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The Basics of Divination

Updated on November 13, 2017
kittythedreamer profile image

Kitty has been following a pagan spiritual path for seventeen years. Because of this, she encourages others to follow their own paths.

Anyone can receive messages from the Divine through divination.
Anyone can receive messages from the Divine through divination. | Source

What Is Divination?

When you hear the word divination, do you get the image of a gypsy fortune teller with a deck of tarot cards or crystal ball wielding her visions of the future? Your image would be correct; however, there is much more to divination than what Hollywood portrays. By definition, divination is the practice of seeing the future and answering questions by supernatural means. This definition is also correct, but it leaves out the fact that the word divination in and of itself has the word divine as the main syllable. What we can gather from this is that divination means to receive messages or to communicate with the divine (God, the Universe, Source Energy, etc.) Because we don't have God's cell phone number, we must receive spiritual messages in other ways. Some might wonder why God doesn't just give us the answer, just tell us plain as day? The Divine/God wants us to think. Wants us to learn and experience. If we were always given the answer, we wouldn't have learned and retained it, right? Divination is practice at receiving the Divine's messages and learning lessons along the way.

These messages could be answers to your questions about life, love, the past, the future, and more. Because the Divine knows all, there is no limit to the questions that can be asked through divination.

Another common misconception is that only psychics and mediums can engage in divination. This is untrue. Everyone has the ability, you just have to put the time and effort into learning it. Just like anything else worthwhile, a little hard work goes a long way. Read on to learn the basics of divination and how you can start to divine yourself!

The Three Pillars of Divination

As long as I've studied divination, no one ever put the practice in simple terms. No one ever writes about the basics of divination or how to start learning. The most I've ever heard is "use your intuition". That's great, but if you don't know how to use your intuition already in order to apply it to some form of divination, then this instruction will leave you as confused as I was.

Because of the lack of simple instructions for divination, over the years I came up with the concept that there are Three Pillars of Divination. This is a concept that will help the beginner learn how to divine, step by step. You can focus on one pillar at a time and take your time learning each. This is an ongoing process. The more you learn about divination, the more you will apply these learned concepts to your practice. And if things get confusing, you can always return to the basics. The Three Pillars of Divination are: Observation, Symbolism, and Intuition. If you are studying divination seriously, I suggest writing these down in a journal or notebook to refer back to later as needed.

You can't be good at divination unless you mindfully observe.
You can't be good at divination unless you mindfully observe. | Source

1. Observation

The very first pillar, and probably the most important, is Observation. You can't receive a message if you're not listening, right? You also can't interpret a sign if you're not paying attention. Observation is about being open-minded and mindful at the same time. You are open-minded to any and all messages or images you might receive from the Divine through divination, which means you are willing to receive messages in whatever form they might come to you. This also means you don't allow the "logical" side of your brain to completely block out the intuitive (we will get more into this later). It is my belief and my experience that the majority of people walk around on a daily basis, totally oblivious to their surroundings, totally oblivious to the fact that God is trying to speak to them in many different ways. By being mindful of your surroundings and the present moment, you are allowing God to speak to you in whatever form that might be (through nature, symbolism on the TV, random spoken words, etc). People wonder why they can't hear God or speak to God, but yet they don't listen. They don't pay attention to the beauty around them. Observation, mindful observation, is key to hearing the Divine speak to you...it is key to Divination.

In divination, one must be observant. If you are outside and awaiting a sign from the Divine through nature, you will be open to whatever might appear to you. You are taking in the world around you—the entire environment, the sounds, sights, smells, and sensations. You are also being observant of yourself—how you feel in the moment, your emotions, your physical sensations, etc. By being present in the moment, you are being mindful of what messages the Divine is trying to send you. This is the same if you are using tarot cards, crystal balls, runes, scrying mirrors, etc. You must first observe before moving onto intuition and interpretation of signs. Otherwise, you'll just be making up the message rather than receiving it.

Study the symbols in your chosen form of divination.
Study the symbols in your chosen form of divination. | Source

2. Symbolism

The 2nd Pillar of Divination is Symbolism. Symbolism is the use of symbols to represent concepts or ideas. Symbolism is used daily in multiple instances: through mainstream media, literature, religion, politics, etc. You will find that the human brain uses symbolism without even realizing it, it is so ingrained in our way of thinking and living. For this reason, symbolism is a big part of divination. The Divine uses symbolism to speak to us. It is an inherent part of divination and should be in the forefront of your mind when you are Divining through whatever means you choose.

