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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

augury A tool for prophecy, the word derived from the Latin avium garritus, meaning “speech of birds.”
      While prophecy in general often makes use of substances and objects such as dice, Tarot cards, or sky clouds to determine the future, augury is most specifically concerned with the appearance and arrangement of the revealed entrails of unfortunate birds, as well as the flight patterns of the more fortunate ones.
      In the latter system, the augur (the person who has this specialized wisdom) marks out with a wand the area of the sky in which he has chosen to observe the flight patterns, then divides that area into two left-and-right segments. If the birds fly to the left, it's bad news; to the right, good. When the omens appear satisfactory, the augur utters “Addixit,” Latin for “All right.”
      Augury is not at all a satisfactory process and is particularly unpopular with birds.
      See also anthropomancy and divination.

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