A Witch’s Guide On Divination – The Power of the Possible

One of the activities that witches and pagans are known for the most is the act of divination. Divination, which has also been called fortune-telling, is a way of connecting human intuition with divine wisdom (“divine” is almost a pun – to tell the future is to divine, and the information comes from the Goddess, who is divine).

Divination isn’t really about fortune telling. It’s about getting perspective on the current position in life occupied by the reader or by the subject of the reading.

It’s taking a moment to look at the situation from a Goddess-eye view, to take in all of the possible ebbs and flows of time and change. When you do a divination, you’re not saying, “this is what must happen”. You’re saying, “if nothing changes, this is the most likely outcome”. It’s a way to guide choices.

There are almost as many divination tools as there are Crafters who use them.  Tarot, runes, crystal balls, black mirrors, tea leaves, palmistry, pendulums, bone casting, dowsing, bibliomancy – the list is as long as your arm.

The thing that all of these disparate methods has in common is their purpose: they exist as tools to help you train your own intuition and to help you access the deepest recesses of your unconscious mind, where humans and the divine communicate the best.

Divination is best used to guide choices. You should trust your gut instincts when you have choices to make, and your gut works best when it’s in tune with the Universe. The best way to attune yourself to the energies of Fate is to practice, and divination tools are the way that practice is done. Think of it as spiritual weight lifting.

The way exercise strengthens your physical body, the practice of divination strengthens your spirit. Your ability to sense right and wrong, to make the right choices for yourself and to understand the way your choices radiate out to affect those around you – these are all honed and heightened through divination.

When you divine, you take a snapshot of the current moment in time. Any choice made will affect the outcome. Not making a choice is a choice in itself. When you cast runes, or lay out a Tarot spread, or gaze into a pool of water, you are taking in all of the complex web of reality at that moment in time as it affects the question you are seeking to understand. The answers given by divination are not absolutes.

Time and divine energy are like a moving stream – you can put your toe in only once. After that, everything is changed by the presence of that toe, and if you put your toe back into the stream, the water you touch is not the water that was there before. So it is with divination.

Each form of divination could have – and does have – libraries full of books written about them. I’m going to touch on each form briefly, and maybe one day we’ll look at each of them more in-depth. For now, here is an overview of different types of divination.

Runes

The ancient Norse alphabet had a spiritual dimension. Each letter had a spiritual meaning and power all its own. The Norse inscribed each letter separately onto wood chips, clay tablets, or pieces of bone, and the runes were born. Rune casting is an ancient discipline, where a series of runes are either selected or cast by chance.

In either case, the meanings of each rune interact with the meanings of the other runes around it, and through that interaction, wisdom is revealed. The runes on a standard Norse rune set are the Futhark alphabet, so named because of the first letters: Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raidho and Kaunan. (The word “alphabet” is also named after the first letters, alpha and beta.)

There are three different versions of Futhark that are used in rune casting. The most common is the Elder Futhark, which has 24 letters. There is also the Young Futhark, which has 16 letters. The largest set is the Anglo-Saxon Futharc, which is expanded out to 33 letters.

The Elder Futhark is divided into three Aettir, or families, of eight runes each.  The first Aett is Freya’s Aett. Freya is a nurturing goddess of love and of the home, and these runes reflect the spiritual aspects of nurturing. The second Aett belongs to Heimdall, the watchful warrior, and his runes are active, physical and fighting-oriented. The third Aett is the province of Tyr, a powerful god who stands for kingship and rule. His runes reflect his focus on justice, authority and spiritual growth and understanding.

The runes can be used in magick as well as in divination, but it’s their use in divination that is most familiar.

Tarot

The Tarot came into existence in Italy in 1440, arising from playing cards imported from northern Africa, most likely from Egypt, as a form of cartomancy (card magic) and divination. The standard Tarot deck has 76 cards made up of four suits called the minor arcana and 22 trump cards called the major arcana.  The major arcana stand for powerful archetypal energies that have a long-reaching, profound influences on a person’s life.

