Divination has always been one of the most popular and widely practiced of all the occult arts. In a world so full of uncertainty the idea of getting some wise guidance from a higher power, the idea of peeking into the future and gaining advanced knowledge of what will happen, the idea of knowing the consequences of your actions in advance so that you can choose the right path – these are all very appealing notions indeed.
There a literally hundreds of different methods of divination, from examining the entrails of a recently slaughtered sheep or goat, to staring into the flames of a fire. Today, with divination at least as popular as it ever has been in the past, the most commonly used methods are astrology, tarot cards, palmistry and the Chinese yi ching.
But although more people than ever have access to some form of divination, such as newspaper horoscopes which are read by millions, there is also a greater degree of misunderstanding around as to the nature and purpose of divination than would have been the case in the past.
Most people tend to think of divination as fortune-telling, as a method of predicting what will happen to someone in the future. But actually this is an over-simplification, and it introduces a subtle but important error into the way we think about divination. Whether you perform reading yourself, or if you are just an interested person who maybe reads their horoscope, you should know that in order to gain the most possible benefits from consulting a divinatory device it is important to be aware of the nature of the information which you will receive.
The classical warning against the kind of misunderstanding which is prevalent today was given in the form of a story. This story is about a king or emperor (I don’t remember the details, only the general outline, but it’s that which is the important bit). There was tension with the neighbouring kingdom and the emperor consulted an oracle to help him in a decision about whether or not to declare war and invade his neighbour. The oracle told him that if he went ahead with the war her would crush a great army and lead to the collapse of the kingdom. he took this to mean that he would win a great victory and went ahead with the war, but it turned out that through his own incompetence his actions crushed his own army, and lead to the collapse of his own kingdom.
The significance of this story is that the emperor went to the oracle expecting a prediction but actually got a divination and his misunderstanding lead to his downfall. In this case t was not in the oracle’s power to predict the exact outcome of events, or describe what would happen to whom. What she did (what divination always does) was to describe the character and form that events would take. Within this pattern individual people and events are somewhat irrelevant, and cannot be accurately predicted. If you keep this in mind when using divination it will serve you well.
It is also important to remember that whilst divination describes the cosmic, spiritual influence which will come to bear, and the overall character of what you might call the physical and psychological environmental factors, human free will and the inertia of material circumstances may have something else to say. The correct attitude to divination is expressed in the medieval word from divinatory signs – ‘auspices’. You may often read in a newspaper horoscope, for example, that you will come into some money or that you will meet a new lover, or some other such thing. But what it should really be saying to be more accurate is that it is an auspicious time to do business, look for a new source of income, or play the lottery, or that now would be a good time to socialise and meet new people. By doing this they would not be trying to predict the future, an endeavour in which they would often fail, but would instead be providing advice as to how to make the most of the situation and how to be successful, happy and perhaps most importantly in harmony with the world around you, which is what divination is all about.