Divinations Death divinations

An odd custom that used to be the tradition in one part of Germany was to make wreaths of MARSH MARIGOLDS and then throw them one at a time on to the house roof. If anybody's wreath actually stayed up, then it would be taken as a sign that he would die before next summer (Hartland. 1909). This took place as part of the St John's Day celebrations, and it is unusual to find death divinations practiced then. Would they still be in bloom at Midsummer? There was a Welsh custom of gathering pieces of ST JOHN'S WORT, and naming each piece for a member of the family, and then hanging them all on the rafters. In the morning, they were examined; those that had withered most represented the person expected to die soonest (Vickery. 1981).

Johann Weyer (De praestigiis Daemonum et incanta-tionibus ac Veneficiis,1568) recorded Daphnemancy (using SPURGE LAUREL, (Daphne laureola) among his list of divinations ascribed to demonic agency. The divination was by the crackling of the leaves while burning. The leaves were also put under the pillow to induce dreams (Lea). Capnomancy is divination by smoke. One way of using it was by throwing seeds of JASMINE or poppy on the fire, and watching the motion and density of the smoke. If it was thin, and shot up in a straight line, it was a good omen (Adams). There is a gypsy divination to know if an invalid will recover. They put from nine to 21 seeds of THORN-APPLE on a "witch drum", that is, a tambourine covered with an animal skin marked with stripes that have a special meaning. The side of the drum is tapped gently, and according to the position that the seeds take on the stripes, the recovery or death of the patient is predicted (Leland. 1891).

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