The art of divination is the art of discovering that which is hidden. Since the future is by definition hidden from us, divination is often used as a way to foresee events. But the techniques of divination can also be used to delve deeper into subjects and issues affecting us right now, or even elements of the past that we want more information on. Divination can also be used as a means of communion with the Divine. In Rome, the state religion often required a diviner of some sort be on hand for rituals so that the people would know if the gods approved of the offerings be given.
Human beings are pattern-seeking creatures. We have evolved to seek out the pattern of tiger stripes in the grass, of hunting birds among the clouds, and the ripples of fish in the stream. That also means that we are prone to creating patterns where none exists. We see a set of random events and ascribe meaning to it. This is also divination, finding the hidden meaning in the chaos. But the catch here is that the meaning doesn’t exist. We are adding our own interpretation to it.
It’s important to have a healthy dose of humility and rationality when divining. Realize that a scattering of stones or a random draw of cards doesn’t have any more revealed knowledge of the universe than you do. The cards have no idea what they are doing; they are just cards. Divination is a standardized or ritualistic process and thus helps our conscious mind get out of the way of our intuition. Whether you believe that gods and guides speak to you on this intuitive level or whether you just trust that your own subconscious is pretty good at figuring out what you should say, realize that the pattern of of stones you are reading is ultimately without intrinsic meaning.
In broad terms, divination techniques can be broken down into five categories:
Remember that divination the best way to approach divination, in my opinion, is a spiritual exercise. You are using your tools as a way to engage with the Divine, to receive guidance and wisdom. Part of that wisdom is undoubtedly that you shouldn’t entrust your future to a random distribution of cards or stones. But that doesn’t mean that divination is without purpose. Consider it as form of prayer, or a meditative exercise, or just a way see life in a new way.
If you are going to provide divination for someone else, you must approach the reading with the same mindset and level of skepticism that you would bring to a reading you do for yourself. As an ethical practitioner, it is your responsibility to inform your querent of the limitations of divination, of what it can and cannot do. If you are doing a reading for a friend, you are trying to help them with a difficult time in their life. Don’t handicap them with misinformation.
While you probably don’t need to consider this if you are just giving readings here and there, if you start charging money for your readings you should ask your querents to sign a liability waiver. This can be as simple or complex as you want, but in general you want something that ensures your querent is an adult and is aware that the reading is for entertainment or spiritual counseling purposes only. The liability waiver should indemnify you from any damages or blame if the querent does something stupid because of your reading. If you are serious about doing divination on a professional level, consult a lawyer for guidance on how to craft this document.
Questions and Topics for DivinationHaving chosen and learned your divination tool of choice, what’s the best thing to ask? This is going to depend mostly on the tool you are using. Sortilege, runes and Tarot and things like that, is easily scalable from simple questions to complex self-reflection. Other systems, like pendulum dowsing, are focused on yes/no and other binary questions; they don’t expand well to include shades of variation and meaning.
You can always ask general questions about your current situation or that of your querent. Questions like, “What does this month hold in store for me?” or “What should I focus on now?” are good places to start for a reading focused on introspection. These kind of questions should always should always use a large set of cards, runes, dice, whatever lots you are pulling. Don’t try to answer “What do the gods have in store for me this month?” with just 3 runes. You won’t get enough information to have a meaningful answer that isn’t unduly colored by your own subconscious desires and prejudices. Questions like “Should I take this job?” and “Should I go on this date?” are also good questions for a more complex reading.
A reading where you will only draw 1 to 3 lots is best suited for a question that is similarly small in scale. These are the best kind of readings to use for things like a daily devotional or as part of a ritual practice. You can ask “What does today have in store?” in the morning or “What should I try and learn from today?” in the evening. The small reading doesn’t give you the depth of insight that a complex one does, but its still valuable to use your divination practice to reflect on the small things in your life as well as the big ones.
Some forms and tools of divination, like astrology, numerology and palmistry, are best suited to self-reflection, contemplation, and abstract musings on personal goals. Knowing your sun sign isn’t going to give you a yes or no answer on taking a particular job, but it will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses and from there you can see if they would fit the job you are considering.
Always ask your question or frame your topic of reflection first, before you draw a card or lay out a rune. That way avoid unconscious bias about what question to ask when you see what you’ve drawn. Especially when doing readings for another person, you want to avoid any kind of cold reading. Many divination systems come from ancient cultures, their meanings have been broadened over time to help us apply them in useful ways to modern life. But that also means that such broad meanings are an easy trap for finding the answer you want instead of the answer you need.
Remember that divination is always about seeing the pattern in chaos. It’s about looking at a random assortment of objects or data and creating a pattern that explains that assortment. That’s already a process fraught with issues of bias and wish fulfillment, so for divination to have value and meaning you should try to reduce the chance of any predetermined result as much as you can.
~Article written by: Dedican Priest James Vacca; Voice of Oak