When major arcana cards appear in a reading, they bring great gravity to the aspect of the situation they address. The minor arcana represent more transient energies based on the elements and their effects. The four suits of the minor arcana are traditionally Wands (air), Swords (fire), Pentacles (earth) and Cups (water), and they’re numbered one through ten with four court cards (Page, Knight, Queen and King).

No matter what suit they belong to, the numbered cards have particular areas of life that they address. For example, aces, whether the Ace of Swords or the Ace of Cups, refer to new beginnings.

The numbered cards then proceed through cycles of changes until they reach the Tens, which are representative of ultimate outcomes and the ends of cycles. Pages are messages, Knights are actions, Queens are feminine influences and Kings are masculine influences.

The cards each have two meanings. The standard meaning is for when the card is seen right-side-up, and the meanings represent the card’s energies in an unimpeded form. When the cards are seen upside-down, then the energies that the card represents are being stymied or challenged in some way, and these meanings are called “reversals”.

Reversals usually reveal areas that require attention and work, or places where there’s trouble that needs to be addressed. Not all readers use reversals, but I find that they’re very significant when they appear.

Tarot cards are read in spreads, which is to say the pattern in which the cards are laid out for reading. There are a whole constellation of spreads in use today, but the three most common are the single-card reading, the three-card reading, and the Celtic Cross spread. There are many, many books on the subject of Tarot spreads, and I will refer you to those for further information.

Pendulum

A pendulum is a pendant of some kind on a string or a chain. The swinging of a pendulum reveals answers to questions. Clockwise circles, anti-clockwise circles, to and fro and side to side swings are interpreted to mean different answers: yes, no, I don’t know, or I can’t say.

A pendulum user holds the pendulum by the end of the string, firmly holding the end between thumb and finger and dangling the pendant straight down.  As questions are asked, the pendulum responds by moving of its own volition. Some people believe that pendulums are moved by minute physical movements of the user’s hand which arise in response to impulses from the subconscious mind, revealing deep wisdom.

Others believe that the pendulums are moved by exterior spiritual forces, whether this be angels, guides, or the spirits of the deceased.

Sometimes pendulum readers have a chart that they use. They hold the pendulum above this chart, and the pendant swings to indicate the answers laid out on the chart. I’m not personally all that familiar with this method, but I know many people have used it, and that you can find these pendulum charts in books and on line.

The pendants on the pendulum can be metal, crystal, wood, bone, or a combination of all of the above. In a pinch, any necklace can be used as a pendulum. Pendulums are good for straight-forward question and answer sessions, but not so great at detailed descriptions. A good friend of mine has startling accuracy with her pendulum, including predicting the genders of her nephews’ unborn babies.

Pendulums are very useful in detecting spiritual energies, and many mediums and paranormal investigators use pendulums to confirm the presence of spirits.

Scrying

Scrying is the act of gazing into something reflective, like the surface of water or a crystal ball, and interpreting the images that are seen there. It helps to slightly unfocus your eyes when you’re scrying, because too much visual acuity of the physical world can sometimes obscure the misty reflections that reveal hidden truths.

Some of the most common objects used in scrying are bowls of water, mirrors and crystal balls. The more reflective the surface, the better. Crystal balls can be made of glass or of actual rock crystals and semi-precious gemstones. I find that I have better results using a ball made of selenite, because the glossy striations and milky colors of the stone are more revelatory to my inner senses. Your mileage may vary. The important thing is to find the material that works best for how your soul communicates to the divine.

There are other forms of scrying that don’t involve reflective materials. You can scry by staring into candle flames, interpreting the shapes and images seen there. You can scry by interpreting the smoke trails of incense, or by reading the shapes of clouds. Water scrying can also be done by dropping pebbles or small drops of wax into the water and interpreting the ripples that are formed. I’ve heard that this is particularly powerful when the wax is dropped from a candle that’s been consecrated for use in ritual, especially when the scrying is done as part of the ritual in question.

