Divination is nothing more than the practice of seeking future knowledge or insight into the unknown by some form of “supernatural” means. That being said, there are just about a million different ways to practice it. But, in the end, you’re basically left with three large classes: psychic ability, recognizing mechanical symbol patterns, or a combination of the two. People with a decent sized wallop of a psychic gift might divine by dreaming. People without a jot of psychic talent might become skilled tarot readers. And if you’ve got a strong background in tarot and are a little psychic, things can get really interesting very quickly!
I’m no great psychic, but I’ve had a few experiences that have made me wonder just how psychically blind I am. For example, one day a few years ago I got rooked into playing a game of Clue. My friends set the board up and I got drinks, and somewhere deep within I just knew it was going to be a short game. On one of my first rolls, I was the first person into a room and immediately a name and weapon flew to my head and I knew the situation was right. In fact, I blurted out “Miss Scarlet in the conservatory with the candlestick!” (or whatever it actually was) without even looking to see what cards I had! Of course, that was exactly right. That was probably the most dramatic of my “knowing” moments. I have lots of accumulated instants of things like knowing what’s going to be playing on the radio when I turn it on, whether the next card in the deck is going to be red or black, or whether my opponent is going to choose rock, paper, or scissors. (There was a time in high school where my friend Andrew and I played that, and I tied him almost 50 straight shoots in a row.) Usually with these moments, if I immediately follow my instinct, I’m right…but if I try to rationally think about my decision, I turn out wrong.
Obviously, whatever level of psychic ability I have is a far cry from being able to look at a person and tell them they’ll get Alzheimer’s in 20 years, so when it comes to divination practices, I’ve always relied on what Roderick calls “the mechanical methods”–learning and interpreting symbolic patterns. To me, this is practically second nature at this point–what is majoring in literature and getting a graduate degree in it but learning to identify and interpret symbolic patterns?–but I definitely do not do this enough. The last time I so much as touched one of my tarot decks was probably Samhain 2011! And so, it is with almost a novice’s experience in divination that I come to this last section in Roderick’s 366.
Practice: Questions about divination
- What are my current beliefs and attitudes about divination?
- Is it right or wrong to glimpse the future?
- What are some possible results of knowing the future?
- Do I believe that human beings are guided by a predetermined plan or is choice involved in our destinies?
- Can knowing something about the future alter my current behavior or life patterns in some way?
I don’t not believe in divination, but I am always hesitant to attempt it or to ask someone to do a reading for me. It’s not because I think there’s any moral stance on peeking into the future…it’s just that I don’t really have much of a use for it. When I make a major decision, I take into account just about every scenario that could happen before I commit to something. I get a lot of information, and I almost always feel like the decisions I make are the right ones for me at that time. There’s also a part of me that doesn’t mind a trip down a wrong path. For example, if I had two job opportunities in front of me, and I chose the one that I thought was best at the time and then found out somehow that had I taken the other one, I could have gotten these crazy promotions and earning triple what I was making, I really wouldn’t get terribly upset by that. Sure, I’d regret not making as much money, but I would very quickly find a lot of instances where the job I did select gave me a lot of self-satisfaction.
And you know what? If logic was telling me job A was better, but my Tarot cards were screaming job B…I don’t know that I’d trust them enough to take job B.
I don’t think humans are guided by a predetermined plan, but I do think we have a tendency to pigeonhole ourselves into paths that look really close to being predetermined. I could get into medical school this fall and eventually become a brilliant surgeon…but I won’t, because I’ve already made a lot of education choices, and I’m a little burnt out of being in school. My past decisions have put me on a path that has some level of determination built into it, and I’m only 29.
Maybe if I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that going to med school would grant me an eternity of happiness…maybe then I would go. But in my experience that kind of certainty is beyond what most divination systems can offer.