Arachnomancy

Arachnomancy is divination by interpreting the behavior of spiders.

Methods

In the Chinchasuyo quarter, which included Central and Northern Peru, the ancient precolombian civilzations had many spider diviners. They usually interpret how the spider would move and deplace some coca leaves when placed together within a jar.

According to Mary Proctor's Legends of the Stars (1922):

In China it was custoMary at one time for the ladies of the Court, on the seventh day of the seventh month, to catch spiders and put them in incense-boxes for purposes of divination. On the morning of the eighth day the box was opened, and if the spiders had spun a thick web during the night the omen was good, but if the had remained idle the omen was bad.

In West Africa , the Fang, the Bamileke, the Kaka Tikar, the Banen and the Mambila peoples practice Arachnomancy. They do it by observing the way spiders move special cards made from dried, flat leaves that are inscribed with peculiar symbols that supposedly indicate 'good' and 'bad' events ; often each ideogram is repeated, once on one card, twice on another. Such pairs of cards are seen as 'bad' and 'good' respectively. Large numbers of these leaf-cards are used. Paul Gebauer, in his study Spider Divination in the Cameroons published in 1964, mentions four sets of cards used by Yamba diviners. The numbers in these sets varied from 206 to 290 cards. Contemporary Mambila diviners use fewer cards, 38 being the largest number of ideograms being used in one set, giving 76 cards in all.

In Cameroon, the oracular messages are read by the mod ngam (literally 'man of spiders') from the specially marked cards as rearranged by the spider when it goes out from its hole or where the diviners keeps it. The spider diviners use a certain species of spider, usually a large, black and hairy earth-dwelling spider, said to be an aggressive nocturnal hunter. To speed up or improve the process, several different spiders may be consulted simultaneously. Land crabs can also be used.

Modern beliefs

Seeing a spider in the morning means grief; seeing a spider at noon, anxiety; seeing a spider in the evening, Financial loss. Seeing a spider spinning a web may indicate that there is a plot against you, or others will receive gifts instead of you.

Divinations by Observation
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Divinations by Observation