How do we hear ourselves in world filled with life coaches, self-help books, and advice at every corner?
An ancient practice called divination may be useful today in a new way. Divination was the act of seeking counsel through a human mediator to the spiritual realm. Shamans, priestesses, initiates of the mystery schools in the Aegean, were all considered diviners. We moderns sometimes refer to this spiritual realm, the invisible force behind all visible life, as the collective unconscious, a place where the gods and goddesses, our unrealized gifts and biggest demons all co-mingle.
Divination is a form of deep personal inquiry – a realm of experience where the senses open wide, time hovers in suspension, and the soul is brushed by a mysterious Something that offers knowledge or direction. Our larger, more realized self comes into being through our awareness of it. Divination is a process in which we enter this landscape of holism.
We must invite that Something to come to us. How? One way is to consult an oracle. Oracles have existed since the dawn of time. There was the Delphi Oracle in Greece, Akashwani in ancient Hindi India, the Agbala Awka oracle of Africa, and the Dalai Lama is said to consult the Nechung Oracle, which is the official state oracle of the government of Tibet.
Most of us do not have access to a highly qualified and vetted oracle. If you are reluctant or fearful that you will end up with a charlatan willing to take your cash and common sense and send you on a wild goose chase, then don’t go there.
Consider using another form of divination, a symbol system created for the purposes of entering oracular space like the Tarot, Runes, or I-Ching.
As Carl Jung says, “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious.”
Consulting an oracle is not that same as having your fortune told. Instead, the oracle reveals hidden possibilities, strengths, blind spots, and allies on the inner that may be useful in navigating the circumstances you are seeking help with. Above the gateway to enter the Delphi Oracle were the words “Know Thyself.”
Here are some tips for engaging your oracular self:
Adopt the attitude that all challenges are seen as opportunities for growth where the outcome is made through the mindful efforts you take as a result of the oracle’s counsel.
Quiet your mind. Sit in silence. Take a few breaths. Get clear on exactly what you wish to ask. The clearer you are, the clearer the information and counsel will be. See if you can get your question down to one simple sentence.
Listen for the meta-message the oracle is giving you. Journal the responses you are receiving. Reflect on their relevance and application to your circumstances. Highlight key phrases, suggestions, and anything that has emotional charge for you. Pay attention to these nuances, and return the next day for more consideration and inquiry.
Integrate the information into real time, and watch for signs of change.
What tool of divination speaks your language? Check out these oracles in your local bookstore or Amazon.com:
I-Ching – “The Book of Changes”
Originated in China in the Zhou period. Assembled in its current form in the 9th century BC, but there is evidence of earlier forms of its use in 300 BC. The Richard Wilhelm translation became very popular here in the US during the 1960’s. In ancient times, yarrow stalks were used as the means for “reading” or divination, more common today is the use of coins (that spare change in your pocket) or specialized dice.
The I-Ching has been the subject of scholarly study quite literally for centuries. Documentation of its use, and its successful use in divining, is well established. It is seen as a reader of “complexity and possibility” as captured and quantified in the 64 hexagrams of the 10 King Wing Order.
Tarot as we know it today is a deck of cards comprised of major (king, queen, knight, page, ace) and minor arcana (organized by suits) each containing images, symbols, mythology, and narratives from dozens of cultures.
Some scholars believe the Tarot emerged as a card game in 15th century Europe, yet others trace its origins back centuries earlier to Egypt and the Kabbalah. There are many translations of what Tarot means, but the one I like by Antione Court De Gebelin is a “Royal Road to Life.”
Tarot decks are hugely popular today and types number in the hundreds. You can find one adapted to your unique viewpoint on life. Examples include: the Motherpeace Deck – circular cards which focus on goddess mythology, images, and symbols. There is also the Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot of oversized cards with detailed astrological, zodiacal, elemental and Qabalistic symbols. Each deck has a workbook explaining the meaning of each card and how to create a “spread” to reveal the answer to any question for which you seek counsel.
A rune is a small stone with a symbol engraved on it. The symbol is from an old alphabet (Norse, Scandinavian, and Anglo Saxon) believed to have originated in 150 AD. Like the I-Ching, there is scholarly research associated with this oracle called “Runology” which is the study of these alphabets but not necessarily on runes as a tool of divination. They were used as a tool of divination up to the Middle Ages, and fell off in use thereafter. Ralph Blum, a Harvard trained anthropologist and Fulbright scholar produced the “Book of Runes” in the 1980’s which remains one of the most popular set of runes to date. The set consists of 26 Viking runes and his book of instructions for casting a reading and interpreting the stones.
In psyche and spirit,