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What is Pyromancy?

The word pyromancy derives from the Greek 'pyros', meaning fire, and 'manteia', which means divination.  It is the art of divination by means of fire.  It is reputed that in ancient Greek society, virgins at the Temple of Athena in Athens (being responsible for making predictions) regularly practiced pyromancy by observing the perpetually burning fire there.

Ancient societies divined not only by observing sacrificial fires, but also the flames of torches or candles.  In sacrificial pyromancy, the outlook was good when the flame burned profusely to consume the sacrifice quickly, but if it was slow, it normally foretold of evil.

When divining by torches, if the flame formed a single point it was deemed to be a good omen, bad if it split into two, while three was considered an even luckier omen then one.  If the flame flickered, i.e. it was bent, this was taken to foretell sickness for the healthy, and death for those unfortunate enough to be already sick.  Its sudden extinction was said to predict the coming of an awesome disaster or catastrophe.

Different Methods of Pyromancy

The most basic form of pyromancy is that in which flames from a sacrificial fire, a candle, or some other source are observed, from which the diviner interprets the shapes that he or she sees within them.  There are many variations of pyromancy, some of which are listed below:

  • Alomancy – This is divination which involves throwing salt into a fire.
  • Botanomancy – This is divination by burning flora.
  • Capnomancy – This is divination by smoke.
  • Causinomancy – This is divination by burning - non-specific as to the object burned.
  • Daphnomancy – This is divination burning laurel leaves.
  • Osteomancy – This is divination using bones.
  • Plastromancy – This is divination using the under part of turtle or tortoise shells.
  • Scapulimancy – This is divination by scapulae (shoulder blades).
  • Sideromancy – This is divination by burning straw.

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