Symbolism is seen in many forms of divination: tarot, oracle, the Elder runes, the Ogham, numerology, astrology, and more. For example, if we take a brief look at the runes, we see that the rune Algiz is a symbol (or letter) that represents the concept of protection or defense. This is symbolism in its simplest terms. In oracle, we are presented with various images that each represent a moral or concept of some kind. For example, in the Goddess oracle, the card with the goddess Baba Yaga represents wild freedom. And on and on these symbols go. The point is, whatever form of divination you choose to learn, you will need to dedicate some time to studying and learning the symbolism therein. As you become more experienced in divination, you will realize many of these symbols carry over to other forms of divination. At this point, divination will become easier for you to perform.

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3. Intuition

The Third Pillar of Divination is Intuition. Often when we are beginning to learn divination we are told to use our intuition. But what does this mean, exactly? Intuition is defined as something one knows immediately without conscious reasoning. You know that feeling you get before walking into a place that tells you not to go in? Or that feeling when you meet someone and your initial thought tells you not to trust them? Your logical self will say this is illogical. But this initial feeling or thought is your intuition, your god-given instinct, that will keep you safe and help you rise above in many situations.

You can also use this instinct, your intuition, when engaging in divination. It is as easy as drawing an oracle card, and letting your first initial thought or feeling serve as the divine message. You will have to practice this before it becomes natural, as your conscious brain will try to shrug off these initial thoughts and feelings. Be aware that your intuition can come to you in a different way than the next person. For example, when I divine and use my oracle cards, I will draw a card and look at the image. Typically I get a "flash" of an image or scenery in my mind, this is how I use my intuition. But you might draw an oracle card and hear a word in your mind. Or you might get a particular emotion. These are all forms of intuition, and depending on the person will be different. With practice, you'll learn how your intuition speaks to you. Each time you practice using your intuition, once the session is over, write down your experience. Did you let your intuition speak to you and show you the answer? Did your conscious mind try to block your intuition? What symbols or images did you see in your mind? What words did you hear? What emotions did you feel? Write these things down so that you may reflect on them each time. Eventually you will see a pattern.

Applying intuition to the other Two Pillars of Divination, you will observe, apply the learned symbolism, but also use your intuition. Intuition and symbolism will eventually mix together cohesively, and sometimes you might not know where your intuition and the symbolism separate. That is the beauty of divination and speaking/receiving messages from the Divine. Keep in mind it will take time to get in tune with your own intuition...sometimes it can take years to really connect with your instinct. Be patient and keep practicing.

Divination is used to answer questions, and also to take a look into the past, present, and future. Keep in mind that the future is not set in stone. When we read other's fortunes and they want to know the future, tell them the future isn't laid out for us. We can show them where a certain path might take them, but they have the ability to take a different path and change their future before it's even happened.

— Nicole Canfield

Choosing a Form of Divination

With the Three Pillars of Divination in mind, you may choose a form of divination to study. By focusing on one form, you can apply the three pillars and hone in on your divination skills before moving onto another form of divination.

For beginners, I always recommend using nature to learn divination. This could mean laying on the grass and interpreting the cloud patterns in the sky, going for a walk and allowing certain birds or insects to come to you then interpreting those signs, or scrying with fire or water. These may seem very basic, but you will find it isn't always easy. However, learning how to read patterns and symbols in nature will teach you mindfulness (observation), as well as symbolism and how to use your intuition flawlessly. Then you can move on to other forms of divination that take even more study and time such as tarot or the runes.

I recommend studying one form of divination for at least a year. You can't fully connect with that form of divination unless you've given it considerable time and study. Spending a month on the runes will not do. The same goes for other forms of divination. These forms of divination have been used by our ancestors for hundreds (sometimes thousands) of years and thus have developed their own personalities. You will give honor to your ancestors and to those forms of divination by putting in the time and effort to really connect.

