MEDIEVAL FORTUNE TELLING
Updated: Jan 23
In my latest book, I have another wise woman character (couldn’t resist!) – a seer this time. So I have been reading up on ancient methods of fortune telling. There were some really fascinating ones, my favourites including: Cleromancy (casting of lots), Augury (interpretation of omens), Pyromancy (divination through fire), Hydromancy (divination by means of water), Lithomancy (using stones) and Oneiromancy (interpretation of dreams). Some of these you can guess from the root meaning of the word, but others I did not have a clue! I decided to ignore the one where they groped around in animal livers, as it just did not appeal!
I especially the idea of reading auspices – especially flight and behaviour of birds. It makes me think of the old nursery rhyme about Magpies – “One For Sorrow”.
The first time I heard it, all the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, that’s how striking it is. If you haven’t heard it, I highly encourage you to give it a listen.
I may well give my seer a pet raven or some such to sit on her shoulder…
One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret,
Never to be told.
There are other variations that are just as interesting. Has anyone heard the haunting version of this sung by The Unthanks? https://youtu.be/w6EIFD80f90