Cromniomancy, Capnomancy & Other Little-Known Divination Methods 🔮


The practice of seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown by supernatural means.

Here are some divination methods that for many reasons have gone out of favor, so I decided to create a post talking about them. Let’s begin! :sparkles:

Ornithomancy :bird:

This is a practice that consists in reading omens through the observed flight of birds. It is a form of divination so ancient that it is even mentioned in the Bible. Ancient Romans practiced it in such a way that, depending on the species of bird, the messages of the gods could be favorable or unfavorable.

Birds f lying

Ornithomancy is usually spontaneous because its messages arrive without being requested. The omens manifest themselves through the flights and songs of birds that were studied. For example, birds flying from the east (direction of the sunrise) were considered favorable by the Greek, while the reverse was true for Roman augurs.

The augurs were the priests who were trained to understand the message of the gods and destiny through birds. In fact, the word “inauguration” is derived from the Latin “inaugurare” which was to “take omens from birds in flight.”


The legacy of ornithomancy is seen in the Magpie counting song, which is a sixteenth-century British folklore nursery rhyme. Magpies were considered a bird of ill omen in some cultures. The lyrics are:

"One for sorrow,
Two for mirth
Three for a funeral,
Four for birth
Five for heaven
Six for hell
Seven for the devil, his own self"

Birds are very sensitive to changes in weather, so when they feel a storm or drought is approaching, they migrate out of their usual route. In ancient times, sudden changes in the movements of birds were synonym of natural disasters that could severly affect crops and people’s lives.

Learn more about reading omens from birds here.

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Cromniomancy :onion:

Its name is derived from “chromnion”, the Greek word for onion, and the suffix “-mancy” which means divination.

This divination method uses onion sprouts. Originally, the seer would study the smell, color, shape and direction of the onions sprouts as they grew. Later, the ritual evolved as chromniomancy became a widespread folklore practice among cultures in Europe, Africa and North Asia.


One method is to placing onions on a sacred altar to learn about friends and family far away and out of contact. The names of the beloved are inscribed on individual onions and left undisturbed until they began to sprout. The faster the sprouting, the better health and happiness was enjoyed by the friend named on the onion. ¹

Young women would use this method to know which suitor would become their future husband, as indicated by the strongest and fastest sprouting onion.

Onion sprout

Another simple divination method is done by picking an onion with the skin completely dry, and asking a yes or no question. The onion is placed on a cauldron and set on fire using a match on it for ten seconds.

  • If the onion burns completely, the answer is a resounding yes.
  • If it goes out immediately, the answer is no.

Answers to any question could be sought by inscribing yes and no on two separate onions and planting them to see which sprouted first.

:bulb: One of the reasons why onions were used for divinatory practices, is that they had significance as important food source and/or medicinal herb. The onion is rich in Vitamin C and was important because of this, and it was widely used as medicinal herb against colds and other infections.

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Capnomancy :fire:

This is a method that tries to predict an event by looking through the smoke. The shape, direction and speed of the rising smoke can have many meanings.

Smoke cigarette

Incense or candles can be used for this, or a bonfire can be observed instead. A traditional method was throwing poppy or jasmine seeds on burning coals and observing the smoke that emanated. A thin, straight plume of smoke is thought to indicate a good omen whereas the opposite is thought of large plumes of smoke.

  • In Ancient Greece, priests would burn animal sacrifices and then perform Capnomancy over the smoke produced by the fire.
  • The Celts were thought to practice dendromancy, a form of capnomancy, using oak and mistletoe branches.
  • Modern variations of the ritual involve burning cedar sticks, incense or candles with ribbons tied around them. Hands are sometimes used to manipulate the smoke with practitioners reading the shapes that are then produced. ²

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Omphalomancy :pregnant_woman:

This is the art and practice of divination by the navel, or belly button. It is a method of divination meant to determine how many children a mother may have during her lifetime. Also, divination by a newborn’s umbilical cord.

This divination system has different forms:

  • By interpretation of the belly button; by its size and shape an individual’s personality and/or fate is revealed.

  • By interpretation of the umbilical cord; the number of knots in the umbilical cord of a newborn baby shows how many more brothers or sisters are to come.

  • By the markings or bands on the navel; by the numbers of these features on an individual’s belly button, future accomplishments and/or destiny is determined. ³

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Onychomancy :nail_care::sunny:

This divination method involves observing the reflection of the sun on the fingernails.


This type of divination was practiced both by ancient Arabs and by fortune tellers in Brazil. It is practiced by rubbing soot or oil on the nails of a young person and then exposing them to the sun. The figures made would then be interpreted to obtain answers to what one wanted to know.

The fingers where symbols appear allegedly indicate the nature of the coming events, while the location of the symbols on the nail allow to date them. The higher the symbol is situated on the nail, the nearer the events are in the future. A more modern method is to divinate based on the shape of the fingernails and even the stripes and marks on them.


