8947Green magick herbal divination
- Mar 21, 2011Green Magic - Herbal Divination
from Herbal Magick
A Witch's Guide to Herbal
Folklore and Enchantments
by Gerina Dunwich
The art and practice of divination by herbs is one of the
oldest methods of prognostication known to mankind. Its formal
name is botanomancy, which is derived from the Greek
word botane, meaning "herb."
Phyllomancy is a type of divination closely related to
botanomancy. Diviners who employ this method typically
interpret the patterns of veins on leaves to gain insight to future
events or to reveal things of the unknown.
Causimomancy is another variation of botanomancy. It
draws omens from the ashes produced by the burning of plants
and trees. Deriving its name from the Greek word kaustos (meaning
"burned"), this method of divination also draws omens
from the rate at which a plant placed in a fire burns. Traditionally,
if a plant smoldered and burned slowly or failed to
burn altogether, this was taken as a bad omen. But if it burned
rapidly, the omen was good.
Causimomancy has several variants, including capnomancy
(the drawing of omens from the various patterns of smoke
generated by the burning of flammable botanical material),
crithomancy (the interpretation of grain and flour),
daphnomancy (the drawing of omens from the smoke and
sounds produced by burning laurel wood or leaves), and
libanomancy (the divinatory interpretation of incense smoke).
The art and practice of capnomancy is said to have originated
in the mysterious land of Babylonia, where it was carried
out at certain times of the year when the positions of the
planets were most favorable for prognostication. Cedar branches
or shavings would be placed upon hot coals or cast into a fire
and then priests skilled in the reading of omens would carefully
interpret their smoke.
The Druids were said to have believed in and worshipped
the spirits of trees and plants, particularly the oak, vervain,
and mistletoe. Herbal divination (in addition to rune casting,
geomancy, animal prognostication, and other methods) was a
practice at which they were highly adept, and many of their
divinatory rites were held within the sacred space of oak groves.
The type of herbal divination most commonly employed
by the priestly caste of the ancient Celts was a form of
capnomancy known as dendromancy. It called for oak branches
or mistletoe plants to be ritually cut with a golden sickle and
then cast into a blazing fire or set upon live coals. The color
and direction of the smoke generated by the burning plant
would then be carefully interpreted.
Typically, smoke that rose straight up to the heavens was
interpreted as being a favorable omen for the tribe. However,
smoke that hung close to the altar was seen as not so favorable.
And if it touched the earth, this was believed to be a warning
from the spirits or the gods that a new direction or course of
action be taken at once.
The early Romans and Greeks, who utilized the divinatory
methods of daphnomancy and phyllorhodomancy, respectively,
also practiced herbal divination. The art and practice of
daphnomancy is believed to have been devised by the augurs of
pre-Christian Rome and connected to a sacred grove of laurel
trees planted there by various Roman emperors. In the year
68 A.D., the entire grove mysteriously withered and died, as if
to portend the death of the Emperor Nero and the demise of the
long line of Caesars, which occurred shortly after during that
same year. Daphnomancy takes its name from the fabled Greek
nymph Daphne, whom the gods changed into a laurel tree.
Libanomancy is a divinatory practice that can be traced
back to the magicians of ancient Babylonia. According to the
Three Collated Libanomancy Texts (translated by Irving L.
Finkel), if when you sprinkle incense upon a fire and its smoke
drifts to the right, this is an indication that you will prevail
over your adversary. However, if the incense smoke drifts to
the left, this means that your adversary will prevail over you. If
incense smoke clusters, this is a favorable omen of success and
financial gain. But if it is fragmented, a financial loss is portended.
Beware of incense smoke that "gathers like a datepalm
and is thin at its base," for this is a sign of hard times to
come. If the rising smoke of incense is cleft (in two), this is
said to foretell a loss of one's sanity.
