Ooscopy or Oomantia

Ooscopy or oomantia are two forms of divination by eggs. An example of the former was described by the Roman historian Suetonius (c. 98-138 AD). The woman Livia was pregnant and was anxious to know whether she was to be the mother of a boy or girl. She took an egg and kept it in her bosom, at the appropriate temperature, until a chick came forth with a beautiful cockscomb.

The name Oomantia signified the divining method of interpreting the signs or characteristics appearing on eggs. It comes from the custom of pasche or paste eggs (dyeing eggs in the United States), which are stained with various colors and given away at Easter. The well-known custom it described at considerable length by John Brand in Popular Antiquities (2 vols, London, 1813, etc.). The custom was very religiously followed in Russia, and was derived from the Greek Orthodox Church. Gilded and colored eggs were mutually exchanged between men and women, who then kissed one another. If previous ill feelings existed before they soon vanished on these occasions.

«The egg is one of the most ancient and beautiful symbols of new birth, and has been applied to natural philosophy as well as the spiritual creation of man.» A.G.H.