25th March 2020. Reading Time: 7 minutes General. 558 page views. 0 comments.

Abacomancy is an ancient form of divination where people would 'read' the patterns in sand or dirt to predict their future.

There are many different forms of divination.  Many which are well known.  Tarot is probably one of the most popular methods as is scrying and using a pendulum.  Here is a list of the other forms I have written about previously.





One of the more unknown forms of divination is called abacomancy.  Divination is an ancient art with the purpose to seek knowledge or predict the future through what is thought to be using supernatural methods.

What is abacomancy?

Abacomancy is also referred to as Amathomancy.  It comes from the Greek word "amathos" which means sand.  A person would have a flat surface and throw either sand, dust or even silt onto the surface.  Some even used the ashes of the deceased.  They then study the patterns within to see if they can find symbols.  The symbols correlate to different meanings which they interpret or 'read'.  

Derek Ustaszewski's "Dust, Dirt, Grime" (1st Edition 1639) p 193 sourced from hogwarts-school

How to read with abacomancy

There are a couple of different ways that a person can 'read' with abacomancy.  The first way is to pour the substance whether it be sand or dust etc onto a flat surface.  They then read it directly as it has fallen.  Another way which was more common was to use some sort of wand (or even a stick) or dowel which is like a thick round wooden cylinder to spread the ashes.  They would then disturb the substance again with the stick to see if it revealed any patterns.  While often a person that is reading is looking for a symbol, some readers who would go more in depth and look for the same symbol to repeat itself over and over within the substance.  

In a different form, a seer would interpret the patterns caused by natural occurrences such as the wind moving the sand on the ground.  In Ancient times, the seer would use the ashes of a deceased person on the 10th night after the person has died.  A funeral pyre was erected to cremate the deceased which is like a big wooden bonfire (remember there were no funeral homes back then).  The person who lit the fire is the one who is to sift through the ashes to do the reading using a lamp for light.  The ash was covered with a basket and left overnight.  The next day they would return examine it for patterns.  They believed the ghost of the deceased would shift to the body of an animal and their footprints or a symbol of the animal would appear in the ashes.

As the other techniques of divination became more popular - likely because they were more practical, abacomancy somewhat faded away.  That doesn't mean its concept has not had an influence.

Jackson Pollock

While this is typically an ancient practice, it it is most known in today's world thanks to famous American painted Jackson Pollock.  Have you ever seen someone flick paint onto a canvas?  This is what Jackson Pollock became most famous for in the late 1940's.  This splash and drip style would create a painting.  By studying the patterns within the painting, Pollock would read the future.  It was said that Pollock used automatism to create his paintings which is a term that describes bodily movements which are not controlled by a conscious thought.  Like breathing.  Your body continues to breathe without 'making' yourself do it.  In almost like a form of automatic writing, a painter like Pollock expressed himself unconsciously.

pure psychic automatism, by which one proposes to express, either verbally, in writing, or by any other manner, the real functioning of thought. Dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason, outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation.

André Breton

Perhaps this is why his art was so ground breaking and popular.  Each person that looked at it would potentially see something different.  Remember our brains are wired to 'fill in the gap's when it sees patterns it does not understand.  To do this, it fills in the gaps by making you see something that is perhaps significant to you.  Studying this art would evoke a different emotional response in each person.  When you think about divination, it is a tool of self reflection so in some ways, people were connecting with these paintings on a much deeper level than they realised.

What is really interesting about this is that obviously a lot of people felt that they could 'recreate' this work by aimlessly splashing paint onto a canvas and trying to sell it as a genuine 'Pollock'.  Scientists were actually able to study his work compared to the fakes and noticed traits that showed he was painting on an 'unconscious' level.  His work lacked what is called coiling instability which is the automatic trait of the paint forming a curl or a circle when poured onto the surface.  It meant his movement was precise with intent.

Image source: https://www.jackson-pollock.org/

Translating abacomancy into the modern world

While abacomancy is not a well known form of divination, it has clearly had its influence.  Aside from Jason Pollock, I can see an influence even in paranormal investigating.   Now of course many of the previous forms of divination have been adapted into modern day paranormal investigating techniques.  Video ITC for example is an evolved form of scrying using water.  Investigators don't however use it as a tool of divination but more for spirit communication.  In the example of Video ITC, people use this to look for the faces of spirits they feel they are communicating with.  To learn more about Video ITC, you can read my article here:https://llifs.com.au/blog/water-itc/

The concept of dowsing in a lot of ways has become 'electronic' with people now using devices to give the yes/no answers that dowsing rods once provided.  I have to wonder if this practice in some way has influenced the way that people interpret the faces they see in mist or even 'orbs'.  While we know that pareidolia causes our brain to 'fill in the blanks' and make us see these faces etc, the concept of divination would argue that you are seeing what your brain thinks you are supposed to see.  While I may not necessarily agree with that statement, the fact remains that people are constantly looking for these faces in all sorts of surfaces and particles and believe it is a spirit.  Divination in a lot of ways seems to have shifted to spirit communication, so this in a lot of ways has as well.  Instead of divination being used as a tool for self reflection, it is being used a tool for spirit communication.  Maybe this is where we are getting it wrong .... or maybe people are getting it right but we are looking at it wrong?  A lot of the time, people comment that they see a face in an orb and feel it is a loved one.  For them it gives them comfort.  Maybe they need that comfort and the brain is showing them what they need to see.  It is quite likely that is why we don't see what they see as it really is a form of pareidolia, however much like the paintings above, this evokes an emotion to the person.  In reflection, it could be what that person needs at the time.  The brain is causing us to see this 'face', and maybe that is what we need to see.  While we are caught up in trying to 'debunk' things and these faces as a side effect of the brain (which admittedly is what a lot of my work is based on) when it comes to divination, they aren't trying to prove anything to the world, just looking for answers themselves.  The line of course has become a bit blurred thanks to paranormal investigators and the presentation of evidence, but maybe with these sorts of things we need to look at things from a divination perspective and not as proof of the paranormal.  It isn't proof of the paranormal we can agree on that and many of us will even argue that, but it is likely giving the person some sort of insight or evoking a feeling of emotion that they need.  This is a case of we know the 'how'.  We know how the brain works and how it is making us see a face in the mist or in the smudges of the mirror.  This is a fact.  What we don't always know however, is the why.  Why is our brain showing us this face?  If you are more spiritually inclined, that could open up a range of possibilities for you.

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