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:
- 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).
- 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).
- 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.