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Domino Divination

In 1992, Raymond Buckland marketed a deck of cards with domino pips in the center and a series of text and symbols on the outside edges (Buckland, Raymond; GYPSIES' DOMINO DIVINATION DECK; ISBN 1-56718-094-9; 1992). The little booklet that came with the deck claims that English Gypsies used to tell fortunes using dominoes instead of the usual Tarot or playing cards. The deck is supposed to make the job of divination easier by giving the meanings of each tile on the edge.

The basic meanings are:

  • blank = the querant -- the person asking the question
  • 1 = Travel
  • 2 = Close friends and family
  • 3 = Love
  • 4 = Money
  • 5 = Job and careers
  • 6 = Luck

Each tile takes a meaning from a combination of its two sides as read from left to right on a horizontal tile. Unfortunately, this does not seem to apply consistently in this system.

The [1-2] is a "journey with a good friend", as you might expect. However, you would think that [1-5] would have something to do with work and travel, such as a business trip. Wrong. The [1-5] tile means "a lover awaits", but if it were dealt as [5-1] it would mean "Opportunity for passionate romance".

There are several different layouts (spreads) given which are based on those used for Tarot card readings. The most basic is a simple line of three horizontal tiles for the past, present and future.

There are other meanings associated with the tiles based on numerology.

The Chinese also used dominoes and dice for divination, but I have no information on their methods.

A simple system which could use either dice or dominoes was given in THE SOOTHSAYER'S HANDBOOK: A GUIDE TO BAD SIGNS & GOOD VIBRATIONS BY Elinor Lander Horwitz (1972, J. B. Lippincott Company, ISBN 0-397-31538-4).

The rules are that you never read your own fortune and that never read anyone else's on a Monday or a Friday. The questioner draws a tile from the boneyard with his left hand. This gives his fortune for the coming month. The meaning of the tiles is as follows:

    [0-0] = Unexpected trouble.
    [0-1] = An enemy threatens your happiness.
    [0-2] = Poverty.
    [0-3] = Trouble from too much love of money.
    [0-4] = Good crops for a farmer; money troubles for others.
    [0-5] = An unhappy marriage.
    [0-6] = Scandal threatens.
    [1-1] = A reunion with someone you have not seen in years.
    [1-2] = An old friend will visit.
    [1-3] = A successful business trip.
    [1-4] = Trouble with debts; a childless marriage.
    [1-5] = Love affair, proposal or just a social event.
    [1-6] = You will marry twice; the second marriage will be happier.
    [2-2] = A wish will be granted.
    [2-3] = An old debt will be repaid.
    [2-4] = Loss from a theft.
    [2-5] = Defeat in an attempt to obtain public office.
    [2-6] = Good luck in business matters.
    [3-3] = A large amount of money is coming.
    [3-4] = Happiness in love.
    [3-5] = A visitor is coming.
    [3-6] = Some will give you a gift.
    [4-4] = Invitation to a party.
    [4-5] = A happy surprise is coming soon.
    [4-6] = An early marriage and many children.
    [5-5] = A fortune change, perhaps a new house.
    [5-6] = If you are looking for a job, you will find it; if not, you will have a pleasant day with a friend.
    [6-6] = Happiness ahead.

The questioner draws a second tile, which gives his fortune for the coming year. This time the answer is based on the total of the tile:

    12 = You will meet someone who will introduce you to a new sport or hobby.
    11 = You will part with a friend because one of you moves.
    10 = You will change your routine for the better, either a change of school or change of job.
    9 = An unexpected fortune event will happen during the next year.
    8 = Troubles are coming and you will be blamed.
    7 = A visitor is coming and will tell you something that will change your plans completely.
    6 = You are about to lose money on a bet or an investment; you can avoid this if you are on guard.
    5 = You are going to have a problem at home.
    4 = You are going to assume a position of leadership in your school, job or community. .
    3 = Something unexpected is going to happen and the results will not be happy.
    2 = You will meet someone at a party who will affect your life.
    1 = The symbol of misfortune.

Notice that since this system was based on dice, there is no meaning assigned to a total of zero.

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This page was contributed by Joe Celko (jcelko212@earthlink.net).   © Joe Celko 2001. Last updated: 9th September 2001