Xylomancy – Divination Using Trees

Xylomancy, reading trees, is so old a technique that no one actually knows today how it is done. If you look at the definition, you will see that it is an “old Slavonian divination method” using twigs. Some say that a xylomantist read the formations of fallen twigs. Some others say that people used to ask advice of logs instead of twigs. (This probably means watching how the logs behave in the fireplace, and the Yule Log superstitions are reminiscent of this.) Yet some others say that it is the predecessor of arrow divination, Belomancy. It could have been something like I Ching – in one form of I Ching dried stalks of yarrow are used. It could also have involved having a bag of odd pieces of wood and sticks and tossing them on the ground, like runes or stones.

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I don’t know if you have ever noticed, but the forest is full of interesting pieces of wood. Branches sometimes look like something other than tree branches. I remember how some branches of a pine looked just like a horse trying to escape from the tree. Twigs can even spell words or letters at times.

Next time you have a problem, take a walk in the forest and think about your problem. You will notice a special branch or a piece of wood, maybe the solution will be written in the twigs.

Maybe you will notice an especially beautiful tree. Look at it carefully and let your mind wander.

A piece of wood on the ground will remind you of something else.

Perhaps a branch will give you the solution – maybe it looks like it’s trying to escape.

Maybe a bough looks especially strong.

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What do you think when you see the word or the letters? Are the letters runes? Learn the meaning of runes and Ogham to be able to “read” the nature better.

Remember that the trees are symbols in themselves. Birch, for example, represents protection, purification and new beginnings. Fir tree symbolizes malleability, cleverness and ability to change.

Almost all native peoples who live in a forested area have a tradition of using twigs and stones put in certain formations to convey messages to those who pass by. The Boy Scouts have adopted some of them to make their “trail signs”. Learn about those to get more depth to your interpretation. If you see an arrow on the ground, you might need to follow it.


by Ketutar Jensen