Within the context of a single paleo-pagan Indo-European culture, discuss three different forms of divination or seership, and give an example of each. (minimum 100 words each)
Since I have limited material available, I’m changing up my culture a bit for these essays and working with one of the books I used in my DP, The Druids by Peter Ellis. Here we’ll be focusing on various Celtic methods of divination, such as frith, bird flights, and sacrifices (Ellis, 221).
In regards to human sacrifice, Ellis states that divination by entrails, done by haruspices, was observed through size, shape, color, and markings of various organs such as the liver and gall bladder. The bull was particularly coveted for sacrifices due to its strength, and eventually evolved into a “cult of the bull” across western Europe.
There was also a custom use of bull hides four divination purposes as well. Such as a hide being spread over a rowan tree with the inside facing towards the sky to attract certain energies, or the seer wrapping himself in the bull hide only to lay by a waterfall to meditate. Other animals were also used for divination sacrifices, such as the pig.
(Word Count: 119)
Moving on to another form of augury, Diodorus Siculus ascribed to a method using the flight of birds to predict the future. Flight behavior and even eating habits were methods used to divine in various cultures. The historian Nennius wrote in a version of Historia Brittonum about the Druid “Bird Watchers” and how a Welsh Prince could make birds on Llangorse Lake sing because he was the ruler of Wales (Ellis, 223).
Other example recorded of bird augury are recorded by John Toland in History of the Druids, where he spoke of an encounter with two irish men who were discussing the profitable future of their business due to seeing a raven with white feathers on its plumage, but that they would not continue until they saw the path the raven would take.
(Word Count: 133)
Frith, according to MacLeod (MacLeod 153), was a method of augury to discover lost beings and what condition they were in, both human and animal. The diviner fasts for a period of time on the first Monday of each quarter. They have bare feet and an uncovered head and stood in a doorway with eyes closed. The doorway symbolized a position between worlds, that position being between the house and the unseen world. With hand on each side of the door, prayers were made in silence to be granted access to the unseen world. After some more time, the diviner opens their eyes and stared straight ahead directly. The positioning of all the visible items in their line of site was used to determine the outcome of the vision from the otherworld to help locate the lost loved one.
(Word Count: 139)