August 15, 2009 § Leave a comment

Chicken Divination

Alectromancy (also known as alectryomancy or alectoromancy) is a method of divination based on one or more chickens (traditionally a white cockerel) pecking at grain (such as wheat) that the diviner has scattered on the ground. There are numerous variations, involving how the pecking is interpreted. In the simplest version, the diviner interprets the patterns of grain left when the bird has finished eating. Or the bird may be placed in a circle marked with each of the letters of the alphabet (or numbers, or possible answers to questions already prepared, etc etc), with a grain of wheat in/on each one. The wheat is replaced as the bird eats, and the letters selected form the “message”.

In Jo’s other life, she ran a competition that needed to select a winner at random from a small number of participants. As Frida was already inside and bored, alectromancy seemed the obvious solution!


  1. Each entrant was allocated a number based on the order that entries were received.
  2. Playing cards were used to represent the numbers (ace as one).
  3. Cards were shuffled, and dealt face-down in an arc.
  4. A grain of wheat was placed on each one.
  5. Frida was placed behind the arc, sufficiently far back so that reaching any grain would require her to take a couple of steps forward (thus removing any advantage that cards in the centre of the arc might have in terms of visibility).
  6. Whichever card she first pecked the grain off was the chosen number. (In the event of her knocking a grain off a card without eating it, the grain would be replaced and Frida reset.)
  7. Result!
The Setup

The Setup





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