This is going to be a bit of a different post for me. I’ve mentioned witchy stuff in passing before but not discussed anything in depth on this particular blog. (I do have a separate space for that, still in it’s infancy. But if you’re in the market…) But I’ve revamped my own etsy shop, and I want to put a bit of a guide together for folks who may not have any experience seeking or receiving any type of divination reading before.
I think tumblr, among other things, has made divination more accessible to people, which has bled onto etsy and society6 or wherever else people can sell their wares nowadays. And “witchy” aesthetics and such have become more culturally relevant and mainstream as well even outside the internet. And that’s really cool!! But I think if you don’t know what to expect or ask for it can be a bit daunting. So if you want a primer on Divination, written by someone who practices and not just pieced together articles on Wikipedia, hopefully this is helpful for you!
What is Divination?
Strictly speaking, divination can refer to any number of individual practices or rituals that are used for insight and clarity, usually into the future. Many of the methods I’ll discuss below can also be applicable to looking into past lives, if you are into that. Further, divination practices can also give you clarity on your current position. I like to think of most divination practices as something like Duolingo, or Google Translate. They are vehicles to understand the advice the universe is giving us on a level we can see and understand.
Types of Divination and What They Do
There are literally hundreds of divination practices. That’s not hyperbole, either. (You want a list? Here’s an incomplete one). The thing is, I think a lot of people do divination of sorts themselves and don’t realize it. Do you ever get in your car on the way to work, hear the first song that comes on the radio, and think it’s an omen for how your day’s gonna go? Might I introduce you, then, to shufflemancy?
But some methods require study and practice and for those reasons you may want to seek out a reader with that experience. The internet is really great, when it isn’t really awful, and so for our purposes today I’m mainly going to focus on methods that you don’t have to do an in person visit for.
Some of the most common types of divination you’ll see floating around the interweb:
Arithmancy: This is one you probably can do by yourself. Have you ever heard of a life path number? That’s arithmancy. Every letter has a numeric value, and these values are added and simplified to a number between 1 and 9. (Usually). You can do this for your name, but you can also do it with dates and other numbers. Every number has a meaning; for example 9’s are about cycle completion and having to deal with the things we’ve avoided for unpleasantness and being accountable for our past actions. 2016 was a 9 year, if anyone was shocked about that.
Astragalomancy: Not to be confused with astrology, astragalomancy is divination via the casting of die. There are die specially made for this, but you can make it work with regular playing dice or, even better, a good D20. Each side has specific meaning…not unlike a magic eight ball 😉
Astrology: Most people think they are pretty familiar with this one. Astrology is divination based on the positions of planetary bodies in our solar system. Their movements are calculated and interpreted based on where they rest and how they aspect and interact with each other. Natal astrology (aka when someone asks you what your sign is on some online dating platform) is very popular, further split into vedic and tropical astrology, draconic astrology…and a hundred more specific practices and traditions. Every astrologer will have a specialty, maybe even two related ones, but if you run into one claiming mastery of all different traditions, kindly exit stage left and save your money.
Bibliomancy: This one predates the internet, obviously, but I’m seeing a resurgence of it on tumblr lately. In bibliomancy, you (or a reader) will select a book — often this can be a spiritual text in itself, like the Bible, Koran, etc., but it doesn’t have to be — and either allow it to fall open to its natural place after sitting it up on its spine, or select a page number at random, and sometimes a line, as an answer to your query.
Cartomancy: For most of us, this almost exclusively refers to tarot cards, by and large. Oracle cards are also divination specific tools for this purpose, but regular piquet decks and playing cards can also be used. Each card has a meaning and message, and there are an infinite number of spreads to tailor to the querent and query at hand. Unlike astrology, I personally think cartomancy and even runes are particularly good for beginners because they are inherently used in a more call-response or question-answer type pattern which feels more natural or conversational to newbies.
Palmistry: Palm-reading is pretty well known outside of the divination community, but because of that I think the skill is underrated. Palmistry studies the shapes of the hands and fingers to determine life paths and personality traits. This is not a preferred method for specific queries for advice about “small scale” stuff, and is in my experience isn’t the most flexible divination method.
Rune-Casting: Runes are…you know that friend you have (probably a Sagittarius) who will tell you that dress looks bad on you without trying to soften it first by saying how nice your hair looks? Yeah. Runes. Somewhere between a die and a tarot card, runes are good if you really aren’t good with subtleties or you really need some blunt advice. (Generally!! Some tarot decks are really blasé like this and some runes are a bit more patient. You can ask your reader if you have questions as to how their set usually behaves).
