Cory over at New World Witchery just put up a splendid blog post on bibliomancy, the art of divination by text.  I was especially delighted by the idea of getting a personality profile based on your birth date from Proverbs 21 or 31.  I looked up the ladies’ chapter to find my own lot, and here’s what the Bible tells me about myself:

(15) She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.

I’m not entirely sure what to take from this, but I do have a tendency to wake up at odd hours and go directly to the kitchen. ^-^

At any rate, while I was cheerfully reading through Cory’s analysis, I found myself suddenly swept up in the memory of old Gabriel Betteredge, the servant in Wilkie Collins’ novel The Moonstone, and his obsessive dependence on omens gleaned from the book Robinson Crusoe.

I loved that this character practiced bibliomancy using such a well-known work of fiction, and I wondered about how one best chooses the vehicle for one’s divination, particularly when it involves text.  I thought about it for a while, and I decided I would most likely use Orlando by Virginia Woolf, which, though it bores many people I know to tears, I have been known to carry it around in a desperate loving clutch, and could spend happy hours rereading every passage.  I think it would work well too, in that its language is poetic, eccentric and esoteric enough that each phrase could present a fascinating exercise in interpretation.

I decided to do a little experiment and performed a trial run by pulling my dense old paperback copy from the dark, ruffling the edges of the pages with my thumb to feel for some sort of magnetic pull, opening to that spot, and without looking, sliding a fingertip slowly down the page until the spirit moved me to stop.

When I moved into the light, the following passage was revealed:

“…if we lie here long enough to ask the moths when they come at evening, stealing among the pale heather bells, they will breathe in our ears such wild nonsense as one hears from telegraph wires in snow storms; tee hee, haw haw, Laughter, Laughter! the moths say.”

I couldn’t help smiling as I read, and I took this to be a good omen — though perhaps a reminder not to take anything too seriously.  (Particularly omens!)

So pleased with this result, I’ve decided to continue consulting Orlando from time to time, and perhaps I will share my occasional bibliomantic “pulls” here on the site.

I’m curious, though…  If you were to select a book for your own bibliomantic practices, what book would you choose?  What qualities do you think make one book better for divination than another, or do they all have equal potential?  If you choose one book, do you have to keep using the same book, or can you consult any book at any time?

I’d love to hear what you think!  Comment on the post, shoot me an email, or even send a message on PaganSpace and tell us your prophetic book of choice.  If I get enough responses, perhaps I’ll compile a list in a new post, and we’ll see if there are any trends!

Until then, though, readers, I wish you happy dreams of twittering little moths, quietly chortling sweet nothings in your ears.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jenn
    Mar 11, 2011 @ 08:42:39

    What a lovely entry! My three books would be: GoneWithTheWind, Forever Amber and The DollMaker!


    • arrowclaire
      Mar 11, 2011 @ 23:58:10

      Great choices!! Strong heroines do make for inspirational readings. I’ve never read “Forever Amber,” but I think now perhaps I have to (and it is so up my alley!). I considered choosing “The Mysteries of Udolpho,” but I’m afraid everything would have just ended up being either “horrible” or “sublime,” and nothing else. Thanks so much for your comment; and thanks for reading!


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