Does Divination Work? Count the Ways.
TAROT CARDS: Tarot has had an ability throughout history to adapt and absorb other esoteric systems. This makes it an almost perfect oracle which can adjust to any time, space or culture. Its invocation of the great themes of life……Death, The Lovers, The Devil, The Wheel of Fortune, speaks directly to our imagination.
CRYSTAL BALL: Scrying is the art of staring into a shiny object until it surrenders an image. Crystal balls are traditionally popular, but one can also use the surface of water, even the fingernails. The scryers of Fez were said to peer into a vessel of water in which they saw swarms of demons whose responses to questions could be interpreted by their wild gesticulations.
I CHING: Although almost five thousand years old, the I Ching didn’t reach western civilisation until 1882 with the Legge translation of this “Book of Changes’. Further versions by Wilhelm and Blofeld fully popularised this divination by yarrow sticks or coins. Flipping the coin for heads or tails is a devolution of the I Ching system. The book itself is both austere and yet sublime. Blofeld said that to consult it was like consulting a living being.
CARTOMANCY: Playing cards, Tarot’s poor relations from an occult point of view, not having the added weight of the Major Arcana (due to Church repression) tend to throw their light upon the more mundane matters of romance, finance, good and bad luck. Their very nature emphasises numerology and the differing characteristics of the four suits.
NECROMANCY: The art of communicating with the dead. “Many Japanese shamanesses are blind from birth. While the soul of the deceased speaks through her mouth, the shamaness plays with a pearl necklace.”——Mercia Eliade.
ONEIROMANCY: The interpretation of dreams. Synesius, a Greek born in 370 A.D. was a student under the female philosopher Hypatia. He wrote in his treatise ‘Concerning Dreams’, sleep is offered to all; it is an oracle, which is always there and ready, an infallible and silent councillor. In the mysteries of sleep everyone is his own priest and initiate’.
WEIGHING OF A SKULL: As an oracle this is a rare system, not surprisingly because first one needs to acquire the skull of a dead shaman of local renown. However, the procedure is remarkably simple……hold the skull in an open palm, ask a question, if it feels light then the answer is yes, if heavy then no. Practiced in Central Asia.
GEOMANCY: Observation of land forms or patterns of dust or sand, blown or thrown at random around the personage of the client. As you would expect this was popular in desert areas, most notably the Mojave and the Sahara.
DOWSING: Also known as ‘water-witching’, this is a method of discovering water or minerals beneath the ground using a rod or forked twig, generally hazel, rowan or ash. It probably didn’t begin until as recently as the 14th Century in Germany and Hungary, where primitive mining technology was evolving and dowsing was used to find metallic ores. In 1967 the New York Times reported that U.S. Marines in Vietnam used divining rods made from wire coat-hangers to detect mines, with some success. This might seem like an unorthodox approach, out of line with the usual military rationale, but Military Intelligence and the have always been active in the field of the paranormal. Perhaps the Marines in Vietnam were aided in their development of highly sensitive intuition by the copious amounts of marijuana they were ingesting over there.
PSYCHOMETRY: Literally ‘soul measurement’. This technique is used primarily to divine information about the past, using an object which is associated with the past event in question. This can also be a basis for healing a person who is absent. Unfortunately, the legend of its darker relative ‘contagious magic’ whereby witches cast awful curses on victims, having stolen a tooth, hair or other such item, seems to have overshadowed the positive and more healing aspects of psychometry.
PERFUME: Using incense as an aid to passing into higher states is the basis for its continued use in formal religions the world over, the Catholic church, the Hindu temple. The priestess at Delphi was immersed in herbal scents and perfumed smoke before delivering the famous oracle.
CLAIRVOYANCE: With its cousin, clairaudience, these are the arts of direct perception of those forces hidden from most mortals, either in the form of visions or of voices. The history of clairvoyance is full of famous luminaries from Nostradamus in the 16th Century to Edgar Cayce, the 20th Century spiritual healer.
