Here's a thousand-year-old precursor to arranging seeds into a 9-square grid. The newfangled technique is for germination (our photo is from Elements of Farm Practice
by Archie Dell Wilson and E. W. Wilson, 1919). The ancient technique is for geomancy and comes down to us from Kazakhstan (perhaps via Persia) called Kumalak (Qumalaq). One takes 41 beans and (through a simple process of dividing into piles and finding remainders) places them onto the squares of the grid. The squares at the top of the grid represent two eyes and the head. The middle squares are two hands and the heart. The bottom squares are two feet and a horse. The rows also represent (top to bottom) past, present, and future. The number of beans in each square is associated with the elements (1 to 4 representing fire [for action and clarity], water [for tension and imbalance], air [for encounters and associations], and earth [for wealth and sorrows]). And so parts of the body are combined with elements to form the divinatory reading: water in the head, wind in the eyes, fire in the hands, sand in the heart, and so on. Here's a link to an article
about the special meanings that might come up with particular combinations of beans. By the way, Didier Blau's Kumalak
system appears to be very hard to find. We acquired ours from Simon & Schuster Australia.