I’m too impatient to wait that long for an answer…lol

And this reminds me of that scene in Pocahontas where the images are in the smoke while they’re in the hut. Not the same one as below…but it works lol

-from Giphy

I love reading about other forms of divination because some of them are so out there that I wonder how they came about in the first place. Like the nail one! Onychomancy who would have thought that looking at your fingernails could predict the future? That’s so interesting! I knew about the birds because I actually used that as an example in one of my videos lol

Thanks for sharing! I know the Wikipedia page for divination has an entire list of divination methods.


One of my favorite is reading coffee grounds, but reading an egg is a very popular one too.

I believe synchronicity and signs are everywhere so no matter what the medium is, the message will get through to the receiver.


I’ve never read coffee grounds, but I think that’s because I can’t bring myself to drink coffee with the grounds in it. However, I think I read somewhere that Turkish coffee is the best kind to do this with.


I can’t drink coffee with the grounds either :nauseated_face:


What!!! How did I not see this before or ever??!! Lol thanks for some great info on divination. I’ve kind of done the capnomancy. My dad smokes and as a child I I would always beg him to make different shapes with the smoke. Well, it wasn’t based on any readings but he was pretty good lol


I know!! Watching the smoke rise is so intriguing and it’s easy for me to get lost in it…

AngelFire has some interpretations of it (a.k.a. libanomancy). Fun fact: in Spanish we call called olíbano to frankincense. The ancients would leave offerings of it to the Gods and watch the smoke rise as signs of divine guidance.


Ooh, that’s very interesting! Thanks for the link! I just looked at it and that’s kind of the interpretations that I’m familiar with. It’s so fascinating!


Ooohhh… I’m constantly looking at birds & especially when theres flock whether large or small!

I remember 1 day a couple of weeks ago we had our windows open & it was in the early evening. We could hear A LOT of birds. My husband went on the back porch & said, “You need to come see this!”

I went out the back door & I have NEVER seen so may birds in the trees. The 3 oak trees around our house completely FULL of birds with more than 1 or 2 on what seemed like every branch of them. There were so many it was like they were the leaves of the trees! We couldn’t believe it! Neither of us had ever seen anything like it.


Wow, that’s wild! :bird: :astonished:

Sounds like an augur’s dream come true- so many birds nearby to study for readings! :mag: :grinning:


I once read that when burning incense, if the smoke rises straight and high before starting to swirl, there will be good weather. If the smoke swirls low near the incense, expect a storm. When the smoke in a calm room flows in one direction, expect wind from that quadrant within 24 hours.

My bird has free flight, and he sometimes likes to fly around the smoke to see it swirl or to shoo it in another direction. I can’t always get an accurate reading on wind direction, but the weather predictions have worked so far, both in New Mexico and in Indiana.


Got to love learning about new ways to do divination. I love watching birds and i do enjoy incence sticks because of the smoke that comes from them amd watching how it moved and patterns it creates :grin:i havent tried reading it before though. Should try that


Huh, that’s interesting! I’ve never heard of that before. Thanks for sharing, Georgia!


Here in Scotland we say

One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three fir a girl
Four for a boy
Five for young
Six for old
Seven for a secret,
Never to be told

I have always held the superstition about magpies and always salute one if I see them on their own! My friend had the idea that if she saw a single one and pointed it out to someone else then it would “break the sorrow.” She would make a circle with her thumb and index fingers and I would have to break through it with my pinkie. One time she saw one when driving and actually slammed the brakes and reversed so I would see it😂


I’m still trying to find the source on this one, but I believe it showed up during my Hasidic studies. See if it works in your area, and you’ll know the truth of it for yourself. Not all old wives tales work in all areas, but when they do, they can be magickal.


Absolutely! I’m tucking it away for after we move :heart: thanks again!


I learned a slightly different version growing up in New Brunswick Canada:
1 crow sorrow,
2 crows joy,
3 crows a letter,
4 crows a boy.
5 crows silver,
6 crows gold,
7 crows a secret, never to be told.
I’m of Scottish & Irish descent, so the similarities make sense. There aren’t any magpies here, so I guess they chose a bird that looked similar.


Just popping in to welcome you to the forum, @angela47 !

Merry meet!
I’m Kat and I practice eclectic green magick and am interested in tarot, runes, ogham, herbalism, and moon magic. We’re glad to have you here. :purple_heart: Make yourself comfortable, explore, and feel free to ask questions!

:herb: :bow_and_arrow: :crescent_moon: :hekate_wheel:


1 crow sorrow,
2 crows joy,
3 crows a letter,
4 crows a boy.
5 crows silver,
6 crows gold,
7 crows a secret, never to be told.

Loved this one, even read it out loud with a Scott accent