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Difficult to interpret / Jumpy
Makes things seem better
Makes things seem worse
Cups/ Chalices/ Vessels
Can cause emotional responses
A long, but valid, Introduction
The purpose of this article is to give you a brief overview of the many forms of divination in practice today. Throughout history, many different cultures and religious structures have amazed entire populations with their forms of divination, and while they all seem so different, their exact and insightful readings have baffled the minds of many. There are those that state that these methods of telling ones future are extremely generic, and that the meanings behind the symbols and images are merely coincidental and randomly chosen, but these claims can neither be proven, nor can they discredit the ancient practices.
Even if these methodologies are random, and are so generic that they apply to everyone, it cannot be said that readings do not help the people that receive them. By pointing out factors in ones personality and backing it up with solutions, future prospects and wise insights, one can go ahead with their life in such a way that is cool and confident, trusting that they have the arsenal to tackle any oncoming problems head on. Another possibility, backed up by advanced sciences and many religious beliefs, is that as we are all connected to one huge source, and because of that we already know the answers to the questions we are asking, and so the cards/ symbols/ images (which are also connected to the source) will always come up top trumps and give truth to the inquirer.
Personally, That is the explanation that I believe, but as I say to everybody without even the slightest hint of judgment or malice, whatever helps you sleep at night is fine with me! If you believe that the Runes are God given symbols, or that the Tarot is a portrayal of spirits and archetypes, or even that there is nothing but blankness behind these practices, then that is fine. You can only believe what you believe in (or don’t believe in), and as long as opinions are discussed or debated in a civil manner, there needn’t be any bad feeling about it! And with that said, without further ado, I give you an introduction into divination, and we shall start with this generation’s most popular form it, Tarot cards.
But just before that, I feel I must give a little background info into my divining life, so that I can put across the point of this article. I began my path of spirituality when I was little over ten years old, and played around with tarot cards for years, never to any success. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that the cards didn’t give accurate results, because they did, but the meanings to me didn’t sink in. So when I was about fifteen years old I ditched them, and began using the Anglo-Saxon Runes. This form of divination pleased me a lot, I got to craft my own runes, which is something I loved, and could remember a lot of the meanings. The when I did get lost were guided by intuition and books. So no, I still wasn’t perfect at it.
I began to feel like telling the future was something I’d have to live without, until one day, very recently, something happened. I was scouring the internet for a deck of tarot cards as a gift for my friend, Edward Reeves, when I came across a deck of cards that I instantly fell in love with. I wanted them more than I could say, but didn’t want to waste money on something I could not read, and so I just told my fiancé and coven members about them. The next day, that very same Edward Reeves surprised me with them, and since that point I have not looked back. I can read them accurately and with confidence, I look to the images for insight and to tell you the truth, haven’t even read more than a quarter of the guidebook. My point is that there is a right form of divination for you, even if you have tried that particular method before. It’s all about finding the right stuff to suit you, be it Tarot Cards, Rune sets or even crystal balls. Now, with my ramble over, and my point made, I present to you an overview of the most popular forms of divination today.
Which of these is your preferred choice of divination?
The origin of the Tarot being enigmatic itself, some date the original creation back to the times of the Egyptians, while others believe a game of playing cards turned into a form of divination and travelled across the world with the gypsies delivering accurate and insightful readings. Because of this, it's very difficult to comment on their history, but one thing that is for sure is that the Rider Waite Tarot Deck has been inspirational and is seen as a classic among the many Tarot Users across the world today. The cards are split into two sections: The Major Arcana, consisting of 21 archetypes or personalities; and The Minor Arcana, consisting of 52 cards not dissimilar to a usual deck of playing cards.
The Shadowscapes Tarot Deck is a set of Tarot cards that don't stray far from the original Rider Waite deck. A member of my coven has recently bought this set and I'd genuinely recommend 'google image' searching them and taking a look at the original and creative artwork depicted in it's images. They were all water colour scans and the pictures themselves offer a lot of insight into the meanings of the cards, an example of this being that the 'Death' card shows a blazing Phoenix, reminding you that the death card is about rebirth, trimming the old and becoming new. The wonder of these cards is a certain incentive to learn their ancient meanings and take in their stories, and is perhaps that deck you have been searching for.
And for my final recommendation we come to the Wildwood tarot, the deck that has turned out to be my personal awakening to divination. A lot of the cards differ from the actual Rider Waite deck, the major arcana being targeted to the archetypes of the Wildwood, e.g. The Green Man and Woman, The Bear, The Archer, The World tree etc. Each card has its name, and a key word that encompasses the main meaning. These cards, along with most other sets of Tarot can act as a powerful tool within meditation, awakening personalities within yourself that take a back seat and off set the balance within you. The cards images are a perfect way to interpret the meanings, and you wouldn't necessarily need to read the book before you start giving readings.
Oracle cards are much like the tarot in that you shuffle a deck of cards and place them out into spreads, but they mainly differ in that the cards represent accessible entities, spirits and personalities, that play a role within the world around us. For an example, in an oracle deck of Archangels, the cards directly connect to Michael, Gabriel, and Uriel etc.. Because of the array of different Oracle decks out there, they have become very popular within the occult world. Whatever your belief system, whatever your pantheon, there is an Oracle set for you. The meanings of Oracle cards are entirely dependent on the stories behind the Oracle, and as such vary greatly, creating a set of cards that can suit you and work well with your intuition and 'inner voice.'
Two of the decks I have recommended here come from direct experience with them, in that Hawthorn, one of my coven members uses them regularly. The Faeries' Oracle and The Heart Of Faerie Oracle are two sets of cards by Brian and Wendy Froud, and can be shuffled together to make one entire deck. The images, and the stories they represent are in depth and full of detail, inducing a sense of magic and wonder.
