Alternatively Batrakhomancy and Batraquomancy.
Derived from the Greek batrakhos ('frog') and manteia ('divination'), it is a form of augury or divination by frogs, newts or toads.
Batrachomancy was chiefly used to forecast weather. There is a widespread connection established between frogs or toads, and rain fall. It is found in a number of sources and cultures.
If a tree toad is heard, it is a sign of a coming rain shower. If a bullfrog's skin turns a dark color, there will be rain within twelve hours, and so on. When frogs croak more than usual, it is a sign of bad weather. To meet a frog is lucky; it indicates that the person is about to receive money. Bodies of toads killed slowly are a specific remedy for warts, if you hang a dead toad inside the stable doors, they protect the cattle from diseases.
Besides its close relationship to water, wetness and rain, the frog is also the symbol of the Egyptian birth goddess Heqet and is, consequently, associated with rebirth and/or resurrection. In some Teutonic countries it is considered unlucky to kill toads, because they are believed to be the dwellings of some unfortunate souls.
The Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and constitutionalist Cicero mentioned Batrachomancy when writing to Atticus (44 BC):
"Besides, I am afraid that it is going to rain, if there is any truth in prognostication; for the frogs have been talking like orators."
The same Cicero also wrote:
"Who is there who would imagine that mere frogs see that? But there is within frogs a kind of natural force for giving signs, sufficiently clear in itself but too dark for human comprehension."
Another allusion to Batrachomancy is found in the writings of Edward Topsell in 1608:
"When Frogs do croak about their usuall custome, either more often, or more shrill than they were wont to do: they do foreshew raine and tempestous weather."
Some diviners used frogs for the observation of omens. How high they hopped, which direction they took, the color of their skin, were all of significance.
This type of divination was widely practiced in Africa, China, Korea, Rome, and Greece. In the Ozark region of the United States, there are also old beliefs associated with frogs, newts, toads and rain. The sighting of such an amphibian would frequently be taken as a sign of approaching wet or humid weather.
Batrachomancy, like most divinatory systems, is quite ancient, and has been practiced since time immemorial.
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Sources: (1) Walker, Charles, The Encyclopedia of the Occult, Random House Value; (2) Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group; (3) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing; (4) Pickover, Clifford A., Dreaming the Future: The Fantastic Story of Prediction, Prometheus Books; (5) Dunwich, Gerina, A Wiccan's Guide to Prophecy and Divination, Carol Publishing Group; (6) Buckland, Raymond, The Fortune-Telling Book: The Encyclopedia of Divination and Soothsaying, Visible Ink Press; (7) Wardle, David (Editor), Cicero on Divination: Book 1 (Clarendon Ancient History Series), Oxford University Press.
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