Alternatively known as Coscinomancy, Cosquinomancy and Coskiomancy.
The art and practice of divining the past, the present and the future by means of a hanging sieve.
This form of divination was similar to Cleidomancy, but instead of a key, it utilized a sieve, and it was usually performed to discover thieves and criminals. This form of guilt divination was popular in France during the Middle Ages.
The accused was seated before the sieve, as the diviner recited magical conjurations. The accused's name was then spoken out loud and, according to legend, guilt was indicated if the sieve rotated at the moment the name was pronounced.
Another method also employed a pair of tongs or shears besides the sieve, which were supported upon the thumb nails of two persons, who look at each other, or the nails of the middle finger may be used.
It was said that "a thread was tied 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 or she, at whose name the sieve whirled round or moved, was thought guilty."
Charles Godfrey Leland, in his Etruscan Magic and Occult Remedies (1897), mentions Coskinomancy:
"A sieve was suspended from a pair of scissors held by two assistants. The operator, having pronounced the name of the suspected person, repeated a shibboleth consisting of six words — dies, mies, jesquet, benedoe, fet, dowina — which neither he nor his assistants understood. If the person whose name was mentioned were guilty, the six magical words compelled the demon to make the sieve spin round."
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Sources: (1) Dunwich, Gerina, A Wiccan's Guide to Prophecy and Divination, Carol Publishing Group; (2) Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group; (3) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing; (4) Buckland, Raymond, The Fortune-Telling Book: The Encyclopedia of Divination and Soothsaying, Visible Ink Press.
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