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Spatulamancy or Scapulimancy (also termed omoplatoscopy) is the practice of divination by use of scapulae or speal bones (shoulder blades). It is most widely practiced in China and the Sinosphere but has also been independently developed in the West.


Historically, scapulimancy has taken two major forms. In the first, "apyromantic," the scapula of an animal was simply examined after its slaughter. This form was widespread in Europe, Northern Africa and the Near East. However, the second form, "pyromantic" scapulimancy, involving the heating or burning of the bone and interpretation of the results, was practiced in East Asia and North America.


In the context of the oracle bones of ancient China, which chiefly utilized both scapulae and turtles' plastrons, scapulimancy is sometimes used in a very broad sense to jointly refer to both scapulimancy and plastromancy (similar divination using plastrons). However, the term osteomancy might be more appropriate, referring to divination using bones. Many archaeological sites along the south coast and offlying islands of the Korean peninsula show that deer and pig scapulae were used in divination during the Korean Protohistoric Period, c. 300 BC – 300/400 AD.


The belief amongst the Mistassini Cree and Naskapi Innu peoples was that all animal remains were to be treated in accordance with taboos. This can blur the distinction between ritually or religiously significant remains and secular uses of the remains, which is a point of contention within existing literature. Rituals involving the divination of animal bones have been found on sacred sites of the Naskapi Innu and Eastern Cree peoples.

Bones which were found hanging in trees were often displayed near encampments or a slaughter site, where hunted animals were brought. The remains were used as a medium through which divination messages were transmitted, and as such, respectful treatment of the bones was of utmost importance. The treatment of the bones between the two tribes was similar, both treating the remains with a degree of reverence, but the divination application differed.

Among the Naskapi peoples, scapulimancy was used to aid in the hunting of caribou to ensure that communities had a sufficient supply of meat to sustain them through the winter. Associated divination rituals were performed prior to scapulimantic reading. This often included sweat bathing and percussive music performed on deer-skin drums or rattles to induce a dream state. Hunters would participate in this ritual was performed by shamans on the hunting tribespeople to help them in focalising on a dream where they were involved in hunting caribou. After awakening from their dream-state, the scapula harvested from previous hunts were used in a pyromantic ritual, which would direct the hunters to the location of the deer herd envisioned in their dream ritual.

Arabic world

Trade across the Silk Road has been proposed as a medium through which scapulimantic practices have pervaded into medieval European traditions from merchant trade with Arabic nomads.

Harvesting the scapulae from live animals involved decapitating the animal with a sword, without it seeing the weapon being swung, after which the animal was boiled until the flesh separated from the bones. The scapulae were extracted and wrapped in linen cloth and placed beneath the pillow of the diviner before they slept. The reading could only be performed the following day after this procedure had taken place.

Reading of the scapula was divided into two sections: the inside blade and the external features. The internal plane of the scapula has a prominent spine running through and was used for interpreting familial issues regarding fertility and prosperity. The external border of the scapula was used when questions regarding political or public events were being asked of the diviner.