Augury, derived from the Roman word “Augur” which literally means “Priest”, is an ancient method of divination. Augury is practiced to determine whether a purposed action has divine approval or not. It’s believed that everything in the universe has a divine spirit that can reveal the will of the divine and thereby inform us whether a decision or action that a person is going to make in their life is right or wrong.
Originally, Augury involved the interpretation of divine signs by studying the flight of birds; for instance, whether birds are flying in a group or alone, what they are eating, when they are drinking, what noise they make when they fly, the direction of their flight and the type of birds they are, their color, behavior, breed and size. Roman augurs and magistrates used to record everything in order to determine whether a purposed action had divine approval or not.
Later, the term was expanded on its application, as several other natural phenomena were included in it, such as interpreting cloud formations, eclipses, weather conditions and so on. Augury is also helpful when determining the right time to undertake a particular action.
History of Augury
The roots of Augury date back to early Greek and Roman history. Though the method is believed to have been introduced by the Greeks, it was the Romans who made it a complete system governed by fixed rules. Augury was practiced in Augur colleges as well, where the Roman Priests alone were authorized to read the divine signs and provide guidance to the commoners.
In ancient Rome, soldiers used to carry sacred chickens with them in the field. Food was given to these birds, and if they ate that greedily with a significant amount of it dropping out of their mouth, it was believed to be a sign of good luck. However, in case these birds refused to eat or drink anything given to them, it was considered as a sign of bad luck.
How Augury Works
As there is a fixed set of rules that lay the foundations for Augury, the concept is a complete science in itself. Of the various types that Augury is classified into, here are two of the most popular practices:
Aeromancy is referred to as the art of interpretating atmospheric conditions. The divination in Aeromancy includes observing cloud formations, aerial vision, keeping a record of meteors & shooting stars, and observing thunder and lightning. Though the term was first recorded in 1753 when it was considered as a department of science which deals with atmosphere instead of a method of divination, its earliest instance was found in The Great Bible in its alternate spellings.
Apantomancy is referred to as divination that is conducted using articles at hand or things that present themselves by chance. There is a special significance of chance encounters with animals in Apantomancy. For instance, a black cat crossing your path while you are leaving for some important work is the sign of a bad luck or indicating that it’s not the right time to administer that particular work. Another common superstition associated with Apantomancy is the belief that bats around a building is an omen of sickness.
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