The Seer's Guide To Seeing
A beginner's guide to the many-faceted field of divination.
Wizards and witches often speak of “Luck” in the past tense. Something is only lucky or unlucky to them if some fortunate or unfortunate happenstance has occurred. What they fail to realize is that luck is not something to be ascribed after the fact, but is a very real bend in the threads of fate. We have already discussed how fate can be altered, and one of the most reliable ways to do so is by recognizing the signs of coming change and taking advantage accordingly. These signs come in the form of omens.
Omens are circumstantial phenomena that suggest which direction fate is moving in. If discovered early enough, and if planned for intelligently, one can easily avoid the forces that were predestined to give bad luck and seek out sources of good luck that would normally be just out of reach. Good and bad luck are both foretold by omens. Despite the negative stigma the word “omen” carries with the average person, they are not inherently indicative of either good or bad luck.
An omen can come in literally any form. They can be as subtle as the way a leaf blows in the breeze, or as obvious as bursting, fiery letters appearing in midair. Omens are found as occurrences in the natural world, or as symbols in the practice of a divination technique. Since the various disciplines of Divination are countless in number, omens are separated into two general categories: portents and glyphs.
Portents are observations of natural occurrences, and are the most common, reliable type of omen, to the extent that the words portent and omen are interchangeable to many diviners. The fields of Aeromancy (clouds, wind, and celestial events), Geomancy (earth), Theriomancy (behavior of wildlife), Apantomancy (chance encounters with wildlife), Dendromancy (trees), Hydatomancy (rainwater), Onomancy (letters in a name), Abacomancy (dust), Urticariaomancy (itches), and many, many more, are all types of portentous omens.
Glyphs are abstract symbols that are produced and interpreted in the more executive fields of divination. They are the omens that fortune-tellers commonly look for, and are seen as less reliable because two different diviners could see the same signs and interpret wildly different futures from them. The fields of Cleromancy (casting lots), Psephomancy (drawing lots), Turifumy (smoke), Hydromancy (water ripples), Numismatomancy (coins), Ovomancy (pouring egg yolk in water), Pallomancy (pendulums), Lychnomancy (candles), Alomancy (salt), and more, are all types of glyphic omens.
Some omens are powerful enough to appear as both a portent and a glyph, and are useful to know regardless of which disciplines of Divination one plans on using. As a basic introduction, we will discuss sixteen of these omens, eight good and eight bad, ranging from ancient to contemporary, and identify their portentous and glyphic manifestations. They are:
- The Knot
- The Jinx
- Celsus & Noxius
- The Crux & The Saltire
- The Sun & The Moon
- The Rat King
- The Unicorn
- The Rainbow
- The Evil Eye
- The Troll Cross
- The Hares
- The Grim
Also known as The Triquetra or The Endless Knot, this omen appears as an entwined pattern with three corners that perfectly repeats itself. The style of the pattern will vary from appearance to appearance, and no two Knots are alike, but it will always have three corners and the design of the knot itself will always be exactly the same on all three points. This omen is very old, and over the centuries, wizards and witches have made jewelry, talismans, and carvings of Knots to try and attract good luck. Opinion on the efficacy of these trinkets varies wildly from wizard to wizard, but these are not real Knots, nor is seeing one a portent. For the actual portent, The Knot is found among tangled piles of rope and cord, tree branches, and some have even reported seeing groups of snakes form one. It appears much more clearly as a glyph, as the designs of some of the Knots are physically impossible. The Knot indicates a future action that will leave a lasting impression.
Considered by some to be the origin of the term “jinx”, the Jinx is a symbol that appears as a snake with three heads and three tails. Although the Jinx itself doesn't exist, it appears as a portent when three snakes cross paths simultaneously, slithering under and over each other to form the symbol, and can also appear from the formation of three carelessly laid ropes or wires. It appears as an hourglass-shaped glyph, with three distinct heads and three distinct tails. The Jinx indicates a string of good luck followed by a sudden, dramatic reversal of fortune. The Jinx can be easily confused with the runespoor, which has three heads and one tail, but appearances by the Jinx are a completely different matter than encountering a runespoor.
The sword is a powerful symbol of force, and from the same sword we get two completely different omens – Celsus and Noxius. Although some might argue otherwise, the style of the sword is unimportant. What is important is the direction the blade is oriented. If if points forward, upwards, or to the right, it is known as Celsus, a sign of success on a future endeavor. If it points inwards, downwards, or to the left, it is known as Noxius, a sign of failure on a future endeavor. Very controversial as a portent, it is almost exclusively seen as a glyph. The only place one can find a sword in this day and age is on display, and many jokes are made about amateur diviners who try to point out every Celsus they see mounted on the wall, or every Noxius they come across on armor displays. Historically, Celsus and Noxius were portents found in the form of old, discarded swords in the wilderness. Finding Celsus at the outset of a journey was considered exceptionally good luck, while finding Noxius stuck blade-first into the ground of a future battlefield was seen as a sign of impending defeat.
