A Further Note on Divination

So I’ve been having quite a few conversations recently on divination, how to use it as an ongoing guide, it’s place in our traditions, how I use it, etc. Now I’ve written a book on divination, titled (in partial homage to Cicero) “On Divination” where I discuss some of this, but there are more things that I think it necessary to highlight. This is an important conversation, and one that I think should be ongoing.

Divination was crucial to our polytheistic ancestors. It was a means of determining whether we were working in alignment with our fate and what the Gods wished for us, of determining what the Gods wanted, and of solving problems as they arose (if not heading them off completely). When we read the sources, problems typically arose not in response to ambiguous divination but as a result of prideful, overly enthusiastic, or relatively oblivious responses to divination. It was never just ‘fortune telling,’ but was—and is—a sacred craft that can guide us in developing and maintaining right relationship with our Gods and ancestors. That is a very important thing!

I’m a vitki, priest, shaman, what have you…and believe me, I’ve been called every name in the book. Lol. (That’s ok. I like to encourage people’s creativity). Anyway, as someone in that position, just as if I were a Boukholoi, or Druid, Bard, or even just a gythia (instead of also xy and z), it should be second nature to seek out divination, either that performed by myself or that performed for me by a colleague or elder A) quarterly and B) before any major life decision, particularly with respect to my work with my community. Not to do so seems misguided, foolish, and perhaps even an act of hubris.

Does that sound too strong? Maybe, but think about it. Divination is technology given by the Gods so that we can maintain a strong line of communication, so that we can check before we royally fuck up. We have plenty of people now in our communities who are skilled diviners and there are simple (but effective!) systems that even the most head blind lay person can use to at least indicate when they need to seek out a professional’s services. So …why aren’t we using it more? I don’t post or write about every time I perform divination to check myself but I do it quite frequently. It would simply be foolish not to, given the nature of my work. The same holds true for many of my colleagues.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a major retreat. Before I participated in the big ritual, I did extensive divination and it turns out it was not proper for me to participate. I was told not to do so and I really, really wanted to participate! Instead, I spent that time with my ancestors and received a powerful gift, one that I had been seeking and working toward for over a year and one that I would not have gotten had I not listened to the div. Furthermore, I was there to provide after care to those trickling up from the rather intense ritual. It worked out exactly as it should have, all because I had the sense to divine.

There have often been public rituals, conferences, and gatherings that I’ve wanted very much to attend. Then I divine and I’m told to stay as far away as possible, often because there is pollution, sometimes because the work that I do is not congruent with what is going on wherever it is I’m hoping to visit. Now, when something like that happens, I have several choices:

  1. I can assume that this divination holds for everybody but me and go anyway (and boy do I deserve what I get if I do that).
  2. I can prioritize my desire to participate or not make community waves (stop laughing, assholes :P) over what the Gods and spirits have directed (and again, I deserve whatever I get for doing so).
  3. I can do what the divination has instructed because really, what is the point of seeking the counsel of the Gods and ancestors and then ignoring it? I do not actually know better than They.

There’s always of course the option to not do divination, either because I am in alignment with the position whatever group I wish to join in with holds, or because I’m sure that they’re not carriers of miasma or for whatever reason…but there’s an old saying about what happens when we assume (you make an ASS out of U and ME) so it goes without saying that I divine.

Assume nothing. We can control ourselves and how we prepare for ritual, our level of cleanliness and miasma, but we cannot control anyone else and the moment you bring others into the mix, you end up with an awful lot of moving parts, often moving miasmic parts.

I tend to do divination for myself at the start of every week, nothing extensive but just a quick check to see what’s coming down the pike. Quarterly I will visit one of my elders for a session. I do this because it’s really, really difficult to be totally objective with oneself. I often sit with my ancestors and will use a special divination system (one that is only used for my dead) to see if there’s any messages that they have for me that I might not otherwise be picking up, if everything’s copacetic, etc. I check in regularly.

Of course one doesn’t want to get addicted to divination. Having this technology at our disposal does not excuse us from learning to make good choices. I don’t divine over every little thing. I do my work and work things out for myself. Sometimes I make mistakes and deal with that. I divine consistently though, and before important events, work, gatherings.

I’ll be writing more on divination over the next few weeks, maybe even days if I have the time. My next pieces is going to be on one of the most crucial elements of both divination and devotional work: discernment and learning to listen. After all, you don’t want to end up like way too many people I could name, not even being able to tell when your God is present as opposed to the sock puppets in your head.


About ganglerisgrove

Galina Krasskova has been a Heathen priest since 1995. She holds a Masters in Religious Studies (2009), a Masters in Medieval Studies (2019), has done extensive graduate work in Classics including teaching Latin, Roman History, and Greek and Roman Literature for the better part of a decade, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Theology. She is the managing editor of Walking the Worlds journal and has written over thirty books on Heathenry and Polytheism including "A Modern Guide to Heathenry" and "He is Frenzy: Collected Writings about Odin." In addition to her religious work, she is an accomplished artist who has shown all over the world and she currently runs a prayer card project available at wyrdcuriosities.etsy.com.

