May 6, 2013 9 Comments
After my introduction to grammatomancy, I’ve found myself using dice a lot more for divination in various ways that I think are pretty nifty. When I say dice, I don’t mean standard six-sided dice, but a complete set of tabletop RPG gaming dice. These kinds of dice have the advantage of being rather portable and pliable to many divination systems, and are fairly innocuous and subtle to boot. Plus, for those who play tabletop games that require them, the notion of divination and the notion of action checks can be intimately similar. For those who’re unfamiliar with such dice, one of these sets are usually includes seven dice, each with a different number of sides:
- A six-sided die (d6), cube, numbered 1 through 6, the standard and most common die
- A four-sided die (d4), tetrahedron, numbered 1 through 4
- An eight-sided die (d8), octahedron, numbered 1 through 8
- A twenty-sided die (d20), icosahedron, numbered 1 through 20
- A twelve-sided die (d12), dodecahedron, numbered 1 through 12
- Two ten-sided dice (2d10), pentagonal trapezohedrons, numbered by ones from 0 through 9 and by tens from 00 through 90
Although dice divination is ancient, the phrase itself refers to a manner of generating symbols by means of dice. This could be as simple as odd-or-even for a yes/no question or as complex as rolling several dice to get a more complex symbol. In my own practice, I use each of the dice for different purposes depending on their shapes:
- For geomancy, I use the d4, d6, d8, and d20. These are four of the five Platonic solids, and each is associated with a different element: d4 with Fire, d6 with Earth, d8 with Air, and d20 with Water. I roll these four dice at the same time and inspect whether each die is odd or even to generate a geomantic figure. If a die is odd, the corresponding elemental line is active; if even, passive. Thus, if I roll a 2 on the d4, 6 on the d6, 7 on the d8, and 1 on the d20, I get the geomantic figure Coniunctio. I’d do this three more times to generate four geomantic figures, then generate a complete geomantic chart based on those.
- For grammatomancy, I use the d12. There are 24 letters in the Greek alphabet, so I roll the d12 twice: the first roll gives me an odd or even number, which refer to the first 12 or last 12 letters in the Greek alphabet, while the second roll gives me the letter within that set according to its rank. So, if I roll a 5 and an 8, I end up with the Greek letter Theta (eighth letter of the first half of the alphabet). The dodecahedron is the fifth Platonic solid and not associated with any one element, although some attribute it to Spirit/ether. In a sense, this is fitting for grammatomancy, since (using stoicheia) each of the letters of the Greek alphabet can represent one of the seven planets, five elements, or twelve zodiac signs, and 7 + 5 + 12 = 24 = 2 × 12. I could use a d2, the two-sided die also known as a coin, to determine whether to use the first half or second half of the alphabet, but I like the simplicity of using just 1d12 rolled twice instead.
- For yes/no divination, I use the normally leftover and otherwise useless 2d10. I use a scale from 0 to 99 to determine the answer, with the higher numbers meaning “yes” and lower numbers meaning “no”. I divide the results up into five groups: 0 through 19 meaning “fuck no, GTFO, DIAF”, 20 through 39 meaning “nope”, 40 through 59 meaning “maybe” or “meh”, 60 through 79 meaning “yup, sure”, and 80 through 99 meaning “fuck yeah, awesome”. The categories are taken from obi divination using cowrie shells, but with a finer gradient. So, if I roll a 50 and 8, the result is 58, meaning “maybe” to a particular question, indicating unclear circumstances or too much confusion, but with an inclination towards an affirmative answer since it’s on the higher end of this range. An answer of 0 in particular indicates the most abhorrent and worst omen, while 99 would be the most direct, favorable, and absolute in its awesomeness.
What I haven’t yet quite figured out, though, is a proper consecration of the dice. After all, like the good lil’ ceremonial magician I am, I’m practically obliged to consecrate or sanctify any and all tools I work with. I’m thinking a consecration under the powers of Mercury/Hermes, given that he’s the god of gambling, adventures, and divination, all of which use dice in some manner or another, and all of which relate directly to Fortune itself. I’m still undecided, but I’m sure I’ll come up with a ritual to do this eventually. Perhaps the next time a good Mercury election comes around, I suppose, or when the Moon is full on a Wednesday in otherwise good conditions. In the meantime, a quick prayer to Hermes and Apollo before casting the dice will suffice, I should think.
Do you guys use dice in your divination? I’ve seen other methods of dice divination before, but it seems like it can vary from person to person or from culture to culture with few set rules to it. How would you guys use dice, if you would at all?