Oneiromancy is a form of divination based upon dreams. It is a system of dream interpretation that uses dreams to predict the future.

The word comes from the Oneiroi, the sons of Hypnos the Greek god of sleep. Usually such dream interpretation is of a prophetic nature as opposed to the modern psychological version whereby dreams are often seen as clues to the present state of the dreamer, as in the scientific field of oneirology.

The interpretation of dreams was particularly prevalent in ancient Egypt where the dreams of the Pharoah were given great prominence. Oneiromancy also occurs in the Christian bible, as when the Magi are told in a dream to avoid Herod on their journey home.

For many cultures in the past, oneiromancy was seen as a science rather than an art. The use of flexible imagery and artistic interpretation is similar to some of the modern psychological approaches to dreams such as Carl Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious and archetypes.


Oneiromancy is a form of divination based upon dreams. It is a system of dream interpretation that uses dreams to predict the future. Dream divination was a common feature of Greek and Roman religion and literature of all genres.

Oneirocritic literature is the traditional literary format of dream interpretation. Artemidorus was a professional diviner and author known for the five volume Greek work Oneirocritica. According to Artemidorus, the material for his work was gathered from diviners during lengthy travels through Greece, Italy and Asia.

Artemidorus writes that dream interpretation is nothing other than the juxtaposition of similarities, but like other types of Greek divination, including astrology, celestial divination and pallomancy, Oneiromancy became exceedingly complex, with a given dream subject to a number of interpretations.

Dreams occur throughout the Bible as omens or messages from God. Jacob dreamed of a ladder to heaven and his son Joseph dreamed of his future success and interpreted the dreams of the Pharaoh of Egypt. The Magi are told in a dream to avoid Herod on their journey home, and Joseph, husband of Mary, was directed to flee to Egypt.


A Ouija board is a flat board marked with letters, numbers, and other symbols, theoretically used to communicate with spirits. It uses a planchette or movable indicator to indicate the spirit’s message by spelling it out on the board during a seance. The fingers of the seance participants are placed on the planchette, which then moves about the board to spell out messages.

Users subconsciously direct the path of the triangle to produce a word that is in that person’s subconscious thought process. This subconscious behavior is known as ideomotor action, a term coined by William Carpenter in 1882. It is also known as automatism. Some people may be convinced that the powers of the ouija board are real because they are unaware that they are in fact moving the piece and therefore assume that the piece must be moving due to some other spiritual force.

The subconscious thought process may produce an answer that is different from what the user expected in their conscious thought process, thus perpetuating the idea that the board has mystical powers. One experiment was conducted using unbiased participants. Questions were asked of the late William Frawley with very strong answers. The participants were then blindfolded and the board was turned 180 degrees without their knowledge. With continued questioning, the planchette then traveled to bare areas of the board where the participants believed the Yes and No marks were located.

The first historical mention of a Ouija board is found in China around 1100 B.C., with a divination method known as fuji or planchette writing. Other sources claim that according to a Greek historical account of the philosopher Pythagoras, in 540 B.C. his sect would conduct seances at a mystic table, moving on wheels, moved towards signs, which the philosopher and his pupil, Philolaus, interpreted to the audience as being revelations supposedly from an unseen world.

There are several theories about the origin of the term Ouija. The Oxford English Dictionary states that the origin is unknown, but mentions three possibilities. According to one of these, the word is derived from the French oui and the German ja, both meaning yes. An alternative story suggests that the name was revealed to inventor Charles Kennard during a Ouija seance and was claimed to be an Ancient Egyptian word meaning good luck. It has also been suggested that the word was inspired by the name of the Moroccan city Oujda.



Scrying, also called crystal gazing, is a practice that involves seeing things psychically in a medium, usually for purposes of obtaining spiritual visions and more rarely for purposes of divination or fortune telling. The media used are most commonly reflective, translucent, or luminescent substances such as crystals, stones, glass, mirrors, water or smoke. Scrying has been used in many cultures as a means of divining the past, present, or future. Depending on the culture and practice, the visions that emerge when one stares into the media are thought to come from God, spirits, the psychic mind, or the subconscious.