The Archangel Oracle set, made by Doreen Virtue are foreign to me, however they come very well recommended and have wonderful reviews online. Those of the Christo-Pagan pathway, and even those Christians that are allowed to use oracles will be very happy with this interesting set. Decks entirely revolving around individual archangels are also available.
The Runes are ancient pictographs used to represent magical properties, and were also used as a form of communication. We later used them as our written alphabet, when trade began overseas and we had no written language whatsoever! Their magical properties and their insightful readings have always generated wonder throughout the ages, until the Christianisation came to England and all we had left of their ancient meanings was a Christianised poem (The Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem.)
The poem has been studied and the Rune meanings have been deduced from it, but the greatness that lies within them does not come from a book. Most, if not all books will tell you that when you acquire a set of Runes, sit and meditate with each one individually and write down your impressions and what they mean to you. You are then encouraged to read the book and compare. If your written meanings differ from the meanings in the book, then you are to trust your intuition and use your gut feeling in place of the writers knowledge. Runes speak to us all in different ways, and your own inner wisdom should never be doubted.
As briefly mentioned before, the Runes outside of divination are used in magic, and can be used to represent certain channels of energy when performing spellwork. For a list of their magical properties, and an in depth interpretation of the runes, please check my Runes article. You can buy lovely sets of Runes, carved in crystal, painted on cards, burned into wood or for a more personal approach, make them yourself.
The I Ching
The I Ching is one of the oldest divinatory manuscripts, dating back to at least 1000BC and estimated in some circles to be even older. I Ching is an assortment of 64 different line arrangements, known as hexagrams. Each hexagram is made up of six lines stacked, some lines solid, some broken (a hole in the middle of the line.) The broken lines are referred to as Yin, while the solid lines are known as Yang.
The hexagrams are made up of two sets of three lined images, known as Trigrams. Enthusiasts suspect that the original I Ching were only the eight Trigrams, rather than the 64 Hexagrams that are in use today. Determining whether a line is broken or unbroken can be as simple as flipping a coin and assigning heads and tails to each line. The final hexagram represents processes or states found in humanity, and can offer great insight into ones past, present and future.
Reading the palms is more complex than you may think, but also much simpler when you have the correct outlook and a decent book or reference at hand (see what I did there?) The term 'palm reading' is actually an analysis of not only your palms, but the shape of your hand, your fingers, and the lines and cracks that run along the skin. Different structures and variations in those subjects offer insight into the overall personality and attitude of the person you are reading. As well as the telling of somebodies future, you can also deduce moods and problems happening in the now, meaning that you'll be able to tell somebody how they feel and offer them good advice to apply and an experience to take with them.
A minority to horoscopes, palm reading is underrated and sometimes left out of articles like this one. While I myself am no practitioner of this art, I respect and understand its principles. A viable and deep tradition, It very well could be the starting point in divination for you.
Using the elements as a form of divination is an art in and of itself, and you’ll struggle to find complex books on the subject. It’s concept is fairly basic, and intuition is the best way to deduce the messages they have to offer. To make this a little easier to understand, I have split the elements into four different paragraphs, each one explaining what can be used to look into, and certain key points that should be looked out for. A bit of intuition and insight is necessary for this kind of divination, but will improve with practice. Be sure to have a question in mind while staring into these objects. If you have not yet read about the Elements, you can do so here: Elements.
Earth: Reading with Earth can be done by staring into a crystal ball, a chunk of Obsidian, or any other crystal that doesn’t contain many blemishes. Stare into the ball until your subconscious takes over, keeping an eye out for any symbols that appear before you or in your mind, and trusting the words that pop into your head. A symbol or keyword could be something as simple as “turtle,” and that particular symbol could be used to warn of moving very slowly. Earth can give you the future in a way that is very difficult to read, as it tends to give you two futures in one, with a crack or two that needs filling in by your own logic and insight.
Air: Scrying with air consists of lighting incense, and finding images in the smoke. Lavender and other relax-inducing scents are perfect for this type of divination. The rest is the same as other elemental scrying techniques, look for symbols, listen out for keywords, and apply those messages to human life. Air can lighten everything up, in the sense that it will give you best case scenario messages, rather than prepare you for what could come of a situation.
Fire: A simple candle can be used, but a large fire is preferable, due to the licks and the sounds of the flames being more diverse the larger the fire gets. Fire can induce full blown visions of the future, as can the other elements. Remember that Fire tends to give you worse case scenarios, and often is showing you something that can easily be avoided, or showing you something completely out of context that seems absolutely terrible at the time, but in actuality is not that bad.
Water: Water can be used for divination by looking into a cauldron, bowl, or even puddle. The sea also works just as well but you’d need to go out a few steps so that the water is up to about stomach height, the shore being a little too in and out to focus on correctly. Water can be a little too honest, often carrying messages that have a huge emotional impact on you.
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Other forms of divination similar to elemental scrying includes cloud reading, tea leaves and dripping hot wax into cold water. The principles are the same; focus on the question, perform the action, and work out the meanings behind the symbols. There are also more complex methods such as the Druid’s Ogham, and astrology, but those subjects are far too large to glaze over in an article such as this one.
I hope you have enjoyed this article and that it has in some way increased your hopes of introducing methods of divination into your life. It really is all about experimentation, and eventually you will find a method that suits you. Just 'listen to the call,' and I'm positive that someday soon you will be telling the future and advising your friends and family when they come up against a difficult time. Remember to trust your intuition, and go with your gut.