Lot Divination

 

 

To learn about my lot divination services, read the lengthy account on this page. If short on time, website visitors can click on this FAQ. Any person interested in getting a lot divination can submit a request form.

 

Lot Divination

In addition to offering astrology readings, I offer five types of divination that are related to ancient lot divination. Lot divination also goes by the names of cleromancy and sortilege, based on the words for lot, cleros and sortes, in ancient Greek and Latin. Lot divination was a widespread and popular form of divination in antiquity and it employed various objects such as dice, coins, long and short stalks, pebbles, beans, branches, knucklebones, and many more material objects. Every lot divination system deals with chance and assigns the value of fate to it. Lot divination was classified as “artificial” or “technical” divination in Cicero’s De divinatione since it depended on the observation and analysis of signs.1 Lot divination was used for all sorts of matters, and was used in both the secular and religious spheres. The lot divination types I offer are called oracles. An oracle is the medium through which a god speaks. According to ancient Greek tradition, Apollo and Hermes were the deities that dealt with divination. Both deities are invoked in the divination systems I use. The first two oracles come from archaeological remains found in southwest Anatolia. They are the dice oracles, or Sortes Alearum, and the alphabet oracles. The Sortes Alearum was a type of dice oracle that has been preserved from twenty-one inscriptions found in southwestern Anatolia. Recent scholarship by Johannes Nolle and Fritz Graf have helped to popularize the dice oracles by making critical editions and translations available. Fritz Graf has a tentative English translation in the book Mantike: Studies in Ancient Divination.2 Kostas Dervenis’s Oracle Bones Divination: The Greek I Ching is another book that has English translations of the dice oracles. Dervenis also synthesizes the dice oracles in his book for modern day divination purposes. The dice oracles utilize sheep knucklebones, which were called astragaloi. Each astragalos bone has four sides. Two sides are narrow and two are broad. The broad convex side is called pranes, the broad concave side is hyption, the convex narrow side is chion, the concave narrow side is koon. Chion has a value of 1, hyption has a value of 3, pranes has a value of 4, and koon has a value of 6. The astragalos bone is tossed five times, and there are fifty-six possible answers based on the combination of numbers that are rolled. Each dice oracle answer comes with a god or cosmic archetype as well as lines of dactylic or iambic hexameter. It is considered the throw of the deity or the oracle of a given deity.3 The dice oracles are the only oracle I use that invokes Hermes. Scholars agree that Hermes was a minor divinatory god and was often given the lesser forms of divination.4 Since he was associated with chance and luck, he was connected to the dice oracles and also to the highest numbers in the dice oracle system. The alphabet oracle, the other divination method from southwest Turkey, consists of twelve inscriptions. Though it is not known how it was used, it is easy to use lot divination methods with the oracle. John Opsopaus’s The Oracles of Apollo reconstructs the alphabet oracle and offers various methodologies for using the system.  The alphabet oracle uses 24 letters in the Greek alphabet. Each letter has a few lines of guidance and a deity. Opsopaus creates further correspondences for each letter of the alphabet, including vox magica from the PGM, a numerical value for the letter(the Greek alphabet was used to symbolize numbers in the past), an associated lunar symbol from an ancient Graeco-Egyptian papyrus, a corresponding body part according to Marcus the Gnostic, the Pythagorean hour, the zodiac sign, either one of the four elements, a zodiac sign, or a planet according to Agrippa, and the transliterated Egyptian hieroglyph. The third oracle is the Seven Sages Oracle, which is not a traditional oracle but one that was created by Opsopaus. This oracle takes the 147 maxims of the Seven Sages. Plutarch tells the origins of the Seven Sages maxims.5 In the sixth century BCE, fishermen from the island of Cos discovered a golden tripod in their nets that supposedly belonged to Helen of Troy. Unfortunately for the fishermen, they had already sold the haul of their fishing nets to men from the city of Miletus. Both groups argued over who the tripod belonged to. Soon, the cities of Cos and Miletus were involved in the feud. The people of Cos and Miletus both claimed the tripod, so both cities sent delegations to Delphi to consult the oracle. The cities received separate replies, and after interpreting the oracle’s messages, discussed and decided it should go to the wisest man alive. The man they decided upon was Thales of Miletus, a mathematician and scientist. Thales, however, rejected the tripod and sent it Bias of Priene, who in turn sent it to Pittacus of Mytilene. It was then sent to Chilon of Sparta, Cleobolus of Lindus, Periander of Corinth, and Solon of Athens. Solon had it sent to Thales again. The men discussed the situation and decided to send the tripod to Apollo, the wisest god. According to the story told by Plato, the seven men traveled to Delphi and erected a marble stele that held their wisdom on 147 maxims.6 The stele has never been found, but Johannes Stobaeus wrote the 147 maxims in his notes in the 5th century, and a recent archaeological find in Afghanistan has a few maxims that match the list Stobaeus gives. Opsopaus created the Seven Sages Oracle, but as he states in his book, it’s not a stretch to think of it as a traditional oracle.7 After all, it was supposedly part of the Temple of Apollo complex in Delphi. It is well documented that temples housed divination and oracles in the ancient near east. In Pausanias’s Description of Greece, Pausanias writes about how he came upon the oracle of Herakles in Bura in Achaea, the only extant literary source that mentions divinatory astragaloi:

