PBP Week 48 – Xenomancy

“Oh my gods, that guy just waved with his left hand.  This is going to be a bad day.  I just knew it and now this!”

These words uttered by a friend a few years back were my introduction to xenomancy, a form of divination in which one looks for signs in the appearance and actions of complete strangers.  In response to my completely puzzled expression, my friend impatiently explained that, when the first stranger you see waves with their left hand, it is an ill omen for the rest of your day.  She went on to say that omens and signs can be read in the gestures of strangers.

Um… okay?  My first reaction to a person waving with their left is… to wave right back. I really don’t take notice of which hand is waving, but if I did I’m pretty sure that my thought would not be that I was going to have a bad day.  My thoughts, should it even occur to me to have them, would be something like this: maybe the person waving is a southpaw, maybe they’ve hurt their right arm and cannot raise it,  maybe they’re carrying something heavy or bulky in their right hand, heck maybe they’re an amputee with no right arm to wave.

Yet, my friend was hanging the outcome of her entire day on this simple gesture. It seems to me that this kind of reaction becomes a fatalistic, self-fulfilling prophecy.  This is one of the pitfalls in relying too heavily on divination for guidance.  It is all too easy to get wrapped up in finding signs and omens where there either are not any or are not any of significance.  One can quickly get carried away by reading too much importance into something that is actually quite trivial.   A man waving with his left hand is not, in my mind, a bad omen or reason for dread and fear. It’s a gesture of friendliness.

On the other hand, a man waving a knife, gun, or machete with his left hand could be interpreted as a precursor  to really bad day, particularly if he’s waving it in your direction.   It’s the little details that are important in these situations, you know?

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5 thoughts on “PBP Week 48 – Xenomancy

  1. “Little details” – I love it!

    I’m familiar with a similar divination which involves the first sound you hear in a crowded marketplace. But it involves a bit of preparation and intent – not just walking out your door and taking a look around to see what looks “omen-y”.

  2. I am a guilty of this when it comes to computers and posting things or commenting etc.. If there is a glitch of some kind, I take it as a sign to take a moment and review, and many times I don’t enter anything. I don’t think something bad would happen necessarily if I did. It functions like a control mechanism and makes me question what I am expressing and why. But that’s mild and it causes me less stress not more.

    Cannot imagine letting my day be ruined by something like a wave. With a knife, gun or machete, sure. If my mom calls and says something like, “Hey, since you’re not busy, why not let’s go over your credit rating for the last 7 years. Item by item!” Then I am 100% sure it will be a bad time. 😀

  3. As a southpaw I find it offensive that waving with the left arm is a precursor to a really bad day. I can’t wait for someone to say that to me. I will show them exactly how much bad luck my left arm can bring them.

    Also I saw, like, twenty crows earlier, so I knew you were going to post about this very topic. It was written in the omens. 😉

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