Part of a broken shell that was found at an ancient Chinese excavation site, Luoyang, was believed to have been used for psychic purposes. While no one really knows how they used the shells they think the turtles were boiled and then the readings, much like a tarot card or palm reading, would then be determined by how the shell cracked while being boiled.
They may have taken the sounds of the crackling into consideration during the reading as well. Holes were bored into the shell to make it easier to crack during the divination process.
Aside from the shells, there were many skeletal remains found, thought to have been sacrifices that were at least 2700 years old.
Meanwhile, in Northern America the tortoise shells were used as rattles and used in healing and fertility rituals by Iroquois dancers. The noise of the rattle was believed to summon spirits to a ritual. It appears as if the housing of our slow paced friend, the tortoise, is a popular item when conjuring spirits and information.
Photograph from Imaginechina/AP
~ Willliam C. Raustler