“On descending from Bura towards the sea you come to a river called Buraicus, and to a small Heracles in a cave. He too is surnamed Buraicus, and here one can divine by means of a tablet and dice. He who inquires of the god offers up a prayer in front of the image, and after the prayer he takes four dice, a plentiful supply of which are placed by Heracles, and throws them upon the table. For every figure made by the dice there is an explanation expressly written on the tablet.” 8

 

 

Regardless of the whether the Seven Sages maxims were used as an oracle in antiquity, they are a valuable tool and have notable efficacy as a modern-day oracle. Opsopaus recommends them as part of a daily meditation and spiritual practice, but in my own experience, they give great and sometimes uncanny advice for all types of questions. Scholars Anne Marie Luijendijk and William E. Klingshirn classify various existing traditional lot divination systems in the book My Lots are in Thy Hands: Sortilege and its Practitioners in Late Antiquity. They give categories such as “sortes with specific questions provided, or ‘books of fate’” and “sortes with general answers.” The former type of sortes has specific questions and specific answers while the latter type of sortes can be used with most questions, and has general answers. It is my opinion that the Seven Sages belongs to the “sortes with general answers” category,  but that the answers are a little more specific than other oracles that deal with generalities. Many lot instruments can be matched to the Seven Sages Oracle, but I use coins for it, which is a method Opsopaus outlines. The fourth oracle is a system of lot divination I came up with on my own based on Pythagoreanism. It utilizes concepts from arithmology and Pythagoreanism to receive affirmative and negative answers through layers of randomized lots. It is called the Decad Oracle and has meanings and keywords based on the characteristics of the decad. The fifth oracle I offer divination from is the Sortes Astrampsychi. It was a popular form of bibliomancy and lot divination in late antiquity. As a handbook, The Sortes Astrampsychi was supposedly written by Astrampsychus, a famous magician. Astrampsychus addresses the book to King Ptolemy and claims it was originally written by Pythagoras and was used by Alexander the Great. I have a critical edition that I hope to get translated from Ancient Greek into English so I can use all the deity  and saint correspondences. Until the translation is done, I have a copy of the Anthology of Ancient Greek Popular Literature, which is edited by William Hansen. The Sortes Astrampsychi is included in the book and is translated by Randall Stewart and Kenneth Morrell. While the translation by Stewart and Morrell is sufficient to do divination, it doesn’t include the associated deities for each question. The Sortes Astrampsychi has a list of 92 questions, a table of numerical correspondences, and 1,030 answers. The book itself seems to ask the querent to select the question and then to imagine a number between 1 and 10. Unlike the other oracles, this system can be also be done on a Zoom call, as the querent having a greater role is encouraged. Otherwise, the querent can just submit a question, and I will select the matching question and use dice and coins to come up with a number.

