dice divining

Seeing the Signs

September, 2014

Divining With Dice

I have a small Crown Royal Bag that I carry with me everywhere I go. In it is a deck of Rider-Waite Tarot Cards, a white quartz crystal, a rosary and a set of dice. I have a folded piece of paper with seventeen divinatory meanings written on it – from two to eighteen – representing the various ways the dice can fall after being thrown. I copied these from Sasha Fenton’s The Fortune-Teller’s Workbook. Fenton calls this “The Simplest Method” and “the oldest method of reading dice.” (Fenton, 78) They follow along the basic lines of numerology – twos are partnership, fives are strife, tens are success, etc. Generally I decide beforehand how many times I am going to throw the dice – I pick a number between one and ten – and then I throw the dice three or four or seven times – how many times I have decided to throw. I add up the numbers that the dice present to me and then reduce to the lowest possible number. That is number I use for a divinatory meaning. I refer back to the list I have – although I am learning quickly the meanings of the list, since it is so close to the same meanings of the every other number system, including the Tarot.

Sasha Fenton outlines several ways of working with dice. One is making a circle on a piece of paper and dividing it into eight or twelve sections and labeling each section with the various issues that you or your querent are interested in – work, home, money, relationships, etc. Or you could use the twelve Astrological houses. Obviously, this is a much more in-depth reading and I confess that I have not yet tried this! But I will!

In The Fortune-Telling Book by Gillian Kemp, there is a history of divination by dice, which is called astragalomancy, after the word “astragus”, meaning bone. She writes, “The ancients divined the future by shaking and tossing two astragals, the right and left ankle bones of sheep.” (Kemp, 81) This is where the term “roll the bones” comes from – as any Rush fan could tell you – and of course the Rush album “Roll The Bones” has a background of dice! And floating bones!

She also writes about the custom of blowing on the dice before tossing them. Anyone who has been to a casino or watched a movie about playing craps knows about blowing on dice for luck before throwing them. She reports that, “Welsh Romany Gypsies…say it is lucky to blow on dice before shaking them, to blow away evil spirits.” (Kemp, 81) She also writes that you should choose whether to use two or three dice. I have always used two, simply because it’s easier to add two dice than it is to add three but she says that, “Two dice give a prophecy; three dice not only give a prediction but also reveal character traits of the person who rolls the dice.” (Kemp, 82) Casting with three dice is called Cleromacy and if I am reading the chart in Kemp’s little book correctly, it appears to be much more complicated. Since I am still a novice in this particular form of divination, I am going to stick to working with two dice for the time being.

Of course, in this modern technological age in which we live, there is an internet option for divining with dice. Check out for information on the history of dice, the many different kinds of dice and how Western dice differs from Asian dice. You can virtually throw the dice, after asking a question, and get a pretty decent answer. www. also has really good information for anyone who is interested in the art and history of Astragalomancy.

In the upcoming months, I will be writing more about this subject, as I learn more about it and I become more adept in this form of divination. Stay tuned!

Works Cited
Fenton, Sasha. The Fortune-Teller’s Workbook: A Practical Introduction to the World of divination. Wellingborough, England: The Aquarian Press, 1988
Kemp, Gillian. The Fortune-Telling Book: Reading Crystal Balls, Tea Leaves, Playing Cards, and Everyday Omens of Love and Luck. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 2000