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History of pyromancy
Due to the importance of fire in society from the earliest of times, it is quite likely that pyromancy was one of the earlier forms of divination. It is said that in Greek society, virgins at the Temple of Athena in Athens regularly practiced pyromancy. It is also possible that followers of Hephaestus, the Greek god of fire and the forge, practiced pyromancy.
In Renaissance magic, pyromancy was classified as one of the seven "forbidden arts," along with necromancy, geomancy, aeromancy, hydromancy, chiromancy (palmistry), and spatulamancy (scapulimancy).
Types of pyromancy
The most basic form of pyromancy is that in which the diviner observes flames, from a sacrificial fire, a candle, or another source of flame, and interprets the shapes that he or she sees within them. There are several variations on pyromancy, however, some of which are as follows:
- Alomancy, divination by salt, one type of which involves casting salt into a fire
- Botanomancy, divination by burning plants
- Capnomancy, divination by smoke; light, thin smoke that rose straight up was a good omen; otherwise, a bad one.
- Causinomancy, divination by burning (non-specific as to the object burned)
- Daphnomancy (also, Empyromancy), divination by burning laurel leaves
- Osteomancy, divination using bones, one type of which involves heating to produce cracks
- Plastromancy, divination using turtle plastrons; in China, this was done by heating pits carved into them.
- Scapulimancy, divination by scapulae; in Asia and North America, this was done pyromantically.
- Sideromancy, divination by burning straw with an iron (Greek:Pyro Skelly)
Pyromancy in fiction
- Computer games such as Guild Wars, Heroes of Might and Magic, Titan Quest, Castle Clash, Wizard101, Dark Souls, Adventure Quest Worlds, and World of Warcraft use pyromancy as a name for fire-related magic.
- In the anime and manga Sailor Moon, Sailor Mars practices pyromancy by searching for visions in a roaring fire.
- In the series of fantasy novels A Song of Ice and Fire the character Melisandre performs pyromancy to show another character his future, but there is also a "pyromancer" who does not perform pyromancy, but is educated in the science of fire and flammable substances.
- In The Guardians of Ga'Hoole series, very few characters possess this ability. It goes by the name "fire sight".
- In the MMORPG game Wizard101, players who choose to become Fire Wizards are known as Pyromancers.
- In the animated television series "Avatar: The Last Airbender", Avatar Aang and his friends, Sokka and Katara, visit a fortuneteller named Aunt Wu, who uses pyromancy (specifically osteomancy) to tell Aang his future.
- Johannes Hartlieb (Munich, 1456) The Book of All Forbidden Arts; quoted in Láng, p. 124.