The Everyday Lore Project

19 February 2020 – The Ladies’ Oracle

19 February 2020 – The Ladies’ Oracle

Today I have been consulting The Ladies’ Oracle. The Ladies’ Oracle is a small book given to me by my mother, full of answers to questions you never knew you needed to ask. The first page explains it thus: ‘The Ladies’ Oracle, founded on an entire new plan which never fails to reply to any questions asked by Cornelius Agrippa, being an infallible prophet of the male sex’. Cornelius Agrippa supposedly being one Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim, a famous German alchemist, philosopher and occultist who died in the 16th century.

So the premise is that you look down a list of questions numbered 5 – 100, pick one that resonates with you, hover your finger over a grid of symbols, then with your eyes closed, plunge your finger onto the page, picking one. Having picked a symbol, you must then find the corresponding page to the question and then find your answer. It is much more simple than I’ve just described, trust me. 

The symbols are triangles (or Toblerones), squares, circles, and squares with a diagonal line through them (sandwiches) arranged in single, double, triple and quadruple formations in the grid. As this is an oracle for Victorian ladies’ (first published in 1857) most of the questions are to do with love and marriage, and the fear of never achieving either. Like Question 53 – Has my husband loved any other woman as much as he loves me? Or Question 87 – Shall I die a maid, wife or widow? Some are vague, like Question 99 – Will they regret me? And some seem a little strange, given that this is an oracle, like Question 79 – Ought I follow the advice that is given me? But there are a few gems.

For example, Sarah chose to ask the Oracle, Question 22 – Shall I have many adventures?

Sarah’s finger picked a single sandwich, which led her to p.13 and the answer: Women like you always have too many or too few. Which we both felt was a touch too judgemental for our liking. 

Jaymie chose Question 42 – My husband, will he be handsome or ugly? The answer being He will be a grumbling, brutal and sullen fellow. To which she shrugged and nodded that this was probably true. 

Sandra’s turn, and after a look through, also went with Question 22, picking a quadruple Toblerone which led to the answer: Enough to make you regret it. Ambivalence and amusement was her response. However, I thought it was rather positive, much better to regret the adventures you do do, than the ones you don’t.

Then Claire had a go, but looking back on my notes, I’ve written it down all wrong, so I can’t find either the question or the answer, but I made a drawing of four circles. I did write what? next to it, so maybe none of it made sense to begin with.

And what about me? Well, of course I went for Question 22 too – Shall I have many adventures? Choosing a pyramid of sandwiches, led me to p.25 and the answer: They are preparing for you, and you will not be able to resist them, which on the one hand, sounds exciting, but on the other I feel I will need to avoid fairy rings, hills, paths, stone circles and any other kind of potential portal for the time being. Just in case…

Renaissance Astrological Magic Update Wednesday: I’ve not been very creative about this at all, same as yesterday but WITH the nutmeg. I also made a point of staring a white things like blank sheets of paper, the stripes on the trainers of the man asleep across the aisle from me on the train, and streaks of my undyed hair (I’m not sure if vanity counts as good intentions though). However, will this be enough to attract those psychic abilities? Find out tomorrow…


Agrippa, C. (2005) The Ladies’ Oracle, London, Bloomsbury

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

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