Palmistry

The art of reading the future or divining insights from the lines in a person’s palm is called palmistry. Its origins are unclear, but it probably started in India and was carried to Europe with the Roma people (known improperly as gypsies). Palmistry involves interpreting the various lines and how they interact.

There are dozens of lines and signs in a person’s palm, but the three most important lines are the Life Line, which runs around the pad of the thumb; the Heart Line, which starts on the outside of the palm and runs toward the index or middle finger; and the Head Line, which lies between the first two.

The length of the line, the curviness or straightness of it, and the presence of chains or breaks all have an impact on the meaning. A long life line means a long life, but if it’s broken, then that means that there are or have been life-threatening injuries or illnesses. A long heart line means someone is very emotional, but breaks can show failed relationships and heartaches.

The positioning of the heart line is also indicative of the person’s style of loving and behavior in relationships. The head line reveals the way the person thinks and their intellectual style.

Some people believe that lines between these main lines that form the shape of an “x” indicate psychic ability. The more “x” forms you have, the stronger your power. I have nine “x” shapes in my left palm, but I’m hardly a psychic prodigy, so I guess that’s open to interpretation. Maybe I just haven’t come into my power yet!

Tea Leaves

Reading tea leaves is another old method of divination. It involves interpreting the patterns and shapes formed by tea leaves left in the bottom of a cup after the tea has been consumed. The person who wants the reading should focus on his or her question while drinking the tea, and when only a little liquid is left in the cup, the reader takes over. The cup is turned three times (clockwise) and then either interpreted as is or overturned onto a saucer. The shapes formed by the tea leaves give the answer that’s being sought.

I’ll confess that I know almost nothing about tea leaf divination, mostly because I’ve always used tea bags, which eliminate free-floating leaves. Like all other forms of divination, though, there are tons of books on the subject, and if you’re interested in learning more, you can find guidance there.

So, these are just some of the hundreds for forms of divination that are practiced by witches and pagans across the world. You can read for yourself, or you can read for others, but the important thing is that you feel the reading more than you think it. Intuition is the heart of divination, and the more you practice it, the stronger and more accurate it will be.

Divination – The Power of the Possible

One of the activities that witches and pagans are known for the most is the act of divination. Divination, which has also been called fortune-telling, is a way of connecting human intuition with divine wisdom (“divine” is almost a pun – to tell the future is to divine, and the information comes from the Goddess, who is divine).

Divination isn’t really about fortune telling. It’s about getting perspective on the current position in life occupied by the reader or by the subject of the reading.

It’s taking a moment to look at the situation from a Goddess-eye view, to take in all of the possible ebbs and flows of time and change. When you do a divination, you’re not saying, “this is what must happen”. You’re saying, “if nothing changes, this is the most likely outcome”. It’s a way to guide choices.

There are almost as many divination tools as there are Crafters who use them.  Tarot, runes, crystal balls, black mirrors, tea leaves, palmistry, pendulums, bone casting, dowsing, bibliomancy – the list is as long as your arm.

The thing that all of these disparate methods has in common is their purpose: they exist as tools to help you train your own intuition and to help you access the deepest recesses of your unconscious mind, where humans and the divine communicate the best.

Divination is best used to guide choices. You should trust your gut instincts when you have choices to make, and your gut works best when it’s in tune with the Universe. The best way to attune yourself to the energies of Fate is to practice, and divination tools are the way that practice is done. Think of it as spiritual weight lifting.

The way exercise strengthens your physical body, the practice of divination strengthens your spirit. Your ability to sense right and wrong, to make the right choices for yourself and to understand the way your choices radiate out to affect those around you – these are all honed and heightened through divination.

When you divine, you take a snapshot of the current moment in time. Any choice made will affect the outcome. Not making a choice is a choice in itself. When you cast runes, or lay out a Tarot spread, or gaze into a pool of water, you are taking in all of the complex web of reality at that moment in time as it affects the question you are seeking to understand. The answers given by divination are not absolutes.

Time and divine energy are like a moving stream – you can put your toe in only once. After that, everything is changed by the presence of that toe, and if you put your toe back into the stream, the water you touch is not the water that was there before. So it is with divination.

