The Methods of Divination by pagans, witches, sages, alchemists, wizards, shamans, medicine men and women from time immemorial; were practiced open and freely by every culture around the world.
The Dark Ages and the fall of Rome
Then came the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 AD, and thus began the “Dark Ages” also known as the “Middle Ages” or “Medieval Times”. For the next 1,000 years found the decline in morals, unemployment for the first time in many countries, corruption on every level of government and from the public, the cost of living through inflation, metropolitan degeneration from over-taxation, and an enormous upsurge in military expenditure.
It was a powder keg ready to blow.
The Dark Ages lasted until 1453 AD. In November of 1095 AD in Southern France, at the Council of Clermont; the Pope declared holy war on the Muslims controlling the Holy Land. He called to arms all the Christians of the west to support the Byzantines in recapturing what was thought to be rightfully theirs. This was the beginning of the 7 Crusades to follow and ravish the land.
Divination Practices of the Renaissance
The Renaissance Age was from 1300 – 1600, which began in the last 100 years of the Dark Ages, it was a zealous time of rapid growth in European culture. It was the most creative time in art, music, politics, theatre, philosophy, and literature. The Renaissance saw the dawning of modern science and medicine.
The Catholic Church had lost control since the fall of Rome and the first of the Crusades. Then in 1545 the Council of Trent formed, defined and started the Roman Inquisition. The made Humanism, individualism, and any practices or world views that challenged or defied the doctrine of the Catholic Church heresy, and these charges punishable by death.
Divination Methods condemned by the Inquisition
The Church was determined to destroy pagan practices, rituals, and beliefs, as they believed them to be acts of the devil. The Inquisition defined Renaissance magic as evil and named the forbidden practices to come to be known as “the seven forbidden arts”. Johannes Hartlieb in 1456, explained and described these seven divination practices as “artes magicae”- the magic arts, or “artes prohibitae” -Prohibited Arts, and now by canon law, became held a charge of heresy as well, and also punishable by death.
The Witch Trials – magic and divination move to the shadows
The witch trials began. (not to be confused with the Salem witch trials that took place hundreds of years later) During this time tens of thousands to speculated hundreds of thousands of “witches” were prosecuted, tried and executed. The arts of divination recessed to the shadows and eventually disappeared from the mainstream. This was the death of “the old ways”. What were the seven forbidden divination methods?
The “seven forbidden arts”, of Renaissance magic were as follows:
Geomancy – sand, stone or dirt divination through casting it on the ground to be read. This was one of the most widespread and popular forms of divinatory magic during this time period. It was a popular method for travelers to find which way there were supposed to go if a fork in the road should appear.
Pyromancy – is a method of divination from meditating on signs and patterns in flames. In many methods, there are different materials that are thrown into the fire to invoke visions. It was thought to be used by priests performing fire sacrifices to predict omens of future events.
Necromancy –communication with spirits passed on, or summoning spirits to assist in magical work, or the method of raising of the dead.
Chiromancy -divination by palm reading based on the lines in one’s hand and the reader’s intuition on symbols seen within the patterns in the hand. This method was based a lot on astrology patterns found among the planets and stars.
Hydromancy – was a method of water divination. Water was the primary medium for scrying that the practitioner would peer into and meditate to see images of the future within the darkened pool. It was considered witchcraft in medieval Europe, but in the lands of its origin, Babylonia it was still popularly used.
Spatulamancy – bone divination using scapula of an animal. The scapula would be heated on hot coals until it broke, and the pieces read by how it was broken. This method of divination was used to read the future.
Aeromancy – the divination of cloud reading or tossing sand, seeds or dirt into the air and interpreting the patterns in the dust clouds they produce, or the forms seen in the settling dust on the ground.
By the early 17th century, the Renaissance movement had died out, giving way to the Age of Enlightenment and within a few hundred years, came the return of Magic and Divination to the mainstream once more.