In ancient times the haruspex (diviner) interpreted the divine will by inspecting the entrails of a sacrificial animal. First the animal was ritually slaughtered. Next it was butchered, with the haruspex examining the size, shape, color, markings etc. of certain internal organs, usually the liver (hepatoscopy), but also the gall, heart and lungs. Finally, when the animal had been butchered, the meat was roasted and all the celebrants shared a sacred meal.
(modern term from Greek ornis “bird” and manteia “divination”; in Ancient Greek: οἰωνίζομαι “take omens from the flight and cries of birds”) is an Ancient Greek practice of reading omens from the actions of birds, equivalent to the Augury employed by the ancient Romans. Although it was mainly the flights and songs of birds that were studied, any action could have been interpreted to either foretell the future or relate a message from the gods. These omens were considered with the utmost seriousness by Greeks and Romans alike.
This form of divination became a branch of Roman national religion, which had its own priesthood and practice. One notable example occurs in the Odyssey, when thrice an eagle appears, flying to the right, with a dead dove in its talons; this augury was interpreted as the coming of Odysseus, and the death of his wife’s suitors.
Using texts such as the works of Homer to divine answers. Usually opened at random or using three dice to determine what lines should be interpreted.
A set of 24 stones or potsherds (pottery fragments), each inscribed or painted with a letter of the alphabet. Each stone should have one of the Greek letters (Α, Β, Γ, etc.). Keep the stones in a jug, box, or bag, and when you want to consult the oracle, pick a stone without looking. (One ancient method was to shake the stones in a bowl or frame drum until one jumped out.) This method is similar to the use of rune stones. Stones used in this way would be called psêphoi (PSAY-foy) in Ancient Greek (calculi in Latin); inscribed or painted potsherds are ostraca in Greek (testae in Latin).
Divination using dice or the knucklebones of sheep, which were called astragaloi. The four sides of the bone were given a numerical value and these were then added together to equal an alphabet character.
A form of divination based upon dreams; it is a system of dream interpretation that uses dreams to predict the future. Dreams were also used for healing in Ancient Greece, especially in the sanctuary of Askelpios. Sleeping in the sanctuary of a god was believed to facilitate dreams sent from that particular deity.
Divination associated with Hermes, where the person seeking an answer would cover their ears, walk into a busy marketplace and then the first words they heard after uncovering their ears would be their answer. Offerings were made before and after to Hermes.