledge of past, present and future, and leads him to an ever-deeper understanding of the divine world and to the contemplation of God. See o. Stiihlin (ed.), Clemens Alexandrinus, I: ProtrepticlIs IInd Paedagoglls, 3rd rev. ed. by U. Treu; vol. II: Stromata Buch I-VI, 4th rev. ed. by L. Fruchtel, mit Nachtriige von U. Treu; vol. III: Stromata. Buch VII IInd VIII, Excerpta ex Theodoto. Eclogae propheticae. Quis dives salvbetur. Fragmente, 2nd ed. by L. Fruchtel und U. Treu , Berlin : Akademie Verlag, 1960-1985; with French translation: C. Mondesert, (ed.), Le Protreptique (SC 2), 2nd ed., Paris : Editions du Cerf, 1949, C. Mondesert, H.-I. Marrou et al. (eds.), Le Pedagogue,3 vols. (SC 70, 108, 158), Ibidem 1960, 1965, 1970. C. Mondesert, P.Th. Camelot et al. (eds.), Les Stromateis, 7 vols. (SC 30, 38, 463, 278, 279, 446, 428), Ibidem 1951-2001; F. Sagnard (ed.), Extraits de Theodote, (SC 23), Ibidem 1948 (2nd ed. 1970). English translation by W. Wilson, in: ANCL, vols. 4 and 12, Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1867, 1869 (repr. ANF, vol. 2, Edinburgh/Grand Rapids: T&T Clark/W.B. Eerdmans, 1994).
In regards to his 'gematria' however, for Clement there is no category, including number, that comprehends and stands over his nature. His metaphors and pedagogical tools may be philosophical in origin, but in the substance of his theology, Clement stands with Irenaeus as a Christian monotheist, not a Platonist.Although God stands above arithmetic, Clement finds arithrnetical unity a helpful metaphor of the divine, and he states that man's goal is a similar kind of unity. As a person becomes divinized into astate of dispassion, he becomes purely "Monadic." (Stromateis 188.8.131.52.)
This unity is epitomized for Clement in the Church, "For just as God is one and the Lord is one . . . that which is most highly treasured is praised for its solitude since it is an imitation of one principle. Thus, the one Church also has a portion in the nature of the One, which nature the [heretics] strive to chop into many heresies." (Ibid. 184.108.40.206).This joint share in God's unity allows the Church to collect people "into the unity of the one faith of its proper testarnents- rather of the one testament from different ages- by the will of the one God, through the one Lord." (Ibid. 220.127.116.11.) Thus, the Church, which is the earthly image of the heavenly Church, reflects precisely the unity of God, and humanity' s return to that unity. (Ibid. 18.104.22.168.)
Irenaeus's theology of arithmetic in agreement with Clement, claims that numbers, syllabies, and letters are composite and that they have many different qualities. Such a claim was contestable. For by the very name given to them, "elements," letters were considered de facto to have no parts. Being elements, letters were the building blocks of the linguistic universe. Numbers, too, shared in this simplicity. So Irenaeus' s suggestion, that numbers and letters have multiple parts and qualities, suggests that both categories can be further analyzed, reduced to yet other, more fundamental, categories. Irenaeus reduces them to terms derived from the narrative of truth, the rule of faith. Irenaeus' s first critique here, then, is that the Valentinians have not appropriately understood what an element is, that is, what is neither compounded nor subject to change. Numbers and letters are not elements in the true sense of the word.
In contrast to Irenaeus however there is in Clement very little, if any, polemic against the Valentinian (example Marcus 'Magus' ) Ogdoad and Pleroma. But his insistence of the unity of God is as strong as lrenaeus's, evidence that orthodox emphasis on God' s unity was not conditioned by Valentinianism. In contrast to Irenaeus and Clement, Marcus 'Magus' was what was called a (real?) ‘Gnostic’ can be located between I60 and I80 AD. The treatise Adversus haereses, by Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, is the direct or indirect source of all the subsequent heresiological information available in the Greek, Latin and Syriac languages, with the partial exception of the ritual of apolytrosis (redemption, in this case a second baptism) described by Hippolytus of Rome.
Rather like his gnostic ancestor Simon Magus, Marcus is represented as a powerful, charismatic figure, perhaps even a charlatan, with his magic tricks, visionary claims, entrepreneurial usage of syncretism and skill in attracting well-educated religious women. In conclusion, Marcus' heritage can be envisaged immediately in medieval Merkabah literature (esp. Shi'ur Qomah: angels as letters that reproduce the structure of the human body).
As for Simon Magus being a gnostic, in fact there is no agreement on the answers. Still, they diligently comb the Simonian tradition and offer various hypotheses. Despite their different ways of reconstructing Simon, all scholars agree that the doctrines of the late second-century Simonian tradition are quite different from those of the first. The hopes that the Apophasis Megale, a text only Hippolytus quotes, might go back to Simon were quashed when it whas found out that Hippolytus was citing not the Apophasis Megale but a paraphrase of it. Thus there is no way to determine the authorship and date of the Paraphrase. The intricacy of thought suggests a late development of the Sirnonian tradition, so the early third century would be reasonable.
The Paraphrase shows features common to the apocalyptic genre, but it is much more. First it is also a commentary on two texts: the Bible and the Apophasis Megale. This is evident from the number of quotations from the Bible, its many attempts to reconcile the Pentateuch with a doctrine of syzygies, and the frequent explanations and interpretations of the Apophasis Megale, the original impetus for writing.
Second, as reported by Hippolytus, the author of the Paraphrase of the Apophasis Megale (hence deutero-Simon) considers the root of the Universe to be the Infinite Power. This title, repeated twenty tirnes in Hippolytus's account, is clearly important to deutero-Simon. The Paraphrase also toys with an important part of the ancient Pythagorean tradition (see further down).
But where early Christian polemics against the gnostics attacked their belief that they had attained an independent and higher sphere of knowledge, or revelation, which was inaccessible to others (such as Christians), Clement's attack on the gnostics was not intended to invalidate the social dichotomy which they proposed. Thus Clement opposes those gnostics, who believed that gnosis could only be attained by those who participated in secret ceremonies. (See S.R.C. Lilla, Clement of Alexandria, Oxford,1971, p. 163-173).
Otherwise, regarding the general idea that gnosis was an esoteric accomplishment open to very few, Clement is in agreement with his adversaries; they merely differed as to what the qualifications of these few should be. And not unlike Irenaeus, Clement's view, the attainment of gnosis by a Christian is facilitated by two factors: non-literal reading of Scripture and oral transmission of secret doctrine:
If we say Christ himself is wisdom and his activity showed itself in the prophets, through which it is possible to learn the transmission of gnosis, as he himself taught the holy Apostles at his appearance, gnosis, then, should be wisdom, which is a knowledge and apprehension of things which are, which will be and which have passed, and which, insofar as it was transmitted and revealed by the Son of God, is firm and reliable. Therefore, if contemplation is the goal of the wise man, then the contemplation of those who are still philosophers seeks, to be sure, divine wisdom, which it does not attain unless through learning it receives the prophetic voice revealed to it, by which it comprehends what is, will be and was before-how these things are, were and will be. Gnosis itself is what has descended by transmission to a few, imparted by the Apostles without writing. (Clement, Les stromates, VI, ed. P. Descourtieux, Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1999, 184-186).
As part of his argument in favour of this esoteric hermeneutics, Clement puts together a list of historical examples, showing how different philosophical schools were united in concealing the truth from the unworthy. The general lines are as follows. Anything which appears through a veil seems "better and holier". (Lilla, Clement of Alexandria,144-146). The words of Scripture act as this sort of covering.
