Pyromantically speaking

Delightful rabbit hole #23,582, courtesy of Hyperallergic: the oracle bone!


In ancient China people would carve questions on animal bones, then heat them up until they cracked, and interpret the cracks. This is a form of pyromancy, which (via Wikipedia) also includes:

  • Alomancy, divination by salt, one type of which involves casting salt into a fire

  • Botanomancy, divination by burning plants

  • Capnomancy, divination by smoke; light, thin smoke that rose straight up was a good omen; otherwise, a bad one.

  • Causinomancy, divination by burning (non-specific as to the object burned)

  • Daphnomancy (also, Empyromancy), divination by burning laurel leaves

  • Osteomancy, divination using bones, one type of which involves heating to produce cracks

  • Plastromancy, divination using turtle plastrons; in China, this was done by heating pits carved into them.

  • Scapulimancy, divination by scapulae; in Asia and North America, this was done pyromantically.

  • Sideromancy, divination by burning straw with an iron.