member of:Observers of the Interdependence of Domestic Objects and Their Influence on Everyday Life

This group has been active for a long time and has already made some remarkable assertions which render life simpler from the practical point of view. For example, I move a pot of green color five centimeters to the right, I push in the thumbtack beside the comb and if Mr. A (another adherent like me) at this moment puts his volume about bee-keeping beside a pattern for cutting out vests, I am sure to meet on the sidewalk of the avenida Madero a woman who intrigues me and whose origin and address I never could have known...
--Remedios Varo

(Slideshow is of Artwork by Remedios Varo)
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
--Franz Kafka

Monday, February 20, 2012

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


The Detectives and their Pet

Maquettes by Zoe

Photos by Gabriel

Ailuromancy is one of many, many 'mancies' (see a seemingly endless list HERE), methods of divination which rely on careful attention to some aspect of one's surroundings to explain present, past, and future. Ailuromancy is divination based on the study of the actions of a cat.

There are various listings of what a white cat or a black cat have to be doing to bring good luck or what is a warning, or what signals rain, etc. Many of the actions seem rather mundane and regularly practiced during a cat’s routine day--cleaning her left paw, for example. What cat would leave the left paw dirty until she thought it was about to rain? So I decided to step in with some observations of my own. Always remembering (as I will mention again later, with Schrodinger’s cat) that the observer is the one making connections between cause and effect...And my observations have been made, in this particular case, via a study of the behavior of the above three blue cats.

If a Blue Cat Interrupts your Step...

If a Blue Cat is Intent on Flying...

If a Blue Cat Kisses You


Similarly, there is a method of divination called Ambulomancy, divination by walking around. If you're looking at the sky, there is Aeromancy, where atmospheric conditions are read for meaning; Apantomancy "is a form of divination using articles at hand or things that present themselves by chance. The diviner works him/herself into a state of trance until an object or event is perceived and a divination worked out. A branch of Apantomancy places special significance on chance meetings of animals." (Wiki/ The Element Encyclopedia of the Psychic World).
That particular mancy is just like dream interpretation but while awake. According to Buckland, in his Encyclopedia of Divination and Soothsaying: "A chance meeting with a chimney sweep, for example, could be taken as indicative of some future event, as could opening a drawer and unexpectedly seeing a magnifying glass. (The augurs of ancient Rome would include such things as the fall of a stick in a temple, the squeak of a mouse, stumbling, or sneezing.) The way in which these objects and people are interpreted would depend entirely on the diviner"--going back to the idea that you are creating the objects and occurrences around you as you observe them. Recently, I became lucid in the middle of a dream while standing in a very tall-ceilinged bathroom. It struck me as incredible that my mind had bothered to create such an amount of colorful detail in the patterns of the tiles on the floor and walls. When you look at your desk and see crumbs, are they meaningful to you? No. But why would your dreaming mind bother to put them there? And if it does, don’t they necessarily have meaning? I was unable to follow this thought further into the dream, however, because at that moment, my cat pounced on me, waking me up.

If a Blue Cat Stops You in the Street...

According to the Encyclopedia of Divination, there is also Alveromancy, which studies sounds for their meaning. They list ocean waves, wind blowing, echoes or bird calls, but the idea brings to mind the paradigm-shifting sounds of shamanic drumming and that amazing song "I Put a Spell on You", specifically as sung by Nina Simone...

Occultopedia states: "The ancient Egyptians believed sound was a direct channel between humanity and the gods. They also thought that the practice and use of sound in the words and names of scripts revealed the real mystery of magic and prophecy." The power of the real name of god, spoken aloud; chanting, the particular order of words in a spell: "Proper pronunciation and recital of magical script was one of the most important principles in ancient working magic and divination...According to Herodotus, the Peleiades--sacred women priestesses of Zeus and the Mother Goddess, Dione, at the Oracle in Dodona--received prophetic signs and omens from the sounds and noise caused by the movement of the foliage of the sacred oak outside the temple. At this same Oracle another form of Alveromancy was also performed, as diviners listened and interpreted the murmur made by a miraculous fountain.”

Our detective is listening to the voices of his cats, of course.

Across the world, there are a variety of "Devil's Bridges," amazing or particularly difficult constructions rumored to only have succeeded by a deal with the devil--the exchange being the soul of the first one to cross the bridge (a new crossing over previously uncrossable space, and the dangers of being the first to step off of what was previously the edge of the earth--it’s easy to see how this idea developed). In many of these stories, the people tried to circumvent the devil by sending an animal across first, and in one particular case, that animal was a cat. The devil, furious, nonetheless went to claim his soul, but the cat shredded him and fled, thus both protecting the townsfolk and saving his own soul. The cat can see in the dark, cannot be deceived, is good at sneaking up on you (unless she is a hungry siamese, which you can hear for miles:)), and excels at catching rats, so she makes an excellent detective herself.

I thought it might be fun if everyone posted in the comments what a certain action by a Blue Cat might 'mean'. Go on, be diviners! There are some suggestions here, but you know cats can get twisted up in any position, can suddenly and inexplicably go berserk or, conversely, they can be the calmest one in the room (also inexplicably). So, go wide. 

If a Blue Cat Offers to be a Scarf...

Apparently, these aren't even the first cat detectives. You can read about a real one, Fred the Undercover Kitty, who even won medals for his service, here.