Divination received from the spirits of the dead. The historian Strabo mentions that Persia's main form of divination was through necromancy, marking Persians as the first recorded to practice this art. In Babylon, necromancers were called Manzazuu or Sha'etemmu and the raised spirits were called Etemmu. Necromancy is from the Greek word, nekos (dead), and manteria (divination). Subsequently the word in its Latin form became nigromancia (black art).

Israelites probably learned the art from Persians or Babylonians and practiced it extensively, to the point where the Bible explicitly forbids it repeatedly. Three classes of necromancy were known to Israelites as ob, yidde'oni, and doresh el ha-metim (questioner of dead). Ob is said to denote the soothsaying spirit. Jewish tradition says, "Ob is the python, who speaks from his armpits, yidde'oni is he who speaks with his mouth". Warnings against necromancy were not heeded, for instance, King Saul asked the Witch of Endor to summon Samuel.

In Odyssey, Ulysses travels to Hades, and summons the dead using spells learned from Circe, the intention was to call Tiresias. Likewise with Norse mythology, in Volsupa, Odin summons a seeress from the dead in order to predict the future. In Grogaldr, Syipdag summons Groa. In the 17th century, Robert Fludd describes Goetic necromancy as consisting of "diabolical commerce with unclean spirits, in rites of criminal curiosity, in illicit songs and invocations and in the evocation of the souls of the dead". Necromancy is extensively practiced in voodoo.

Deuteronomy 18:11, 26:14
Isaiah 8:19, 29:4
1 Samuel 28:7-19