Aleuromancy is an ancient Greek method of divination using flour.
From the Greek aleuron, meaning ‘flour’.
In its original form, slips of paper containing philosophical writings would be baked inside of round, hard cakes, which would then be mixed up nine times and distributed randomly to those wishing their fortunes to be told. Modern fortune cookies are a variant on these forms of divination. This has also survived in the custom of baking a coin or ring in a large cake, which is then divided among guests, one of whom is lucky and finds the gift.
A different variation of Aleuromancy was performed by throwing flour on the ground and interpreting the shapes produced. Another form of aleuromancy consisted of interpreting patterns of flour left in a bowl in which a flour and water slurry had been mixed and poured out from.
An alternative type of Aleuromancy, also known as Alphitomancy , was used in determining the guilt or innocence of a suspect person by feeding them a specially prepared barley cake.
Although commonly believed to be of Chinese origin and of some distant date, fortune cookies are a 20th century invention. The first recorded use of the term (Chinese) fortune cookies is in 1962, and they were originally a gimmick of North American Chinese restaurants.
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