Tag Archives: Babylonians

belomancy schmelomancy

23 July, 2014

Well, you learn something new everyday. Belomancy is the art of divination (predicting the future) with arrows – from the Greek word belos, meaning arrow or dart. From Wikipedia:

Belomancy was anciently practised at least by BabyloniansGreeksArabs and Scythians…. The arrows were typically marked with occult symbols and had to have feathers for every method. In one method, different possible answers to a given question were written and tied to each arrow. For example, three arrows would be marked with the phrases, God orders it me, God forbids it me, and the third would be blank. The arrow that flew the furthest indicated the answer. Another method involves the same thing, but without shooting the arrows. They would simply be shuffled in the quiver, worn preferably on the back, and the first arrow to be drawn indicated the answer. If a blank arrow was drawn, they would redraw.

Righty ho. I can’t do clout-y distance shooting here in London, but in the spirit of experiment, I gave the second method a go. First, I put my quiver on. I marked three of my arrows with tags: ‘Yes’, ‘No’ and ‘Maybe’, and asked the gods: “Should I go and buy an ice-cream?”.

I turned away, shuffled them out of sight, dramatically drew one from the quiver, and…

..I drew ‘No.’

Now I’m sitting here without any ice-cream. Well, I’m not trying that again.