B – Bibliomancy


I had no idea what I would write for “B,” until I looked at the PBP site for prompts.  One word that stuck out to me was “bibliomancy.”  I had to do some digging on this topic, since I had no idea what bibliomancy was.

Bibliomancy comes from the Greek biblion (“book”) and manteia (“soothsaying” or “prophecy”).  In other words, bibliomancy is the practice of using passages selected at random from a book.  Originally this term referred specifically to divination using a verse picked randomly from the Bible, but now it has come to mean any sacred book (or even, in some cases, just any book, though this is more properly called “stichomancy”).  Since divination is an important part of many Pagans’ practice, I find bibliomancy to be relevant.

According to Wikipedia, the way to perform bibliomancy is very simple.  First, select a book that holds some kind of truth for you personally, whether that is Hesiod’s Theogony or Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games (I’ve never read it; just needed a more “mundane” example).  Hold it book so the spine rests on a table.  If you like, you can ask a question either silently or aloud.  Let go of the book so it falls open to a random page.  Close your eyes and rest your finger on the page in a random location.  Open your eyes and read the sentence, verse, or line that you’re pointing to.  There’s the answer to your question, if you asked one.

If the book you have selected has been opened to the same place repeatedly, it will probably automatically fall open on that page, instead of on a random page.  Rolling dice to determine the page number before letting the book fall open is an acceptable method.  A book can also be selected at random, maybe from a pile of books of personal significance (for example, you might have Grandma’s Bible, a copy of Wicca:  A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, your Book of Shadows, and a book of Homeric hymns given to you by a close friend).

Interestingly, the Wikipedia article linked above also says, “Tarot divination can also be considered a form of bibliomancy, with the main difference [being] that the cards (pages) are unbound.”  It follows from this that any cards might be used, though this shades into cartomancy (divination using a deck of regular playing cards).  Cards that might be better suited specifically for bibliomancy are prayer cards, which have an image of a deity or a scene from religious myth with a prayer on the back relating to the image (generally these are used in Catholicism, though I don’t see why other traditions couldn’t use them), or other cards with phrases on them, like affirmation cards or even trading cards that have what is known as “flavor text.”

Over the next few days, instead of runes, I will use some form of bibliomancy during my morning devotional rites to discern the blessings for the day.  My second “B” post, which will be published this Friday, will contain the results of these divinations.  I may also ask other questions about my living situation and other such topics to see what results.  These results will also be in Friday’s post.


3 thoughts on “B – Bibliomancy

  1. Yeah…why not!? Tarot, any book or magazine…doesn’t have to be a spiritual/magickal text. We’ve used both factual and fiction, still produces interesting results. It’s really down to how your own conscious and subconscious faculties work with the text…or at least that’s our viewpoint. It’ll be interesting to see what results you obtain.

    • I updated this post to include a link to the results. I realized it would make more sense if I linked each letter’s posts together.

      The link for the continuing post is in the last sentence of this post.

      Thanks for reading!


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