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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