When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things to do was spin around in a circle until I fell over dizzy. I’d go outdoors on a sunny day, find a spot in my yard, and spin and spin until I couldn’t stay standing and toppled over into the grass.
(I also used to roll down the hill in our front yard, but that’s a topic for another time.)
Anyway, the idea of doing such a thing now makes me nauseous – in addition to my equilibrium changing after I had my son, I also have benign positional vertigo (BPV) which means I sometimes get dizzy and fall over for no reason at all. Spinning in a circle until I fall over is now off the table, as is going on any amusement ride that spins and watching any movie that uses shaky cam as a thing. But, I was amused to discover that my childhood spinning actually had a use that I didn’t know about – divination. I’m referring to gyromancy.
Gyromancy is the practice of divination by circles or rounds, and there are a couple of well-known methods:
- A person, or a group of people, spin or dance in circles until they become dizzy enough to fall on the ground. At that point, everything that is said by the ones on the ground is recorded, and then those recorded words are interpreted for potential meaning.
- A person, or a group of people, stand within a circle that is bordered by letters or symbols. At the appropriate time, the person or group walks around the inside of the circle repeatedly until they grow dizzy enough to fall on the ground. At that point, the position of the people on the ground in relation to the letters/symbols is noted and interpreted for meaning.
Both of the methods above sometimes involved the person or group of people getting up once they fell and repeating their actions until they couldn’t stand again or, as reported in Occult Sciences: A Compendium of Transcendental Doctrine and Experiment: “…till he evolved an intelligible sentence, or till death or madness intervened.”
Another method, and one I hadn’t heard of before researching for this post, uses a nicked or marked coin – the coin is spun within a circle of letters, and words are spelt out by where the nick or mark lands when the coin falls over. I think I like this method best as it doesn’t involve me spinning in circles and then spewing. Although, that might be another method – spin the person and interpret meaning based on where the discharge lands?
(Okay, forget I suggested that. EW.)
Since I started pondering gyromancy, I’ve had a picture in my head of someone practicing it at a day care facility, at random, based on spinning pre-schoolers. I mean, they will spin on their own – why not make some use of it by giving them soft mats marked with letters to use as a base? I don’t know how accurate it would be, but it might make for a good experiment provided that no one actually spun the children; the children would need to spin on their own, of course.
Clearly, I am getting silly. Sillier than usual, anyway.
I don’t currently know anyone who practices gyromancy, much like I didn’t (and still don’t!) know anyone who practices tyromancy. If you do either, I’d be really interested to know your how and your why, and whether you think harnessing the power of small children is worthwhile. After all, a day when I learn something new is a good day!
Today is a good day.