Anemoscopy is also known as anemosomancy, from the Greek word Anemos, meaning wind. This practice of divination relies on the study of the wind and its characteristics. It is a form of aeromancy, and is also called the science of atmospheric phenomena.

This form of divination leads the diviner to study the wind strength and direction. Particular attention is paid to the shape of dust clouds created by the wind.

In an alternate form, a question is first posed. Once it has been asked, the questioner tosses a handful of sand, dirt, even light seeds into the air. The flying particles create a small dust cloud, which reveals the answer to the question.

Other versions have also been used across time. In one, the pendulum is positioned over top of letters, runes, or symbols. As the wind moves the pendulum, the diviner notes the appropriate letters or symbols, studying them to get clues on the future. Yet another method had diviners listen carefully to the sounds the wind made. They could then interpret the message.

Anemoscopy is an ancient divination technique which was especially popular in China. On the first day of the new year, Chinese diviners would study the wins for clues on events of the coming year. Using this information, they would foretell the results of the upcoming crops, battles, and the health and welfare of the Chinese people. In silence, the diviners would listen to the sounds of the wind, along with any other noises heard, like that of people. The diviners would then determine the general pitch of the surrounding sounds, as if on a musical scale. These details would permit predictions on everything from harvests to warfare to weather forecasting.

In Dodona, the sacred grove of ancient Greece dedicated to the god Zeus, ancient Greeks practiced anemoscopy. Descriptions of the technique have been handed down by Psellus, who wrote, “There was a mode of predicting by means of the air and the leaves of the trees. The method involved the hanging of striking wands from branches of sacred oak trees in a way that they stroked resounding brass basins when the wind blew. Interpretations were made of these sounds and that of the wind. On a windy day, if one stood still, they could hear tones or perhaps ‘whispers in the wind’ of the trees as the moving air carried sound vibration.”

Many aboriginal populations believed in wind spirits. They used this form of divination to communicate with their gods. To this day, many Native American groups still practice anemoscopy, or wind divination.

If you would like to try this yourself, it is easy to get started. All you need are a few scraps of paper, all of the same size, and possibly a fan. First, decide on the question you want answered. If the answer is a simple yes or no, write each word on two separate scraps of paper. If the answer may be more complex, or may have many possible answers, use as many pieces of paper as you need. Put one answer on each page. Ask your question, and then drop the pages. Tossing them out of an upstairs window is perfect, though you can also use the fan to blow the pieces away from a table or other flat surface. Your answer is revealed by the paper that touches the ground first.