Week ninety-four: MYOMANCY (probability 40183), by David Sutton

MYOMANCY is divination by observing the movements of mice. This of course was a highly skilled business, since to the untrained eye the little critters run about more at less at random, and no doubt its practitioners, just like futurologists and financial advisers these days, were able to charge commensurate fees. But they did face a great deal of competition. There was, for example, ZOOMANCY, which relied on observing animals generally, and which was much despised by those purists who adhered strictly to the murine. There was OENOMANCY, or divination by studying the appearance of wine, which was not, of course, to be confused with merely staring bibulously into one's cups. There was PYROMANCY, or divination by fire, GEOMANCY, or divination from the shapes made when earth is thrown down, CEROMANCY, or divination from the drippings made by a wax candle, CAPNOMANCY, or divination from the movements of smoke, and SCIOMANCY, or divination with the help of obliging ghosts.

Nor should one forget GASTROMANCY, or divination from the sounds produced by the stomach, though whether the borborygmic emissions in question were one's own or one's client's I am not sure. But I think the prize goes to the splendidly lunatic GYROMANCY, or divination by walking in a circle until giddy and seeing what direction one falls in.

Strangely no one so far seems to have thought of TEGULOMANCY*, or divination from a rack of Scrabble tiles, though I personally have had some success with this, frequently divining from an initial pickup of, say, UUUIIVW that this is going to be one of those games...


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