Thoroughly infused with that same form of esotericism which we initially found in Clement, in the end it was the Pseudo-Dionysian corpus (a group of religious works written in Greek by an unknown author in the late fifth or early sixth century) that kept the esoteric approach in circulation after it had faded from mainstream Christian biblical exegesis. (See Dionysiaca, ed. P. Chevallier, 2 vols (Paris: DescJee, de Brower et Cie., 1937-1950), I, civ.)
Its reception throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance was extremely wide. At least six different Latin translations of the corpus (or parts of it) were made between the ninth and fifteenth centuries; the 1990 critical edition lists over 120 manuscripts containing works of Pseudo-Dionysius copied during or before the fifteenth century; and there were nine different printed editions before 1500. Aside from their direct circulation in Latin, these works were received into scholastic theology and philosophy by, among others, Albertus Magnus and his student Thomas Aquinas.
However such general hermeneutic stance also flourished in the Jewish tradition where various methods of reading had been developed specifically to undermine the exoteric grammatical and syntactical structure of the biblical text and to reveal an esoteric stratum of meaning. Both of these approaches including the Neoplatonic, where to be united by Pico de la Mirandola. However the idea that an intellectually superior group of believers could extract a higher level of knowledge from Scripture was already current in the exegetical work of Philo of Alexandria.
Pico used the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius to develop a theory of scriptural exegesis which was anagogical in the Dionysian sense-which led the reader upwards towards God. This idea of 'anagogical' exegesis also made its way into the standard Christian framework of the four senses of Scripture. Here, however, it was defined as a property of the signification of a word (for example, the idea of Jerusalem as the heavenly city), not as an intellectual action undergone by the reader.
Thus where the Dionysius scripts concentrate on the representation of the upper levels of the hierarchy-the ranks of angels and, above them, God, Pico claims to be concerned with the entire cosmic taxonomy below God as shown in the following illustration.
Pico regards the three worlds as exhibiting what he calls "mutual containment". They are arranged hierarchically-angelic world at the top, sublunar world at the bottom-but they are actually deeply intertwined. Each world contains the same things (relatively and by analogy) as the other two.
Those who wrote after Pico like Giordano Bruno and Henricus Cornelius Agrippa, in his "Occult Philosophy" adhered more closely to Pico's model than Pico did to the models which antedated him, which, again, are of largely Platonic inspiration.
Some scholars have tended to assurne the existence of gematria called psephic, techniques everywhere and at all times in the ancient world, and used that assumption to find the earliest examples. Few ask when and how the technique, as a whole, could have arisen and made sense to a given culture. Thus biblical scholars today persist in looking for instances of gematria in the Hebrew Scriptures, without investigating the requisite background in habits of numeration. For example the "New method projects," sponsored by the Berkeley Institute of Biblical Archaeology and Literature (BIBAL), analyzes the entire Hebrew Bible using gematria-inspired logotechnical analysis. It suffers from the same methodological error. Hippolytus saw the isopsephic exercises of Colarbasus and others as a Pythagoreanizing (i.e., corruption) of Christianity. A re-invented Pythagoras in this case ofcourse was a misidentification of what actually was Platonic thinking.
Fact is that psephy first emerged in the early- to mid-first century and grew during the cultural and political rise of Alexandria in the third century BCE. It occurs in poetry, riddles, theologieal systems, and divinatory techniques. It gained enough popularity that tables were composed, juxtaposing interesting and ironic isopsephisms, possibly an aid to party-goers who, after dirmer, would often entertain themselves with "puzzles and riddles and sets of names in numbers.“
The earliest example of isopsephy in the writings of a scholar however, is probably found with Philo of Alexandria. Although attuned to numbers, there is in fact only one example that approaches psephy, an innocuous reference to the change of Sara' s name to Sarra (Questions and Answers on Genesis 3.53). Against those who might consider the name change in Genesis 17.15 trivial, Philo argues that it represents the change, not of a single letter, but of a hundred of them, since that was the numerical value of the rho. Philo,however, does not consider the association of rho with one hundred of intrinsic significance.He favors instead an explanation based on the definitions of Sara and Sarra in Hebrew. This passage does not even imply Philo's awareness of or use of isopsephy, just his knowledge of the Milesian system of notation. That this is the only Philonic reference to anything remotely close to isopsephy is telling. It seems that if there were any author of the first century who would latch onto isopsephy it would be Philo, because of his propensity to employ speculative, allegorical exegesis.
The active use of isopsephy can be found with Leonides of Alexandria an astrologer, who turned to epigrams, where the psephic value of the couplets or individuallines are equal. It is also to Leonides we can credit the first instances of the basic phrasing that led to the terms psephy and isopsephy, the earliest terminology for the technique. Thus the suggestion that isopsephism emerged in literary circles due to the patronage of Nero remains a possibility.
Isopsephy also appears in the second century as a device in Jewish and Samaritan exegesis. In ancient Hebrew when authors used shorthand notation for numbers, they used a decimal-based system, in imitation of Demotic Egyptian conventions. Calendral material from the Qumran material and pendants from Masada use this Egyptian-style stroke system. And even after the introduction of alphabetic system, the decimal system lingered on for some time.
The twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet are five short of the number needed to build a complete model (like the Milesian system which emerged from an Ionian trading outpost in the western Nile delta). When required to write numbers greater than four hundred, Hebrew writers combined characters, thus jury-rigging their alphabet so as to function like the Greek.
Shortly after Greek isopsephy became a widespread literary phenomenon in the Mediterranean world, Rabbinic Jews picked up on the practice and began to use the Hebrew version of it in their Biblical exegesis. Possibly the earliest example of explicit Hebrew isopsephy is found, oddly enough, in Revelation 13.18, the infamous number of the beast. In variations of the Greek text, 616, rather than 666, is given as the number, which leads to an elegant solution, that both versions describe the name Nero Caesar as written in Hebrew. If this interpretation of the number of the beast is correct, it implies that Christians were active participants in the earliest days of Hebrew and Aramaic isopsephy. Plus if this is the solution to Rev 13.18, it should be noted that it attests to the lateness of the system of Hebrew gematria that employed the final form of five letters for the values five to nine hundred. Under this later, Kabbalistic system the final nun would have given Nero Caesar the value 956.
The earliest explicit examples of Rabbinic Jewish gematria come from second century Rabbi Yehudah (fl. mid 2d c. CE, in Galilee), interpreting Jeremiah 9.10, concludes that "no one passed through Judea for fifty-two years" because of the numerical value of the word Behemah (beast). Rabbi Nathan (fl. 2d-3d c. CE, in Palestine) suggests that the gematria of "These are the words" in Exodus 35.1 hints at the thirty-nine categories of work forbidden on the Sabbath. The most famous example of Rabbinic isopsephy deals with Genesis 14.14 and the three hundred eighteen servants of Abraham, a tradition transmitted under the name of Bar Qappara' (2d-3d c., son of R. Eliezer).
The second century proved to be a fertile period for the development of Jewish techniques of isopsephy in Hebrew and Aramaic, and Jewish teachers first used the term gematria, to describe any number of methods of interpretation that use grammatical analysis. Thus, whereas Greek used isopsephy, the term still used in modern Greek, Hebrew Aramaie used gematria, the term most familiar in modem western languages.The idea that arithmetic could be applied to names so as to lay bare the secrets of the universe however, meant that psephy soon began to be seen as Pythagorean. Hippolytus saw the isopsephic exercises of Colarbasus and others as a Pythagoreanizing (i.e., corruption) of Christianity.
Yet also Pythagoras is largely a mythic figure constructed by later generations who wrote in his name.Where Pythagoras was regarded as something of a wonderworker and shaman, he was not thought to have taught techniques in astrology, magie, or divination.