In Greece, divination by observing the leaves and petals of
roses (phyllorhodomancy) was a popular method of foretelling
future events. Rosa gallica (more commonly known in
modern times as autumn damask) is believed by many occult
historians to have been the flower of choice among the diviners
of ancient Greece.
A rose petal with a concave form would first be selected, a
yes-or-no question asked, and then a state of meditation entered
into. Afterwards, the diviner would place the rose petal
in the palm of his or her right hand and then firmly clap both
hands together one time. If the petal burst, this indicated an
affirmative answer. But if it failed to burst, this was interpreted
as a negative reply.
Forecasting the future or gaining answers to questions by
interpreting the various sounds produced by the rose petal
during the clapping of one's hands is but one of the many
variations of phyllorhodomancy.
Herbal divination continues to be practiced in our modern
day and age, and in a variety of ways. The plucking of a
daisy's petals to determine the true feelings of one's beloved,
the picking of a four-leaf clover to attain good luck or to make
a wish come true, and counting the number of breaths needed
to blow all the fuzzy seeds off a dandelion's stalk to determine
how many years will pass before one's wedding day arrives, are
all examples of botanomancy in its simplest (and most popular)
Cherry Tree Divination
If you desire to know the number of years you will live,
perform the following divination on Midsummer Eve: Run
three times clockwise around a cherry tree full of ripe fruit and
then shake the tree with all your might as you repeat the following
Cherry tree, I shaketh thee,
Cherry tree, pray tell thou me
How many years am I to live?
By fallen fruit thy answer give.
At the precise moment that you utter the last word of the
rhyme, remove your hands from the tree. Count the number
of cherries that have fallen to the ground while shaking the
tree, and they will reveal to you what age you will live to be.
Some diviners interpret the number of fallen cherries as an
indication of how many more years one has to live.
Divination to Determine
Number of Children
To discover the total number of children you will have in
your lifetime, perform this old Scottish method of divination:
Go alone into a field of oats at the witching hour on Halloween.
With your eyes tightly closed or your vision obscured by
a blindfold, spin yourself three times around in a clockwise
fashion and then reach out and randomly pull three stalks of
oats. After doing this, open your eyes and count the number
of grains there are upon the third stalk. This will tell you the
number of children that you will father or give birth to.
According to W. Grant Stewart's 19th-century book, Highlanders
of Scotland, "It may be observed, that it is essential to a
female's good name that her stalk should have the top-grain
attached to it." Should the top of the stalk be missing, this is
taken as a sign that the woman will lose her virginity prior to
her wedding day.
If you desire to know what fate has in store
for you and your fiancée, perform the following
divination on a night of the full moon:
Take two acorns and mark your initials upon
one, and your fiancée's initials upon the other.
Place the acorns three inches apart from each
other in a cauldron filled with water and then carefully observe
If they drift towards each other, this is a sure sign that a
wedding is in the offing. However, if they drift away from each
other, this indicates that you and your fiancée shall part company
before your wedding bells ring. If the acorns remain stationary,
repeat the divination again at a later time.
Ribwort Marriage Divination
On the eve of Johnsmas (June 25th) or when the moon is
full, uproot a ribwort and then place it beneath a flat stone.
Allow it to remain there all night, and then carefully examine
the root in the morning. If you are destined to wed within the
next 12 months, the initials of your future husband or wife
will be found upon the plant's root. In England, where many
of the love and marriage divinations used by modern Witches
and diviners originated, it is traditional for females to divine
using the dark variety of the plant, and males with the light.
Sage Marriage Divination
At the witching hour on Halloween, go alone into a garden
and, without uttering a single word, pick 12 sage leavesÃ¢â‚¬â€�
one at each stroke of the clock. As you pick the 12th leaf at the
12th stroke, the face of your future husband will materialize
If a man's face does not appear to you, this indicates that
you will not marry within the next 12 months. (Do not repeat
this divination until the following Halloween; otherwise you
will invite bad luck!) If a vision of a coffin should appear to
you while you are performing this divination, this is said to be
an omen of an early death.