Posted on July 5, 2016, in Divination, Lived Polytheism, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. So true. The warnings I get are numerous and I am finally listening! It is sad, though, when people cannot have a civil discussion. Orthodoxies of every sort I seek to defeat.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is a thoughtful and interesting piece, and I thank you. A question: in a situation where divination tells you that your Gods don’t want you to go to an event–do you ever seek out further divination with them to ask why? And/or, if it’s an event that is important and relevant to your work, do you ever converse with them, via divination, to see if there are things that can be done ahead of time to modify or otherwise smooth that outcome? Such as being warned of impending drama, having them instruct you on making a talisman, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ganglerisgrove

      that would really depend. Generally, if it’s a no, I’m usually good with that. For clients I may ask further to see if there’s any wiggle room, or any offerings that can be made to move the wod, but generally, for myself, I take it at face value. If my Gods don’t want me someplace, then I trust that I need to listen. Nothing human is worth going against Their good sense.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. thetinfoilhatsociety

    Thank you for the kick in the pants. I need to do divination more often!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. At a certain gathering last year–I’m sure you know the one to which I’m referring!–at several points, I was saying to the organizers, “Perhaps we should divine on this.” The response I got from them each time was, “Well, maybe…but we don’t have anything, so we can’t.” The response from me was “Well, I DO, and I’ve got two sets for divination on me [at all times!], so who are we asking?” That particular group has demonstrated that they prefer to “divination shop” (especially if something isn’t lining up the way they and/or their social consciousness prefers) rather than to actually enter into the practice fully and honestly engage with it, and with the Deities and Powers, and what results from these. (No big surprise there, now, alas…)

    I do think there’s a cultural thing to overcome in the meantime for many people, though. The idea that our Deities are accessible and actually do have opinions and suggestions (and even directives!) which we can learn is such a foreign concept to those raised in a culture that says a singular god is beyond human reach and understanding, and that god’s will is inscrutable and permanently mysterious…and, I think, that attitude also spills over into other things in life, like asking individual humans what they might prefer in certain situations, since it is so much easier to assume that everyone “wants the same things” and so forth. It ends up downplaying the role of relationships on all levels, and the importance of both communication and asking questions (and paying attention to the answers!) in human interactions as well as those with Deities. This is one thing that I think polytheist engagements have a HUGE advantage over all other religions in, and that no one can pose a challenge to that is in any way valid. (We can debate pros and cons of other theological systems in relation to certain matters to some extent, of course; but on this point, nope.)

    Liked by 4 people

    • ganglerisgrove

      ah yes, divination shopping. I’m not surprised that particular group is prone to that impiety. and it is impiety. Go to a diviner you trust, who has a palpable connection to the Gods and then suck it up. Don’t shop around just because the answer doesn’t prioritize your wants. ugh. i’ve taken to drilling prospective clients about what other diviners they’ve seen because several of us realized we had a couple of clients who would make the rounds (getting the same answers too) looking for more palpable responses. we shut that down pretty quickly. I would not so offend the Gods.

      Or for that matter my lineage ancestors…those diviners who have worked before me.

      I think the even bigger culture idea to overcome is that we should inconvenience ourselves for our Gods and spirits. Most people find this very foreign. we’ve all been raised to prioritize our own wants and needs but piety is piety and sometimes it’s not convenient.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Definitely…and I think concerns of convenience are also a symptom of monotheism (i.e. why go to all those individual shops with custom-made products when you can have one-stop shopping at Wal-Mart/Christianity/Islam?), which one needs to shed oneself of entirely if one is to be an effective (and worthwhile to the Deities!) polytheist.

        As you mentioned above, these days I ask if I am allowed to attend various different things that I think might be interesting or worthwhile, and if I get told “no,” then I don’t go. It can get really fun (I’m saying that sarcastically!) if one Deity or set of Deities says “Do this!” and another says “We’d rather you didn’t,” or has other caveats or concerns, as occurred the other day…but, it all ended up all right. I’ll say more about that when the events come to full fruition, but anyway…balancing out the differing desires of Deities in devotional relationships is something that requires yet-another-“d,” i.e. discernment, as you well know, and I’m sure you’ll be writing about further soon! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    • Actually if folks want to divine, and they lack “official tools”, they could use a coin toss for yes and no answers. They could have three objects be yes, no, or maybe. They could note anything unusual after asking the question. In other words, if you really wanted to divine and receive an answer, you can do it.


  5. Yup. Discernment is vitally important or you could wake up one day and discover you’ve been worshiping Kylo Ren:


    Or Doctor Who:


    All along.

    And wouldn’t that just be sad?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I should look into ancient Hellenic divination methods and how I might integrate it into my life.

    Another thing we’re fighting against here is the idea of all kinds of diviners and soothsayers being frauds, cheats, and charlatans.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Divination shopping is something I didn’t know had a name. I see it in Tarot readings all the time. Also, when I read for myself, of course, I want what I want, not what is. So on really major questions, it is always wise to get another opinion.

    I read the two entries that Sannion cited. Both people seemed very confused, and I don’t think they mentioned going to a diviner to suss out the dilemma they found themselves in. If I got that close and that confused, I would have to find someone else to work it through.


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