Referrence to the earlier Pythagorean communities (in diet and dress but not science) depends largely upon Pythagorean sayings preserved by Aristotle and other pseudepigraphal Pythagorean writings. They show no interest in the mathematical arts, or philosophy, untill Plato was conflated with Pythagoras.
Those who wanted to emphasize and retain the religious and ritualistic character of the community-separated from those who began to engage in the philosophical and scientific currents of their age. The former group is said to have treated the latter as if they were innovators, and to have denied them any right to claim to be Pythagoreans. There may have been more than one split in the Pythagorean communities of the fifth century, but this rifts shows that early on it was disputed as to how to live the Pythagorean way of life.
Plato was not a Pythagorean, since in each of these dialogues he develops a philosophy that is uniquely and distinctly his own. Nevertheless in the generation after Plato's death three competing interpretations of the Platonic and Pythagorean traditions emerged. The first is that of Aristotle (384-322 BCE), one of the few authors of the fourth century to distinguish between the Pythagoreans and Plato. It was Speusippus (407-339 BCE), the nephew of Plato, who transforrned Plato' s forms into numbers, and Xenocrates (fl. 339-314aCE) continued to reshape Platonic doctrine.
A third interpretive tradition went further. Aristoxenus of Tarentum (b. ca. 370 BCE)-musician, philosopher, and one-time disciple of the Pythagorean Xenophilus diverged considerably from the Pythagoreans in his music theory and philosophy. In praising Pythagoras, Aristoxenus credited him with inventing doctrines later embraced by Plato and Aristotle. His lost works on the Pythagoreans probably furnished material for writers in late antiquity, and they signaled a trend discemable in the pseudo-Pythagorean writings, of ascribing not just Plato' s teachings to Pythagoras, but also Aristotelian and Stoic doctrines.
Of these three reinterpretations, the second proved to be the most influential in the later tradition, which conflated Pythagoras, Plato, and the Pythagoreans. Plato was reinterpreted in the light of a Pythagorean tradition, itself radically transformed as Platonic science. This resulted in the Platonizing of Pythagoras: uniquely Platonic insights were regarded as Pythagorean. From Speusippus onwards, it has proved difficult to disentangle the two traditions.
The fourth century was also a fertile period for fictional biographies of Pythagoras. The variety of images of Pythagoras-from shaman to politician, and this same period was important, too, for the transmission of Pythagorean number symbolism. Since there was no Pythagorean community after the fourth century, in the Hellenistic period, Pythagoreanism ceased to be a lived reality, and Pythagoras was revered, only as a dim memory.
Specimens of pseudepigraphal Pythagorean writings from the third and second century BCE,simple treat philosophical themes then current in the Hellenistic period, but are written in an archaizing Greek. The texts tend to focus on ethical and political themes, not mathematicalor scientific ones.
That Nigidius Figulus (d. 45 BCE) played a pivotal part in the reinvention of the philosophy is confirmed by Varro (116-27 BCE). Eudorus of Alexandria (fl. ca. 25 BCE) wrote a commentary on the Timaeus, in which he opposed the Stoicized readings of Plato found in Antiochus of Ascalon (ca. 130-69/8 BCE) in favor of what he called, a transcendental Pythagorean, reading.
Juba II (ca.45 BCE-ca. 23 CE), king of Mauretania, was known as an avid collector of Pythagorean books.Thrasyllus (fl. early 1st c. CE), a philosopher and astrologer, wrote about the principles of Pythagoreanism, which he considered as important as Platonism. Also Alexander Polyhistor, who cannot be considered a Pythagorean, wrote a book on Pythagorean symbols (now lost). This mirrors the more Stoic Cicero, who decided to translate into Latin the Timaeus, the most "Pythagorean" work by Plato. Thus, during the Republic and early Empire, Pythagorean themes had achieved a new kind of respectability in literate Roman society. Some of this respectability ran parallel to the successes enjoyed by astrology, then a relatively new science.
Moderatus of Gades (mid-lst c. CE) wrote ten or eleven books on Pythagorean teaching, attempting to show point by point how Plato derived his doctrines from Pythagoras. The biography of Apollonius of Tyana (fl. 1st c. CE) was embellished under the influence of later cultic reverence and it seems that he styled himself as something of a successor to the Pythagoras depicted by Heracleides Ponticus. In the second century, Nicomachus of Gerasa, Numenius of Apamea, and Theon of Smyma (fl. ca. 115-40 CE) aB wrote mathematical and philosophical texts of Pythagorean lore. Other authors from this period who ordinarily would not consider themselves Pythagorean nevertheless frequently appeal to Pythagoreanism. But those who reinvented this long-Iost tradition simple introduced new ideas.
The Pythagoreanism of the Roman Empire is no exception. Three major shifts are worth noting.
When the movement was resurrected, there was no attempt, to resurrect the communallife Pythagoras is alleged to have emphasized. The stories of holy men who championed Pythagoreanism, Iike Apollonius of Tyana and Alexander of Abonuteiehos (fl. 2nd c. CE), show that the mysticaI, theurgie side of Pythagoreanism was something they took on individually. Their followers patterned on the religious groups of their own age, not sixth century Croton. Late antique Pythagoreanism was a literary ideal, not a lived reality.
Iamblichus of Chalcis (ca. 245-ca. 325 CE) a student of Porphyry (234-ca. 305 CE), wrote many of his works with Pythagoras as his model.His On the Pythagorean Way 0f Life was the first installment of a ten-book series meant to introduce students to a philosophical and theurgical approach. And with the work of writers such as Damascius (fl. 4th/5th c. CE), Proclus (410/12-85 CE), and Macrobius (fl. 5th c. CE), the literary image of Pythagoreanism flourished in the ages of Islam and medieval Christianity. By the fourth century, numerology was so prominent that Iamblichus has Pythagoras teach Abaris "instead of divination by the entrails of sacrificed anirnals.. .fore-knowledge through numbers, believing this to be purer, more divine, and more suitable to the heavenly nurnber of the gods." Hippolytus's Refutation 0f All Heresies(commented on above) is the next earliest datable text to report numerology, and the technique he describes is one we find scattered throughout Byzantine manuscripts.
Thus aIthough each of the twenty-four Greek letters could potentially be assigned the numbers one through twenty-four (and not just a certain rank in the order of the alphabet), there is no expIicit evidence that they ever were. The same is true of the twenty-two letters of various Semitic languages. It shouId then come as no surprise that there is no explicit evidence of a system of ancient gematria that uses this sequential system until the Middle Ages, when the actual methods of gematria develloped.
One type of "magic" in the case of Pico involved esoteric means (magia naturalis) of text exegesis that is word-number translations according to Renaissance gematria referred to in P.1 of this introductory overview. (An in depth Research Report will follow soon)
Pico clarifies that in the Persian language magus means "interpreter and worshipper of divine things" in other words ‘divination’. In fact Christopher Lehrich maintains that,” both in the ritual magic per se and in the mathematical magic, divination is readily understood as writing, and indeed is rather difficult to interpret otherwise. Thus the ritual-as-writing approach goes some way toward clarifying the centrality of divination in magic.” (Lehrich, The Language of Demons and Angels: Cornelius Agrippa’s Occult Philosphy, 2003, p. 212).
