Religion Past and Present

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(382 words)

[German Version]

The umbilicus or navel and umbilical cord (Gk ὀμφαλός/omphalós, Lat. umbilicus) play only a peripheral role in the religious context of divination (the terms umbilicomancy and omphalomancy and descriptions of techniques first appear in 16th-cent. documents), and the occasionally reported use of the cord can be assigned to the broader context of contagious magic. But the navel as an obvious symbol of centrality plays a not insignificant role in various forms of meditation (Yoga, Śaivism, Tantrism, Taoism, Hesychasm) and in the experience of the world ma…

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Vollmer, Ulrich, “Umbilicus”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 03 June 2023 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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