(nekros, "dead", and manteia, "divination")
Necromancy is a special mode of divination (q. v.) by the evocation of the dead. Understood as nigromancy (niger, black), which is the Italian, Spanish and old French form, the term suggests "black" magic or "black" art, in which marvellous results are due to the agency of evil spirits, while in "white" magic they are due to human dexterity and trickery. The practice of necromancy supposes belief in the survival of the soul after death, the possession of a superior knowledge by the disembodied spirit, and the possibility of communication between the living and the dead. The circumstances and conditions of this communication — such as time, place, and rites to be followed — depend on the various conceptions which were entertained concerning the nature of the departed soul, its abode, its relations with the earth and with the body in which it previously resided. As divinities frequently were but human heroes raised to the rank of gods, necromancy, mythology, and demonology are in close relation, and the oracles of the dead are not always easily distinguished from the oracles of the gods.