I’ve written in this space before about the divinatory practice known as biobliomancy…but it’s been a while, and I had a related experience today that was on point enough and interesting enough that I decided to log this refresher post.
So…as I’ve said before, if you can name a thing – any thing – you can bet that humans somewhere are using it even now to perform divination (= the obtaining of answers to heavy, often existential questions, from what might fairly be summed up as “Higher Powers”). You can further bet that whatever this form of divination involves, it has a fancy-sounding name that ends with the suffix, “-mancy.”
For example, necromancy means seeking answers from the spirits of the dead. Chiromancy is the practice of chasing information by reading palms. Cartomancy involves that same search for data being run through the drawing of cards (Tarot is arguably the most well-known and widely used form of cartomancy today).
And then there’s bibliomancy. This involves the use of a book to help furnish a questioner with some hopefully useful answers. You ask your question, you close your eyes, you point randomly at some page and passage within the book, and then you open your eyes and read the word or phrase speared by your questing fingertip…and that’s the answer to your question. Boom – you’re a bibliomancer!
Of course, by some definitions, bibliomancy requires that the book in question must be the Bible. Usage of any and all books in this way in general is then referred to as the more overarching and inclusive practice of stichomancy. Some modern metaphysical practitioners, though, use “bibliomancy” in much looser fashion, so as to cover any type of book-based divination, so that the book being used can be utterly non-Bible but still qualify. At some point, you’ll have to decide which definitions work best for you…
In the meantime, though, take a look again at the picture up top of this article… I found this small prayer book – open to this exact page you see in the photo – when I had to venture out briefly today during a break between thunderstorms. I hadn’t even been asking a question, but given the fact that the book was lying right in my path, and also the religious nature of it, it felt like an instance of what we might be able to legitimately call “spontaneous bibliomancy.”
I’ll reproduce the words from the section that immediately caught my eye:
“Act of Reparation. O Most holy Virgin and our Mother, we listen with grief to the complaints of your Immaculate Heart surrounded with the thorns placed therein at every moment by the blasphemies and ingratitude of ungrateful humanity. We are moved by the ardent desire of loving you as our Mother and of promoting a true devotion to your Immaculate Heart. We therefore kneel before you to manifest the sorrow we feel for the grievances that people cause…”
That’s a longer portion of text than you’d usually use for bibliomancy/stichomancy, but it felt relevant to these days in which we find ourselves.
“…the sorrow we feel for the grievances that people cause…”
We shouldn’t need books weeping on sidewalks in the rain to remind us that we can be better…but sometimes it sure does bring the point home with real authority…