Sortes Type Question Type

 

Answer Type

 

Oracles
 

Sortes with general answers

 

Any question may be asked.

 

 

General or ambiguous answers that require some level of interpretation are provided.

 

 

The Dice Oracle, the Alphabet Oracle, the Seven Sages Oracle, the Decad Oracle

 

Sortes with specific questions provided, or “books of fate”

 

Questions are chosen from the list provided. Specific answers are provided Sortes Astrampsychi

 

Lot Divination Systems

Alphabet Oracle

Deity: Apollo

Category: Sortes with general answers

 

Seven Sages Oracle

Deity: Apollo

Category: Sortes with general answers

 

Sortes Alearum or the Dice Oracle

Deity: Mercury

Category: Sortes with general answers

 

Decad Oracle

Deity: Apollo

Category: Sortes with general answers

 

Sortes Astrampsychi

Deity: Apollo or a Roman, Greek, or Egyptian deity chosen by lot

Category: Books of fate

 

Process

 

Querent

 

  1. Thinks about the issue and reflects on how to phrase the question to address their concern.
  2. Writes one or more questions.

 

Diviner

 

  1. Undergoes purification.
  2. Does meditation.
  3. Does an invocation in a ritual.
  4. Lot divination is performed in accord with the method and the results are written down.
  5. The answer is shared with the client and it is interpreted.

 

 

 

Instruments

The instruments I use are a single astragalos, coins, stones, a book, and dice. In my understanding, performing a lot divination correctly requires faith, purity, and adherence to a tradition. The connection to the deities and the oracle system differs from person to person. Some people have special relationships with methods of divination. The individual diviner him or herself is an instrument and medium of contact with the divine.

 

Prices

One Session 25 US Dollars

 

Experience

I have been doing lot divination since early 2020. As for rituals, I have more than 3 years experience of near daily ritual practice.

 

Issues with Offering Lot Divination Services

I know that for people familiar with these methods, they may question the prices or be critical because of the relative difficulty of doing lot divination when compared to other popular divination systems. It is true that there is not a lot of analytical work or studying like there is with astrology. In fact, astrology, geomancy, and tarot may have much more interpretive difficulty and work involved for the diviner compared to these methods, which are generally straight forward in most cases. Even though the legwork for using them is less intensive, still there is a place for these methods and I’ve personally seen great results from them. One might ask what the client is paying for, and I would answer the study of the technique, experience, and the mental state of the diviner. There is also the issue of innate ability and connection, which varies from individual to individual. Each of these oracles is consulted during a ritual with a deity’s blessing. The ritual part of the divination is crucial, and it takes time to perform. Clients are paying for all of these things.

Service offered

I offer the Alphabet Oracle and Seven Sages Oracle in one session because in my experience they are complementary. But a client can also request for just one of the oracles to be consulted. The three other oracles I offer have been discussed on this page: Sortes Astrampsychi, the Decad Oracle, and the Sortes Alearum.

 

Lot Divination Session Request Form

 

 

Bibliography

  1. Cicero De Divinatione 1.12
  2. Mantike
  3. Mantike p 63
  4. Mantike: Studies in Ancient Divination, edited by Iles-Johnston, Sarah, p 74)
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  8. Pausanias, Book 7, 25, 10, Translated by W.H.S. Jones

 

 

 

Photo Credits

  1. Roman bone dice from Silchester, BabelStone, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
  2. Egyptian dice 600-800 B.C., Swiss Museum of Games,<https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Egyptian_dice_-_600-800_BC.jpg> via Wikimedia Commons
  3. Blue sky and white clouds, Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
  4. Lot divination equipment, Mad Sage Astrology