Divination is the art of trying to find information through magical means. This information may relate to the future, or simply present/past information that the diviner does not know. Such techniques are omnipresent across times and cultures, since the need for answers is pretty universal.
Literally, "divine" means coming from/ being related to god. The meaning of "divination" is often said to be "determining the will of god". Nevertheless, divination is often used to mean the same as fortune-telling: that is, obtaining information about the future, and also about events at remote places about which no information can be obtained using mundane means (under the given circumstances).
But today, divination is often used in a wider sense. Then it is used to include any information obtained by a more or less traditional divination process, although the information is already known in a way, or it is not clear weather it is yielded by the divination process itself or the (mundane) insight of the seeker. Many tarot readers use the cards at least in part like a psychologist would use ink blots, and still call it divination.
Some divination systems, especially Tarot and runes have grown beyond being a divination system in modern times. For many practitioners, they are strong symbols that serve as focus for meditation or even ritual work. Many use them to organize and guide much of their spiritual or magickal development and studies. This does go beyond divination, although the physical processes used (drawing and contemplating a daily card for example) may still be very much the same. Of cource, that may cause controversies about definitions, and about what is divination and what not.
How and when to use it
Like any magickal technique, divination will do the practitoner no good if it is used in an irresponsible way. Opinions on what is proper use and what not vary widely. This is even more true when it comes down to doing divination for others.
Some dangers of divination may be:
- getting dependent on it
- covering up for personal problems and weaknesses by the use of it instead of working them out
- using it as an excuse for poor choices - "I was fated to lose my job anyway"
Due to this long history, there are many methods of performing divination; many of the western arts of divination derive their name from the Greek manteia (divination), hence the 'mancy' ending to many such arts.
There are literally thousands of different divination techniques, from the I-Ching to Phrenology, from Tarot to Phyllorhodomancy (the Roman divination by rose petals). A list, by no means complete, follows below:
- Uses the star signs of the Western Zodiac or Eastern Zodiac.
- Using books for divination. Often, but not always, the christian bible.
- Divination by the observation (or other use) of plants; this is a collective term for several traditional techniques.
- Using cards (Tarot or other) for divination.
- Using a stick to locate something.
- Dream Interpretation
- divination by the appearance or the observation of certain imagery and events in dreams.
- Divination using principles of Yin and Yang (see entry for more details).
- Communication with the dead for divination (though now the term applies to more than divination).
- Using a pendulum to communicate with spirits or your higher self, get answers to your questions, locate things and diagnose energic illnesses by measuring the aura.
- Sold as a toy or game, this method involves a group of people laying hands on a pointer that moves to letters on a board to answer questions. Similar to automatic writing.
- Observing from a distance, often using a reflective item such as a crystal ball or mirror.
- divination by the appearance or the observation of certain animals; this is a collective term for several traditional practices.