Each form of divination could have – and does have – libraries full of books written about them. I’m going to touch on each form briefly, and maybe one day we’ll look at each of them more in-depth. For now, here is an overview of different types of divination.

Runes

The ancient Norse alphabet had a spiritual dimension. Each letter had a spiritual meaning and power all its own. The Norse inscribed each letter separately onto wood chips, clay tablets, or pieces of bone, and the runes were born. Rune casting is an ancient discipline, where a series of runes are either selected or cast by chance.

In either case, the meanings of each rune interact with the meanings of the other runes around it, and through that interaction, wisdom is revealed. The runes on a standard Norse rune set are the Futhark alphabet, so named because of the first letters: Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raidho and Kaunan. (The word “alphabet” is also named after the first letters, alpha and beta.)

There are three different versions of Futhark that are used in rune casting. The most common is the Elder Futhark, which has 24 letters. There is also the Young Futhark, which has 16 letters. The largest set is the Anglo-Saxon Futharc, which is expanded out to 33 letters.

The Elder Futhark is divided into three Aettir, or families, of eight runes each.  The first Aett is Freya’s Aett. Freya is a nurturing goddess of love and of the home, and these runes reflect the spiritual aspects of nurturing. The second Aett belongs to Heimdall, the watchful warrior, and his runes are active, physical and fighting-oriented. The third Aett is the province of Tyr, a powerful god who stands for kingship and rule. His runes reflect his focus on justice, authority and spiritual growth and understanding.

The runes can be used in magick as well as in divination, but it’s their use in divination that is most familiar.

Tarot

The Tarot came into existence in Italy in 1440, arising from playing cards imported from northern Africa, most likely from Egypt, as a form of cartomancy (card magic) and divination. The standard Tarot deck has 76 cards made up of four suits called the minor arcana and 22 trump cards called the major arcana.  The major arcana stand for powerful archetypal energies that have a long-reaching, profound influences on a person’s life.

When major arcana cards appear in a reading, they bring great gravity to the aspect of the situation they address. The minor arcana represent more transient energies based on the elements and their effects. The four suits of the minor arcana are traditionally Wands (air), Swords (fire), Pentacles (earth) and Cups (water), and they’re numbered one through ten with four court cards (Page, Knight, Queen and King).

No matter what suit they belong to, the numbered cards have particular areas of life that they address. For example, aces, whether the Ace of Swords or the Ace of Cups, refer to new beginnings.

The numbered cards then proceed through cycles of changes until they reach the Tens, which are representative of ultimate outcomes and the ends of cycles. Pages are messages, Knights are actions, Queens are feminine influences and Kings are masculine influences.

The cards each have two meanings. The standard meaning is for when the card is seen right-side-up, and the meanings represent the card’s energies in an unimpeded form. When the cards are seen upside-down, then the energies that the card represents are being stymied or challenged in some way, and these meanings are called “reversals”.

Reversals usually reveal areas that require attention and work, or places where there’s trouble that needs to be addressed. Not all readers use reversals, but I find that they’re very significant when they appear.

Tarot cards are read in spreads, which is to say the pattern in which the cards are laid out for reading. There are a whole constellation of spreads in use today, but the three most common are the single-card reading, the three-card reading, and the Celtic Cross spread. There are many, many books on the subject of Tarot spreads, and I will refer you to those for further information.

Pendulum

A pendulum is a pendant of some kind on a string or a chain. The swinging of a pendulum reveals answers to questions. Clockwise circles, anti-clockwise circles, to and fro and side to side swings are interpreted to mean different answers: yes, no, I don’t know, or I can’t say.

A pendulum user holds the pendulum by the end of the string, firmly holding the end between thumb and finger and dangling the pendant straight down.  As questions are asked, the pendulum responds by moving of its own volition. Some people believe that pendulums are moved by minute physical movements of the user’s hand which arise in response to impulses from the subconscious mind, revealing deep wisdom.

