Writing this, I’m wondering how much there is left to say on bibliomancy. I’ve written three guides for the tumblr community on everything from choosing what book to use to how to interpret the readings you get. But as I sit here and mull over what to say, I realize that I still have plenty of words left for this technique of divination, though many will have to wait until the fourth (and final?) tumblr guide.
Whenever someone asks me about bibliomancy, I tend to start from the beginning. I would like to do that now, to get my thoughts in order.
Years ago, before I identified as a Pagan and a witch, I began divinatory practices, which began with bibliomancy. But the thing was, it wasn’t purposely. At the time, I didn’t even realize that’s what I was doing.
Growing up, I read a lot. One of my main accomplishments in my academic career was reading the majority of the Bookmobile that came to my elementary school, a large trailer that served as a mobile library. It would come to our school once a week and my class would troop down and go inside, five at a time, to get the books we wanted that week. While my female peers fought over who got to read which Sweet Valley High novels, I was prodding around for books on geology, the Boxcar Children mysteries, and a copy or two of fairy tales. Each week I would leave with no fewer than ten books, stacked high and wobbling as I walked with my class back to our room where I could put my books away. I was that kid who read under the desk while the teacher was lecturing. My mother would often demand to know how I could read six or eight books at a time – didn’t they get confusing? I would just shrug. The stories never jumbled for me. Each was so unique and told in its own special way; how could I possibly confuse them?
As I grew older, my love for books did as well. I would read whatever I could get my hands on, be it mystery, fantasy, or books about rocks. Fantasy was my favorite and to this day I have an intense love for Tamora Pierce’s Tortall novels. (In fact, I just finished rereading Alanna: The First Adventure last night.)
You may wonder what any of this has to do with bibliomancy. I’ll tell you: as I read these books, I didn’t always read chronologically. At times, I would pick up a book and flip through it, then read a passage. Sometimes it stuck out to me. I never had a question in mind, per say, but the books usually had good advice. It was just something I did. It wasn’t until college that I learned this was a form of divination, although crude and rudimentary.
I tell you this story because I think anyone can practice bibliomancy. And, in point of fact, I believe many, if not most, have, just not purposely. All you need is a book, your question, and faith that you’ll get an answer.
I still have many thoughts on this topic, but in truth, I’m a little burnt out. It’s a seemingly simple topic that can, in a hurry become extremely complicated. A year ago, I wrote the excerpt below and that was enough at the time, but as I grew into my practice of bibliomancy more and more, and divination as a whole, I began to realize there was much left unsaid in that post. This brought me to the guides I wrote, as requested by some in the tumblr Pagan/witchy community.
Note: This is an excerpt from my Pagan Blog Project post last year, on the same topic, from my old blog, a brief description of how I practice bibliomancy:
[T]oday I want to go into another technique I use: bibliomancy. I don’t do it as often as cryptomancy, but it is a technique I use from time to time, if I want a more definitive sign/answer/etc.
For those who don’t know, bibliomancy is the method of divining through books, normally sacred texts such as the Bible for Christianity, the Torah for Judaism, or the Qoran for Islam. That’s not really for me, since in my mind, that narrows the scope of answers you could receive.
The technique I use is essentially selecting a text that semi-relates to what I want to know or whatever book I’m currently reading. I close my eyes, thumb through the book until I feel I need to stop, then point. Whatever sentence my finger lands on is the answer to my question. (If you happen to point to between two sentences, both apply.)
There are variations of this. You could use whatever particular word your finger lands on and do that a few times, until you get 3, 7, 10, or another number, and arrange them until you get your answer. It can be more difficult that way, but it’s all up to the reader.
If you would like, you can find the three guides I mentioned here: