Ovomancy

They say you have to break a few eggs to make metaphorical breakfast foods, but I can’t seem to break any.

Well, this is just downright silly. I have a collection of my hens’ first eggs and I am loathe to crack any of them open. (My little chickadees hatched out of their own shells on Easter this past spring and have just become mature enough to lay. After the trauma of finding a slew of dead birds this summer, I have become very protective of my girlies. And, it seems, their eggs.) As is the case with first eggs, these are not very big. Just larger than the cherry tomatoes that bedeck my yard with color, their little green and blue egglettes are not nearly enough for foodstuffs.

Sookie, Diablo, Rex, Tina, Harriet, and Pico

Since I am teaching a course on divination this Fall,[1] I had decided to use the eggs for ovomancy. And now I can’t seem to do it.

Silly, right? I know I’ll get over it, but I’m having all of these thoughts – now that my (second-)favorite hen has begun crowing, I know I have a rooster out there. What if I crack open a grandchicken?

I know it’s very silly, but I think my (absolute-)favorite hen may be the only one laying. I saw her out there in the eggbox and collected her teensy deposit. She’s my baby. She and a sister were unwell as chicks and had to be handfed and nursed until one died and this one rallied. My greatest success in chickening thus far, this hen likes to meet me at the door and jump on my shoulder to be held. How am I supposed to crack her eggs?

Silly. Yes. We covered that. What if I use all of the eggs for divination and then my chickens don’t lay any more?

Even sillier. That’s like a Senator suggesting that women could control how and when they . . . never mind – that’s a different post altogether.

Totally nonsensical.

Well – – I had intended to write you a post about learning ovomancy. But, seeing as I am being very silly about my eggs, this may take a day or two. As of now, I haven’t learned anything.

What I have learned is two ways of potentially reading these eggs. One involves dropping the whites into boiling water and observing the patterns made by the solidifying albumen. The other involves watching the clouds formed in a glass after poking a pin hole into the small end of the egg and allowing the albumen to drip into water.

I have also learned a little bit of history. One story that is repeated over and again about oomancy (another word for ovomancy) is of Liva Drucilla, a Roman Empress who incubated an egg in her bosom while pregnant in order to divine the sex of her child. The story goes that when the chick hatched, it had “a beautiful cockscomb;” therefore she knew she would have a son. This story is even sillier than my anxieties about cracking my little-teeny-eggs. Firstly, all chicken eggs take twenty-one days to incubate. Always. Every time.

On the first day, you can sex a chick by looking at its wing pattern. I’m very good at this now. I consistently get the results exactly the opposite. For this reason, I have had hens named Diablo and Roosters named Harriet. You can also “vent-sex” a chicken. I’ve seen it done and would prefer to name all of my hens after the Steelers starting lineup, thanks all the same.

After about three weeks, you can begin to see differences in combs, but depending on the breed, this means little. After about four months, you can see spurs. However, my current roo, a cuckoomaran, has no spurs to speak of and has always “set” like a hen. If it weren’t for the crowing at 5AM, I’d swear he was a she. S’what I get for naming yt Lola, I suppose. My dad says that unless you are a “real pro” at it, you can confuse hens and roos up until the day they either lay or crow. (Even Dad thought Lola was a “purty hen,” btw. He’s thrilled that she’s not. It means Lola is taking a trip to North Alabama to live at The Big Bad Farm.)

My chickens aside, all of this takes three-ish months. Combs don’t begin to appear (in most breeds) with real definition until about seven to ten weeks in or so. What? Did Liva Drucilla walk around with an egg in her dress for three weeks, then keep a chick there for an additional ten? No. It’s a charming story. But no.

See? I over-rationalize everything. How am I supposed to lay my anxieties aside and gaze at the albumen of Steven’s eggs with any sense of seeing?[2]

Plus, like tasseomancy and (gulp) hepatomancy, ovomancy seems like it is going to be a very subjective method. And I’ve had a few things come up this past week that I’m afraid I’ll read into the thing.

There’s a certain someone who screwed me over in a big way a few years back. I don’t mean Real Housewives of East Central Alabama drama, I mean could-have-(wrongfully)-put-my-husband-in-prison-and-succeeded-in-separating-me-from-a-whole-section-of-my-family drama. It seems her Wyrd is coming in. The twine that she wound on her spindle made a shitty-shitty skein of cloth and it’s falling apart like crazy. I’ve waited for this day. And guess what? I’m not even enjoying the show. Honestly, I feel sad for her.

But, Karma’s got nothin’ on Wyrd – she’s a total beeyatch.

And one of her partners in crime? I saw her this weekend in a very unlikely scenario. On an impulse, I reached out and touched her (in a crowd). She looked at me like I’d gone green and sprouted wings. But – and this is a little more typical of The Bad Witch’s experience with divination,[3] just seeing things – I saw things that I really wish I could unsee.

And then there’s this other thing . . . and while I said I preferred to see it coming – I kinda don’t. Like a train-wreck.

So, I’m a little nervous about looking for anything at all.

When I’m looking for something specific, I’m much better with something I feel like I can control,[4] like I Ching, Tarot, Runecasting, and (thanks to Polyphanes for the introduction) Geomancy[5] – though I have had a Tarot reading or two throw me for a loop.

When I just let the information come? It comes. And right now, I donno if I wanna know. You know?

Breathe in, breathe out, Bad Witch.

And break an egg.

As ever, I’ll let you know how it goes.

B, Q, 93,

TBW

This post is part of a year-long project. Rowan Pendragon’s The Pagan Blog Project; “a way to spend a full year dedicating time each week very specifically to studying, reflecting, and sharing . . . .    The project consists of a single blog post each week posted on prompt that will focus on a letter of the alphabet” (http://paganblogproject/).

[1] Don’t mistake me. I am a teacher not a diviner. I have some basic skills and teach from a theoretical, ministerial perspective. I am sensitive, sure, but have little experience reading for other people and have only basic skills in “controlling” what I see and when I see it. And usually I am more reminiscent of Raven Simone than Edgar Cayce. Although, every once in a while I say something that makes folks a little goosefleshy. Completely on accident. Turns out I don’t filter information before regurgitating it – prolly as a result of not practicing enough.

But the theory behind it? That I can teach.

[2] Don’t worry, y’all. I’m overdramatizing to prove a point. I’ll be fine.

[3] Usually, like my mother, I will just start talking and say things that I didn’t know I knew until they come out’my mouth. When it happens to Momma, the hyper-Christian-terrified-of-being-demonic, she says, “Hmph, I guess my schizophrenia is acting up again.” As if it were preferable to be mentally ill than sensitive.

[4] Feel being the operative word.

[5] I think I now understand WTF I’m doing. Or not.