Others believe that the pendulums are moved by exterior spiritual forces, whether this be angels, guides, or the spirits of the deceased.

Sometimes pendulum readers have a chart that they use. They hold the pendulum above this chart, and the pendant swings to indicate the answers laid out on the chart. I’m not personally all that familiar with this method, but I know many people have used it, and that you can find these pendulum charts in books and on line.

The pendants on the pendulum can be metal, crystal, wood, bone, or a combination of all of the above. In a pinch, any necklace can be used as a pendulum. Pendulums are good for straight-forward question and answer sessions, but not so great at detailed descriptions. A good friend of mine has startling accuracy with her pendulum, including predicting the genders of her nephews’ unborn babies.

Pendulums are very useful in detecting spiritual energies, and many mediums and paranormal investigators use pendulums to confirm the presence of spirits.

Scrying

Scrying is the act of gazing into something reflective, like the surface of water or a crystal ball, and interpreting the images that are seen there. It helps to slightly unfocus your eyes when you’re scrying, because too much visual acuity of the physical world can sometimes obscure the misty reflections that reveal hidden truths.

Some of the most common objects used in scrying are bowls of water, mirrors and crystal balls. The more reflective the surface, the better. Crystal balls can be made of glass or of actual rock crystals and semi-precious gemstones. I find that I have better results using a ball made of selenite, because the glossy striations and milky colors of the stone are more revelatory to my inner senses. Your mileage may vary. The important thing is to find the material that works best for how your soul communicates to the divine.

There are other forms of scrying that don’t involve reflective materials. You can scry by staring into candle flames, interpreting the shapes and images seen there. You can scry by interpreting the smoke trails of incense, or by reading the shapes of clouds. Water scrying can also be done by dropping pebbles or small drops of wax into the water and interpreting the ripples that are formed. I’ve heard that this is particularly powerful when the wax is dropped from a candle that’s been consecrated for use in ritual, especially when the scrying is done as part of the ritual in question.

Palmistry

The art of reading the future or divining insights from the lines in a person’s palm is called palmistry. Its origins are unclear, but it probably started in India and was carried to Europe with the Roma people (known improperly as gypsies). Palmistry involves interpreting the various lines and how they interact.

There are dozens of lines and signs in a person’s palm, but the three most important lines are the Life Line, which runs around the pad of the thumb; the Heart Line, which starts on the outside of the palm and runs toward the index or middle finger; and the Head Line, which lies between the first two.

The length of the line, the curviness or straightness of it, and the presence of chains or breaks all have an impact on the meaning. A long life line means a long life, but if it’s broken, then that means that there are or have been life-threatening injuries or illnesses. A long heart line means someone is very emotional, but breaks can show failed relationships and heartaches.

The positioning of the heart line is also indicative of the person’s style of loving and behavior in relationships. The head line reveals the way the person thinks and their intellectual style.

Some people believe that lines between these main lines that form the shape of an “x” indicate psychic ability. The more “x” forms you have, the stronger your power. I have nine “x” shapes in my left palm, but I’m hardly a psychic prodigy, so I guess that’s open to interpretation. Maybe I just haven’t come into my power yet!

Tea Leaves

Reading tea leaves is another old method of divination. It involves interpreting the patterns and shapes formed by tea leaves left in the bottom of a cup after the tea has been consumed. The person who wants the reading should focus on his or her question while drinking the tea, and when only a little liquid is left in the cup, the reader takes over. The cup is turned three times (clockwise) and then either interpreted as is or overturned onto a saucer. The shapes formed by the tea leaves give the answer that’s being sought.

I’ll confess that I know almost nothing about tea leaf divination, mostly because I’ve always used tea bags, which eliminate free-floating leaves. Like all other forms of divination, though, there are tons of books on the subject, and if you’re interested in learning more, you can find guidance there.

So, these are just some of the hundreds for forms of divination that are practiced by witches and pagans across the world. You can read for yourself, or you can read for others, but the important thing is that you feel the reading more than you think it. Intuition is the heart of divination, and the more you practice it, the stronger and more accurate it will be.

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