Chapter 14. Omens

Manifold auguries

Manifold auguries of disparate omens leave sufficient room for interpretation, mystery, hidden causes, vague effects, brooding consequences, and deniability. We are not the gods, who disguise their meanings and intentions to leave us only the subtlest signs; we are only their curious interpreters.


When consulting a professional you must agree that you know you can’t help yourself and that you’ll abide by our decision. The dark arts may mystify amateurs but they enlighten we professionals— lecanomancer, libanomancer, haruspex. Your dark dreams will be taken seriously to be explained by a oneiromancer. You just tell us what’s bothering you.

Before the cock crowed twice

Jesus warned Peter that before the cock crowed twice he would deny him thrice.

Beware the ides of March

A flaming hand, flaming men in the square, gliding ghosts, animals of the night shrieking in daylight, thunders and lightnings, a tempest dropping fire. a dream of a bloody statue, ocean’s swell, rage, and foam.


How otherwise could Śrīvara in the fourteenth century understand Halley’s comet except as an omen that threatened the Sultan? Newton and Halley wouldn’t be born for two more centuries. An eccentric orbit of celestial debris could not be an act of chance.

Black cat

A black cat can cross your path and catch you by surprise like a death in your family, a bad fall, an unexplained illness, a sudden sharp pain in your groin, an exact confirmation of what you have been dreading. The cat is likely to be the familiar of a witch who intends to harm you, not just an innocent cat out after dark hunting for a mouse.


On Friday the 13th I got up on the wrong side of the bed, grabbed my lucky rabbit’s foot, and stepped on a crack. A black cat crossed my path; I hit a bottle on the floor with my foot, broke the bathroom mirror, and knocked on wood. Whistling, my palm itched. I put one sock on inside out. As I made my coffee, I added sugar to my coffee. Eating my eggs, I spilled a little salt and threw a pinch of it over my shoulder. A bird came to my window and I dropped my dishcloth. It was raining so I opened my umbrella before I left the house. I crossed my fingers, walked under a ladder, and picked up a penny, tails up. A bird dropping landed on my head. The moon was full. I saw a shooting star and made a wish. I went home, threw my keys on a table, and put my hat on the bed. All this time I had the feeling that someone was watching. My ears were burning.