This is the first of a three-part series that I wrote on bibliomancy that was originally posted on tumblr in January 2013.
So, What the Hell is Bibliomancy?
Bibliomancy, as I practice it, is essentially divination with books. Traditionally, it was utilized with holy books, such as the Bible, Torah, or Koran, and could be used for various types of magic. Wiki states that “magical medicine,” banishing entities, and divination were traditional uses.
Now that that’s out of the way, this is how I actually practice.
Step One: Selecting A Book
As stated above, traditionally sacred books are used. Today, though, and as a non-Abrahamic, I don’t have a “go-to” sacred book, so I tend to use whatever I have on-hand, be it popular fiction, classical literature, books of myth, or whatever.
These days I use my Annotated Brothers Grimm as it tends to be pretty truthful when it comes to reading; however, as I have stated time and time again, it’s rather snarky.
If you’re just starting out with bibliomancy, you really can’t go wrong with a book of myth, in my opinion, especially one you have an attachment to. For example, if you’re a Hellenic, a copy of The Iliad or The Odyssey would work pretty well. You can also use whatever book(s) you’re currently reading. When I first started ritualizing my bibliomancy practice, I used The History of the Kings of Britain as I was taking an Arthurian literature class at the time. Plus, it has a bunch of Merlin’s (supposed) prophecies and I was hoping I might get one of those in a reading one time. I’ve also done readings with the Song of Ice and Fire books.
I don’t recommend it unless you just want to cry because everything dies.
Step Two: Preparing a Method
Once you’ve got your book, it’s time to figure out the method that’s best for you. When I do my readings, I take my book, turn it so the spine faces the floor and hold it in both hands, then I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I tell the book my question and exhale on the book’s pages.
But that’s just my method. You could decide it’s easier to lay the book on a desk or counter and lay your hand on it, then announce your question. Or you could do it silently. The best way to do it will vary from person to person depending on what they’re comfortable with and the book they use. Like, I could use my Annotated Grimm on a counter/desk, but it would be harder to use my paperback novels that way.
So choose whatever’s comfortable and don’t be afraid to try a few different tactics.
Step Three: Selecting a Question
Okay, like all divination, choosing what question to ask is a pain in the ass. When I do bibliomancy, I find it’s easiest to ask general questions about a situation or a yes/no question. It’s also good for asking what kinds of things to look out for, like signs or omens. I went on a walk in the woods before winter came and decided to do a reading on anything I needed to pay attention while out.
The answer was basically “a witch in the woods.”
I wasn’t kidding when I said my Annotated Grimm was snarky.
Step Four: Doing the Reading
Now that you’ve gotten comfortable with a method and you’ve chosen your question, it’s time to actually do the reading. Grab your book, ask your question, and do whatever method is best for you to get ready. Now close your eyes and start slowly flipping through the books. I tend to start from the back of the book and flip toward the front since that’s just habit for me.
You’re probably asking yourself “But how do I know what page to stop at?” Well, for me I tend to get a tightness just beneath my ribcage/sternum when I get to the right page. Your signs may differ. You could feel your hands warm or just get a ~feeling~ that it’s time to stop.
Once you’ve gotten to your page, start running your finger over the pages. Normally I hold my hand an inch or two above the book to make it easier to find where to stop. When I’m over the quote that’s my answer, I lower my finger and read the selection.
It can get difficult deciding how much counts as the reading. If your finger lands between two lines, it’s best to read both lines. You can just read the word or phrase where your finger lands, or you can do the full sentence. If it’s a more complicated issue, you can do the full paragraph.
I’ll do another post on how to interpret bibliomancy readings tomorrow (likely).