For centuries our ancestors have divined with the patterns in tea leaves. Symbolism and intuition are combined to reveal messages from the divine.
For centuries our ancestors have divined with the patterns in tea leaves. Symbolism and intuition are combined to reveal messages from the divine. | Source

© 2017 Nicole Canfield

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  • Seafarer Mama profile image

    Karen Szklany Gault 3 days ago from New England

    Thank you for laying out the 3 pillars of divination and describing the elements that are part of the process. I think I will try to read tea leaves, but also develop my powers of observation as I move around in the natural world as well. Blessed be!

  • MizBejabbers profile image

    MizBejabbers 7 days ago

    Lovely article, Nicole. My favorite form of divination is the pendulum, which I mastered back in the 1970s. About the same time, I taught my youngest son to use divining rods, the old water witching technique used in my native Ozark Mountains. My dad regarded this as superstition. Anyway, he walked through the living room and suddenly the rods crossed. He was surprised and mentioned that there was water under the living room. I informed him, "sure is, you're standing over the main water line running to the kitchen." We got a good laugh over that one. Sometimes the simplest method is the easiest one to start with.

  • kittythedreamer profile image
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    Nicole Canfield 10 days ago from the Ether

    Intuition is hard to pinpoint, but everyone has it. It's a muscle you have to exercise.

  • kittythedreamer profile image
    Author

    Nicole Canfield 10 days ago from the Ether

    kari - No, I believe anyone can learn it if they put in the time and effort. And you have to be open minded.

  • k@ri profile image

    Kari Poulsen 10 days ago from Ohio

    Very interesting. I never realized divination could be learned. I always thought it was something you either had or didn't have. :)

  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 10 days ago from Chicago Area

    Hi Nicole! I think "intuition" is the most difficult of the three. I think it's difficult to determine what is truly intuition and what it simply fears or wishes. Thanks for bringing clarity to the topic (as always!). Have a blessed week!

  • kittythedreamer profile image
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    Nicole Canfield 11 days ago from the Ether

    Mr. Happy - Thank you for your input! I agree, these things are just tools...truly your intuition and keying into the universal energy is enough to find the answers. However, some people need tools to help them in the beginning...or perhaps they just enjoy using them. For me, I started out reading clouds and bird behavior/flight patterns. Now I use oracle and runes in addition to the others. But I can pretty much read anything...down to the patterns in my veins. It comes naturally after a while. Thanks again.

  • Mr. Happy profile image

    Mr. Happy 11 days ago from Toronto, Canada

    Great article!

    Some Sorcerers refer to Divination as "taking the God form". I do believe there is a Universal Consciousness (God, or Wakan Tanka - the Lakota term) to which we can all tap onto. It just takes practice.

    This brings me to a second point, which You mentioned as well: " The Divine/God wants us to think. Wants us to learn and experience."

    The point of this Life (if there is a point), is to grow and to transform. Like the caterpillar turns from a creepy-crawler to a beautifully winged butterfly. When we go put-in the work (Sadanah as it is known in the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh traditions) we completely transform into something new. We become "formless". That is our quest and our duty here.

    I had a good laugh when I read: "The most I've ever heard is "use your intuition", regarding how to use Divination, or "taking the God form". Indeed that is the first thing that comes to mind for me as well: just use your Intuition. If asked how, I'd have to add: "shut-down the Mind; that constant chatter that happens even when You are alone".

    Not allowing "the"logical" side of your brain to completely block out the intuitive" is another great piece of advice You gave. We are trained as children and conditioned to always use reason and logic, which are great to a certain point. For daily chores I encourage people to use logic and reason but when we venture into the Unknown, unto the World of Spirit, of Sorcery and Magic, we must leave all that we were taught as kids aside. That is a must!

    From what I have noticed many people nowadays are interested in tarot cards, runes and the like which is encouraging. Yet, I do believe one can get the answer to their questions without any material things. My personal way of doing it is through Gazing and/or entering a semi-trance mode. It's like when You stare at something for too long and your eyes cross making your point of focus blurry. It is in that state that one needs to completely clear their Mind and when focusing on their question, the answer will suddenly appear. No thinking, no logic, reason, or anything like that. The answer just pops out. When that happens, You know it's your Intuition and that You are linked to that Universal Consciousness. It's a sweet, happy feeling : )

    And to your last point, which is simply critical: we must be patient, go through a lot of practice and remember that even when we learned how to ride a bicycle that took a while, with many falls and so on. Becoming "formless" is the most difficult thing to achieve but it is possible.

    All the best to everyone and thank You for putting this piece of writing together! : )