THE SKY: Contemplation of an empty sky for long periods is a form of meditation and a source of visions found among the Araucanians of Venezuela. The shamaness of the tribe falls into a trance and sends her soul to the Sky Father to present the wishes of the community. This often takes place on a high plateau. On her return to the community she describes her journey and the divinatory message she has received.
RUNES: The original root of the word rune means “mystery’ or ‘secret’ and can still be found in the German word ‘raunen’, to whisper. This old Northern European alphabet is believed to contain magical powers. The god Odin attained full occult power and mastery of the runes by hanging upside down from the world tree for nine days. Rune magic enjoyed a revival in the early part of the 20th Century among German occultists. Since it predates the use of ink in writing in Northern Europe, the rune alphabet is traditionally carved on wood or stone and it is in this form that it is still used as an oracle in modern times, the stones cast in much the same manner as cards or coins.
PALMISTRY: Also known as chiromancy from the Greek root ‘cheir’ meaning hand. It is actually the whole of the hand which is read……fingers, nails, wrist……not just the palm. So chiromancy is a more accurate term. This science was extant at least three thousand years ago in India and is mentioned in Vedic texts. The writings of Count Louis Hamon, who called himself Cheiro, were to prove hugely popular throughout the western world at the end of the 19th Century and his analytical texts are still widely read today. Cheiro himself seemed initially to be an archetypal charlatan who made a small fortune from the art of palmistry although he was personally sceptical about its veracity. Yet in time and to his surprise he discovered that he did indeed have the talent which he claimed to have. He was fortune teller to the rich and famous and reputedly fortold the exact dates of the deaths of Queen Victoria, Edward VII and Kitchener.
HARUSPICY: The reading of the future in the entrails of a freshly sacrificed animal. This is an old shamanistic technique and while it is a genuine and well documented form of divination, it’s maybe not for everyone.
NARCOTICS: There’s a big difference between indulging in the hedonistic pleasure of smoking this or that intoxicating substance and the use of natural psychedelic agents in a ritual oracle. The Sami shaman, after fasting for several days, takes a hot bath at nightfall and then eats three or seven mushrooms before falling into a deep sleep. During sleep he is visited by spirits and awakens trembling with the message.
TEA LEAVES: The common concept of reading the patterns in tea leaves from china cups, having finished one’s afternoon tea, is a very long way removed from its origins in Central America and Central Asia. The local witch-doctor would drink a foul tasting and very hallucinogenic potion from a clay pot and then after vomiting and going into a state of delirium he would stare at the dregs in his vessel until they formed into visions which told him of coming events of importance for his community.
ASTROLOGY: The study of the relationships between the heavens and the earth. Every highly evolved civilisation of the past has embraced astrology and given it a place of importance in its culture——Egyptian, Babylonian, Chinese, Indian, Muslim, Mayan, Greek. It is popular in modern culture but misunderstood. The superficial approach of tabloid horoscopes coupled with the disdainful rejection by the mainstream scientific community has led to a polarisation of opinion in general. However, astrology is certainly an exact science. It’s important to realise that is is not logical but rather analogical.
PENDULUM: This is really a form of dowsing. The most suitable material for a pendulum would be a crystal or precious stone, although different types of crystal suit different personality types. During the Second World War in 1942 a Pendulum Institute was established in Berlin by Captain Hans Roeder of the German Navy. This study was a reaction to information that the British Admiralty were discovering the positions of German U-Boats by holding the pendulums over maps of the Atlantic.
THE BOOK: This is a surprisingly effective and sometimes chillingly accurate method of divination if used with restraint and not as a parlour game. Open a book at random.. Allow the little finger of the left hand to fall undirected upon a phrase or sentence. Read the phrase and make your interpretation. Some books are not really suitable……the Telephone Directory is just too cryptic. Highly recommended: The Bible, anything by Shakespeare, James Joyce or Lorca.