Divination in Fiction


I’m trying to write a short story about a seer and how by reading others future she accidentally read her own. However there is a problem: I don’t know anything about divination or the rituals involved on it. At first I tried to write about tarot but I felt a that I needed something else that was less common or known but that still involves images and symbols. Also could you help me to difference witchcraft from the other cultures religions that use divination, you know to avoid offenses.

While some people (and traditions) may have elaborate rituals that relate to divination, many don’t. Divination as a practice is so widely varied that really, since you are writing fiction, you can create a ritual and/or divination system almost however you want. Just avoid naming specific cultures or religions and you should be ok, and keep in mind that even when you take all possible precautions, there will almost always be someone who still gets offended or finds something to complain about. It’s just the way of things. But as long as you are being respectful and careful, then I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

Personally, the easiest route to go would be for your character to simply have visions since it doesn’t rely on any specific culture/religion and would allow her to see symbols and images or whatever you need her to see. In terms of how — maybe if she touches the other person (or something belonging to them) it triggers the visions. Or if you want it to be more of a ritual maybe you could create a short chant that she has to say when she’s ready to do a reading. For example: “I close my eyes so I can see, let the visions come to me” (or similar) then she places her hands on the person (or holds their hands, etc…) whatever works for your story. If you need it to be more elaborate, you can have a room that is lit with candles and she has to anoint herself with a special ritual oil that heightens her psychic abilities, or maybe she has to drink a potion that helps to put her into a trance state so she can access the visions. Maybe she ritually draws their name into an elaborate sigil on a piece of paper and it allows the visions to come through. It’s fiction, so you are almost limitless in what you can do (at least in terms of divination).

If you absolutely want it to be card-based (like Tarot), just make up your own system. Keep in mind that the cards are often just a tool for focusing (which is why some people can use a regular deck of playing cards to do divination). So even though each card may have a generally accepted meaning, it’s usually all about the person requesting the reading and the context of the other cards, along with what the person doing the divination is feeling/seeing in relation to the question asked that really matters — in terms of interpreting the actual meaning during a reading.

Anyway, hope some of this was helpful. Good luck with your story.

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Questions On Finding My Path


…I would actually like to find or create a contemplative form of Paganism for myself and follow that with discipline, and am wondering if you could offer any advice on how to pull this off?  I’m starting to learn about the contemplative tradition in Christianity (such as centering prayer) since I’d like to apply it to Paganism, and am also curious to learn more about Fourth Way practices (Gurdjieff Work) soon.  I also have an interest in runology but haven’t learned much about it just yet. I’d want my path to involve meditation, devotional prayer, study of Pagan philosophy, service to others, and living virtuously. … I don’t know whether its reasonable to synthesize all of the above into a coherent belief…so, help me out, if you could!
Regarding my views, I am a monist and panentheist who believes the Divine is the source of creation and manifests in all of Nature, and can appear as many Deities, but is ultimately non-personal…
Also, I am surprised how much I feel drawn to simple devotion toward the God and Goddess of Wicca, its philosophy of cause & effect, and non-harming others however we choose to act.  Yet, I don’t care as much for elaborate rituals, magick, or esbats. Would it make sense for me to embrace some form of “eclectic”, individualized Wicca as my spirituality? It feels intuitive for me.  I know that you define “Wicca” as only Gerald Gardner’s original version, which isn’t so appealing to me, so I wonder where that leaves non-traditional forms of Wicca or witchcraft. I don’t see myself as a Witch at all, but rather as Nature Mystic and contemplative in training.  I’d like to design and follow some course of self-development that truly fits me. I like the Wiccan Rede but would add a second rule to “act with benevolence in any situation”, and I also try to follow Kant’s Categorial Imperative.
I should add that what drew me to Neo-paganism in general is its love of Earth and Universe and view of divine immanence; … I’m an American of South Asian descent (though not from a Hindu or Buddhist family).  I felt very inspired when I read about the worship of Pashupati (a Horned God) and a Mother Goddess in the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, as this reminds me of the God and Goddess in Wicca or European witchcraft traditions.

 

Generally speaking, as long as the cultures/religions you are looking to pull from aren’t closed ones then you are fine to create your own eclectic path from them. The key of course, is to make sure you are doing it in way that is respectful.

Even though a lot of books use the word Wicca to encompass a variety different non-traditional paths, really they are just Neo-Pagan or simply Pagan (or Witchcraft). I think once you start adding and subtracting things (particularly those that move it farther from what might be considered its more core components) then it ceases to be Wicca and shouldn’t be referred to as such. Besides, if you are creating something for yourself, it should have a name that resonates with you.

Additionally, if you feel that there are bits of both Paganism and Christianity that may apply to you, there are things like ChristoPaganism which may be of interest as well. In particular ChristoPaganism: An Inclusive Path by Joyce and River Higganbotham is a good one. Another book that encompasses multiple views is CUSP: A New Way to Walk An Old Path by Eric and Katrina Rasbold. In terms of going to church, it may also be worth checking out the Unitarian Universalists.

One thing I will say, though, if you are being called by particular deities, be careful of randomly inserting them into rituals and/or practices that are outside their own context. Not that it can’t be done, but sometimes it’s better to look within their respective cultures for rituals/practices that are a better fit, and then finding a way to incorporate that into your path if possible.

