Dice Divination

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

Set of RPG Dice 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?

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About polyphanes
I'm a software developer and Hermetic occultist living near Washington, DC, USA. I claim that I'm youthful, dashing, daring, and other things. I make things and chant stuff, and periodically write about them.

9 Responses to Dice Divination

  1. Consider the d10 divination system stolen. I do the same sort of thing with a pendulum, but it’s way too easy to modify a pendulum swing. :)

  2. Balthazar says:

    Nice! I was playing with polyhedral dice earlier this week trying to find an easy way to generate a number between 1 and 112 for the oracle in A Treatise of Mixed Cabalah. I also use custom four sided geomantic dice, which I think they only made a couple of sets of before discontinuing… This forthcoming book on astragals looks pretty interesting too http://www.amazon.co.uk/Oracle-Bones-Divination-Greek-Ching/dp/1620551012/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=2AMPZR8CQPDYB&coliid=I9GIG225D1WER

    • polyphanes says:

      And now that book is on my wishlist. Christmas better be favorable to me this year. Thanks for the heads up!

      Using dice for geomancy is an ancient practice, indeed. Normally I see them in pairs of four dice, each on a central spindle that each die can spin around; the four available sides have either two points (1-1), three points (2-1 or 1-2), or four points (2-2); the dice are spun or shaken and placed atop each other, and the four figures that result form the four Mothers for the chart.

      112 is a nasty number to roll with polyhedral dice. It’s not factorizable into the seven polyhedral dice, unless you want to get a d14 or d7 (which do exist, though uncommonly seen).

  3. Alexander says:

    I’ve been using Platonic solids dice for geomancy for a bit, this was a great post – thanks. I love how quick and simple it makes divining, especially on the fly! I keep the dice (of appropriate elemental colours) in a bag with planetary stones (plus one for Earth/Earth-Luna/the Dragons) and a beaded cord for marking out casting space.

    I keep them on my chthonic altar, as I approach the geomantic spirits from a personal Greek-based necromantic practice. I make prayers to Pluto and Persephone to shed a little wealth of understanding from the earthy depths, then to Hecate to act as intermediary, then the spirits themselves using adaptations of some of the stuff from John Heydon’s ‘Theomagia’.

    At appropriate occasions, I’ll dress/feed the dice; either with an oil for the dead (cypress, rosemary, myrrh, etc), or with Pluto and/or Persephone oils (mainly spearmint and peppermint, respectively). Very occasionally they ask for various dirts, either in their bag or strewn in the casting space.

    Hope that helps.

    PS That book looks *awesome*. Cheers, Balthazar!

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  7. Sephyrot says:

    Hi! I just saw this and it’s awsome. I bought myself a set and I am trying the 2d10 for yes or no questions but they are far from presice. They are plastic. Should I find better luck with a metal or crystal one?
    Thank you.
    Cheers!

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