The Crux, also known as the Cross and the Sign-of-Four, and the Saltire, also known as the Crys and frequently referred to colloquially as the “X”, are ancient symbols of good and bad luck. They each consist of two symmetrical lines perpendicular to one another that intersect in the middle. The Crux is made up of a vertical and a horizontal line, and the Saltire two opposing diagonal lines. The Crux indicates a sudden, seemingly random stroke of luck in the near future. Because of how simple it is, it is easy to spot, but nothing more than the vaguest notion can be derived from it. Only diviners of exceptional talent and study can begin to foresee the details of this random stroke of luck from the Crux alone. The Saltire is never hazy or unclear. It always appears suddenly, usually giving the querent just enough time to duck, jump out of the way, and otherwise avoid danger. Several wizards and witches have sworn that they only narrowly avoided grave injury, or even death, because they saw two twigs, two cracks in a flagstone, two columns of smoke, or something similarly innocuous forming the Saltire seconds before they were in danger.
The Sun and The Moon hold immense magical influence and power, and the effects of their movements are so complex that the field of study dedicated to learning their effects on the future is almost as intricate as the rest of Divination as a whole. Their appearance is not a portent, as one need only look up during the day or night to see The Sun or The Moon. The phases and movement of The Sun and The Moon are generally regarded as the field of Astrology, and their constant appearance does not count as an omen, but there are two exceptions: when a strange variation in their movement is observed, or during an eclipse. A change in its movement could mean a potentially infinite number of things, it all depends on its relative position and the degree of movement, whereas a solar or lunar eclipse are powerful omens that represent a momentous occasion; things that, once the future has come to pass, will be regarded as turning points in history. Although these cosmic signs aren't inherently good or bad, a solar eclipse is generally regarded as a bad omen and a lunar eclipse is regarded as a good omen. As a glyph, The Sun is depicted as an orb with eleven rays radiating from it. Diviners sometimes also report seeing a faint glow or feeling a faint warmth coming from it. The Moon, on the other hand, is usually depicted as a half or partially waning moon, and represents bad luck.
Also known as Ratticus Rex, the Rat King is a unique and puzzling omen. It is most commonly seen as a portent, in the form of a cluster of rats, all joined at the tail. Seeing the Rat King signifies a great disaster or misfortune in the surrounding area, almost always urban ones, and was historically associated with plague and famine. However, as a glyph, it is completely different. The Rat King almost never takes a clear or obvious form as a symbol. Instead, it takes the form of a glyph of good fortune, resulting in misfortune from an inaccurately divined future. In order to tell it apart from the actual good luck symbol it is masquerading as, one must look for the signs. Regardless of what form it takes, The Rat King always displays a multitude of small legs and eyes.
Unicorns are powerful and mysterious magical creatures, and their image carries an equal amount of confidence and dignity. They are a rare sight, and catching but a glimpse of one in a dark forest is a sign of personal confidence and ambition in the future. The querent might experience good luck brought upon by a profound feeling of confidence, while others say that they were suddenly inspired by a great idea after glimpsing one of the elusive beasts. As a glyph, the unicorn will proudly present itself, and when it does, take careful note of its hooves. If all four hooves are on the ground, it means good fortune through resisting change. If one hoof is raised, it means good fortune through confidence. If it is rearing and both front hooves are in the air, it means both; good fortune through remaining confident and ignoring naysayers.
The Doppelganger is unique in its appearance, as it adopts the form of the querent. Disquieting in its appearance, the Doppelganger most often appears as a ghostly image, but sometimes as a glyph, and it is extremely bad luck on par with the Grim for what it represents. It looks exactly the same as the querent, down to the finest detail, with a neutral expression on its face, standing up straight with its arms down its sides and hands balled into fists. It can be facing either forwards or backwards, and seeing the Doppelganger in this manner indicates a terrible disaster in the future. However, if one sees the Doppelganger saying something, making a facial expression, pointing, covering its face or any other part of its body with one hand, it is a death omen. In these cases, it is always the left side that is emphasized. If the Doppelganger is seen saying something, its mouth will move as if it is speaking, but it is completely silent.
Rainbows have long been held with reverence and awe by humankind as far back as recorded history, and probably much longer before that, and for good reason. Rainbows are a harbinger of good fortune, and many wizards and witches have reported finding this good fortune by following the rainbow to its apparent source. Aside from their natural beauty, rainbows have 7 colors, which is one of the most powerful numbers in the field of numerology. As a glyph, the rainbow is distinctive because it always curves downwards and always has distinct coloration of some sort. Amateur diviners dabbling in crystallomancy can be identified by how frequently they confuse the natural light refraction on a crystal ball for the rainbow symbol.
