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Forget the Fortune Cookies: Dig In To Divination

Author: Jay DeForest
Posted: January 23rd. 2011
Times Viewed: 3,074

Unfortunately, there are those who define divination as “discovering occult knowledge or seeing the future through supernatural powers”… And others who see a person who practices divination as some sort of walking fortune cookie who will tell them when their next love affair or winning lotto ticket is going to turn up. Hopefully, you know better…

My personal dictionary describes the verb “to divine” as “To know by inspiration, intuition or reflection.” The art of divination then, is a means for discovering hidden truths through the use of tools that enhance our intuition and allow us to see things reflected more clearly than through ordinary means. So, how does that work?

I believe that each of us, at a deep inner level, knows the real truth about every situation in our life. Unfortunately, we often ignore it, hide from it, or otherwise have difficulty recognizing it. In some cases, others around us may be distracting us from seeing what we know to be true. For example, how many of us have been in a relationship that deep down, we knew was not good for us? Yet, due to lots of different causes, we refused to admit that truth until we were faced with no alternative but to confront it. The same holds true for jobs, friendships, and various other circumstances in our lives. So how do we get to see those truths more clearly, or as we call it learn the “art of divination”?

The ability to use tools is a great gift. You wouldn’t try to drive in a nail with your hand, would you? Of course not, you’d grab a hammer; the right tool to do the job. So then when trying to sort out an area of your life that you have questions about, why not select tools that will help to do the job more easily?

There are many different tools for practicing divination, and they each have specialized uses. But, they all have a few things in common. Primarily, each system of divination provides a point outside of one’s self upon which to focus attention. Whether cards, charts, runes, or other types of tools, each requires that we direct our concentration to that tool while we work with it. Then, the tool provides us with a new point of view into the question at hand.

I often use the metaphor of a convex mirror to help understand how divination works. You’ve seen them in grocery stores or busy corridors… The rounded shape of the mirror allows one to see over to the next aisle or around a corner. Divination tools work in a similar way. By directing our focus outside of one’s self, (rather than the internalized never ending thought loop we often get stuck in) , we are given the opportunity to “see around the corner” so to speak.

For example in using Tarot as a tool for divining information, each card has certain associations that it relates to. If one is doing a reading about a career choice, and the Nine of Pentacles is drawn, then the person should pay particular attention to which of the options being examined would be most likely to provide an environment of prosperity, stability and wellness that the card refers to.

This example illustrates one of the other key elements in most systems of divination. They each have certain unique correspondences, themes or information that relate to specific aspects of the system. In Astrology, each planet, house and sign relates to specific areas of our life. Each of the Runes represents specific concepts, just as the cards of the Tarot speak to particular parts of a question, people, and so forth. In order to become competent with a particular system, one needs to take the time to learn what those relationships are. When that information is firmly in mind, then one’s intuition can join in to the discovery process.

Divination works by calling to the foreground various aspects of a question. Since each of us has our own unique life history, we will all see information that is equally unique. If three different people draw the rune Ehwaz, (horse, movement, journey, etc) for example, each of them will see different information reflected there, depending on their own particular circumstances and life experience and that information can provide insight that is their own to consider.

A person skilled in divination knows how to consider the association that a tool refers to, and then allow their intuition to guide them in discovering how that relates to the question. Often one finds that the process of asking a question, then getting this sort of reflected information, will open the issue to other questions which they may not have previously considered. Through this chain of question-answer-question-answer, one can begin to gain insight and clarity. To the uninformed, this may seem like “supernatural power”, but truly, it is very like the process of Socratic questioning as a means of self-discovery.

When we truly want to get to the truth that lies hidden in any area of our life, using divination tools can be a big help. I recommend choosing a system that one feels a natural affinity for, such as Tarot, Runes or Astrology, and then learn all you can about the relationships and correspondences contained in that system. Like studying classical music theory will allow one to be better at any style of music, it is likewise true that the more one understands the fundamentals of a particular system of divination, the more adept they will be at using it to the fullest advantage.

Once one has gained a degree of mastery in one system, it is worth learning other systems as well. Each relates to different aspects of life, as I discuss in a different article. Through this multi-disciplined approach, one can decide which system will be the most helpful in different situations. Also, one system may help to further clarify information derived from another system.

Don’t be afraid to explore, study, and enjoy the richness of information and history that each has to offer. Just save the fortune cookies for dessert…


Jay DeForest

Location: Portland, Oregon


Bio: Jay DeForest is a metaphysical educator and spiritual counselor. He has been working with students of divination, Wicca, meditation and other related topics for over 20 years. Along with his wife, Jadzia DeForest, he is the co-creator of the “Living Magick Learning Card Series” for studying Tarot, Astrology and Runes. They are available in metaphysical stores or online at

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