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Choosing Divination

by Estelle Daniels

Divination is useful for many things to a magical practitioner. How does a person go about choosing a divinatory system?

There are several criteria to look at. The first consideration is availability and price. It does no good to determine you will be the best thrower of knucklebones the world has seen, if you cannot get a set of knucklebones. The most widely available system of divination available today is Tarot.

There are hundreds of Tarot decks available in many stores. Some people just decide to do Tarot, and pick up a deck they like. Some people choose to get a deck and book set, which is more convenient, though more expensive.

Most decks come with a small booklet which gives a few meanings for each card and details how to do a few simple spreads. That may be all you need. There are many good books on Tarot, both general and specific to certain decks. Some people want a bigger book to go more in depth about their deck, the symbolism and how the cards interrelate. The internet has many good sites on Tarot. A few review decks, with sample pictures of cards. If you want help deciding which deck to get, try those. Time spent researching can save you money in the long run, because you want a good deck that fits you. Best to wait a bit, than to buy any deck that is available and discover it’s just not for you.

There are other divinatory systems which are easily available, but which are pricey. You have to weigh your resources against your needs. It does no good to look at a sealed product and read about what it can do on the back. The description may be good, but after trying the system, you might not like it. Some people go to a reader to see how a system works, and what kind of information they can get. Psychic fairs are good for that. If a friend has a copy or set, you can ask for a reading from the friend, or perhaps borrow it yourself and practice. It's better to see the system in action, so to speak, rather than buying something blind.

The second consideration is ease of use and learnability. Astrology is a wonderful divinatory system, and there are hundreds of books available to read and enjoy, but it takes time and practice to be an effective astrologer. If you don't want to have to learn to cast charts by hand there are lots of good programs available for your computer. On the Internet there are a number of good freeware programs that also calculate charts for you. But you still have to be able to make sense of all the squiggles the computer generates.

Many people have taken the time and energy to study astrology and become fairly proficient at it. You don't have to be at professional level to use astrology effectively in your daily life. Many good almanacs have descriptions and ideas on how to use the Moon in the signs as an aid to making your life easier.

But to be able to completely interpret a natal chart, or to effectively compare two charts to determine the general level of compatibility takes time and study. It isn't something a person is going to pick up and master in a weekend, or even with a month of close study.

Tarot can be used fairly effectively even by a beginner, if you are willing to use the book. This is perfectly acceptable. The pictures themselves speak to the meanings of each card, and these make it easier to memorize and understand what each card is about.

There are many other easy, do-it-yourself types of divination out there, which promise you are able to easily master what the system has to offer. And most actually work that way, too.

With usability also comes portability. Cards travel well, just put them in your bag and carry them wherever. Having an elaborate crystal ball may be fun, and you may be good at it, but if the ball is big and heavy, and has an elaborate stand and is breakable, you won't want to be carrying it around here and there. If you just want to do readings for yourself and a few friends at home, having a big setup which is fairly permanent is OK. But if you like to do readings at psychic fairs or parties, you have to take the portability into account.

The third consideration is comfort and familiarity. Runes are a good divinatory system, but they are less available and familiar than Tarot or astrology. The Runes actually died out and were not used for anything except scholarly research into a dead alphabet until they were "rediscovered" and revived in the late 1700's. And the 'modern' interpretations of the Runes are ALL based upon speculation, because there are no living practitioners of the traditional Runic system. They died in the 1200's. There are several good divinatory systems based upon Oriental methods and mindsets, but those cultures are not necessarily easily understandable to a westerner. It helps to understand the mindset behind I Ching and Feng Sui to be comfortable with them. Some people find they are drawn to a certain system, even though they have no idea of the culture it came from. That's OK. If you feel it's right for you, then go for it. But if you are just choosing without that extra "nudge", take the culture and mindset into account before investing a lot of time and money.

The fourth consideration is long-term interest. You can become an expert in reading a magic eight ball in about five minutes. Do you want to make a life-long study of its mysteries? Probably not.

Many people grow with divinatory systems as they use them. Some are so complex and multi-layered that they can provide a lifetime of interest. Astrology, Feng Sui, Tarot and the Runes work with long-term study and interest. If you just want a system that gives you a quick reading on immediate issues, and you aren't interested in long-term study, then choose something simpler. If you want to become more accomplished and knowledgeable, then choose a complex system. If you are interested in lifelong study and interest, take up one of the systems that has more levels of complexity.

Finding a divinatory system that is right for you can take some time and effort, but if you are careful and choose correctly, you will have something which can last a lifetime.

© 2000, 2004 Estelle Daniels, all rights reserved.

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Article index

The Age of Aquarius

Alternative Sabbats

Auntie Estelle's Predictions for the Millennium

Basic Electional Astrology

Basic Qabala

BBS, Cyberspace and Privacy

Ceremonial Magick


Choosing Divination

Cord Magick


Dressing Kabbalistically

Eclipses, why are they such a big deal?

Ethical Garage Saling

Finding Magickal Tools

The Future of Witchcraft

House Shields

I Ching
Initiation Instant Circle Know Your Gods Know Yourself Kwan Yin, Mother of Mercy LBRP
Magical Ethics for Teens

Magick in the Workplace

Magickal Timing Tools

Mars Close Encounter

Mercury Retrograde

Modern Magic Carpets

Moon/Mercury Aspects and Psychic Ability

Moon Phase Timing

Moon Spells and Lunar Correspondences

Parents and Wicca

Planetary Hours

Planetary Stations

Psychic Attack

Psychic Manipulation

The REAL Millennium

Tarot Meditations

To Know, To Will, To Dare and to Keep Silent

Void-of-Course Moon

What is Divination?

Why a Circle?

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