Derived from the Greek tūros which translates to ‘cheese’ and manteia translating to ‘divination’, it is the art and practice of divining the past, the present and the future by interpreting omens found in cheese.
In the Middle Ages, the number of holes, the shape, the pattern of the mold, and other characteristics were used to prognosticate love, money, or even death.
Young maidens in countryside villages would divine the names of their future husbands by writing the names of all prospective suitors on separate pieces of cheese. The one whose name was on the piece of cheese that grew mold first was believed to be the ideal love mate. This also worked just as well for the opposite sex.
Another method of Typomancy was to write the possible answers to a question on separate pieces of cheese and them place them inside a cage along with a hungry rodent. Whichever piece the mouse ate first would provide the desired indication. This manner of divination was also a form of Myomancy.
On yet another method, omens were drawn from the patterns and designs formed by the coagulation of cheese.
In François Rabelais ‘Gargantua and Pantagruel’, we can find a reference to this type of divination:
“By tyromancy, whereof we make some proof in a great Brehemont cheese which I here keep by me.”
The Englishman John Gaule, in his The Magastromancer (1652), also lists it:
“Typomancy, by the coagulation of cheese.”
Typomancy, like many other divinatory systems, is quite ancient and has been practiced since time immemorial. It is also known as Tyromantis, Tyromancy, Tyromantia and Tiromancy.
Sources and further reading:
- Walker, Charles, The Encyclopedia of the Occult, Random House Value
- Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group
- Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing
- Pickover, Clifford A., Dreaming the Future: The Fantastic Story of Prediction, Prometheus Books
- Dunwich, Gerina, A Wiccan’s Guide to Prophecy and Divination, Carol Publishing Group
- Gaule, John, The Magastromancer, EEBO Editions