Drew Wiberg

Practical Hydromancy

Drew Wiberg
Practical Hydromancy

In the Hygromanteia, or the Magical Treatise of Solomon, there are several methods of using a water vessel for divination. In the planetary hour charts and lists in that same book there are many days and hours listed as auspicious for this type of work.

I have been working with the tarot everyday for the entire year and have become quite hooked on using divination to help inform how I should move through my day. I have seen some real benefits from practicing divination daily, these are probably mostly psychological as the tarot, to some extent, is a psychological vehicle.

Everyday I recite prayers to the planetary ruler of the day, to St. Cyprian and St. Barbara, practice sigilmancy and then either pull a card for my day or a spread for the lunar week if one begins that day. This is a good amount of daily magical practice and I have seen and heard many things since beginning that encourage me to continue.

My personality is one of a person that is never satisfied with a level of skill or knowledge. I always have a desire to push myself further, to learn and try new things. I have reached a point where my ritual, while enriching, is also somewhat rote, and I need to add something new. I've chosen water divination as the new skill to try out.

The Hygromanteia has a number of different methods of water divination, many of which include the participation of a virgin boy in their description. I don't keep many of those around and would probably choose to not rope them into a two thousand year old magical ritual if I did, so those are a non-starter for me. There are a few that only rely on the magician and a few simple instruments, which is right up my magical alley (not a Hogwortian alley, more of a David Lynch demon behind the dumpster kind). For a source document I am using the most excellent modern version of the Magical Treatise of Solomon from Ioannis Marathakis

One p 110 is found the simplest water vessel divination method, only a vessel, spring water, and a mirror are required. The vessel with water is to be left outside over night and 'certain Psalms' are recited at dawn and the magician can then ask his question. There is no indication of what Psalms in entry 50, however, but they appear in more ornate versions below. On the facing page is a version that might be even simpler in implementation but it necessitates a nettle root big enough to write on as one of the necessary elements. For this version you use a copper bowl (this one is very nice for the purpose), spring water and whole nettle root (which, I found out cannot be shipped across state lines thanks to the inestimable Sarah Anne Lawless of Fern and Fungi, guess its up to me to forage my own). The name Tzetetrel is written on the bottom of the bowl, it is filled with spring water, and then the root, with the same name written on it, is placed inside. The minimalism of this method is just my style, but I don't have time to source the nettle root before the next good day for water vessel divination, so I'll need to try something different.

On p 204, a somewhat more involved method is detailed. It requires a bowl of yellow color (probably copper), a clear night sky on a Wednesday, a mirror, and spring water. The magician is expected to fast during that day of Mercury and to abstain from any sexual shenanigans. That evening, the copper bowl is to be placed outside under the clear sky and the magician is to write her question around it. At dawn, she is to return, place a clean mirror inside the bowl, recite the 57th Psalm:

Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.
I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.
He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.
My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.
Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth.
They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Selah
My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.
Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.
I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations.
For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds.
Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the earth.


And the 77th:


I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.
In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.
I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.
Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.
I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.
Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?
Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore?
Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah.
And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.
I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.
I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.
Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?
Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people.
Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.
The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled.
The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad.
The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook.
Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.
Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.


Recite the same question that was inscribed around the bowl the evening before and then, according to the Hygromanteia, the answer to the question will be revealed.


I will likely try out the first version, using the 57th and 77th as the 'certain Psalms' and use a copper bowl for good measure. I like this because it gives me room to escalate the ritual or apply the nettle root variation if I don't achieve significant results. Much like other Solomonic rituals, there is a baseline, a foundation of prayers, movements, and materials that are required to achieve results - and then more ornate methods if the magician isn't successful the first time. This is a good philosophy for all magic, to try longer, not harder. Start simple (it just might work) and escalate following the prescribed methods until enchantment is achieved.