Lithomancy is a form of divinatory arts in which stones are used to “see” the past, clarify the present, or predict the future.
The history and origin of lithomancy is not clear. There is little to no records on the use of lithomancy in ancient times and so, many aspects of the art remain a mystery. Some historians believe that it originated in ancient Turkey, in the city of Constantinople, now called Istanbul. Others believe that it dates back to pre-Roman times. The earliest recorded account of lithomancy use was sometime in the late 800’s, when Saint Photios I of Constantinople describes lithomancy being used by a physician named Eusebius to perform a ritual.
How is Lithomancy preformed?
Due to the lack of recorded history, Modern use of lithomancy varies from place to place and among users. The number of stones, as well as the stones representations and the techniques used, are somewhat different depending on whom you ask.
The form of lithomancy most commonly found in the British Isles uses 13 stones that represent Love, Magic, Fortune, Home, Life, and the astrology signs; Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the Sun and the Moon. Each of these representations has a vocabulary of meaning that coincide with their own meaning. For example, Love could also mean passion, harmony, honest, relationships, etc. and Venus, planet, and goddess of Love and Beauty, could mean any of the same.
Once the question has been asked the stones are thrown and the meaning is interpreted based on the pattern and the relation in which each stone lands. The answer received by the stones will be read as the stone caster sees fit. As with any form of divination, the stone caster’s intuition and experiences will determine how they choose to read the stones.
Another form of lithomancy, which is more common in Wicca and other Neo-Pagan practices, uses 16 stones instead of 13. The representations for these 16 stones are Male, Female, the Sun, the Moon, Love, Death, Joy, Sorrow, the Past, Present, and Future, and the elements; Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. The final stone is the Center or the question stone and is usually the biggest stone in the set.
This form of lithomancy is heavily influenced by Tarot and the results are much easier to interpret. The stone caster begins by asking the Center stone the question at hand. The stone is then placed on a flat surface, usually on top of a cloth, and the remaining stones are cast from directly above it. The height at which the stones are released vary anywhere from 6 inches to a foot.
Once the stones have landed they are read in order from the stone closest to the Center stone to the stone farthest from the Center stone. However, any stones that land more than 6 inches away from the Center stone are not considered part of the reading.
In this form of lithomancy the order in which the stones land is very important to how the results are interpreted because the answer is read like a story. For example, if the Past stone is first, followed by the Water, Sorrow, Future, then the Joy stone, the caster might read that the person’s past was filled with emotional pain and suffering while their future is filled with joy and happiness. Now, if the stones landed with the Past stone first followed by the Joy, Future, Water, then the Sorrow stone, the caster might read that the person’s past was filled with joy and happiness while their future is filled with emotional pain and suffering.
In order to help better understand the stone representations and their meanings, below is a small list of examples that can be used for each stone.
Male: A man himself or Action, Competitive, Aggressive, etc.
Female: A women herself or Passive, Balance, Nurturing, etc.
Sun: itself or a Leader, Outgoing, Confident, etc.
Moon: itself or Intuition, Spirituality, Change, etc.
Love: itself or Relationships, Compassion, Honesty, etc.
Death: itself or Forgiveness, Banishing, New Beginnings, etc.
Joy: itself or Happiness, Luck, Optimism, etc.
Sorrow: itself or Sadness, Misfortune, Pessimism, etc.
Past: itself or Wisdom, Knowledge, Insight, etc.
Present: itself or Reality, Learning, Awakening, etc.
Future: itself or Fate, Dreams, Control, etc.
Air: itself or Intellect, Mental, Spring (season), etc.
Fire: itself or Creativity, Willpower, Summer (season), etc.
Water: itself or Culture, Emotions, Autumn (season), etc.
Earth: itself or Abundance, Physical, Winter (season), etc.
The meanings that are assigned to each stone is determined by the caster based on the question asked and their intuition.
As lithomancy has gained popularity in the US and Europe there have been many new forms and variations that have begun to emerge. In the end, each stone caster must decide which technique is best for their personal use.
How do I choose my Lithomancy stones?
The stones that are used in a lithomancy set are a matter of preference. Although, most would agree it is best to have different size, shape and or color stones for each representation in order to recognize their meaning. Below I have compiled a list of stones that can be used to represent the different meanings.
Center: Clear Quartz, Diamond, Clear Apophyllite, Colorless Beryl, etc.
Male: Bloodstone, Black Agate, Red Carbucarncle, Amazonite, Garnet, Topaz, etc.
Female: Blue Lace Agate, Pearl, Sapphire, Jade, Pink Calcite, etc.
Sun: Sunstone, Ruby, Amber, Apache Tear, etc.
Moon: Moonstone, Mother of Pearl, Opal, White Labradorite, etc.
Love: Rose Quartz, Pink Tourmaline, Alexandrite, Pink Diamond, etc.
Death: Rhodonite, White Coral, Rhodochrosite, Angelite, etc.
Joy: Petrified Wood, Blue Quartz, Yellow Zircon, Celestite, etc.
Sorrow: Obsidian, Black Opal, Dumortierite, Eclogite, Epidote, etc.
Past: Tiger Eye, Fossil, Apatite, Kyanite, Selenite, Hawk’s Eye, etc.
Present: Carnelian, Aquamarine, Chrysoprase, Morganite, etc.
Future: Serpentine, Howlite, Labradorite, Adventurine, Chalcedony, etc.
Air: Amethyst, Onyx, Lapis Lazuli, Tanzanite, Aragonite, etc.
Fire: Red Jasper, Hematite, Fluorite, Fire Opal, Citrine, etc.
Water: Chrysocolla, Lepidolite, Sugilite, Feldspar, Kunzite, Marble, etc.
Earth: Emerald, Brown or Green Jasper, Peridot, Green Tourmaline, etc.
Of course, most of the stones listed above can be used for more than one of the representations. For Example, Amethyst could be used for Female, Moon, Love, Joy, Future, Air, Water, or Earth. Ultimately, which stone is used for which representation is up to the stone caster.
1. Lithomancy, The Psychic Art of Reading Stones (2010) by Gary L. Wimmer
2. Dunwich’s Guide to Gemstone Sorcery (2003) by Gerina Dunwich
3. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary 11th Edition (2008)
4. Holland’s Grimoire of Magickal Correspondences (2006) by Eileen Holland
5. Healing Crystals 4th Edition (2009) by Michael Gienger