The Divination Method of Cyclomancy

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What is Cyclomancy?

Cyclomancy is defined as the art of divination by the use of revolving, spinning or turning objects such as a wheel or top. Cyclomancy is derived from the Greek “kyklos” meaning a circle, and the Latin word ‘Cyclomantia’. The most popular method of Cyclomancy Divination is “wheel of fortune” that dates back several hundred years and has survived even today as a Television game show.

The History Cyclomancy

Going back to the beginning of recorded time, the ancients have used one form or other of Cyclomancy for everything from choosing which path to take at a fork in the road, predicting the future, to yes/no divination.  Even in modern times, Cyclomancy is used by some court systems to choose a jury panel by choosing names listed on a jury wheel. Carnivals and county fairs all contain at least a few so-called ‘wheels of fortune’ spun to determine a prize-winning number. The practice of Cyclomancy could very well have been the inspiration for the roulette wheel.

Games have been played using tops with symbols on them and spun to see what it lands on, such as a dreidel – an ancient Hebrew top with symbols on it that was used to play games.  Although it wasn’t openly used for divination, it did have its place in history as a method of cyclomancy, sort of. When the Greeks outlawed the Torah, as the legend goes, the Jews outsmarted them by gathering to play with their dreidels, while the game went on, they would learn the Torah orally.  If the Greek army was to raid their gathering, they would find a gambling game going on and leave them be.   

Cyclomancy Methods used in Divination

Tops were used a Divination method by marking out a board, sheet or surface with symbols, letters or words. The top would be spun, and where it landed determined the symbol or word be used in divination.  There are many ways that cyclomancy was integrated into ancient divination. Even the direction the objects move or points when landed was used to divinate a yes/no question or used a directional indicator for travel.

Wheels with symbols, numbers, letters, words, phrases, astrological signs, mystic symbols, pictures, names, the list are as endless as the imagination; it would be used to divinate one’s future path. Spinning arrows were also used in place of revolving wheels for gypsy fortune-telling.

Basically anything that can spin, be spun or circles around can be used as a Cyclomancy Divination Method. Even a merry-go-round or a childhood playground roundabout could loosely qualify as a tool for divination. Spinning a knife or a bottle or the spinner of board games can be modified to do the same.

‘Spin the bottle’, a classic party game is somewhat based on this same concept. But the quality of the divination is left very questionable.

In the Middle Ages, the art of Cyclamen was practiced. This method of cyclomancy divination was the result of almonds being drawn from a turning wheel or spinning disc like a lazy-Suzan. How the almond was read is unclear.

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