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Coscinomancy is a form of divination
that is practiced with a sieve, and a pair of tongs or shears, which are
supported upon the thumb nails of two persons looking upon one another,
or the nails of the middle finger may be used. Potter in his Greek Antiquities
says, "It was generally used to discover thieves, or others suspected
of any crime, in this manner: they tied a thread to the sieve by which it
was upheld, or else placed a pair of shears, which they held up by two fingers,
then prayed to the gods to direct and assist them; after that they repeated
the names of the persons under suspicion, and he, at whose name the sieve
whirled round or moved, was thought guilty." In the Athenian Oracle
it is called "'the trick of the sieve and scissors, the coskiomancy
of the ancients, as old as Theocritus,' he having mentioned it in his third
idyll, a woman who was very skillful in it." Saunders, in his Chiromancy,
and Agrippa, at the end of his works, give
certain mystic words to be pronounced before the sieve will turn. It was
employed to discover love secrets as well as unknown persons. According
to Grose, a chapter in the Bible is to be read, and the appeal made to St.
Peter or St. Paul. A.G.H.
Source: 81, 110.