An example of Alectryomancy: Russian peasant girls used chicken for divination. Theriomancy or Zoomancy is a form of divination that involves observation of the appearance and behaviour of wild animals. Different forms of Theriomancy include:

  • Ailuromancy: divination by cats
  • Alectryomancy: divination by rooster behaviour
  • Augury: divination by bird formations
  • Hippomancy: divination by horse behaviour
  • Ichthyomancy: divination by fish behaviour
  • Myomancy: divination by rodent behaviour
  • Myrmomancy: divination by ant behaviour
  • Nggàm: divination by spider or crab behaviour
  • Ophiomancy: divination by snakes behaviour
  • Orniscopy: divination by bird mogration


Derived from the Greek ther ('wild animal') and manteia ('prophecy')


Fortune-telling through observation of animal behaviour existed since pre-historic times. Hence, Theriomancy has been practiced in various forms. In ancient Etruscans, diviners observed the movements of hens and roosters while the Babylonians studied the sleeping oxen’s reaction when their heads were splashed with water. African Zandes examine ants, Dogon study termites and the Polynesians observe beetles. During the medieval times, people believed that death and calamities may happen in the future if the dogs howl like banshee. Bad omen were determined when a bat, pigeon, or robin redbreast flew into the house or when swallows and jackdaws flew down the chimney. Bad luck will be anticipated if an owl appeared in the sunlight or when it flew up against the window at night. In the Victorian era, a hare that runs through the town is a sign of fire. Earthquakes were predicted through observation of animal peculiar behaviour in China. Weather forecasts were also based on the animal, fish and bird activities.



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