Bay Leaf Divinations for Lovers
The following method of divination, when performed on
Saint John's Eve, is designed to determine whether or not your
lover has been faithful to you: Just before bedtime, take a bay
leaf and prick your lover's name or initials upon it with a pin.
After doing this, pin the leaf to your brassiere or nightgown so
that it will be in place over your heart as you sleep. When you
wake up, check the leaf to see if it has turned brown. If it has,
this is a sure sign that your beloved has been true to you. But
if the leaf is the same color as it was the night before, this is an
sign that your lover has (or soon will) deceive you.
To find out if your sweetheart will marry you, prick his or
her name or initials upon a bay leaf. Place the leaf inside your
left shoe and wear it throughout the day. Allow the leaf to remain
in the shoe overnight, and then observe the leaf in the
morning. If the name or initials have become darker, this is a
sign that your sweetheart will marry you. But if they have grown
fainter (or have vanished), this indicates that he or she will not.
To experience a prophetic dream in which the identity of
your future husband or wife is revealed to you, pin a bay leaf
to your pillow on the eve of Saint Valentine's Day just before
going to bed.
The following is a Saint Valentine's Eve love divination
from the 18th century work, Aristotle's Last Legacy: "Take two
Bay-leaves, sprinkle them with Rose-water; the Evening of this
day, lay them a cross under your Pillow when you go to bed,
putting on a clean Shift and turning it wrong side outwards;
and lying down, say: `Good Valentine be kind to me, In dreams
let me my true Love see.' So crossing your Legs, and go to
sleepÃ¢â‚¬Â¦you will see in a Dream the Party you are to Marry."
Apple Peel Divination
To determine the first letter of your future spouse's last
name, peel an apple in one unbroken strip. By the light of an
enchanted pink candle, take the paring in your right hand
and recite the following charm three times:
May thee reveal
My true love's initials
By shape of this peel.
Turn around thrice and then cast the paring over your left
shoulder. If it falls in the shape of an alphabetical letter, this
will indicate the initial of your future husband or wife's surname.
However, if the apple peel should break upon hitting
the floor or ground, this portends that you will never wed.
Pick a two-leaved clover and place it inside your right shoe.
If you are a woman, the first young man you encounter will
possess the same first name or initials as the man destined to
be your future husband. If you are a man, the first name or
initials of your future bride will be revealed by the name of the
first young lady you encounter.
Divination by Dreams
If an unmarried woman wishes to dream about the man
destined to be her future husband, let her sleep with any of
the following herbs beneath her pillow: nine ivy leaves; a sprig
of mistletoe taken from a church; or a sprig of myrtle that she
has worn in her bosom throughout the day.
Holly Dream Divination
To have a dream about the man or woman destined to be
your future husband or wife, perform the following divination
on a Friday at the witching hour: Without speaking a single
word and taking great care not to be seen, go into a garden
and pluck nine leaves from a female (smooth-edged) holly plant.
After doing this, knot each leaf into a three-cornered handkerchief.
Return home and place the handkerchief beneath your
pillow before laying yourself down to sleep.
Myrtle Marriage Divination
If a young woman wishes to find out whether or not her
sweetheart will marry her, according to Sidney Oldall Addy's
Household Tales, the following divination should be performed
on the Eve of the Summer Solstice (Midsummer Eve): "Let a
girl take a sprig of myrtle and lay it in her Prayer Book upon
the words of the marriage service, `Wilt thou have this man to
be thy wedded husband?' Then let her close the book, put it
under her pillow, and sleep upon it." If the sprig of myrtle is
nowhere to be found when she wakes the following morning
and opens the book, this is said to be a sure sign that she and
her sweetheart will soon be joined together in holy matrimony.
Yarrow Love Divinations
To experience a dream about the man or woman destined
to be your future marriage mate, pluck 10 stalks of yarrow on
Beltane Eve (April 30th), or on a night when the moon is new.