For example (at least in generalized terms), the Goddess that is honored within traditional Wiccan practice has three aspects: Maiden, Mother and Crone. Each representing a different part of the journey through the Wheel of the Year. If your Mother Goddess from the ancient Indus Valley Civilization doesn’t embody each of those aspects, plunking her down directly into a traditional Wheel of the Year model doesn’t necessarily work very well. The key here would be modifying your Wheel so that it fits the aspects of your Goddess, rather than trying to fit your Goddess into a Wheel she’s not meant for (if that makes sense). Same for your God. Keep in mind that just because he’s a God with horns, doesn’t necessarily make him The Horned God (in a Wiccan sense). Again, that doesn’t mean you can’t make it work, you just need to make sure that you make the right modifications when you design your path.

Secondary to that, if you are taking Gods/Goddesses from different cultures and trying to put them both together to fit in a Lord and Lady model, you need to be very careful and not just throw them together and hope for the best. Spend a lot of time communicating with your deities along the way, while creating your path, and specifically ask for signs (or other acknowledgement) that they are ok with the arrangement. Something to keep in mind too, unless one if a member of a tradition which has particular rules against it, you can always honor deities separately or even follow more than one path (in cases where certain practices are wildly incompatible with each other). So don’t feel like you have to make everything fit perfectly into one single cohesive practice, especially if it makes more sense for particular components to be separate.  

Also, really quick, you mentioned the Wiccan Rede, and it’s worth noting that the Rede has been grossly misrepresented over the years. Rather than being a blanket prohibition on causing harm, it’s more about thinking critically about (and taking responsibility for) one’s actions.

The good thing is that we have plenty of time to figure this stuff out. Our spirituality is a lifelong thing, and for many of us it does continue to change and evolve as the years go on. We find new Gods and practices, and sometimes we have to part ways with some of the older ones when that relationship has run its course. So don’t feel like you have to rush to find the perfect path. Spend as much time as you need immersing yourself in the practices and Gods that call to you, and finding the ones that suit — again (and I know I’m a broken record at this point, but it is so very important), with respect and assuming the cultures/religions are open ones, rather than closed. While this process can take quite a bit of time, I feel that it’s much more rewarding in the end. And though that end point is important, what we do along the way matters even more, so make it count.

Crystal Pendulums


I have a question about the use of a crystal pendulum. I have recently started to the use a crystal pendulum, a friend gave me one and I was very intrigued by the accuracy of it’s answers of yes and no. Yesterday I decided to switch hands from holding the pendulum in my right hand to my left hand. When I hold the crystal with my right hand it swings in a clockwise circle for yes and counter clockwise circle for no. When I asked it to “show me yes” “show me no” using my left hand to suspend the pendulum, yes and no are reversed. Yes is counter clockwise no is clockwise. I asked my friend if she ever used her non dominant hand to suspend the pendulum from and she told me yes. I asked if it swings the same in both hands and she told me it does. I’m curious as to what the significance is then that every time I try it using one hand then the other, I have a mirror image effect on how the crystal shows it’s answers. is this common?

The thing about pendulums is that they work differently for everyone. If yours is different from your friend’s, it really doesn’t have any particular significance because we are all different in our own ways, as are our energies.

So while some people find that the movements stay the same each time (even if they switch hands) for others they don’t. And still others may find that the movements were exactly the same the first hundred (or more) times they used their pendulum, but then randomly one day those directions changed. This is one of the reasons why I feel that it’s important to calibrate which movement equals “yes” and which one is “no” before starting a session (even if it’s always been the same in the past). That way you know exactly what your baseline is.

Orbs and Glimmers: Possible Entity


I have recently been experiencing orbs and glimmers in my house. I am planning to save my house after waking up with scratches today. Do you have any advice on this?

What exactly do you mean by “save” your house? Or, more specifically, what do you think your house needs saving from? If you are concerned about possible entities, have you tried politely (but firmly) asking them to leave? Other than that, a simple cleansing will probably help.

But having said that—and I know I repeat this fairly often but I feel it’s very important advice that everyone should follow—never assume magical/supernatural reasons for something before ruling out the mundane possibilities.

Particularly when it comes to our vision, there are many medical conditions that can cause us to see things that might look like orbs, flashes of light and/or moving shadows (such as eye floaters for example). Not only eye-specific dysfunctions, but various types of migraines can also cause vision issues (even if you aren’t having the stereotypical pain that is often associated with them). Other possibilities are changes in your blood pressure and/or diabetes related symptoms. In any case, it’s a good idea to get a check-up (including a vision exam) if you haven’t done so recently, just to make sure there isn’t something else going on.

Once you’ve ruled out everything else, then you can look to possible supernatural causes, and consider more in-depth cleansing or banishing work if needed. Keep in mind too that waking up with scratches, especially if it’s only happened once or twice, doesn’t necessarily mean anything either. We do all sorts of weird stuff in our sleep (seriously, hubby once sprained his ankle while sleeping—don’t ask; we have no idea how) and this includes scratching ourselves without realizing it. Not saying that there couldn’t be other things going on, but it’s always good to examine these incidents critically first before jumping straight to the idea of entities being the cause.