A toy known as the Magic 8-Ball consists of a plastic ball filled with an inky solution that contains a buoyant icosahedron. Each face of the icosahedron has different answers printed that appear to the consulter through a small window when held upright.

Although scrying is most commonly done with a crystal ball, it may also be performed using any smooth surface, such as a bowl of liquid, a pond, a crystal, or, as expert scryers can, a thumbnail. Scrying is actively used by many cultures and belief systems and is not limited to one tradition or ideology. However, like other aspects of divination and parapsychology, it is not supported by mainstream science as a method of predicting the future or otherwise seeing events that are not physically observable.

The visions that scryers see may come from variations in the medium. If the medium is water, then the visions may come from the color or ripples produced by pebbles dropped in a pool. If the medium is a crystal ball, the visions may come from the tiny inclusions, web-like faults, or the cloudy glow within the ball under low light.

One method of scrying using a crystal ball involves a self induced trance. Initially, the medium serves as a focus for the attention, removing unwanted thoughts from the mind in the same way as a mantra. Once this stage is achieved, the scryer begins a free association with the perceived images suggested.

The technique of deliberately looking for and declaring these initial images aloud is done with the intent of deepening the trance state, wherein the scryer hears their own disassociated voice affirming what is seen within the concentrated state in a kind of feedback loop. This process culminates in the achievement of a final and desired end stage in which rich visual images and dramatic stories seem to be projected within the medium itself or directly within the mind’s eye of the scryer, like an inner movie.

Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism and the Latter Day Saint movement, said he used two stones called the Urim and Thummim, in his 1829 translation of the Book of Mormon. The Urim and Thummim is mentioned several times in the Old Testament. In Mormon theology it is an instrument prepared by God that assists man in obtaining revelation and in translating languages.

In J. R. R. Tolkien’s fictional universe of Middle Earth, the Palantír is a stone that allows seeing what any other Palantír sees, and the Mirror of Galadriel is used as a type of scrying device used to see visions of the past, present, or future.

In the television show Charmed the main characters use crystals suspended over maps to scry for people. This is different from other forms because it just shows location and not a picture, which leads many people to call this practice dowsing.


Nensha, better known to English speakers as thoughtography or projected thermography, is the ability to psychically “burn” images from one’s mind onto surfaces, or even into the minds of others. There are three well known individuals involved in thoughtography or the research of it.

Tomokichi Fukurai, an assistant professor of psychology at Tokyo University and a firm believer in the supernatural, took a woman named Ikuko Nagao under his wing. Unlike his previous failed experimentation with clairvoyant Chizuko Mifune earlier that year, Fukurai was determined to prove his claims as true and decided to work with Nagao’s skill, a talent he labeled nensha, or spirit photography. Unfortunately, Nagao’s efforts were labelled as fraudulent. However, Fukurai was undeterred, and worked with other nensha practitioners but found little success.

In 1913, Fukurai took on a subject that would advance his claims further, a woman named Sadako Takahashi. Takahashi, who claimed to have developed both clairvoyance and nensha through breathing and mental exercises, met Fukurai and soon was able to breathe life into his sagging studies. She was able to convince enough skeptics and later that year Fukurai published a book called Toshi to Nensha, later translated and published throughout the world as Clairvoyance and Thoughtography. Fukurai would later work with another nensha practitioner, Koichi Mita, who was said to create a thoughtograph of the dark side of the moon.

In the end, however, Fukurai’s theories never gained widespread popularity, and in 1919, he resigned his post at the university to continue his research. Before his death in 1952, Fukurai founded the Fukurai Institute of Psychology, an organization that studies the paranormal and still survives to this day.

In the 1960s, Chicago resident Ted Serios became notorious for the production of nensha on Polaroid film supposedly using only his psychic powers. His abilities were endorsed by Jule Eisenbud, a Denver based psychiatrist who wrote a book lauding Serios’ talents called The World of Ted Serios: “Thoughtographic” Studies of an Extraordinary Mind. Serios’ images, which often appeared surrounded by dark areas on the film, were often of typical postcard scenes. Serios was eventually only able to produce his photographs while holding a device to his forehead, which has been described as a small section of tubing fitted with a piece of photo squeegee.