Scrying: Scrying covers a lot of different methods generally, but you’ll often hear it described as “gazing,” or studying a particular medium to find omens, patterns, or messages. If you think of an old school crystal ball, that’s a type of scrying. Other methods are scrying water (both still in a bowl and sometimes via the rain) and pyromancy. In pyromancy, different things are burned to different effects or purposes, and the flame and smoke are studied for answers.
Shufflemancy: Take out your iPod. iPhone. Music listening device. What’s something you want an answer to? Now pick a number, skin that many times. Voila.
What to Look for in a Reader
Frankly, some of the methods I’ve listed above you can try your damn self. Some methods, however, I think are worth seeking out the help of a reader. Like anything else, looking for reviews on their pages is one way to determine if you want to enlist their services or not, but also many readers (I’m thinking of astrology specifically) can have certifications and be part of professional organizations that can show their experience. It’s not like a doctor being board certified, and I don’t believe these are inherently necessary, as I’ve met many excellent readers and astrologers without them, but if you lean towards skepticism and want an extra security blanket it’s something you can look for.
My best advice is just to chat with a potential reader beforehand. All readers love to talk about their practice and craft — ask them about how long they’ve been reading, what one of their readings usually entails, etc. before you purchase a reading. They are the best people to tell you about themselves and their particulars, and a legitimate reader will not be offended or put off by your due diligence in the least. Certainly, they’ll be able to direct you as to what spreads, charts, or methods would best suit your needs and query which will only help you in the long run.
You should also note that not all readers read for the same things — to use myself as an example, if you ask me for a reading predicting a death/its circumstances, I won’t do it. Some readers prefer not doing compatibility, some only do that and don’t like doing career-centered readings. If you want or expect any of these specifically, be sure to ask before hand so you and your reader are on the same page when the actual reading comes around.
Mostly, though, I’d tell you to trust your gut. If they ask for your credit card number, aren’t hosted on a secure platform, are charging exorbitant amounts of money, and don’t talk about themselves, their experience, or their offerings adequately, take your business elsewhere.
What to Expect from a Reading
Your reader will tell you specifically what to expect before hand — if you’re unsure, ask. For skype or phone readings, you’ll arrange a time and discuss the expected length of a call. Maybe they’ll post a private video to a private youtube channel for you, maybe it will be an e-mailed pdf. If you prefer one format over another, ask if they will accommodate that beforehand and see what you can work out. I always attach photographs of my tarot spreads and pages of charts and tables with my own readings, and if you want to double check what additional resources you’ll be left with after the reading I think it would be a good idea.
For some readings, a reader may ask for some personal information. For astrological birth charts, the time of birth within about 15 minutes is necessary for the most accuracy, for example. If an astrologer asks for your birth place and time in addition to your date, this is normal. If they ask for your social security number, call the police.
*stands on soap box*
Please, god, leave a review. Good, bad, or indifferent, reviews help your reader become a better reader and help other customers manage their expectations. When leaving it, though, keep in mind:
1. The universe is subtle, more often than not. And if you were able to discern the advice given to you in a reading by yourself, you probably wouldn’t have sought out a reading anyway. What I mean is: if you dislike the advice or don’t see its relevancy or meaning immediately after reading, don’t lash out on your reader. Take a few days to think on your reading before you collect your thoughts for a review.
(Being said, if it was just bad, you might want to try emailing the reader directly for clarification! There is no shame in that, and you will not be bothering your reader at all!)
2. Depending on the nature of your reading, you can choose to take it to heart or not. It’s that simple. Ultimately, nothing shown in a tarot spread or astrology chart will negate our free will. If you want to dismiss it, that’s entirely your prerogative. Are some things unavoidable? Yes. Will fighting against an outcome sometimes create that exact thing we fear and want to avoid? Also yes. But most things we have the ability to change and fix — and most readings will give us those necessary tools to do so.
3. Live your life, do the best you can, and be patient when you mess up. No reading will give you all the answers to everything — anyone who tries to sell you on this is trying to make a dollar off of you more than anything.
I hope this was helpful! If you have any questions about divination generally, astrology, tarot, or my shop specifically, please let me know! I love sharing this with people.
I know this was a long post, so if you made it all the way through, you can use the code “ghostfam” to get 20% off any reading in my shop.
Thanks for reading! I hope your weekend is wonderful 🙂