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What is Divination?

by Estelle Daniels

Divination is the art of "telling the future", and also a tool for self-exploration. The word derives from two Latin words: divinare--"to foresee" and divinus--"divine or pertaining to the Gods".

The foreseeing part certainly fits with the telling the future. But divination can also be used to determine what may be happening at present or in the past. So just saying divination is telling the future is ignoring some important aspects. And sometimes it is more important to know what happened in the past to lead up to a present situation. You can also use divination to check up on people who might be out of touch or out of reach.

Some people feel that when you do divination you are in some way receiving a message from God, whatever you perceive God to be. If you treat divination reverently and with respect, you probably will get better results than if you just take it as a game. Sometimes you get your question answered. And sometimes you get an answer to something you didn't ask about, but which the Cosmos feels you need to know. That's the message from God. Be open to these Cosmic messages, and you just might find your life is more smooth and less upsetting than if you just ignore those off the wall readings. When the Cosmos speaks, it pays to listen.

Divination is a tool. Some people think divination is an end in itself. If you are just fooling around, then it probably is. But used properly, with reverence and positive intent, divination is a tool which will enable you to do more. But you have to USE the information you are given. Just telling fortunes won't cut it. You have to take the information and use it to make things better for yourself, for your friends, for the world.

You can use a focus for divination, like a crystal ball, or Tarot cards, or you can just use pure psychic talents. Most people use the focus. The focus just allows you to channel your psychic talents through the medium you use, and it makes it easier for you to get ideas and impressions. Because people are varied in their skills and interests, there are many divinatory systems which have been developed and used throughout history.

Most every society had some mechanism for fortune telling. The need to be able to predict the future is universal. Some societies controlled and/or repressed divination. Some societies celebrated divination or even went so far as to make divination an industry. The ancient Oracles around the Mediterranean were an important source of revenue for the places which hosted them.

In the ancient world there were two types of divination--direct or natural divination, consisting of dreams, necromancy (divination using information channeled from spirits of those who have passed on, either known or unknown to the practitioner—mediumship and channeling are similar to this), oracles and prophets; and indirect or artificial divination which was divided into two categories; 1) the observation of animate phenomena, haruscipy (reading the entrails of sacrificed animals), augury (reading the flight patterns of birds), and taking notice of human birth marks or deformities; and 2) the observation of inanimate phenomena, such as casting of lots and dice, observation of weather phenomena, terrestrial events (like earthquakes), or celestial phenomena--from which arose astrology. The ancients felt women were better at natural divination and men better at artificial divination. Nowadays, people just choose whatever they feel most comfortable with.

You can use divination to get information about a person or situation, or you can use divination to explore your inner self. Dream interpretation is a good method for self-exploration. All you need is a notebook, perhaps a good dream dictionary and patience.

Jungian psychology advocates using divination as a tool for personal-self exploration. You can do readings for and about yourself. You can ask what aspects of yourself need work and/or modification. You can ask how important people in your life have affected you. You can ask about past lives and the people in them.

You can do a reading about a person or situation that is troubling, but you do not understand it. Sometimes a reading can give insight and perspective, and cause you to see a person or situation in a new light. Anything which helps increase self-awareness and understanding of the world is beneficial for personal growth. Even if what you find out isn't as nice or pleasant as you thought. It's better to know, even the unpleasant stuff, than to operate from ignorance.

Most people practice divination for themselves and possibly a few friends. They have their Tarot Cards or whatever and they use them when they feel a need to find out about things they normally might not be able to. They can ask about the future, past or present. They can ask about themselves, friends, loved ones, or national figures. Around election time predictions of who will win are always popular.

Some people believe everything we have done and will do is fixed and immutable. Most others take the opposite tack that, as Yoda put it, "Always in motion is the future". You can ask about the past or present, and have a chance of finding out how accurate you were. But asking about the future is always tinged with a bit of uncertainty. Most readers feel that what you find out about the future is what is most probable given the present conditions. A giant asteroid could hit the Earth tomorrow, and that's the end of it all. But that probably won't happen, so you can do your divination realizing what you come up with is a possible future. If you don't like what is predicted, you can always act to change it. Even refusing to act is acting to change things.

Some people practice divination for the public at large, as a way of helping others and also possibly making money. If you choose to read for money, you should be aware that most municipalities have fortune telling laws on the books, which are there for good and just reasons. Honest readers state their readings are for entertainment only, and they are not usually violating any laws. Dishonest people have used divination in various forms to perpetrate theft by swindle, and that’s why there will always be anti-fortunetelling laws on the books, if only to protect the public from these unscrupulous parasites.

Divination answers a strong need in humans. It has been around as long as mankind has been aware and thinking. And sometimes it seems that the more complex and hectic life is, the more urgent the need for finding out about the future. Some feel it gives them some sort of competitive edge. Others just like to know what might be. And others feel they can help others using divination.

© 1999, 2003 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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