Ovomancy – Followup

I know I owe you a few things, don’t I?

The flu has ripped its way in and out of The Bad Household like it was 1918. Typically, a little sniffle or bellyache doesn’t get me down. As a matter of fact, I get more writing done and more Ancestry.com-ing done when I’m forced to “jes’ sit still a minute.” But aside from accepting the Brilliant Blogger Award, I ain’t done none of it. Well, I did do the ancestry stuff . . . I’ll fill you in later. Everyone else is back in school and fit as a fiddle and I am on the mend, so I figure it’s time to reckon up.

Let me tell you about what happened with my eggs.

Hmm. Wait. You might need better context for that statement.

Let me tell you the results of my first attempt at ovomancy.

After some light prodding from Amy, I pulled up my big-girl drawers and opened my little chicken eggs. First, I got a bit of water boiling. While I did that, I found a glass cylinder that had a circumference that would hold the egg. I had no idea what I was doing. Making it up as I went along, I wasn’t sure how much water to use, how big to make the hole, if I should make a hole in the large end too, what I should expect to see, etc. In the end, I filled the glass almost to full with water, poked a hole in the small end of the egg, settled the egg on the top of the glass, and let the albumen drain into the water, observing the shapes it made: arches/rainbows, flowers/daffodils, birds/swallows.

Sort of. The images I saw were mostly just impressions. The egg white didn’t drain out in a steady stream like I expected. Rather, it pumped out in globs, falling into the water, making impression of the shapes I listed.

This was, in itself an excellent lesson which I will translate to teachable material for this Fall’s divination course. Before you try to scry with a new method, just go through the motions. This way you can figure out what to do and how to do it without worrying about your head being “in the game.”

Speaking of which, being all a-flutter with a new practice, I didn’t settle on a very specific question. I kinda just went with the stand-by, “What’up, yo?” (over three weeks).

Once the water was boiling, I cracked the other egg and allowed the white to drain into the water and solidify. After seeing how the other egg emptied, I didn’t want to hold a draining egg over the heat for any length. I did turn the heat down so that the rolling of the water wouldn’t distort the image or simply tear it to shreds. This time, the albumen made the distinct image of a classic angelfish (Pterophyllum altum). As if I tried to do it. Perfectly sculpted – no ambiguity. There was even a hint of stripes in the texture.

After I wrote everything down and sketched a few pictures (and fed the cooked egg white to my skinny old cat), I thought: “OK, now what?”

I had no idea what to think of the images I saw.

I don’t have an “ovomancy guide” handy and there really are no resources on the web for interpretation – only instruction. Usually, I would just go with my instincts and some Jungian assumptions. However, I am teaching a course for a seminary that rather expects me to use texts aside from my gut. (I had hoped to go to a proper divination fair this past weekend but thought the physician’s office was a better choice.)

So, I turned to the next intuitive thing. Divination symbols are divination symbols, right? I wrote down what I “thought” about the images and then I looked at a few tasseomancy resources. (Reading Tea Leaves” is pretty inclusive if not a little on the odd side.) Not surprisingly, I found that the interpretation of the symbols matched up with my gut fairly well.

When I think of an arch, I think of stability and strength. But because my impression was “rainbow” rather than “arch,” I immediately think of luck.[1] Of course, rainbows are, across cultures, the connection between heaven and earth, usually upon which the gods send messages. Like in the Noah legend, the Norse Bifrost Bridge, the bow of Indra, and Iris of The Iliad.

Arches, according to several tasseographers, stand for power and authority. “Reading Tea Leaves” says: “ARCH, a journey abroad” and “ARCH, Things which you desire are developing in the wished-for direction; the arch is a sign of hope; your ambition may be gratified in a most unexpected manner. See also Triumphal Arch.”[2]

When I think of flowers, particularly daffodils, with the flat outer-petals and the buttercup center, I think of spring, hope, innocence, and William Wordsworth. (I only think of the flowers as narcissus when they are little and white and in a bunch. If I had thought “narcissus” instead of “daffodil,” the story would be very different.) Even in poetry, the daffodil as a synecdoche for spring stands for new beginnings, rebirth, and prosperity. “Reading Tea Leaves” says: “FLOWERS, Many pleasant meanings may be given to this symbol, good fortune, happiness, love, marriage, and a large circle of admiring friends, being among them,” and “DAFFODILS, A long-desired hope is about to come to pass, or a delightful holiday spent in the company of those most congenial to you.” Because there were many flowers, I also considered the meaning of a “bouquet.” My immediate impression is not just “a gift,” but a token of esteem, a congratulatory offering, and even an apology. “Reading Tea Leaves” says: “BOUQUET, one of the luckiest of symbols; staunch friends, success, a happy marriage,” and “This is a most fortunate symbol of coming happiness, love, fulfilled hope, and marriage.”

When I think of angelfish, I think of carnivorous fish and pointy spines and sharp gills. But, I think I know too much about cichlids to be objective. When I think of fish as a basic symbol, I think of the acrostic “IXTHUS” and the vesica piscis – but then, I’m always thinking of the vesica piscis these days. Of course, I think of the loaves and the fishes and therefore abundance.

I’m reminded of the fish in the bar scene of the original Manchurian Candidate, which is my round-about way of saying that the fish is symbolic of female fertility and abundance and the golden fish (one of the eight sacred symbols of the Buddha). Fish also mean metamorphosis in a weird evolutionary way as well as in mythology (think of Aphrodite and Heros, Vishnu, and Mr. Limpett). “Reading Tea Leaves” says: “FISH, good news from abroad; if surrounded by dots, emigration.”

Well, tomorrow is the three week mark. My husband unexpectedly took a business trip to Germany during which we had a discussion about moving our family to Europe. The jury remains out.

In the meantime, as you know, I reconnected with “a large circle of admiring friends,” and have spent a good deal of time “being among them” that are “most congenial” to me. You’d think that was pretty basic, like a fortune cookie or a newspaper horoscope – anything could fulfill the criteria. But given the way things have been on the Bad Social front, I wasn’t expecting a horde of renewed (and new) friendships. In fact, it seemed pretty unlikely. But, alas!

Looks like tomorrow should be a whopper of a day.

As ever, I’ll let you know.

Blessings, Quarks, and 93,

The Bad Witch

 

Let me know what you think of these symbols.

 


[1] It doesn’t occur to me until now to think about storms, Gilgamesh, Hawaii, gay pride, or the “double rainbow” dude.

[2] This always makes me think of Meg Ryan in French Kiss.

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.