As Eisenbud’s book readily admits, many of Serios’ thoughtographs were produced while Serios was drunk or drinking alcohol. According to Eisenbud, “Ted Serios exhibits a behavior pathology with many character disorders. He does not abide by the laws and customs of our society. He ignores social amenities and has been arrested many times. His psychopathic and sociopathic personality manifests itself in many other ways. He does not exhibit self control and will blubber, wail and bang his head on the floor when things are not going his way.”

In 1995, famed psychic Uri Geller began to perform nensha by using a 35mm camera upon which the lens cap would be left on. He would then take pictures of his forehead and have the pictures developed, to which Geller claimed that the images had come directly from his mind. Stage magician and skeptic James Randi immediately criticized the event, claiming fraud on Geller’s part. Randi states that Geller is using already exposed film in the camera, a charge Geller has consistently denied.

Professional photographer Nile Root was present at the March 1966 session where Serios claimed to have created thoughtographs and states that the small, handheld device Serios used was in many ways a miniaturized daguerreotype maker, creating the pictures in this manner. Furthermore, Root charges that Serios’ wild manner and actions may have been a distraction to insert the object into the device which would then expose the film. Root has since then given extensive details on how he believes the thoughtographs were created, as well as digital versions of the same.


Divination, from the Latin divinare to be inspired by a god, is the attempt of ascertaining information by interpretation of omens or an alleged supernatural agency, either by or on behalf of a querent.

If a distinction is to be made between divination and fortune telling, divination has a formal or ritual and often social character, usually in a religious context, while fortune telling is a more everyday practice for personal purposes. Divination is often dismissed by skeptics, including the scientific community, as being mere superstition.

Psychologist Julian Jaynes categorized divination according to four types.

1) Omens and omen texts: “The most primitive, clumsy, but enduring method is the simple recording of sequences of unusual or important events.” Chinese history offers scrupulously documented occurrences of strange births, the tracking of natural phenomena, and other data. Chinese governmental planning relied on this method of forecasting for long range strategy. It is not unreasonable to assume that modern scientific inquiry began with this kind of divination.

2) Sortilege, consisting of the casting of lots, or sortes, whether with sticks, stones, bones, beans, coins, or some other item. Modern playing cards and board games developed from this type of divination.

3) Augury, a form of divination that ranks a set of given possibilities. It can be qualitative, using shapes and proximities. For example, dowsing developed from this type of divination. The Romans in classical times used Etruscan methods of augury such as hepatoscopy, which examined the livers of sacrificed animals.

4) Spontaneous. An unconstrained form of divination, free from any particular medium, and actually a generalization of all types of divination. The answer comes from whatever object the diviner happens to see or hear. Some religions use a form of bibliomancy where they ask a question, riffle the pages of their holy book, and take as their answer the first passage their eyes light upon. Other forms of spontaneous divination include reading auras and New Age methods of Feng Shui such as intuitive and Fuzion.

In the 2nd century, Lucian devoted a witty essay to the career of a charlatan, Alexander the false prophet, trained by “one of those who advertise enchantments, miraculous incantations, charms for your love affairs, visitations for your enemies, disclosures of buried treasure, and successions to estates”. Though most Romans believed in dreams and charms, divination was considered a sin in most Christian denominations.


Dowsing, sometimes called doodlebugging, divining or water witching, is a practice that attempts to locate hidden water wells, buried metals, gemstones, or other objects as well as currents of earth radiation without the use of scientific apparatus. It has been in use since ancient times and is still widely practiced although the scientific evidence for its credibility is disputed.

Traditionally, the most common dowsing rod was a “Y” shaped branch from a tree or bush. Some dowsers prefer branches from particular trees. Many dowsers today use a pair of simple “L” shaped metal rods, and some use bent wire coat hangers. One rod is held in each hand, with the short part of the “L” held upright, and the long part pointing forward. Some dowsers claim best success with rods made of particular metals such as brass.

Pendulums such as a crystal or a metal weight suspended on a chain are sometimes used in divination and dowsing, particularly in remote dowsing. The person holding the pendulum aims to hold it as steadily as possible over the center. An interviewer may pose questions to the person holding the pendulum, and it swings by minute unconscious bodily movement in the direction of the answer. In the practice of radiesthesia, a pendulum is used for medical diagnosis.

