The Art Of Divination
I’ve read the tarot for about 20 years now but to be honest it’s never really spoken to me. It always kinda made me feel like a tool reading it as well. Now I’m aware most people in the spiritual and Hermetic community swear by it but for me I’ve just got a block or something. I guess it seems like McMagick to me I suppose.
So, I decided to speak with my higher functions about divination and it’s place in Hermetism recently and was lead to pick up my new divinatory tool. A deck of bicycle playing cards.
That was basically my response as well. There’s a long history of reading playing cards, but the important and unasked question here is what exactly is divination and what is it’s use to the adept? If we understand that we’ll be in a much better place to determine which tool is best for us? (Hint: it really doesn’t matter and is essentially a personal choice.)
What Is Divination?
I see two overarching archetypes related to the practice of divination. The first is that of the prophet and the act of prophecy. The second is the fortune teller and the act of divination.
The dictionary definition of divination is: the practice of seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown by supernatural means.
The key point here is that there is an individual using some sort of practice involving some sort of supernatural means.
I would add that the idea that means used as supernatural is a misnomer. The method used would currently be considered supernatural simply because mainstream scientific thinking refuses to acknowledge the 120 years of solid evidence showing that the means of divining the future are quite natural.
This practice by the individual usually takes the form of some sort of tool used to develop their prognostication. Tarot, playing cards, dice, bones, pendulums etc.
Divination vs. Prophecy
So then this brings the question what is prophecy?
For myself when I think of a prophet the first thing that comes to mind is the idea of a divine force.
When we look at instances of prophecy in the Bible we see God saying to the prophet “this will happen,” and generally the options of those whom the prophecy concerns are quite minimal. If there are options at all!
So I understand prophecy then to be divine act sent by the individuals Chiah. It’s an “it will be done!” kind of act as opposed to a here are your options. They also tend to be much farther off in the future than a simple divinitory act seems capable of accurately predicting.
As a follow on to the above, I can say I’ve experienced these “messages” from the Chiah a number of times in my life. I tend to experience them in dreams (which tends to be the norm but not always), I’ve always known exactly what they mean without any interpretation, they’ve always been precisely correct and there was fuck all I could to change it.
I’ve also had this experience in inner work sessions as well and have been directly told the prophecy by my Chiah as well.
So if the message comes from the Chiah it’s what I would call a prophecy. There are no subdivisions of this as far as I can see.
The second arch type of divination is that of the fortune teller. The fortune teller is very different from the prophet.
She offers options. The fortune teller is relational. She asks questions and interacts with you. She tells you what’s possible, not just what will be.
Shes the Neschamah.
When you take up your favorite divinatory tool you’re looking at the cloud of random possibilities that face you over a short and definite time frame and are seeing the possibilities for action within those constraints.
This is very different from a “It Shall Be!”
For most forms of divination (not all – see below) some sort of mantic tool will be used. This could be anything that can generate random data. Dice, cards (tarot, playing, Lenormond, Oracle etc), pendulums, bones and a surface, holes in the earth etc. It doesn’t matter.
The point of any divination system is to allow you to tap into your Neschamah and question her for information. This means you want something to distract you a bit while you allow the first thought through to your consciousness. The picture created by the sight of the symbol must be clear and should set off almost a gestalt in the reader who can then pass that information on to the querant.
So when studying a divinatory system the most important thing is to understand the feeling that each symbol evokes in the reader and from there we can use the system itself and the querant to understand why such symbol is present.
Again it becomes relational.
So why would an aspiring young hermit want to engage in such a practice?
The long and short of it is to get into a relationship with your Neschamah. The key here being a relationship.
The Zohar states that Neschamah rules over the Nephesch and the Ruach. She is also the gateway into the other higher functions, no one can approach the Chiah or Yechidah without first going through the Neschamah.
Your Neschamah will be the part of you that informs you of what actions or inaction to take in your life and will help you explore any decisions you have before and any past experiences that haunt you. In short she can act as a sort of users manual for your life, leading you down the path your Yechidah has set for you.
Divination Without Tools
As an outgrowth of work with a divinatory tool will hopefully be a deeper relationship with the Neschamah and deeper meaning in your life.
With this deeper meaning can come an experience of divination without any tool. Direct communication from the Neschamah.
This can come about in three ways, intuition (the Neschamah is literally intuition), a direct sort of knowing, and through a not often talked about experience of omens.
Intuition is a pretty common experience. Interpreting it is usually the difficult part. I should be clear here with regard to these three experiences I’m only discussing those which prove to be accurate.
A consistent divinatory practice wherein you’re listening to that first thought is said to help develop this. I’m not exactly sold on the truth of this to be honest. I believe traumatic experiences from the past which affect self confidence in your ability to trust yourself and “hear” that first though without censor to be more indicative of intuitive ability than anything. But that’s really another post.
Direct knowing can result from a practice of divination, though also this is also affected by past traumas affecting self confidence. Actually all forms of divination will be affected by these. Unfortunately, direct knowing cannot be planned or invoked. It’s just gotta happen on its own.
The third sort of spontaneous divination is one that is almost never talked about and that is omens. I consider these sorts of experiences to be almost identical to what Jung termed “synchronicity.” This is an experience of meaning in seeming random events. Why do I consider this a form of divination?
The part of the soul that is responsible for meaning is…you guessed it Neschamah. Pretty much any time we are having an experience of meaning we are experiencing our Neschamah. This is definitely one of the areas that can and should be improved and experienced more regularly as you gain experience in legitimate divinatory acts.
So that’s my two cents on divination. What are your thoughts? There’s a whole comment area below for them!