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Hepatoscopy - Liver Divination

The liver is one of the largest organs in the body and performs more than 500 different functions. It acts as a link between the digestive and circulatory systems. The main functions of the liver are to produce bile to aid digestion; detoxify the blood; store glucose; store minerals and vitamins and regulate the body's metabolism. The most amazing thing about the liver is its capability to regenerate itself. In the story of Prometheus, Zeus punished the demi-god for giving human's the knowledge of fire. Zeus chained Prometheus to a rock and made him endure the eternal torture of an eagle eating his liver out every day. His liver would promptly grow back every night. This shows that the ancient Greeks were aware of the liver's re-generative properties.

Throughout history humanity has thought that there was something special about the liver. Many ancient cultures have believed that the liver was the centre and source of life. All higher forms of life have a liver and it is the largest and heaviest organ in the human body. It appears as a spongy, reddish brown organ just below the diaphragm in the abdominal cavity. The liver is divided into two parts called the right lobe and left lobe by the "ligmentum teres" which is a cross like structures. This cross like structure has been symbolically associated with Christ's crucifixion. There are numerous correlations relating to the liver that have been made with Christ and his purpose. The regenerative properties of the liver has great spiritual significance and has been taken to show that a soul can be regenerated without the process of multiple incarnations.

The ancient Babylonians considered the liver of a sacrificial sheep to be "the mirror of Heaven". In the same way as the stars and planets are studied in astrology, the minds of the gods can be read in their image, the liver. Hepatoscopy is mentioned in the Bible, showing its antiquity. "The king of Babylon now stands at the fork, uncertain whether to attack Jerusalem or Rabbah. He will call his magicians to use divination. They will cast lots by shaking arrows from the quiver. They will inspect the livers of their animal sacrifices." (Ezekiel 21:21).

So, in case you've just finished sacrificing a sheep and have its liver laid out neatly on the kitchen table, how do you go about reading it?

Firstly the surface of the liver is divided into zones. These zones are named Station; Path; Strength; Palace Gate; Well-being; gall-bladder; Path to the left of the gall-bladder; Finger; Yoke and Increase. The zones are examined in the order listed. Each zone consists of its particular feature and the surrounding are, or "land". In the case of, for example, the "Station," the zone consists of the vertical crease of the left lobe and its "land."

The right side is positive and the left hostile. Any depression or deficiency of negative value gives an unfavourable omen result when on a right side and a favourable one on a left side. Right is "your side" (yourself, house, family and friends, city, country, etc.) Left is the "Enemy's side" (anyone whose advantage works to your disadvantage). Right and left can also be interpreted as parts of one person, such as when you can't decide between two alternatives. It's best if your side is the larger.

Now you need to look at the marks on the liver. One is you alone, two of any feature is often better and shows you and your opposer. Three of any mark shows the overcoming of opposition. Four marks shows that you and the opposition are equal, five that the opposer is stronger, six that you're equal after two encounters and seven shows the opposition winning.

Next you're looking for variations of colour. Red indicates a great deal of energy and power for the side it is on; Green indicates health for the side it is on, or that it is time to move; Black is a very serious message, death, or an indication to stay put; White is an indication of famine or disease; it is never good.

The head, middle and base of the liver refer to near, less near and distant future.

Each zone should then be examined in detail. There isn't space here to go into the meaning of all the zones in detail but they cover things such as the course you are taking, likely success, ulterior motives and secret desires - damage in that zone can mean that a secret has been leaked. The state of the gall bladder shows you in your public capacity and your relationship with those who advise you.

Individual marks also have specific meanings. For instance, a patch of any colour shows a drying up of resources. A hole shows a great loss or death.

Do write in and let us know how well your omen goes, won't you?

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© Kim Farnell 2006.