Ever since mankind became aware of the vulnerability of human life in the face of danger, illness and misfortune, it has been trying to anticipate the future so as to better prepare itself. One of the outcomes of this effort was the development of the art of divination which uses various objects or psychic abilities to read the future. Cyclomancy is such an art which uses any spinning object in order to seek answers to pertinent questions.
Derived from the ancient Greek terms kyklos meaning "circle" and “manteia” meaning divination, cyclomancy includes the use of any spinning object ranging from a wheel, a spinning arrow to a top in order to seek answers to questions or portents for the future. Originally according to this practice any revolving object like a wheel or a top is spun on a surface marked with symbols or letters; the place where the spinning object comes to rest or points at, is then noted and the omen for the future interpreted according to the symbolic letters or drawings etched there.
Another variation of cyclomancy may be performed to get a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to the question of the seer. In this case, two objects are placed some distance from each other in order signify two disparate paths or answers. Then a revolving object with a pointer is spun between the two places marked and when the pointer comes to rest, the one that is closest is assumed to be the answer to the question. In all these instances, spinning arrows may be used instead of revolving wheels for telling fortunes.
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One of the purposes of cyclomancy may have been to find out the location of a hidden object or person. According to this the revolving object is spun about and when it comes to rest, the pointer is assumed to point at the direction which provides the answer to the question of the seeker. For instance the direction may be point towards the correct path to someone who is lost or may be pointing to a direction where a thief or a guilty person may be sought. Sometimes this form of cyclomancy may be used to discover hidden or buried treasure, mineral, water or something similar. In this sense, cyclomancy may be said to figure as a kind of dowsing. Dowsing is a type of divination which employs a Y-shaped or L-shaped stick or tool instead of scientific implements to locate ground water, buried metals, gemstones, oil, gravesites and other such objects. Dowsing, as it is known now, may have originated in Germany during the 15th century, when it was used to find metals. In the South of France in the 17th Century it was used in tracking criminals and heretics. However its abuse led to a decree of the inquisition in 1701, forbidding its employment for purposes of justice.
In modern times, cyclomancy may have survived in various parlor games, such as "spin the bottle" in which in which several players sit/stand/kneel in a circle and An empty bottle is placed on the floor in the center of the circle. A player spins the bottle, and must kiss the person to whom the bottle points when it stops spinning. ‘Truth or dare’ is another parlor game which seems to use the directional purpose of cyclomancy even though in a much lighter vein.