For the Malagasy people of Madagascar, the most important method of divination is sikidy, a form of geomancy that relies on the interpretation of “sixteen signs,” using texts known as sorabe (great writings). These texts, written in Arabic script, have been passed down over generations.

Figures are then set up in one of two different ways by the Ampisikidy (diviner).

  • One way is by interpreting even and odd piles of grain. Four piles of grain have the grains removed until only one or two remains in each pile.
  • The other way is by drawing a series of wavy lines in sand. The curves (or “bellies” in the line are counted, an odd number counts as one, and an even number counts as two.

Single or double dots are arranged by fours. Each figure has four different parts to it:

  • Loha — The head (top line)
  • Tratra — The chest (second line)
  • Vaniaña — The hips (third line)
  • Vity or Tomboko — The foot (bottom line)

The four lines can be arranged into sixteen different figures, each of which has a name and a particular interpretation according to the sorabe (great writings).


TARAIKY (Via, The Way)
This figure signifies solitude, death, a journey and thinness.

ASOMBOLA (Populus, The People)
This figure denotes abundance.

ALATSIMAY (Conjunctio/Union)
This figure signifies slaves, bad thoughts, weights and measures, protects from thieves and ennemies.

ALKIKOLA or AKOLOLA (Carcer, Prison)
Protects from vagabonds, signifies the house and food.

ADABARA or ADABARAY (Fortuna Major, The Greater Fortune) This figure symbolises fire, as well as the Creator and that which is most sacred.
ALAHASADY or SORALAHY or SOROTANY (Fortuna Minor, The Lesser Fortune) Represents chiefs and the elderly. Pride and domination. Food and anger.

ALOHOTSY or ALIHOTSY (Acquisitio/Gain) Money but also misfortune. Good for legal issues. Chief/boss or child.
ADALO (Amissio/Loss) Tears, land, protects against enemies.

BETSIVONGO or BETSILISAY or ALISAY (Tristitia/Sadness) Stubbornness, heals swellings.
ALAHAHIJANA or ALAHIJANA (Laetitia/Joy) Presence of a woman/women, presage of death, king, strength, good for marriage and foundations of houses.

ALABIAVO (Rubeus/Red) Joy, the presence of a ghost, riches, clothes, jewels.
ALOHOMORA or ALAHAMORA (Albus/White) The diviner, the crowd, heartbreak, favourable to thieves.

ALIKISY (Puella/Girl) Brings riches, good for matters of love, a favourable day, land.
ALAKARABO (Puer/Boy) Sign of robbers and misfortune, workers and harvests.

ALAKAOSY (Caput Draconis/Dragon’s head) Evil thoughts, arguments, trials, wars, children
KARIJA (Cauda Draconis/Dragon’s Tail) Slaves, cold words.

Throw a geomantic spread

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