The magus, as Pico pictured him, thus was not a transformer of nature but its "minister." Following the principle that "every inferior nature is governed by whatever is immediately superior to itself," mankind, according to Pico, is ruled by the lowest order of angels and in turn is entrusted with governing the material world. Once the soul has been elevated by philosophical studies to the contemplative seat of the Cherubim, it is prepared to rise to God like the Serafim and descend to the world like angelic Thrones, "well instructed and prepared, to the duties of action." The operative side of Pico' s magic is best interpreted in terms of the traditional concepts of cosmic fall and redemption, which are discussed in a Christological context in the Heptaplus Just as the whole universe was corrupted by the fall of man--a result of the cosmic correspondences in the "man the microcosm" concept-so following his mystical purification homo magus receives the power to raise fallen nature with himself, to "actuate" and "unite" the cosmos, "to marry the world"-just as Christ "marries" the soul prepared by philosophy for the mystical ascent. (See Crofton Black, Pico’s Heptaplus and Biblical Hermenuetics, 2006).
Thus we can say that Occultism started with a search in the Bible as “the word of God”, thought to be 'secretly encoded' with numbers (Gematria). Based on their observation of the Biblical word of God and Adam who spoke Hebraic Occultists in fact intended to “restitute” Christianity.
For a possible difference between Pico's magia naturalis with Marcello Ficino's magia naturalis see also:
One could also argue, that Ficino united the philosophy of emanations and the spirit-lore of the Platonici on the one hand and the mythology of exaltatio drawn from the Corpus hermeticum on the other. Iamblichus' who also inspired Pico, suggested that later neoplatonists in fact did not see the Hermetica and their own philosophy as isolated from each other. A new type of magus emerged with Bishop Trithemius, in whose thought mystical operations such as the conjuration of angels mixed with very practical technical purposes, like telecommunication and distance learning. Since their condemnation by the Church doubtless induced the "diviners" to dissimulate or at least to keep silent about their activities it is not easy to know which other divinatory techniques were really practiced. (See 1)
A believe in Magic of course is also a cross-cultural category, where it each time has its own history, its own mythology, its own distinctive culture. Accusations of 'sorcery' as Alexander Rodlach recently pointed out are more compareable to "conspiracy theories". (See Rodlach, Witches, Westerners, and HIV: Aids& Culture of Blame in Africa, 2006).
Christopher Lehrich ads in reference to Giordano Bruno, De umbris idearum ... Ad internam scripturam, & non vulgares per memoriam operationes explicatis (Paris, 1582): “We need to reread Bruno and Dee, bearing in mind that they read Agrippa and furthermore were deeply interested in and influenced by his work. One can already see, I think, how our understanding of Bruno's ars memorativa as internal writing (scriptura interna) might change in light of a sophisticated magical-written semiotic. Similarly, [John] Dee's Monas hieroglyphica will require rethinking, as Dee claimed for this single hieroglyphic sigil the possibility of a restitution or restoration of all knowledge and language.- A similar effect will apply, though less directly, in the history of early modern science. For example, there has so far as I can tell been little attempt to consider the details of Agrippa's influence on Paracelsus, although the latter certainly read Agrippa-indeed, he even entitled one of his own works De occulta philosophia.” (Lehrich, 2003, p.219-220).
The works of Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, commonly known as Paracelsus (1493-1541), constituted one of the most important sections in John Dee's library. (Gyorgy Szonyi, John Dee’s Occultism, 2004, p. 132).
Antoine Faivre's definition of western “esotericism” however is to phenomenological, of the type, "X must have the following components, and often has the following additional components." Not unlike the ‘traditionalist’ inspired Mirceau Eliade did with religion, Faivre apparently believes that esotericism is sui generis, that it cannot be compared to other phenomena, because he thinks that true esoteric thought is the path by which modern humanity can escape or remedy its fallen spiritual condition.
Or as Chris Lehrich aptly mentioned; “What can one do if, like myself, one is deeply suspicious of a scholarly project rooted in a concealed religious project, particularly when the technique of concealment involves hypocritical claims to ‘empirical research, without ideological a priori’ The simple solution, of course, would be to discard Faivre's methodology and definition entirely. But, as with Eliade-or Frances Yates for that maner-this would mean discarding gold along with the dross. My own preference is to keep the definition, subject to revision of course, and shift its grounds from some idealized ‘real esotericism’ to the equally arcane world of academic methodology and theory. In other words, we simply take the definition to apply to a category, constructed by and for academics interested in such subjects, which enables analysis and comparison; conversely, any and all of the components may be set aside when they cease to be enabling.“ (Lehrich, 2003, p. 163).
Although an idea common for the ‘human potential’ movement that became so popular in the USA during the 20th century, the Platonic doctrine that the soul is the artisan of her own misfortunes, in contrast, widely held among Christians was the idea that we are all born sinners (because of Adam). The theory that we inherit it biologically, the entire soul being transmitted to the child in the father's semen, had already been propounded by Tertullian, and Augustine in the fifth century.
Freedom, as we conceive it therefore, was of less concern to such authors than the unity of the human organism; how, they asked, could those who denied this unity account for the independent fall of a multitude of beings from perfection, or explain why soul and body should fare differently in the afterlife when both had been a party to the same sins?
Thus the Christian ideal was not a life of conscious and self-authenticating virtue; in a monotheist it would be idolatrous folly to aspire to be a god or the father of gods. It was nevertheless an axiom of the New Testament, as of the Old, that human beings are made in the image of God. Since it appears, in the opening chapter of Genesis, that God proposed to make Adam in his image and likeness but gave him only the image at his creation, it was widely held that Christ had taken flesh to reveal the likeness, and was presently at work in the Christian, moulding him into the form of a 'perfect man'. Likeness to god is also the goal of philosophy in Plato's Theaetetus, and there is no doubt that the outward marks of sanctity in a Christian bear a strong resemblance to the Platonic virtues. Both Platonists and Christians live as citizens of an unseen world, eschewing the pleasures and comforts that are commonly mistaken for goods in this. Both, despising the perishable body, can meet torture and death without fear; both hold that it is better to suffer an injury than to do one; both admit that a man who is wise on his own account will be a fool to his neighbours. For all, their lives are directed to different ends, for whereas a Christian acts from obedience to God and in the hope of divine reward, the Platonist believes that he can fashion his own perfection, and that even if the gods help him for a season, his salvation is in his own gift rather than theirs. This likeness in unlikeness is most apparent in those fleeting anticipations of beatitude that would now be described as mystical experiences.
Augustine -was perhaps the first to see in Neoplatonism a Christless Christianity, which demonstrated the unity and incorporeality of the Godhead, offered hints for a philosophical doctrine of the Trinity, and underwrote the promise of resurrection with a proof of the immortality of the soul. To humanists of the Renaissance it served chiefly as an antidote to scholasticism, giving rise in some hands to a critique of all religion; yet the Anglican divines of the seventeenth century turned the same arsenal against the materialism and Unitarianism of Protestant freethinkers.
Spokesmen ofthe episcopal church made common cause with Platonism against this saturnine 'tragedy of fears' (Enneads 22.214.171.124), affirming both the goodness of the created order and the soul's power to co-operate with Christ in her own redemption. Yet there are passages in Paul, not to speak of sayings ascribed to Jesus, which imply that the salvation of the elect is foreordained, while in the Gospel of John it is strongly intimated that this world is lost, and its denizens already separated into children of darkness and children of light. Was it therefore disingenuous of these critics to seek the roots of Gnostic thought in Greek philosophies, including Platonism? Not entirely, because, although they upheld the freedom ofthe will against the Stoics, the Platonists also taught that our freedom in the present is restricted by our remembered choices in past lives. They also held that our lower world of genesis or becoming is but a copy of one in which there is no present, past or future; this, they opined, is the soul's true home to which she can return only by escaping from the body. No more than in Christianity is there any Gnostic cheapening of the world here. By arguing that the essences of natural kinds exist above, the Platonist justifies our use of common names for diverse individuals in the lower sphere; by peopling an invisible realm with archetypes of justice, beauty and goodness, he affirms the objectivity of justice, beauty and goodness as we know them. It is better that there should be a material universe than that matter should remain untouched by form; its flaws arise inevitably from the truculence of the substrate, not from any primordial trespass, as in the Gnostic myth or the Biblical tale of Eden. There is thus no charge to be laid against an omniscient God, no reverie of a 'new earth' in which the evils of the present will be miraculously annulled (cf. Enneads 126.96.36.199). The Gnostics were, of course, not the only Christians to anticipate the end of the world, and the following passage, often quoted to illustrate the optimism which Platonists shared with orthodox Churchmen, also reminds us where they parted company:
This All that has emerged into life is no amorphous structure - like those lesser forms within it which are born night and day out of the lavishness of its vitality - the Universe is a live organism, effective, all-comprehensive, displaying an unfathomable wisdom. How, then can anyone deny that it is a clear image, beautifully formed, of the intellectual Divinities? No doubt it is a copy, not original; but that is its very nature, it cannot be at once symbol and reality (Enneads 2.9.8).
