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To: alt.divination,alt.lucky.w,alt.magick.folk,alt.magick.tyagi,alt.paranormal.spells.hexes.magic
From: Christopher Warnock 
Subject: Re: Bibliomancy (was Re: Truth Spell)
Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2000 13:38:32 GMT

Interestingly, I am at this moment working on an article comparing early
modern European magic and hoodoo which touches on another form of
Bibliomancy, the divination by key and Bible.  Here is a extract from the

The next parallel practice is that of key and Bible divination.  Reginald
Scot in his 1584 Discoverie of Witchcraft describes the practice,

Popish priests...doo practice with a psalter and keie [key] fastned upn the
49. psalme, to discover a theefe.  And when the names of the suspected
persons are orderlie put into the pipe of the keie, at the reading of the
words of the psalme...the booke will wagge and fall out of the fingers of
them that didst hold it, and he whose name remained in the keie must be the

 Hyatt’s informant 1222 from Brunswick, Georgia states,

Well, yo’ take a Bible and de 14th chaptah of Exodus, an’ yo’ take a cord
string, but it have to be a large cord string whut will hold de Bible up,
and yo’ have two keys.  Yo’ take de keys an’ yo’ make a cross wit it.  Yo’
see, yo’ hold one of de key, but chew hol dem both in yore han’ lak dis.
Aftah yo’ read de 14th chaptah of Exodus, yo’ put a brown piece of paper in
dere- a plain brown piece of paper...An yo’ lay it on dat same chaptah, an
if yo’ wants tuh find out anythin’...yo’ jes use dis word, "De Holy Bible
supposed to be true, an we go tuh fin nuthin but de Word of God," and if dey
stole it, de Bible will turn and fall.

 We can be fairly certain that key and Bible divination is of European
origin simply because it makes use of the Bible.  In examining African
systems of divination, we naturally look to the Yoruba culture, the source
of much of the beliefs and practices of African diaspora religions in the
Americas .  The most notable system of divination among the Yoruba is Ifa
which involves the casting of sacred palm nuts, ikin, or a chain, called
opele, by the priests of the god Ifa, the babalao. Like the early modern
European geomancy  or the Chinese I Ching , Ifa divination generates
patterns which correspond to a matrix of divinatory verses and proverbs.  In
Ifa divination there are 256 possible combinations each with associated
verses, proverbs and commentary known as odu.  Significantly this verse
matrix is traditional preserved through an oral system of memorization by
the babalao .

 We can see that Ifa divination is capable of producing much more detailed
and sophisticated information in response to a query than key and Bible
divination, which seems less systematic and more magical. In both early
modern magic and hoodoo there is a practice that is a closer analogy to Ifa
divination where the querent opens the Bible and uses the verse obtained to
answer their question.   Even this practice, however, relies on a written or
printed source while Ifa divination uses an oral verse matrix.  Thus, there
does not appear to be an African analogue to key and Bible divination.

  On the other hand there is frequent use of this type of divination in
medieval and early modern England.  Keith Thomas, in his Religion and the
Decline of Magic, states that the divination by book and key was well known
in the Middle Ages and was still current in many rural areas of England in
the nineteenth century .  Indeed, Thomas Hardy in his 18?? novel, Far From
the Madding Crowd, speaks of [divination by book and key and marriage].  The
Hoodoo, Conjuration reference to book and key divination quoted above is not
unique.  Hyatt lists three additional variations of Bible and key divination
from Waycross, Georgia and Fayetteville and Wilmington, North Carolina .  By
all appearances key and Bible divination in hoodoo derives from European

catherine yronwode wrote:

> Ally  wrote:
> >
> > I was wondering if there is a spell that lets you know if your partner
> > is telling you the truth?
> >
> > My Partner has cheated on me in the past, I still struggle and find it
> > difficult to trust him 100% - 100% of the time. Sometimes when I have
> > these doubts I find myself wishing for a sign to show me that he's
> > telling me the truth!
> >
> > Any and all help would be appreciated.
> Use Bibliomancy -- divination by a book. I prefer the Bible, but any
> respected book with varied subject matter (important!) will work. Some
> folks use the I Ching. To use the Bible for bibliomancy, the way i was
> taught:
> Close your eyes and ask your question in your mind ("Is he cheating on
> me?"). Open the Bible at random and, keeping your eyes closed, move your
> index finger over both the pages, left and right, in a circle, around
> and around. Then close the book.
> Still keeping your eyes closed, ask the question a second time in your
> mind ("is he cheating on me?"). Again open the Bible at random and,
> keeing your eyes closed, move your index finger over both the pages,
> left and right, in a circle, around and around. Then close the book.
> Still keeping your eyes closed, ask the question a third time in your
> mind ("is he cheating on me?"). Again open the Bible at random and,
> still keeping your eyes closed, move your index finger over both the
> pages, left and right, in a circle, around and around until it feels
> FINGER IS TOUCHING. The "sign" you want will be right there, printed in
> the pages of the Bible.
> I was taught how to do this by my babysitter, Mrs. Hare, in 1956. She
> was a white woman from the South, at least 65 years old at that time,
> probably born around 1890. She had been taught this form of divination
> by her mother and she said that all the women in her family used it.
> When i asled why you undertake the process three times before opening
> your eyes, she told me, "They say three time's a charm." She did not
> call this form of divination "bibliomancy," by the way; she called it
> "Reading the Bible for a Sign."
> This was, by the way, the very first spell i learned and then wrote down
> in my notebook. I was 8 years old at the time.
> Good luck,
> cat yronwode
> Hoodoo in Theory and Practice --
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> Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
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> and receive our free 32 page catalogue of hoodoo supplies and amulets

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