Bibliomancy is divination using books. You’ve probably tried it before, even if you haven’t come across the term. As writers we already believe in the spiritual power of books, so using them to seek a little “aleatory guidance” isn’t much of a leap.
Here’s what to do.
- Write down a question in your worksheet.
- Pick up your favourite book, or the book that’s nearest to you. Note down its title.
- Close your eyes, and open up the book to a random page. Before opening your eyes, run your hands across the page and point with one finger at a random line.
- Open your eyes and read the sentence or paragraph. Note down the page number and line number.
- Consider what implication the passage you pointed to has on the question you posed, and write down some reflections.
And should you doubt the literary efficacy of this method, I chanced – thanks to the Wikipedia article on bibliomancy – upon this grammatically adorable (and slightly jealous-making) letter from Robert Browning to Elizabeth Barrett:
“… you asked me once if I were superstitious, I remember (as what do I forget that you say?). However that may be, yesterday morning as I turned to look for a book, an old fancy seized me to try the ‘sortes’ and dip into the first page of the first I chanced upon, for my fortune ; I said ‘what will be the event of my love for Her’ — in so many words — and my book turned out to be — ‘Cerutti’s Italian Grammar!’ — a propitious source of information… the best to be hoped, what could it prove but some assurance that you were in the Dative Case, or I, not in the ablative absolute? I do protest that, with the knowledge of so many horrible pitfalls, or rather spring guns with wires on every bush . . such dreadful possibilities of stumbling on ‘conditional moods,’ ‘imperfect tenses’ ‘singular numbers,’ — I should have been too glad to put up with the safe spot for the sole of my foot though no larger than afforded by such a word as ‘Conjunction,’ ‘possessive pronoun — ,’ secure so far from poor Tippet’s catastrophe. Well, I ventured, and what did I find ? This — which I copy from the book now — ‘If we love in the other world as we do in this, I shall love thee to eternity — from ‘Promiscuous Exercises,’ to be translated into Italian, at the end.”
If bibliomancy told Browning to marry Barrett, it’s worth a go in my opinion!
for yearly PDF roundups of all past writing worksheets!
Last week’s worksheet: People Watching…