Hi friends! I’m a devout follower and friend of thalassa, as well as a contributor to thal’s other blog, Pagan Devotionals. You can find me all on my own at my website, Photomemoires, where I’m in the process of taking a photo every day of my life.
She’s asked me to do a guest post for you on a new (read: old) type of divination I’ve just discovered, The Homeric Oracle. I originally came across the idea from this lovely tumblr site here, and I’ve adapted it to work for me, with a wider range of possibilities.
Just as divination is important to modern witches today (in the form of astrology, tarot cards, the runes, etc.) it was also important to the ancient Greeks. They used many forms of divination, from the oracles at Delphi, to haruspicy (reading the entrails of animals) to cleromancy (divination with dice or sheep bones). The kind we are going to discuss today is Bibliomancy, or divination through text.
In reference to the Homeric Oracle, which was originally referred to as the Homeromanteion, it is a selection of 216 verses from Homer. These verses were used, “to give oracular responses to daily concerns and inquiries about the future”.
In the Homeromanteion (homer oracle) , Homeric verses are given out of context and are re-contextualized in a manner that relates not to any internal textual narrative but are rather adjusted to external paremeters. They acquire a rich social function by becoming part of the late antique person’s life with all its uncertainties and anxieties. Homeric diction offers two important aspects that enrich magical practices: a learned authority and the power of tradition.
Most of these verses did not survive to modern times.
What you’ll need:
– A copy of either The Iliad, or The Odyssey.
– A set of dice
– A page with a circle drawn on it (optional)
I start by lighting a candle and offering a prayer to the god, Hermes, in the hopes that he will make my message clear, and/or take my message truthfully to its bearer (the person I am reading for). I choose a book (I own both) and I sit with my intent firmly in my mind, or the intent of the person I am reading for. I’ve tried two different methods here, and I’ll describe them both, but only one of them really works for me.
1) Take three dice and roll them. The number they come to is the page you should turn to, i.e. if I were to roll a 1, 3, and a 7, my page number would be 137. This method has worked, but not always, since there simply isn’t 666 pages in either of the two texts. In the event of rolling a number higher than what exists in your book, I would simply roll again.
2) With your intent firmly in your mind, peruse the text until a page jumps out at you.
With your page selected, you now need to divine the passage to help you, or your client in their time of need. Take your selection of dice*
*this is dependent upon how large the text is in your book. For my book, I use six dice. Bayoread uses seven. I have 37 lines per page in The Iliad, so six works well for me. I could even go up to seven dice, but I haven’t found a need yet. I’d rather never roll the 37th line, than accidentally roll a line that doesn’t exist.
Again, there are two ways this could be done:
1) Using your paper with a circle drawn on it, roll the dice. Discard the dice that land outside of the circle parameters, and add up the sum of the dice within the circle. This will be the line you take your divination from.
2) The way I do it, is without the paper. The first couple of readings I did, I used only what landed within the circle, and I found that doing this method only caused me to have to do several rolls, and write down several lines before a pattern emerged to me. Perhaps a larger circle would have been better, or perhaps it will work for you. I’m only saying what works for me. Roll your dice. Add up the sum of all the dice. This will be the line you take your divination from.
A note: I own both The Odyssey and The Iliad, but I find (so far) that I have garnered the best results from The Iliad. The choice is yours, this is merely personal preference.
Now, for an example:
Joe Blow has asked me a question. His question is: How can I start my own business?
With his intent in my mind, I choose a page from The Iliad. Rolling my dice, I divine this line: “Sleep then went off to ply his business with the famous” from Homer, The Iliad, Book XIV, Line 362.
Getting the word ‘business’ in my divination, while coincidental, confirms that I’m on the right track here with the question Joe Blow asked of me. This line comes from Book XIV, called “Zeus Overmanuevered”, and is about how Hera strikes a deal with the God of Sleep to help Poseidon and the Danaans to victory, against Zeus’ wishes. She convinces Zeus to lay with her, and then when she’s finished, Sleep puts Zeus under a spell, and gets Zeus out of the way of interfering with the championship of the Danaans.
On a divinatory level, I would take this to mean that ‘Zeus’ is representative of the obstacles that Joe Blow has in his way, and that he should take care of them before he tries to start his own business. Perhaps he has financial debt, or favours that he owes someone, but there is something blocking his ‘victory over the Danaans’ i.e.: his desire to own a business, that he needs to get out of the way first, before realizing his goals.
And there, that’s it. That’s the basics of Adapted Homeric Oracle. Feel free to adapt it (I made a pun) to your own uses, and to what works for you. Light some incense, make an offering to a different god, or don’t make an offering at all. Cast a circle first, do whatever is the most comfortable for you.
And before I go, a few useful tips:
– Record the Book the Line comes from. At first, I was only recording my page number, and my line (i.e. Homer, The Iliad, Page 234, line 12) but I realized that that only holds true for my particular copy. Homer originally wrote his texts as a series of Books, with ascending lines. Each book is often indicative of a theme, which can great help with the interpretation of the text.
– Really, and I stress this; really hold the intent firmly in your mind. With the runes, or tarot cards, my familiarity with them is such that I can just quickly think up my question, and away I go. This form of divination requires a bit more silence, and a bit more thought in order to correctly interpret what you’re being given.
– It’s hard at first, but it gets easier over time. Practice on your friends!
– You don’t need to have a question in your mind. I suspect this form of divination would work well as a daily inquiry, as in “How should I conduct myself for the day?” or “How will this day go?”
– Be creative. Listen to your heart.
And remember. Divination is a form of magic. Be magical!