One of the oldest and simplest bad omens, the Evil Eye always appears as an eye staring directly at the diviner. It appears in glyph form as well, and though the details may vary, running the gamut from human eyes to slitted, reptilian ones, The Evil Eye is always unmistakable, and diviners who gaze into it feel profoundly uncomfortable and disturbed. The Evil Eye is one of the only portents that can be produced by people, but it cannot be produced at-will. A wizard or witch who is currently in the winds of extreme misfortune, during a time of extreme emotional duress, can produce The Evil Eye by making eye contact with someone whom they fully, intentionally wish harm and misfortune upon but are powerless to do themselves. Because of this, it is often mistaken for a curse or hex, but since the magic involved has no exact source, it is considered an omen, not a spell. The Evil Eye indicates an immediate and long-lasting string of extremely bad luck. Due to the ruin that this omen has preceded, historically, there are numerous supposed rituals, amulets, potions, spells, and formulas that have been devised to help get rid of the bad luck the Evil Eye brings, but no conclusive study has ever shown any of these methods to work.
Horseshoes and the Omega character (Ω) are two symbols that are commonly associated with good luck, and they both have roots in the same omen. The Troll Cross appears as a U-shaped curving line whose tips bend inwards toward each other. Seeing one indicates fortune brought by the protection of a guardian, and its name is derived from its perceived ability to ward off trolls. Commonly formed from tree branches or geographical features, this symbol is ancient, and for centuries, wizards and witches have been making iron Troll Cross amulets to invoke its protective influence. As a symbol, the degree at which the tips cross is indicative of the degree of luck it is foretelling. The further crossed they are, the luckier it is. There are arguments even today about whether or not the orientation of the tips or curved portion matters, and which direction is the proper one, but no conclusive work has been done to suggest one way or the other.
There are many things to keep in mind when reading omens. Perhaps most importantly is to not pursue Cryptomancy as a specialty. Despite the name, Cryptomancy is a broad and generalized field, and nearly all schools of Divination utilize it to some degree or other. Unless one's interest is entirely a scholastic one, to attempt to specialize in Cryptomancy is to attempt to specialize in all of Divination, which, to reiterate, is strongly discouraged for the purpose of one's sanity. Trying to chart the winds of fortune by spotting every omen there is to find is one of the most common ways that talented diviners have been driven mad - seeing contradicting portents and symbols in everything at all times. Every diviner must have a basic grasp of omens, but remember, the diviner is an observer, nothing more. Seeking out particular omens is tantamount to the delusion of controlling fate. Keep one's inner eye open and clear, and one will not have to look for omens, they will reveal themselves. If an omen does not want to be seen, it will not be seen.
The second thing to remember is to not take the previous rule to heart. Exclusively practicing Cryptomancy is one quick portkey away from madness, but a strong understanding of omens is always healthy. If one is truly interested in the subject, instead of trying to know as vast a quantity of different omens as possible, one can find several specific omens to specialize in. Portents and glyphs are never completely clear, but a deeper understanding of an omen will help one make a better interpretation and a more accurate prediction whenever it appears.
The third thing to remember is not every sign is a recognized omen, and not everything is a sign. The field of Divination is complex; so complex, in fact, that humans will likely never completely uncover its mysteries. And so there will be many times when looking for signs or not, when one's inner eye will immediately take notice of a sign. Even if one does not recognize the omen, regardless of whether or not it is an omen in the first place, the sixth sense is being stimulated, and one should know to trust it without question. During these times, the future will be clearer than usual, and all the knowledge of all the omens in the world would not help one see more clearly.
The fourth thing to remember is to use caution and common sense. A querent's future is rarely laid out plainly for them, and omens offer no greater degree of clarity. Occasionally, one will see omens that contradict one another, or omens that tell of future events that seem impossible. It is important to think critically. Is this what the omens are really signifying, or have they just been interpreted incorrectly? Are these omens foretelling one future event, or several? Has one seen enough omens come to pass to truly rule this future out as impossible? And of course, ask oneself the golden question: is there even an omen present in the first place?
Lastly, remember to simply observe. There is no such thing as chance or chaos, and so nothing is insignificant. Keep one's mind open wide, and one's inner eye open wider. Trust one's feelings and do not make the mistake that so many bright minds and hearts have wasted their lives for over the centuries. Do not contaminate one's divinations with wishes and worries for the future. Clear the mind and trust only the senses, and only after one has accurately made a prediction in such a manner can one begin thinking about altering one's fate.