Pyromancy is the divination by the means of fire and was embodied in the ancient practice of extispicy. A good presage was indicated when a vigorous flame quickly consumed the sacrifice; when it was smokeless, transparent, and neither red nor dark in color, and did not crackle but burned silently in a pyramidal form. An evil presage, however, was indicated if the fire was difficult to kindle, the wind disturbed it, and it was slow to consume the victim.

Besides sacrificial fires the ancients also divined by observing flames of torches and by throwing powdered pitch into a fire; if it caught quickly, the omen was good. The presage of a torch flame was good if it formed one point, bad if it divided into two, better than one if forming three.

The presage of the bending of the flame signaled sickness for the healthy, death for the sick and frightful disaster if the flame extinguished.

The vestal virgins in the Temple of Minerva at Athens were assigned the duty of making particular observations of the light which perpetually burned there. A.G.H.


Spence, Lewis. An Encyclopaedia of Occultism. New York. University Books. 1960.