Skry Stone, Shew Stone

On Divination

Skry Stone, Shew Stone

On Divination

Dawn R. Jackson

It’s said that the shuffling of the cards is the earth, and the pattering of the cards is the rain, and the beating of the cards is the wind, and the pointing of the cards is the fire. That’s of the four suits. But the Greater Trumps, it’s said, are the meaning of all process and the measure of the everlasting dance.

Charles Williams, The Greater Trumps

Divination, as we know it, is a deliberate effort to obtain information of a mundane sort by means conceived of as being beyond the mundane. It is a phenomenon that is found in all civilizations, both ancient and modern, and utilizes practical techniques of natural, psychological, and other diverse natures.

Though the act of divination is considered by many to be sacrosanct, it is the divinatory act itself that it is often thought of as being religious. The actual subject matter of divination is often ephemeral—for example; queries about an illness, or a troublesome omen or dream, or the location of a lost or misplaced object are often questions posed to diviners.

In contrast, please note that divination is considered a consultative institution, and that other subjects reflecting more amatory or other worldly motives have their place alongside such more mundane matters as well.

The mantic (divinatory) arts are many and range from the mechanical to the inspirational. A preliminary introduction is given below.

Inductive divination assumes a deterministic procedure, free from mundane control, yielding non-ambiguous decisions or predictions. Hypothetically, the reading of the horary astrological signs of a man and woman before proceeding to arrange a marriage—the year, month, day, and hour of birth of the two persons to be betrothed—illustrates this class of procedures. The information to be divined has been predetermined by the birth date and hour, and it is thought that all diviners of this type would come to the same conclusions about them.

Interpretive divination requires the combination of correct procedure with the special gift of cunning sight that sets a diviner apart from his fellows. As an example in many cultures today the contemporary Shaman, when they are seeking to diagnose an illness, will carefully pass a number of eggs over the patient’s body in order to draw into them an essence of the affliction. The intact contents are then collected in water, and the Shaman/Diviner withdraws into a darkened corner to “read” the signs of the eggs. Their eventual recitation is then an interpretation of the origin and nature of the disease.

Intuitive divination presupposes extraordinary gifts of insight or ability to communicate with beings of an otherworldly or numinous nature. The “Shaking Tent” rite of the Algonquian Indians of Canada illustrates the use of uncanny phenomena to lend credence to a mediumistic performance. The diviner, who is bound and cloaked, is no sooner placed in his barrel-like tent than the tent begins to shake with astounding vigor and the air is filled with horrific sounds; and this continues with great fervor until suddenly, the visiting spirit makes his presence known from inside the tent and undertakes to answer questions.

Querents will seek out a diviner when they are unsure how to behave in a given situation—when there is an illness present, or drought, death, even the fear of death; when there is suspicion of malevolence, theft, or breach of faith; when dreams or other symptoms are disturbing or the signs and portents of the times seem bad.

Divination serves the purpose of circumscription, of marking out and placing boundaries around the area of concern: the nature of the crisis is defined, and thus the source of anxiety is named. Concern then becomes allegation, perplexity turns to decision. The diviner is then functioning as an interpreter, seeing connections and motivations for subsequent actions, aiding in discovering misleading moves in advance, or indicating what secret fears are a hindrance or drawback, or even sometimes naming a totally hidden motive. In this sense, the ultimate function of divination is the legitimization of problematic decisions.

Ultimately, any diviner bears a great responsibility with the very mechanism of truth, and must have some sort of ethical and moral compass by which their fibres of skill and aptitude as a diviner are gauged.

The Art of Prophecy

…an art that is often considered both a blessing and a curse.

Divination takes many miscellaneous forms; a brief list is given below. Some source material gathered from Britannica.

  • Aeromancy: By air.
  • Alectryomancy (also Alectoromancy): By poultry. Grains are placed on each letter of the alphabet. A cockerel with cut claws eats the grain, which spells out something of import.
  • Arithmancy (also Numerology): By numbers and digits.
  • Astrology (also known as astromancy or horoscopy): Divination by study of the movements of heavenly bodies, particularly the major planets.
  • Axinomancy: By hatchet.
  • Botanomancy: By herbs.
  • Capnomancy: By smoke.
  • Carromancy: By melting wax.
  • Cartomancy: By cards - playing as well as tarot.
  • Catoptromancy: By mirror. Also see Scrying.
  • Cephalomancy: By donkey’s head.
  • Chiromancy (also known as palmistry): By the palm of the hand.
  • Cledomancy: By words.
  • Cleromancy: By lots.
  • Coscinomancy: By sieve and shears.
  • Cromniomancy: By onions.
  • Gastromancy: By the sounds the stomach makes.
  • Hydromancy: By water.
  • I Ching.
  • Idolomancy: By idols - related to oracles.
  • Lampadomancy: By lamps of art or candles.
  • Lecanomancy: By precious stones that dropped in water.
  • Numerology (also see arithmancy): By numbers.
  • Oniromancy: By dreams.
  • Onychomancy: By the fingernails.
  • Ornithomancy: By bird song or flight.
  • Ouija (also known as ouija board or spirit board).
  • Palmistry (also known as chiromancy): By the hands.
  • Podomancy: By the feet.
  • Pyromancy: By fire.
  • Runes.
  • Scrying: By crystal balls, magic mirrors, and the like.
  • Sycomancy: By figs.
  • Tasseomancy: By tea leaves.
  • Tyromancy: By the coagulation of cheese.

Amid the sounds of chatter bright
The pale Lady shows her face of light
With echoes of a familiar tune
We sing and dance a Witches’ rune

Once has dimmed the sound of laughs
Hard stones are touched by stangs & staffs
By midnight tread of dancing feet
We keep the rhythm and melodic beat

With power raised then we aspire
Chanting, pacing flames of fire
Releasing baleful harm and bane
Renewed, enlivened, we begin again

Thanking water, fire, earth and air
With voices raised we each declare
The hidden company unseen departs
We end the rites with loving hearts

© Dawn R. Jackson

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