Uncover hidden spiritual meanings

Using animal entrails for divinatory purposes.  

From time immemorial, humans have been known to be curious about the future. One wishes to  conduct divination to satisfy our curiosity. We wish to discover hidden things in the future, present, and past through interpretation of symbols, signs, and portents. Haruspication is one of the bizarre practices which people have used to quench their curiosity.

Understanding Curiosity

It was a kind of divination which entailed inspecting the entrails of animals.  It varied depending on the organ which was being examined by the practitioner. Examination of the liver for sign or signs which were to happen in future was referred to as haruspicy or hepatomancy.

According to haruspication, the animals which were to be sacrificed to the gods were cut open and all their organs examined by the seer who was referred to as a haruspex. Organs like the liver, spleen for shape, stomach, intestines, color and any abnormalities. After that, a prophecy would be made depending on what is found out. If the organs were of normal shape and color, the sacrifice was perceived to be successful, but if the organs were diseased, or abnormal, then it automatically meant that the gods were not pleased with the sacrifice and hence, the people to prepare for bad times or the favor of the applicant was considered dismissed.

Haruspication in Rome

In Rome, haruspication was considered the order of the day as a form of divination, but due to research, it is believed that the practice was there even before the formation of Rome; it is expected to have been around since the second millennium BC in the ancient Babylonian and Hittites, where they practiced rituals that compromised of studying animal entrails to see the future. The focus of the sacrifice was specifically on the liver, which is thought to be the center of hepatomancy. They used the liver of a special sheep to foretell god's objective. There was a special chief who was trained to interpret the liver signs. It was divided into sections whereby each section represented a deity.

Most of the time, the liver was copied onto clay models or tablet so that it could be read for over a period of time. It was used in Mesopotamia medicine to study patients and their diseases. The holes of the tablets were inserted with pegs in order to record the findings of the animal’s liver.

The haruspication was also common with the Etruscans, where they laid particular emphasis on examination of the entrails of the sheep for purposes of divination was performed. A sculpture of a liver made of bronze was discovered in 1877 in the town of Piacenza in the north of Italy and was estimated to date back to 100 BC. There were various markings to show the regions of the liver, which were associated with the influence of various gods according to divination.

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By Florance Saul
Feb 1, 2017