In Christian thought the world bears witness to God not because it resembles him, but (as Augustine says) because he made it (Confessions 10.6). The image of the Father - his monogenes, unique or only-begotten, is not the world (Timaeus 92c) but Christ, who framed it before the fall and condescended to inhabit it, the Word becoming flesh to make all things new (John 1.14 and 1.18; Revelation 21.5). Christian theology was not required to prove - indeed it denied - that humans presently live in the best of all possible worlds. Nor, on the other hand, did it join the Platonists in asserting that it was the worst of actual worlds. It refused to countenance any theory of Forms outside the mind of God or any notion of matter as an independent substrate. Some inferred from the opening chapter of Genesis that God produced matter first and then the cosmos; some maintained that matter was only logically, not temporally, prior to the creation;some doubted whether a thing that was defined only by the absence of such qualities could be said to exist at all. The Greek view of matter accounted for the discreteness of the world at the cost of denying its original perfection; Christians affirmed both and traced them to one cause, the omnipotent will of God. The world, as we have seen, was his creature rather than his image, and, because the two were so disparate in nature, it was capable of perfection in its own kind.
This is not to deny that in Christian thought a distinction can be drawn between the temporal and the eternal. The Pentateuch states that the tabernacle, the prototype of the Temple, was fashioned by Moses in accordance with a pattern revealed by God, and Christian writers constantly recur to this text to corroborate their claim that the entire Law was designed to foreshadow the mysteries that were openly proclaimed in the Incarnation.'s Paul himself averred that, while the things that are seen will pass away, the unseen will endure for ever (2 Corinthians 4.18). Yet he and his readers differed from the Platonists in that they understood the temporal to be temporary, the end of the world having been ordained by the same God who had brought it into being. During this interval creatures lived or died in time without hope of liberation or return; the eternal was hidden from them, though not from God, until the final day, and, if there was a sense in which the elect were already saved, already regenerate, it was only by virtue of the Incarnation, which was itself an event in time. In Platonism, by contrast, the distinction between the temporal and the eternal was not chronological but qualitative. One was subject to change and one exempt from it, but, since there could be no reason for the eternal to be more productive at one time than at another, there could be no beginning or end to the vicissitude of the lower realm, any more than there could be beginning or end in the timeless universe of Forms. Christians replied that, since there is no time when there is nothing for it to measure, it is futile to ask why the temporal world was not created sooner, or for ever.
In Christian thought, it is not the innate divinity of the mind, or the indefeasible simplicity of the soul, that secures immortality, but the covenant made with Adam by a benign creator, who did what he need not have done by framing this one creature in his image and endowing it with the foretaste or the promise of his likeness. Even had humanity never fallen, it would have owed its preservation to God and not to its own capacities; in the fallen state, where moral infallibility is unattainable, it is only in Christ, the one man who has kept and surpassed the Law, that Adam's posterity can find the righteousness that brings salvation. Paul proclaims both the necessity of good works and the insufficiency of all works (Romans 2.6 and 3.23 etc.); for him there is no virtue in the self-reliant imitation of God, and still less is it conceivable that the soul might become its own god. Christians and Platonists might employ the same vocabulary, deny themselves the same pleasures, sometimes preach the same morality; but they could never be united, unless a Platonist abjured his belief in his sovereignty of reason or a Christian came to think that a man-made god would be as powerful to save him as God made man.
1) AEROMANCY: Divination interpreting atmospheric conditions. There are several different forms including:
Ceraunoscopy (thunder & lightning);
Chaomancy (aerial visions);
Meteormancy (meteors, especially shooting stars).
AILUROMANCY: Divination through interpreting the appearance and behavior of cats. A form of augury.
ALECTORMANCY, ALECTROMANCY, ALECTRYOMANCY: Divination through interpreting the appearance and behavior of sacred chickens (originally); current versions include the interpretation of fowls eating grain and marking the cock's crow as letters are recited. A form of augury.
ALEUROMANCY: Divination through sortilege of fortunes written on slips of paper. The fortunes were inserted into balls of dough that were baked, mixed, and distributed randomly. This form of divination is the origin of Ash Wednesday pancakes and fortune cookies. Another version involves the interpretation of patterns left in a bowl of flour rinsed in water. Aleuromancy was the domain of Apollo in some traditions.
ALOMANCY: Divination by interpreting salt. The origin of misfortune associated with spilled salt. Also known as Halomancy.
ALPHITOMANCY: A divination practice to identify guilty parties by feeding an individual or group a loaf of barley. Innocent people would feel no ill effect but guilty ones would experience indigestion. Alphitomancy was often used to identify criminals or adulterers. Also known as Cursed Bread.
AMNIOMANCY: Divination by inspecting and interpreting the caul of a baby at birth.
ANTHROPOMANCY, ANTINOPOMANCY: Divination interpreting the entrails of human sacrifice. This practice is obviously illegal and unethical and is not used by pagans today. Recorded instances of anthropomancy are from ancient Egypt and Rome and were documented as heinous acts at the time of their occurrences. Also known as Splanchomancy.
APANTOMANCY: Divination through interpreting any objects (or beings) that happen to present themselves. A common form of apantomancy is is interpreting the appearance and behavior of animals during chance meetings (a form of augury). The superstition associated with a black cat crossing one's path is apantomancy.
ARACHNOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the appearance and behavior of spiders. A form of augury.
ARIOLATER: Someone who practices divination. Also known as Aruspex, Clairvoyant, Diviner, Haruspex, Seer, Soothsayer. See Also: Oracle, Prophet, Theomancer.
ARIOLATIO: Divining by interpreting altars.
ARITHMANCY, ARITHOMANCY, ARITHMOMANCY: Divination by interpreting numbers. Greeks used the number and value of the letters in the names of two combatants to predict the victor. This form of divination has been adopted and modified by many cultures over the millennia. One of its evolved forms is the current magickal system of Numerology.
ARITHMOSOPHY: Divination by Bertiaux's method of converting words to numbers. A form of Arithmancy and Numerology.
ARMOMANCY: Divining by inspecting the shoulders of a person. Used originally to determine the suitability of a person for sacrifice to the gods.
ARUSPEX: See Ariolater.
ARUSPICY: Divination by interpreting animal entrails. Aruspicy is sometimes considered to be a form of augury (interpreting form and behavior of animals). Similar to Anthropomancy (interpretation of human entrails) and Heiromancy (interpretation of sacrificed animals) Also known as Haruspicy, Extispicy, Extispicium
ASPIDOMANCY: Divining by entering casting a circle and summoning an entity.
ASTRAGALOMANCY, ASTRAGYROMANCY: Divination through the sortilege of sheep bones (originally). Now commonly done with dice bearing numbers and letters.
