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Throwingbones: the secrets of astragalomancy

  Written by Alison


Divination with the help of knuckles exists since prehistoric times. This practice is called astragalomancy. It dates back to antiquity. In our days we use dice for practicing this divination art, but in the ancient times we used bones, stones, flat sticks or shells. People used to throw these objects and then they could determine if the future was to be happy or not. Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used little bones named astragalus. They looked similar to plastic knuckles that we still play with nowadays. People employed a lamb metatarsus or metacarpus, as these bones had a cubical shape and so were easy to throw.

African sorcerers still use marked bones for making predictions. They have retained their ancient beliefs. Astragalomancy is the most ancient clairvoyance method. Like most methods, bone throwing is based on hazard. Hazard is of high importance in clairvoyance; man doesn't consider it as chaos but rather like an event desired by a superior will. These spirits manipulate the bones cast by the man for predicting the future. At the cradle of astragalomancy people cast bones and interpreted their position. In Senegal and other African countries bones were thrown on a grid where cardinal points were indicated. Bones were then replaced with knuckles, especially in Greece, Rome and Egypt. Then appeared numbered dice which allowed to obtain a better interpretation of predictions. Numbers were compared to letters; since this very moment clairvoyance has become a kind of numerology. The roots of numerology originate from astragalomancy, when people started making predictions with the help of dice.

If people had no dice they wrote the numbers on knuckles. This enabled them to interpret divine messages. Number 1 represented the letter A. Number 2 the letter E. Number 3 corresponded to I. Number 4 to O. Number 5 to U. Number 6 to B, P and V. Number 7 to C, K and Q. Number 8 to D and T. Number 9 to F, S, X and Z. Number 10 to G and J. Number 11 to L, M and N. Number 12 to R.

This way the letters were assembled to translate predictions.

By virtue of divination arts an individual will make a better choice in life. Like all the other divination arts, astragalomancie requires concentration. All attention has to be focused on the question one wishes to ask. Without this attention the oracle will not be able to respond in a proper way.

If you are interested in this art you will perhaps come across the word Cleromancy, this is exactly the same as astragalomancy. These two terms are synonyms. The interpretation method varies depending on the person, however the result remains unchanged. It is based on the result obtained after casting the dice that interpretation can be started.

The tarot has nowadays replaced this divination art. Very few people still use it. Cards are in fact more precise and allow better interpretation. Casting dice has now become a game more than a divination. Little by little the ludic side has become dominant. Nevertheless, dice are part of the most ancient games in the world.

On the other hand, in Africa or in some islands it is rather common to see clairvoyants who still employ shells, nuts or knuckles for predicting the future. Certain customs are transmitted from generation to generation. Africa has maintained very strong links with its past, in Senegal for instance this kind of sorcerers can still be seen. The result is surprising at times, well at ease with these methods they sense things and can predict the future or answer our questions without too much effort.

Clairvoyance is a gift; astragalomancy is an instrument that allows transmitting messages received from beyond.

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