Both skeptics of dowsing and many of dowsing’s supporters believe that dowsing apparatus have no special powers, but merely amplify small imperceptible movements of the hands arising from the expectations of the dowser. This psychological phenomenon is known as the idiomotor effect. Some supporters agree with this explanation, but maintain that the dowser has a subliminal sensitivity to the environment, perhaps via electroception, magnetoception, or telluric currents. Other dowsers say their powers are paranormal.

In a scientific study in Munich 500 dowsers were initially tested for their skill, and the experimenters selected the best 43 among them. On the ground floor of a two story barn, water was pumped through a pipe. Before each test, the pipe was moved in a direction perpendicular to the water flow. On the upper floor, each dowser was asked to determine the position of the pipe. Over two years, the 43 dowsers performed 843 tests, and of the 43 selected and extensively tested candidates, at least 37 of them showed no dowsing ability. The results from the remaining 6 were said to be better than chance, resulting in the conclusion that some dowsers showed an extraordinarily high rate of success, which can scarcely be explained as due to chance.

Recently, a study was undertaken in Kassel, Germany, under the direction of the Society for the Scientific Investigation of the Parasciences. The three day test of some 30 dowsers involved plastic pipes through which a large flow of water could be controlled and directed. The pipes were buried 50 centimeters under a level field. On the surface, the position of each pipe was marked with a colored stripe, so all the dowsers had to do was tell whether there was water running through the pipe. All the dowsers signed a statement agreeing this was a fair test of their abilities and that they expected a 100 percent success rate. However, the results were no better than what would have been expected by chance.

Some researchers have investigated possible physical or geophysical explanations for dowsing abilities. For example, Soviet geologists have made claims for the abilities of dowsers which are difficult to account for in terms of the reception of normal sensory cues. Some authors suggest that these abilities may be explained by postulating human sensitivity to small magnetic field gradient changes. One study concludes that dowsers respond to a 60 Hz electromagnetic field, but this response does not occur if the kidney area or head are shielded.


Geomancy is a method of divination that interprets markings on the ground, or how handfuls of soil, dirt or sand land when someone tosses them. In Africa one traditional form of geomancy consists of throwing handfuls of dirt in the air and observing how the dirt falls. It can also involve a mouse as the agent of the earth spirit. In China, the diviner may enter a trance and make markings on the ground that are interpreted by an associate, often a young boy.

In Korea, this tradition was popularized in the ninth century by the Buddhist monk Toson. In Korea, Geomancy takes the form of interpreting the topography of the land to determine future events and or the strength of a dynasty or particular family. Therefore, not only were location and land forms important, but the topography could shift causing disfavor and the need to relocate. The idea is still accepted in many South East Asian societies today, although with reduced force.

Geomancy in western tradition requires no instruments and no calculations; it is based solely on the human propensity for pattern recognition. Modern methods of geomancy include, in addition to the traditional pen and paper or sand methods, using geomancy cards, random number generators, or thrown objects.

Diviners in medieval Europe used parchment or paper for drawing the dots of geomancy but they followed the traditional direction of notation, right to left, for recording the dots. Western occultism still defines geomantic technique as marking sixteen lines of points in sand or soil with a wand or on a sheet of paper. The geomancer counts the number of points made in each line and produces either a single dot for an odd number of points, or two dots for an even number, for each line. The pattern of dots produced by the first to fourth lines are known as a figure.

Those four derived figures are entered into two charts, known as the Shield and House charts, and through binary processes form the seed of the figures that fill the whole charts. The charts are subsequently analyzed and interpreted by the geomancer to find solutions, options, and responses to the problem quesited, along with general information about the querent, providing an all-round reading into the querent’s life.

This form of geomancy is easy to learn and easy to perform. Once practiced by commoners and rulers alike, it was one of the most popular forms of divination throughout Classical antiquity and the Middle Ages. Books and treatises on geomancy were published up until the 17th century, when the geomancy generally stopped being practiced.

