NONETHELESS, I’LL TRY
We’ve all had those moments. You’re gazing out the window at nothing in particular, then suddenly you realize one of the clouds looks like something familiar. Or you see a couple of clouds seemingly interacting with each other, and you create a whole dialog or drama for them in your head. Or you’re gazing out a window and realize that one part of that cumulonimbus cloud over there looks like a dead relative of yours. Humans have been gazing at the sky and trying to draw messages from it for thousands of years. A very few became professionals at it. The challenge is, as one of my sources for this lesson said, the ancients didn’t leave us an official guide book on how to do it. Nor did they leave a glossary of meanings for ‘this-shaped-cloud-means-this’ or ‘this type of cloud is sending this type of message.’ We only know that it was an actual divinatory practice in ancient times.
Perhaps that’s as it should be. Clouds are such random, chaotic things, changing their shapes constantly, dissolving and re-forming. How could anybody issue a definitive guide book on such a subject, anyway? Let alone a glossary of divinatory meanings for cloud shapes? Perhaps that’s why no official rules or guidelines have come down to us by the ancients who specialized in the art—how to do it probably seemed obvious.
Aeromancy is an overall term used for divination by atmospheric conditions. It is usually defined as divination using the formation of clouds, atmospheric phenomena and other patterns in the skies, or the prediction of events by wind direction. Cloud divination is also referred to as nephelomancy, from the Greek word nephele, meaning ‘cloud.’ Ceraunoscopy is divination by considering the patterns of lightning during thunderstorms. Atmospheric divination being a multi-part thing, it’s a good bet gifted aeromancers probably employed all three.
I categorize cloud divination, or nephelomancy, as falling under artomancy, since one definition for artomancy is divining by naturally-occurring phenomena. With no guide book to go on, the best anyone can do is establish some operating principles for divining effectively by clouds. On the following page, I’m going to hazard a guess as to what the general principles of cloud divination should be.