Apantomancy is a form of divination based on articles at hand or things or living creatures that present themselves by chance.


From Greek ‘apantomai’ (to meet).


The diviner works him/herself into a state of trance until an object or event is perceived and a divination worked out. Forecasts were usually made from chance meetings with animals, such as birds, cats, dogs and hares, making Apantomancy closely related to Zoomancy.


Apantomancy has been practiced around the world since neolotitic times and there has been as many different interpretations as animals observed. In Europe, as well as, the United States of America, cats, dogs, hares, bats, birds and farm animals have been the types of animals interpreted more often than others. Interpretations of the same encounters vary among cultures. In Britain and Japan, having a black cat cross your path, is considered good luck, whereas if you live in the USA or several European countries, it is bad luck to have a black cat walk by. If a hare crosses your path from right to left, it foretells a disastrous journey ahead. However, if the hare crosses your path from left to right, it means good luck.

Modern forms

From them have survived numerous superstitions that people still believe may bring them good or back luck. The old superstition of the black cat bringing bad luck when it crosses a person’s path is one example of Apantomancy which is still present today. A spider seen running or spinning in the morning promised money whereas it will bring sorrow if it happens at night. Seeing a bluebird meant happy days ahead. If a dog follows a girl home, a handsome husband will follow the dog. Seeing a bat, a raven, or an ass foretell sickness.


A classic example is the founding of Mexico City on the spot where ancient Aztec diviners and soothsayers saw an eagle flying from a cactus plant carrying a live snake. This is represented in the Mexican coat-of-arms of today.


This method uses whatever object or event appears to the diviner. For example, an unexpected meeting with a chimney sweep could signify some useful knowledge acquired a little at a time resulting in good luck, or opening a cupboard and suddenly finding a magnifying glass could refer to exceeding your financial limits.

The actual interpretation just depends on the diviner’s background. An offshoot of this method also ties in with interpreting encounters with animals., It is considered good luck to come across a black cat, goat, white horse, swallow and others.

Divinations by Observation

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