The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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Divination by the Book of Proverbs

October 6th, 2014 · 3 Comments

One of my insomnia books recently has been The Queer, the Quaint, and the Quizzical: A Cabinet for the Curious, by Frank H. Stauffer.  It’s a compendium of odd facts, superstitions, linguistic curiosities, and folklore, published by David McKay in 1882.  Stauffer, according to what I could find, was a journalist and children’s author; with this book, he promised “Strange customs, cranks and freaks, With philosophy in streaks.”

Among its revelations was the following method of divination from the Book of Proverbs:


I’d heard of other methods of bibliomancy, but this was new to me.  I turned to my Bible and found the 31st chapter of Proverbs.  I was born on January 7th, so I read the 7th verse: “Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.”  That doesn’t sound very promising.  Maybe yours will be better.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

Tags: Books · Education

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 mamie // Oct 7, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    Sounds pretty good if your drink is delicious!

  • 2 Win // Oct 22, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Seems that most of us born in the first week of the month are drinkers, according to that chapter. I prefer what I found for my birthday in the first chapter.

    Quite by coincidence, one of my bedside books at the moment is Oddities and Curiosities of Words and Literature by C.C. Bombaugh, published in 1905. He has several interesting passages on the Bible, including one on bibliomancy. He says the habit was inherited from the Pagans, who used to dip at random into Homer or Virgil to divine their future. Sets me wondering if in our day and age we might do as well by consulting the works of Maya Angelou or the manual for a microwave oven.

    Bombaugh wrote several other books that I’d love to get hold of some day, especially The Book of Blunders, and Stratagems and Conspiracies to Defraud Insurance Companies.

  • 3 Doug // Oct 23, 2014 at 12:24 am

    My copy of the Bombaugh is shelved next to the Stauffer. I have an abridged Dover edition; apparently the original title was “Gleanings for the Curious,” which has more of a ring to it. And probably any book would work for bibliomancy. Or work as well, anyway.

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