Tuesday, 18 March 2014
Review: How to Read an Egg - Divination
When I was offered a review copy of a new book about divination called How to Read an Egg,I was intrigued. I’d never heard of egg-reading – or ovomancy – before. As well as being curious, I was delighted to find out something new about eggs to blog about before the Spring Equinox and Easter, having over the years already written about egg superstitions as well as egg-related folklore, myths and legends. As soon as the book arrived I was keen to start reading and learn.
It turns out that egg-reading is a form of scrying that is not too dissimilar to fortune telling using tea-leaves, which I have tried before. The idea is that you look for shapes and patterns - formed in the case of eggs by egg white - and interpret them to help answer people’s questions and give an indication of what might happen in the future.
The querent is meant to pick a fresh egg and carry it around with them for a day or put it underneath their bed while they sleep at night, then bring it to the ovomancer and ask their question. A hole is made in the shell and the egg white is poured into a bowl of slightly warm water. This forms images which a clairvoyant can read.
As with fortune telling with tea-leaves, the process is the easy bit. The difficult part lies in understanding what the signs mean, as they are rarely as clear as tarot card pictures. I agree with author Colette Brown that: "Some symbols mean one thing to one person and something very different to another... So, it is important to use your intuition or psychic ability to divine ‘the full picture.‘"
However, lists of common interpretations are useful when you are learning the art of scrying, teacup reading or egg-reading. At the back of How to Read an Egg there is a dictionary of symbols to help you get started.
So now I know how to read an egg, but the book itself is not just about egg-reading. Its subtitle is Divination for the Easily Bored, and it is covers a range of ways to perform divination that are slightly unusual. The press release from publisher Dodona says: "You've tried the tarot, ruminated with the runes and are all angel-carded out! Now try the less well known, the tribal, the forgotten and the truly bonkers!" And, yes, some of the methods covered are a little bonkers, it has to be said.
Colette explains several forms of fortune telling with food and drink - from the aforementioned eggs and tea-leaves to wine dregs, nuts and cake. The next chapter covers divination using body parts. Palmistry is well known, but apparently you can also tell a lot about a person from their moles or even the shape of their bottom! Psychometry, scrying, dowsing and bibliomancy (fortune telling with books) are covered too - although none of them are particularly unusual in my opinion.
Something I might like to try out myself is the use of shaman bones or witchdoctor bones. Colette explains how to make a set of these from the bones leftover from a roast chicken or turkey - something many families have around Easter time anyway.
Once cleaned and prepared, individual bones from different parts of the bird are named as a "family" and factors such as luck, love and health. A throwing cloth marked up as a "medicine wheel and the associated four directions: spirituality, emotions, physical and intellect." When cast, the reading is done based on which bones land where.
Although How to Read an Egg: Divination for the Easily Boredis aimed at beginners to the art of divination in that it explains the techniques in an easy to understand and humorous fashion, I think it will also appeal to experienced clairvoyants. Anyone wanting to find out about some more obscure techniques of fortune telling will certainly find them here. For the right person, this book could make a good alternative to the traditional chocolate egg as an Easter present.
How to Read an Egg: Divination for the Easily Bored