Before going to bed, place nine of the stalks beneath your
pillow and toss the remaining one over your left shoulder while
repeating the following charm:
Good night, good night, fair yarrow,
Thrice good night to thee.
I pray before the dawn tomorrow
My true love to see.
A similar divinatory method from centuries gone by called
for an ounce of yarrow to be sewn up in a piece of flannel or
stuffed into a stocking and then placed beneath one's pillow
before going to bed. The following spoken charm (or one of its
many variations) would then be recited three times:
"Thou pretty herb of Venus' tree,
Thy true name it is yarrow.
Now who my future love must be,
Pray tell thou me tomorrow."
A rather unusual yarrow love divination practiced in England
in the Middle Ages instructed young ladies and gentlemen alike
to insert a serrated leaf of the yarrow plant into each of their
nostrils while reciting a spoken charm. If a nosebleed resulted
upon blowing the nose, this was taken as a sure sign that the
affections of one's sweetheart were true. However, if the nose
did not bleed, this indicated that the love was false.
Rose Dream Divination
Perform the following divination on Midsummer Eve,
when the clock chimes 12 to usher in the witching hour: Without
uttering a single word, walk backwards into a garden and
gather the reddest rose in full bloom. Wrap it in a clean sheet
of white paper, and then tuck it away in some secret hiding
place where it will be undisturbed.
At sunrise on the day of the old Winter Solstice (December
25th), remove the rose from the paper and place the flower
on your bosom. According to legend, the man who is destined
to become your husband will then come and snatch it away.
Saint Agnes' Day Divination
Aristotle's Last Legacy (first published in the year 1711)
contains a rather interesting divinatory ritual to enable a man
or woman to dream about his or her future marriage mate: On
Saint Agnes' Day (a time long associated with love divinations
and amatory enchantments) , take one sprig each of rosemary
and thyme, and "sprinkle them with urine thrice." Put one
sprig in your left shoe and the other in your right (it matters
not which sprig goes in which shoe), and then place your shoes
on each side of your bed's head. As you lay yourself down to
sleep, recite thrice the following incantation:
"Saint Agnes that's to lovers kind,
Come ease the trouble of my mind."
Hemp Seed Divination
To determine whom their future husbands will be, many
young women throughout Europe have used the seeds of the
hemp plant in a divinatory ritual that is centuries old. Traditionally
performed at the witching hour on either Midsummer
Eve or Christmas Eve, hemp divinations (if worked
correctly) are said to make the image of one's future husband
One such method calls for an unmarried girl to walk alone
through a garden, field, or churchyard while tossing hemp
seeds over her right shoulder and nine times reciting the following
"Hemp seed I sow,
And hemp seed I hoe,
And he to be my one true love,
Come follow me, I trow."
A similar version of the hemp seed rhyme is as follows:
"I sow hemp seed,
Hemp seed I sow,
He that is to be my husband,
Come after me and mow,
Not in his best or Sunday array,
But in the clothes he wears every day."
After repeating the rhyme for the ninth time, the girl is
then supposed to see a materialization of her husband-to-be
standing behind her with a scythe, looking "as substantial as a
brass image of Saturn on an old time-piece," according to
William Hone's The Year Book (1831). However, she must look
at him over her left shoulder, otherwise his image will not be
visible to her.
Should the girl be destined for a life of spinsterhood (or at
least for the next 12 months, according to some traditions),
she will not see the image of a man behind her. Instead, she is
likely to hear the sound of a bell either chiming softly or ringing
In the rare event that she should gaze over her left shoulder
and see a coffin, this is said to be an omen of an early death
for the girl.
Holly Weather Divination
To determine what sort of winter weather lies ahead, according
to an old and popular method of divination from New
England, examine the number of
berries growing on a holly tree. If
there are many, this is a sign that
inclement weather is in the offing.
But if there are few or none, this
indicates that the weather will be mild.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]