from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. Haruspicy: the study and divination by use of animal entrails, usually the victims of sacrifice.
- n. A specific instance of such divination.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In Roman antiquity, divination by inspection of entrails.
The very rites of Etruscans which were designed to divine the future from the internal organs of sheep, themselves imported traditions traced back to Babylonian extispicy, are necessarily built on a lost metaphor of the Earth, not only as cold, dark and moist but also a living deity, complete with innards.
This magical pattern is, oddly enough, an abstract representation of the "bowels of the earth" and a reference to both the divinatory practice of extispicy and an ancient conception of the journey of the sun under the horizon during the course of the night2.
One link online concerning Babylonian haruspicy i.e. the practice of divining the future through sheep livers may oddly enough help us shed some light on Etruscan rites, beliefs and cosmology: Sacrificial divination: Confirmation of extispicy.
The labyrinth is the Minoan conception of the underworld, the winding entrails of the earth cf. extispicy.
"For, in the present excited condition of our river-towns, men do not strive to copy the moderate virtues of the Ancients, but only to exaggerate their heathenish extispicy."
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