My first conscious experience with Witchcraft, back when I was at school, was through divination. My local newsagents had an amazing variety of magazines and one day I found a copy of ‘Prediction’ lurking in the corner of the shelves. I immediately bought it and devoured it. From there on I was hooked!

 

I can’t remember for certain if it was Predication, or one of the shinier new age periodicals I managed to find, but one month a set of cut out and keep tarot cards fell onto the door mat. It was just 2 hours later that I was reading cards for kids in the school corridors. But back then I had no real idea about what divination was. Or that it had anything at all to do with witchcraft.

 

So, this instalment of the Witchcraft A to Z is particularly special to me. As we dive into what I consider to be one of the essential pillars of witchcraft I will try not to reminisce too much about my early fortune telling days!

What is Divination?

Let’s start with a definition of Divination. Its one of those words which we hear a lot, but often we are not too sure about what it actually is – beyond the obligatory tarot cards of course!

 

The Oxford English dictionary gives a really good description. I was pleasantly surprised. They describe it as:

The practice of seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown by supernatural means.

 

Immediately this suggests a few critical elements of what divination is:

  • It is about seeking. Looking. Searching. It is not just being given answers.
  • Not just about fortune telling – not just about the future but about anything unknown
  • It is about seeing the unseen. Knowing the unknown. Exactly the work of the witch.
  • It involves the supernatural. This is not just a cold process or formula. It involved something more than human.

 

All of this comes together to start giving us a picture of what divination is, and why its such a useful skill for a witch to have. When we divinate we seek information which is not readily available by other means. We use divination to see beyond the obvious. To see beyond the mask of the mundane world.

 

We can use it to better under the situation or issue we face.

 

It can help to illuminate the potential options ahead of us. We all have blind spots – about ourselves and about our lives – and we might not be able to see all the possibilities ahead of us. Divination can show you the paths you cannot see, helping increase your options, and therefore your chances of achieving the result you want.

What Divination is Not

 

Divination is not a system for producing immutable prophecies.

 

It gives information for you to make decisions – better informed decisions – and take appropriate actions. Those actions can change the situation and therefore the outcome.

 

Divination can show you the easy path of least resistance, and the result that will produce. It cannot tell you whether or not you will choose to take this path!

 

It can show you the challenges of the harder roads, ways these can be faced, and the potential gains if you overcome them. But it cannot make you do the work!

 

Divination shows you a map of the landscape, and describes the possibilities laid out upon it. But it requires you to use its results to empower you.  If you allow it to be a prophecy and continue the current path unchanged then it will be a prophecy.

 

What Divination is Not

 

Divination is not a system for producing immutable prophecies.

 

It gives information for you to make decisions – better informed decisions – and take appropriate actions. Those actions can change the situation and therefore the outcome.

 

Divination can show you the easy path of least resistance, and the result that will produce. It cannot tell you whether or not you will choose to take this path!

 

It can show you the challenges of the harder roads, ways these can be faced, and the potential gains if you overcome them. But it cannot make you do the work!

 

Divination shows you a map of the landscape, and describes the possibilities laid out upon it. But it requires you to use its results to empower you.  If you allow it to be a prophecy and continue the current path unchanged then it will be a prophecy.

 

Types of Divination

 

It seems almost obligatory these days that we all learn tarot. I say this with no judgement – I’m currently taking a tarot course and I own several different decks!

 

But there is so much more to divination.

The Museum on Witchcraft in Boscastle has more than 30 different methods on display! To name but a few:

Tasseography (reading tea leaves or even coffee grounds)

Throwing the Bones

Pendulum

I Ching

Geomancy

Runes

Belomancy (Divination by Arrows)

Botanomancy (Divination with plants)

Onymancy (Divination using fingernails)

Palmistry

Astrology

Capnomancy (divination by smoke)

Scrying

In truth you can use anything for divination. The methods are simply a method to by pass the conscious mind, to allow you to enter the space between where spirit can communicate, and then to help present the results to you in a way you can interpret.

 

Divination can be as elaborate or as simple as you like. It can involve complex rituals or be as innocuous as gazing up at the clouds in the sky.

 

It can involve setting out a magical sacred space to read tarot, with candles, incense, coloured cloths and so on. Or you can sit on the bus and pull a single card on your lap.

 

As with everything in magic and witchcraft there is a time and place for both approaches.

Which form of Divination is the Best?

 

The simple answer is the one which interests you enough for you to persist long enough to achieve a decent level of competence.

 

Some systems are harder to master than others. The Tarot is more complex in some ways than the pendulum. But the pendulum can be more tricky to ensure you do not influence the outcome accidently.

 

Different systems have different strengths and benefits – and different weaknesses.

 

Just as every witch has their different strengths, and will resonate with different systems.

 

I recommend you start where you are drawn. But don’t stop there.

 

Every witch should be able to use multiple divination systems. It will help ensure those blind spots are not reinforced by only using the divination system you are comfortable with. Its in discomfort that the truth, or staggering potential for growth, often hides!

 

There are other reasons too – but Lady Althaea has already set them out so I won’t reinvent the wheel.  https://www.ladyalthaea.com/every-day-is-magickal/why-you-need-to-know-more-than-one-divination-technique

Can I just get someone else to read for me?

 

I’m going to be bold here and say No.

Getting someone else to do the work for you isn’t good enough here.

 

I very rarely make proclamations of what someone should or shouldn’t do. And I’m not about to say you are not a ‘real witch’ if you don’t learn divination. Or indeed if you don’t use it.

 

Because that would be B******t!

 

There is no set of rules for what makes a real witch. And if there was I wouldn’t pretend to be the grand high poohbar who knew what they were.

But if you are going to use divination in your magic, you really need to learn how to do it. You need to do the work. Because there are going to be things in your magic that only you can read. Things that spirits YOU work with will only tell YOU.

 

And why would you want to give up your agency to someone else anyway? This is your life and your magical path so grab it with both hands. Take responsibility for it.

 

Divination is a lot easier to master than many fear. Relax and trust your intuition and your spirit team or guides (even if you don’t feel you yet have them).

 

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for having others read for you.

 

When you have a situation in your life where you know you have a big blind spot, then an independent reader you trust can help bring a new perspective.  Someone talented in a different form of reading to you can help you expand the knowledge of a situation.

 

There is a time and place for readings from others – but I’m willing to bet at least one reason for using them is a lack of confidence. And we can work on that. We are witches. We got this!

 

 

How do I learn?

 

There are literally hundreds of books and thousands of articles online covering every form of divination you can think of. Do a bit of initial reading and see what resonates.

 

See which authors you vibe with.

 

The same goes for choosing your tarot pack, or your rune set, or your bones. What matters is that you connect with them – not which pack follows some arbitrary rules set by a random expert.

 

Everyone has a slightly different style – so the best book on runes is the one which teaches you to read in a way you resonate with for example. And the best tarot pack is the one which sings to you when you hold it.

 

So you have a book. You have a set of pretty ogham sticks.

 

But then, pretty quickly, you need to start just doing it.

 

Ask a question and throw your lot. Pull your card. Gaze into the cauldron fire. See what it says.  You will be surprised how quickly you get good results.

 

Once you have a bit of confidence start to read for other people. Start with open minded family and friends. Or take your kit along to your local moot or witchy meet up.

 

Or there are lots of online forums you can join to swap practice readings.

 

Then stick with it!

 

Keep going.

 

Divination gives results almost straight away, but the results get much better and much stronger with consistent practice over many weeks and months and years.

 

 

Whilst you are here you might also enjoy these previous articles:

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