Onomancy (or Onomamancy)
Divination using a person’s name, satirically said to be
nearer to divination by a donkey, and more properly termed
onomamancy or onomatomancy. The notion that an analogy
existed between men’s names and their fortunes is supposed to
have originated with the Pythagoreans.
Onomancy had two rules first, that an even number of vowels
in a man’s name signifies something amiss in his left side;
an uneven number, a similar affection on the right. Second, of
two competitors, success was based on the competitor with the
longest name; thus Achilles triumphed over Hector.
According to Caelius Rhodiginus, the Gothic King Theodotus
practiced an unusual version of onomancy recommended
by a Jew. The diviner advised the prince, on the eve of a war
with Rome, to enclose 30 hogs in three different sties, having
previously given some Roman and others Gothic names. On an
appointed day, when the sties were opened, all the Romans
were found alive, but with half their bristles fallen off; all the
Goths were dead. From this, the onomantist predicted that the
Gothic army would be destroyed by the Romans, who would
lose half their own force.
The system uses the rationale of Jewish gematria to assign
numerical values to the letters of names.
Waite, Arthur Edward. The Occult Sciences. N.p., 1891. Reprint,
Secaucus, N.J. University Books, 1974.