by Sandra Mizumoto Posey, Ph.D.
The materials are laid out before you: cards, stones, coins, even the stray leaves in your teacup. You puzzle over the swords, cups, wands, and circles, or perhaps an unfamiliar alphabet, or even something as seemingly simple as a series of lines, broken and unbroken. And let's face it, of all the world's most perplexing mysteries, certain questions assert themselves at the forefront of our thoughts: Does he/she still love me? Will I get a promotion? How can I improve my health? Where will this road take me? They're personal issues, the stuff of daily worries, the building blocks of our days.
But is this sort of divination really about the future or is it about now? Divinatory tools are triggers. We begin by recognizing its symbols, picking out the ones that resonate with us first. Some tools already comprise a sophisticated and complex language. When you learn its symbolic alphabet, you can begin to read its message, which is really a message from you to you. While the same symbols may present themselves to you or another reader, how you build the sentences from these esoteric words is yours alone. And by bypassing the language you use daily to communicate the mundane, it's possible for you to leap from left brain to right, delving into personal truths that are beyond mere logic.
Before casting runes or dealing cards, ask yourself what it is that you are seeking of divination. Determine whether or not you will only see what you want to see. What will change about your outlook or your actions if the answer is the opposite? Will you repeat your reading until you find what you were hoping for? Or are you truly ready to take what is given and accept the fact that what you hope for may not be what is best, that the problem you hope to solve likely has its answer within yourself rather than without, and that no matter what promises you perceive the cards to have given you, you still have to live with your reality today. Divination, in other words, is not an escape. It is not an easy way out. If used mindfully, it will help you to see the mountains you must climb, not avoid them.
Once you have accepted this, the method you choose for divination is largely irrelevant. There is no one way that is better than the rest. Ultimately, you need to go with the form that resonates with you most. While it may seem like an ambiguous statement, you will know what form is right for you. Don't belabor the issue. You are not tied to this deck or this method for the rest of your life. If something feels right, go with it. At a later point, more likely than not, this will shift and change, probably many times.
The most popular forms today are probably tarot cards (in one form or another) and Norse runes. Divination tools, however, are diverse beyond imagining. You can divine with almost anything. In ancient times, there were those who found truth by looking at the fresh entrails of a newly slaughtered beast, so if you want to find answers in the specks of fat dotting your breakfast sausage, go to it. A few more common methods include cartomancy, divining with cards; palmistry, analyzing the lines and contours of the human hand; tasseography, divining in a tea or coffee cup; phrenology, the analysis of the human head; and bibliomancy, finding answers by choosing random passages from the bible or another text.
The key to successful divination is to achieve an almost meditative state before your chosen instrument. For this reason, the practice of meditation in general is a valuable habit to acquire. Essentially, you are seeking to achieve a waking dream state in which your mind is not chattering on in its normal manner, preoccupied with sundry worries, and begin a journey of free association and storytelling with a willingness to let your mind go wherever it chooses to take you. No matter how unrelated an image, idea, or word may seem when it first flits across your thoughts, do not fight it. Don't get in your own way. Your mind knows where it is taking you.
If you are an artist, this state of mind is familiar to you. It is that place you reach when you are not consciously choosing your colors or where the next stroke of paint will go. You are simply flowing along with it. Like driving a car, the minute you stop to analyze what you are doing, the process becomes awkward a nd ultimately detrimental.
The answers come from within yourself. Let them come.
Document Copyright © 1999 Spiritualitea.com & Sandra Mizumoto Posey, Ph.D., author of Cafe Nation: Coffee Folklore, Magick, & Divination (Santa Monica Press, 2000). This article may be reproduced as long as no changes, additions or deletions are made to the text. All the information in this paragraph must be included on the document whenever it is distributed or reproduced.