ASTROLOGY, ASTROSOPHY: Divination by interpreting the movements of heavenly bodies, particularly the major planets.
AUGURY: Often used synonymously with divination to mean the interpretation of signs and omens. More accurately, it is divination based on the appearance or behavior of animals. Includes:
Zoomancy (any animal);
Haruspicy (interpreting animal entrails) is sometimes consider augury.
AUSTROMANCY: Divination by interpreting wind. A form of aeromancy.
AUTOGRAPHY, AUTOMATIC WRITING, AUTOMATIC SPEAKING: Spirit communication done unconsciously by an individual often in trance, obsession or possession states. Automatic communication has occurred with people in a fully conscious state without their awareness of the action and distinct personality and knowledge variants (e.g.: fluency in an ancient language) have been documented. Autography and Automatic Writing apply to written communication and are also known as Psychography. They are distinct from Direct Writing where a spirit writes directly without human or mechanical assistance. All forms are distinct from Psychomancy where the diviner summons the spirit consciously for communication.
AXINOMANCY, AXIOMANCY: Divination using an axe or hatchet. Both the handle and the blade are used in various forms.
BELOMANCY: Divination through interpreting arrows. This type of divination is expressly forbidden in the Koran. Also known as Bolomancy.
BIBLIOMANCY: Originally, the divination used to assess the guilt or innocence of a person accused of sorcery. The person was weighed against the great Bible in the Church and if the person weighed less than the bible they were deemed innocent. Today, bibliomancy refers to divination interpreting randomly chosen passages in books and is also called stichomancy. The most common form is opening a book to a random page to answer a question. The Bible is still the most frequently used book, although any book may be used. Using books by Virgil and Homer specifically is called stoichemancy. The variant of using a book of poetry is called rhapsodomancy.
BOLOMANCY: See Belomancy.
BOOK OF CHANGES, The: An ancient Chinese system of oracular divination that reveals patterns of subtle forces. The questioner is required to interpret the information provided through deep introspection and intuitive thought. The Book of Changes dates back to about 2852 B.C. Also known as I Ching.
BOOK OF THOTH: Tarot Cards.
BOTANOMANCY: A form of pyromancy, interpreting burned or burning tree branches and leaves. Originally the branches of brier and vervain were used and the question was carved into the branch. Often used today to refer to divination by the interpretation of plants.
CAPNOMANCY: Divination by interpreting smoke rising from a fire, especially sacred fires. A form of pyromancy.
CARROMANCY: Divination by interpreting melting wax (usually poured into cold water). Also called Ceromancy, Ceroscopy.
CARTOMANCY: Divination using modern playing cards. Some sources include Tarot and other Divination cards in this category.
CATOPTROMANCY, CATOXTROMANCY, CATTOBOMANCY: Divination by interpreting images in a reflective or transparent object such as a mirror, crystal globe or pool of water. The earliest recorded form of catoptromancy turned a mirror toward the moon to catch moonbeams. Also known as Crystallomancy, Crystalomancy, Dubjed, Enoptromancy, Scrying.
CAUSIMOMANCY, CAUSINOMANCY: Divination from observing the behavior or reactionof objects placed in a fire. It is a particularly good sign if combustible materials do not catch fire.
CEPHALOMANCY: Divination interpreting the skull or head of a donkey or goat. Also known as Kephalonomancy.
CERAUNOSCOPY: Divination by interpreting thunder and lightning. A form of Aeromancy.
CEROMANCY, CEROSCOPY: See Carromancy.
CHAOMANCY: Divination by interpreting aerial visions. A form of Aeromancy
CHARTOMANCY: Divination using writing paper.
CHEIROMANCY, CHIROGNOMY, CHIROLOGY, CHIROMANCY: Divination through analysis of hand shape, fingers, fingernails and the palms. According to legend, it is one of the oldest Witch skills, taught to mortals by Aradia, daughter of Lucifer and Diana. Also known as Palmistry.
CLAIRAUDIENCE: Divination through hearing the future. Clairaudience is often categorized under the broader heading of Clairvoyance.
CLAIRVOYANCE: Divination through seeing the future. Clairvoyance specifically refers to the visual image of future events, but other forms of "seeing" the future are commonly called clairvoyance including:
Metagnomy (induced through hypnotic trance);
Precognition (inner knowing); and
Psychometry (induced through contact with a physical object).
CLAIRVOYANT: See Ariolater.
CLEDOMANCY, CLEDONOMANCY: Divination by interpreting random events or statements.
CLEIDOMANCY: A form of radiesthesia (divination using a pendulum) using a suspended key as the pendulum. Also known as Clidomancy.
CLEROMANCY: Divination by sortilege with dice. It is sometimes used synonymously with Sortilege (divination by casting or drawing lots).
CLIDOMANCY: See Cleidomancy.
COSCINOMANCY, COSKIOMANCY: A form of radiesthesia (divination using a pendulum) using a sieve which was sometimes suspended from tongs or shears.
CRANIOSCOPY: Divination and character analysis by studying the shape and structure of the human skull. Also known as Phrenology.
CRITHOMANCY, CRITOMANCY: Divination byinterpreting food, usually cakes and breads, that are offered in sacrifice.
CROMNIOMANCY: Divination by interpreting onions or onion sprouts.
CRYSTAL BALL: A crystal sphere used for divination, especially for scrying. Also called a Showstone.
CRYSTALLOMANCY, CRYSTALOMANCY: See Catoptromancy. Scrying.
CURSED BREAD: See Alphitomancy.
CYCLOMANCY: Divination by interpreting revolving wheels.
DACTYLIOMANCY, DACTYLOMANCY: Divination using rings. Most frequently dactylomancy is done in the form of radiesthesia (divination using a pendulum) and the ring is suspended over various objects. One form uses rings of various metals placed on the fingernails in patterns in conjunction with the planets. Sources indicate it is often used for dowsing.
DAPHNOMANCY: Divination by interpreting a burning laurel branch. If the fire crackles it is a positive sign. A form of pyromancy.
DEMONOMANCY: Divination by evoking demons to reveal information.
DENDROMANCY: Divination interpreting trees, especially oak or mistletoe.
DERVISHING: The practice of whirling into a state of ecstasy. Sometimes cited as a form of Gyromancy (divination by interpreting the fall of a person who whirls until they are dizzy and fall down).
DIRECT WRITING: Term for a spirit writing without human or mechanical assistance. Distinct from Autography, Automatic Writing and Psychography which are done through human beings.
DIVINATION: The art of using magickal tools and symbols to gather information from the Collective unconscious on the nature of people. places, things, and events in the past, present and future. Also known as Dukkerin, Dukkering.
DIVINER: See Ariolater.
DIVINING ROD: A forked rod or branched which is used to for dowsing (locating things underground). Also known as Dowsing Rod.
DOWSING: Divination to find a person, place, thing or element in buried in the earth. Dowsing will often involve using a pendulum (radiesthesia) or divining rod (rhabdomancy).
DOWSING ROD: A forked rod or branched which is used to for dowsing (locating things underground). Also known as Divining Rod.
DUBJED: Tibetan term for Catoptromancy.
DUKKERIN, DUKKERING: Romany term for Divination.
ENOPTROMANCY: See Catoptromancy.
ENTOMANCY: Divination interpreting the appearance and behavior of insects. A form of augury.
EXTISPICIUM: (See Aruspicy) A tool used in the practice of exitispicium, exitispicy, aruspicy, haruspicy.
EXTISPICY: See Aruspicy.
FENG SHUI (Chinese, feng shui: "wind and water"): The ancient Chinese practice of studying and following the natural currents of the Earth to ensure the proper alignment with them so that Qi is not disrupted. Feng Shui is used to determine the suitability and layout of homes, businesses, burial grounds and temples.
FRACTOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the structure of fractal geometric patterns.
GASTROMANCY: Divination by interpreting the sounds or signs on the belly. Gastromancy is most frequently reported as a voice emanating from the belly and it has been dismissed by most occult investigators as a form of ventriloquism and trickery. An ancient description of another gastromancy technique described placing a child in front of a glass filled with water and illuminating the glass. Divination was done by interpreting the images in the glass.
GELOSCOPY: Divination by interpreting laughter.
GEMATRIA: A system of discovering truths and hidden meanings behind words, using numerical values for letters of the alphabet. Each letter corresponds to a number. The numerical values of words are totaled and interpreted in terms of other words with the same numerical value. Gematria dates back to the 8th century B.C. Babylon , and has been used by most mystics since that time including the Magi, Gnostics, and Quabbalists. Notarikon is a form of gematria in which the first and last letters of a word or phrase are put together to create a new word, or to turn a word into a phrase. Temurah is a form of gematria that creates anagrams through systematic letter substitutions. See also: Numerology.
GENETHIALOGY: Divination by interpreting the influence of the stars at birth to predict the future. A form of astrology.
GEOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the Element of Earth. Forms include scattering and throwing dirt, gravel or sand, interpreting lines or figures traced in earth, and observation of earth formations. Ley line interpretation and Feng Shui are forms of Geomancy.
GRAPHOLOGY: Divination and character analysis by interpreting handwriting.
GYROMANCY: Divination by walking or whirling in a circle until dizzy and interpreting the point of the person's fall. The circle used is often laid out with letters. Some sources include Dervishing (whirling into an ecstasy) as a form of gyromancy.
HALOMANCY: See Alomancy.
HAKATA: Bones, dice, seeds or shells used for divination.
HARUSPEX: See Ariolater.
HARUSPICY: See Aruspicy.
HEPATOMANCY, HEPATOSCOPY: Divination by examining the liver of an animal. A form of aruspicy (divination with animal entrails).
HIEROMANCY, HIEROSCOPY: Divination by interpreting sacrificial objects such as burnt offerings or slaughtered animals. Similar to aruspicy (interpretation of animal entrails).
HIPPOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the appearance and behavior of horses. A form of augury.
HOROSCOPE: An astrological chart for a specific person or group that charts and correlates the signs of the zodiac as they are crossed by the sun, moon and planets and the position of planets in the twelve astrological houses.
HOROSCOPY: Divination and character analysis by interpreting a horoscope
HYDATOSCOPY: Divination by interpreting rainwater. A form of Hydromancy.
HYDROMANCY: Divination by interpreting water including its color, ebb and flow, or ripples produced by pebbles dropped in a pool. Also known as Ydromancy.
I CHING: See the Book of Changes.
Divination interpreting the appearance and behavior of fish. A form of augury (divination by interpreting the appearance or behavior of animals);
Divination interpreting the entrails of fish. A form of aruspicy (divination by interpreting animal entrails).
IDOLOMANCY: Divination by interpreting idols, images or figures.
KEPHALONOMANCY: See Cephalomancy.
LAMPADOMANCY: Divination by interpreting a candle or lamp, usually the flame. A form of pyromancy.
LECANOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the sound or image of an object or substance falling into a body of water.
LESSER ARCANA: The 56 suit cards in a Tarot deck that assist in fleshing out the situations indicated by the Trump Cards (Major Arcana), or indicate smaller occurrences in our lives. Also known as the Minor Arcana.
LIBRANOMANCY: Divination by interpreting smoke from incense. A form of capnomancy. Also known as Livanomancy.
LITHOMANCY: Divination using precious or semiprecious stones either by interpreting light reflected from stones (crystallomancy, scrying) or casting them and interpreting the way they fall (sortilege).
LIVANOMANCY: See Libranomancy.
LOGARITHMANCY: Divination by interpreting logarithms.
LUNOMANCY: Divination by interpreting moonlight on a person's face dusted with silver. A form of Selenomancy.
LYCHNOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the flames of three candles. Similar to Lampodomancy.
MACHAROMANCY: Divination by interpreting knives or swords.
MAJOR ARCANA: The 22 Trump Cards depicting dominant occurrences in a Tarot deck.
MARGARITOMANCY: Divination using pearls and interpreting the light reflected or the way they fall. Similar to Lithomancy.
METAGNOMY: Divination by interpreting visions received in a trance state.
METEOROMANCY: Divination by interpreting falling stars (meteors). A form of aeromancy.
METOPOSCOPY: Divination and character analysis through interpreting facial lines and wrinkles, especially of the forehead.
MINOR ARCANA: See Lesser Arcana.
MOLEOSCOPY, MOLEOSOPHY: Divination and character assessment by interpreting moles on the body.
MOLYBDOMANCY: Divination by interpreting molten tin or lead.
MYOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the appearance and behavior of mice. A form of Augury.
MYRMOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the appearance and behavior of ants. A form of augury.
NECROMANCY: Divination through communication with ghosts or corpses. The spirits of the dead are sought for information because they are supposedly able to access information beyond that available to the living. Necromantic rites are not practiced in Witchcraft or Wicca. Necromancy differs from other forms of divination involving contact with spirits because it is specifically geared to summoning those spirits that are not existing in a "natural" state and therefore they are assumed to be unhappy and/or malicious.
NOTARIKON: A form of gematria in which the first and last letters of a word or phrase are put together to create a new word, or to turn a word into a phrase. Gematria is a system of discovering truths and hidden meanings behind words, using numerical values for letters of the alphabet. Each letter corresponds to a number. The numerical values of words are totaled and interpreted in terms of other words with the same numerical value. Gematria dates back to the 8th century B.C. Babylon , and has been used by most mystics since that time including the Magi, Gnostics, and Quabbalists. Temurah is a form of gematria that creates anagrams through systematic letter substitutions. See also: Numerology.
NUMEROLOGY, NUMEROMANCY: The system of magick and divination developed by Pythagoras. In numerology, all words, names and numbers may be reduced to single digits which correspond to certain occult characteristics that influence one’s life. Numerology is used to analyze a person’s character; assess weaknesses, strengths and natural gifts; predict one’s future and fate; determine the best place to live; and discover the best times to make decisions and take action. See also: Gematria.
OCULOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the eye.
OENOMANCY, OINOMANCY: Divination by interpreting wine.
OMEN: A sign, preferably found in nature, that foretells either good or bad events.
OMPHALOMANCY, OMPHILOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the navel (bellybutton). Originally omphalomancy involved counting the number of knots in the umbilical cord to predict how many more children a mother would have.
ONEIROMANCY, ONIROMANCY: Divination by interpreting dreams.
ONOMANCY, ONOMOMANCY, ONOMATOMANCY: Divination by interpreting names.
ONYCHOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the fingernails. The original form was to study the reflection of the sun in the nails of a young boy.
OOMANTIA: Divination by interpreting the shape, color, and patterns (when dyed) of an egg.
OOSCOPY: Divination by nurturing an egg and observing the hatching of a chick. Often used to determine the sex of an expected child.
OPHIOMANCY: Divination by observing the appearance and behavior of serpents. A form of augury.
ORACLE: A person who speaks directly to a Deity to divine or prophesize. Also known as Prophet, Theomancer. See Also: Ariolater, Aruspex, Clairvoyant, Diviner, Haruspex, Seer, Soothsayer.
ORNISCOPY, ORINITHOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the appearance and behavior of birds, especially their flight or song. A form of augury.
OUIJA, OUIJA BOARD (French, oui: "yes"; German, ja: "yes"): A divination tool with the alphabet and numbers laid out on a board. Also called a Spirit Board.
OVOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the yolk of an egg.
PALLOMANCY: Divination interpreting the movements of pendulum, often used in dowsing. Different forms of pallomancy include:
Cleidomancy (using a key);
Coscinomancy (using a sieve);
Dactylomancy (using a ring);
Also known as Radiesthesia.
PALMISTRY: See Cheiromancy.
PAPYROMANCY: Divination by interpreting folding paper.
PEDOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the footprint of a person, usually encased in clay. A form of podomancy (interpreting the feet).
PEGOMANCY: Divination by interpreting sacred pools, springs, wells or fountains. A form of Hydromancy and often used in conjunction with scrying.
PESSOMANCY: Divination by casting or drawing marked pebbles or beans. A form of Sortilege. Also known as Psephomancy.
PHRENOLOGY: See Cranioscopy.
PHYLLORHODOMANCY: Divination by interpreting rose petals. The original form involved slapping a rose petal against the palm of the hand and interpreting the sound made.
PHYSIOGNOMY: Divination and character analysis by interpreting the face. Similar to Metoposcopy (interpretation of facial lines).
PODOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the feet.
PRECOGNITION: An an inner knowledge or vision of future events, especially those that appear to be inevitable. Similar to Premonition (a vague image or sense of the event).
PREMONITION: A warning of an impending event, experienced as foreboding, anxiety and intuitive sense of dread. Premonitions tend to occur before disasters, accidents and deaths. Similar to Precognition (a clear image of the event).
PROPHECY: A prediction of future events, usually divinely inspired.
PROPHET: See Oracle.
PSEPHOMANCY: See Pessomancy.
PSYCHOGRAPHY: Spirit communication done unconsciously by an individual often in trance, obsession or possession states. Automatic communication has occurred with people in a fully conscious state without their awareness of the action and distinct personality and knowledge variants (e.g.: fluency in an ancient language) have been documented. Psychography is the term applied to written communication and is also known as Autography and Automatic Writing. Psychography is distinct from Direct Writing where a spirit writes directly without human or mechanical assistance. All forms are distinct from Psychomancy where the diviner consciously summons the spirit for communication.
PSYCHOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the soul of a person, their values, beliefs and morals. Also known as Soul Reading.
PSYCHOMETRY: Divination by interpreting an object to obtain information about its history and/or owner. Considered to be a form of clairvoyance and often used to locate missing persons or to assist in solving crime. The term was coined in the mid-nineteenth century by Joseph R. Buchanan, an American physiologist.
PYROMANCY: Divination by interpreting fires, flames or burning objects. There are many different forms of pyromancy including:
Botanomancy (burning branches and leaves);
Causinomancy (burning flammable objects);
Daphnomancy (burning a laurel branch);
Lampadomancy (lamps or candles);
Pyroscopy (burning paper);
Sideromancy (burning straw).
PYROSCOPY: Divination by interpreting burning paper. Originally, pyroscopy was the interpretation of the stains left on a light surface after burning paper, current practice includes observation of the paper as it burns. A form of pyromancy.
RADIESTHESIA: See Pallomancy.
RHABDOMANCY: Divination using a stick, wand or divining rod. Rhabdomancy is often used in dowsing.
RHAPSODOMANCY: Divination by interpreting randomly chosen passages in a book of Poetry. The most common form is opening a book to a random page to answer a question. The variant of using any book is called bibliomancy or stichomancy and using books by Virgil and Homer is called stoichemancy.
ROADOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the stars.
SCAPULOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the patterns, cracks and fissures of the burned shoulder blade of an animal. Sometimes considered to be a form of augury (divination by interpreting the appearance and behavior of animals). Also known as Spatulamancy
SCATOMANCY: Divination by interpreting excrement. A form of Spatalamancy (divination by interpreting skin, bones or excrement).
SCIAMANCY, SCIOMANCY: Divination by communication with spirits. Distinct from Necromancy in that the spirits are voluntary participants in the divination.
SCRYING: See Catoptromancy.
SEER: See Ariolater.
SELENOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the appearance and phase of the moon.
SHOWSTONE: See Crystal Ball.
SIDEROMANCY: Divination interpreting straw placed on a hot iron surface. A form of pyromancy (divination interpreting fire).
SKATHAROMANCY: Divination by interpreting the tracks of a beetle crawling over a grave, especially that of a murder victim. A form of augury (interpreting the appearance or behavior of animals).
SOOTHSAYER: See Ariolater.
SORTILEGE: Divination by casting or drawing lots. There are many types of sortilege including:
Astraglomancy (sheep bones);
Sometimes known as Cleromancy.
SOUL READING: See Psychomancy.
SPATALAMANCY: Divination by interpreting skin, bone or excrement.
SPATULAMANCY: See Scapulomancy.
SPIRIT BOARD: See Ouija.
SPLANCHOMANCY: See Anthropomancy.
SPODANOMANCY, SPODOMANCY: Divination by interpreting ashes, soot or cinders, usually from sacrificial fires or burnt offerings. Also known as Tephramancy, Tephromancy or Tuphramancy.
STAREOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the Elements.
STERNOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the area between the breast and belly (solar plexus).
STICHOMANCY: See Bibliomancy.
STOICHEMANCY: Divination by interpreting randomly chosen passages in books by Virgil and Homer. A form of Bibliomancy.
STOLISOMANCY: Divination by interpreting people's clothing and style.
SYCOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the response of a written question to moisture. Originally, questions were written on fig leaves, the slower the leaf dried out, the more favorable the prediction. Today, sycomancy is done with paper (observing the response to steam) or tree leaves (observing the drying time).
TAROT: Divination by interpreting a set of cards.
TAROLOGIST: A person who divines using Tarot cards.
TASSEOGRAPHY, TASSEOMANCY: Divination by interpreting tea leaves and coffee grounds.
TEMURAH: A form of gematria that creates anagrams through systematic letter substitutions. Gematria is a system of discovering truths and hidden meanings behind words, using numerical values for letters of the alphabet. Each letter corresponds to a number. The numerical values of words are totaled and interpreted in terms of other words with the same numerical value. Gematria dates back to the 8th century B.C. Babylon , and has been used by most mystics since that time including the Magi, Gnostics, and Quabbalists. Notarikon is a form of gematria in which the first and last letters of a word or phrase are put together to create a new word, or to turn a word into a phrase. See also: Numerology.
TEPHRAMANCY, TEPHROMANCY: See Spodanomancy.
THEOMANCY: Divination through direct contact with a Deity. Practitioners are usually referred to as Oracles, Prophets or Theomancers.
THEOMANCER: See Oracle.
THERIOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the movement of groups of animals (e.g.: flocks of geese, herds of cattle). A form of augury (divination by interpreting the appearance or behavior of animals).
TIROMANCY: Divination by interpreting the coagulation, especially holes, in cheese. Also known as Typomancy, Tyromancy.
TUPHRAMANCY: See Spodanomancy.
TYPOMANCY, TYROMANCY: See Tiromancy.
URIMANCY, UROMANCY: Divination by interpreting urine.
URIM V'TUMIM: Divination by interpreting the sacred stones attached to the breast plate of a ‘High Priest’.
XENOMANCY: Divination by interpreting meetings with strangers.
XYLOMANCY: Divination by interpreting kindling or other wood pieces that can be found ready for burning. Interpretations include where they are found, their shape and type or how they burn.
YDROMANCY: See Hydromancy.
ZOOMANCY: Divination by interpreting the appearance and behavior of animals. Synonymous with one of the definitions of augury.
ZYGOMANCY: Divination by using weights, the original form of Bibliomancy (being weighed against the Bible) is a form of zygomancy.
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