Mathematician Ron Eglash, while studying fractal structures in African culture, identified a binary recursive process that used self similarity to create a random number generator from an initial set of lines that a geomancer draws on the ground. This technique was brought to Europe by way of North African Islamic mystics. It is very likely that these mystics had previously obtained the approach from traditional African societies by way of interactions between the West African and North African trade.

Unlike the practices in many other regions such as the Middle East and China, which utilized base 10 numeric systems, the base 2 system utilized in geomancy had long been widely applied in sub-Saharan Africa. Partly inspired by the geomantic technique, Gottfried Leibniz, a German mathematician, developed the binary code theory, which later was the base for boolean algebra in modern computers, although it should be noted that certain boolean systems such as that used by SQL are in fact based upon three-valued logic.


The tarot is a set of seventy eight cards, comprising twenty one trump cards, one fool, and four suits of fourteen cards each, ten pip and four face cards. Originally developed as playing cards in 14th century Europe, the tarot evolved into a deck of cards specifically utilized for games similar to bridge.

In English speaking countries, where the games are largely unknown, Tarot cards are utilized primarily for divinatory purposes, with the trump cards plus the Fool card comprising the twenty two major arcana cards and the pip and four face cards the fifty six minor arcana.

Tarot reading revolves around the belief that the cards can be used to gain insight into the current and possible future situations of the subject. Some believe they are guided by a spiritual force while others believe the cards help them tap into a collective unconscious or their own creative, brainstorming subconscious.

Each card has a variety of symbolic meanings that have evolved over the years. Custom or themed tarot decks exist which have even more specific symbolism, although these are more prevalent in the English speaking world. The minor arcana cards have astrological attributions that can be used as general indicators of timing in the year, based on the Octavian calendar, and the court cards may signify different people in a tarot reading, with each suit’s nature providing hints about that person’s physical and emotional characteristics.

In the past, many occult oriented authors claimed that the symbolism’s origins are lost in time and postulated or claimed as fact non historical theories. Some authors such as Rachel Pollack have written that tarot origin myths have their own significance and value and that the reader can find a study of such myths enriching while at the same time being aware that they aren’t factually true.

Interpretations have evolved together with the cards over the centuries. Recent decks have clarified the pictures in accordance with meanings assigned to the cards by their creators. Images and interpretations have been continually reshaped, in part to help the Tarot live up to its mythic role as a powerful occult instrument and to respond to modern needs.

To perform a Tarot reading, the Tarot deck is typically shuffled by either the subject or a third party reader, and is laid out in one of a variety of patterns, often called spreads. They are then interpreted by the reader or a third party performing the reading for the subject. These might include the subject’s thoughts and desires or past, present, and future events.

Generally, each position in the spread is assigned a number, and the cards are turned over in that sequence, with each card being contemplated and interpreted before moving to the next. Each position is also associated with an interpretation, which indicates what aspect of the question the card in that position is referring to. Sometimes, rather than being dealt randomly, the initial card in a spread is intentionally chosen to represent the querent or the question being asked. This card is called the significator.

Some methods of interpreting the tarot consider cards to have different meanings depending on whether they appear upright or reversed. A reversed card is often interpreted to mean the opposite of its upright meaning. For instance, the Sun card upright may be associated with satisfaction, gratitude, health, happiness, strength, inspiration, and liberation, while in reverse it may be interpreted to mean a lack of confidence and mild unhappiness. Some card readers will interpret a reversed card as either a more intense variation of the upright card, an undeveloped trait or an issue that requires greater attention.

Carl Jung was the first psychologist to attach importance to tarot symbolism. He may have regarded the tarot cards as representing archetypes or fundamental types of persons or situations embedded in the subconscious of all human beings. The theory of archetypes gives rise to several psychological uses. Since the cards represent these different archetypes within each individual, ideas of the subject’s self perception can be gained by asking them to select a card that they identify with. Equally, the subject can try to clarify the situation by imagining it in terms of the archetypal ideas associated with each card.

More recently Timothy Leary suggested that the Tarot Trump cards are a pictorial representation of human development from a baby to a fully grown adult, The Fool symbolising the new born infant, The Magician symbolising the stage at which an infant starts to play with artifacts, etc. In addition to this, the Tarot Trumps were surmised to be a blue print for of the human race in the future.