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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in divination
Tarot Cards, Oracle Decks and Lenormand – What’s the Difference?

When pagans want to learn divination, especially cartomancy (cards), they are faced with hundreds (if not thousands) of choices.

It can be overwhelming, I know! Here’s a broad overview to help get you started.

Tarot consists of 78 cards: 22 Major Arcana, 40 Minor Arcana and 16 Court Cards. It’s become a complex, esoteric system of cartomancy. The Major Arcana contains familiar images like The Fool, The Lovers, The Wheel of Fortune and The Sun. They are considered by most to be the “big picture” cards spanning universal archetypes.

The most recognized Tarot deck is the 1909 Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS). Rider refers to the publisher (Rider & Son). Occultist Arthur Edward Waite commissioned the deck that Pamela Colman Smith illustrated. The Tarot de Marseilles (TdM) style decks feature static Minor Arcana cards (i.e. 4 of Cups shows four actual cups, 10 of 

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 “All other things being equal, consult divination.”

—Stefanos Elafeos

Pagans take divination seriously.

Some people's gods speak to them through the medium of holy books, but we are not a people of the book. For us, divination is one of the important ways in which the gods speak to us. Therefore it behooves us to think long and hard about the ethics of divining.

In our day, no one has done this as well or as thoroughly as Elisheva Nesher (1949-2023), late shofet (chieftain) of AMHA, the Primitive Hebrew Assembly. If you practice any form of divination, the discussion of ethics in her 2015 book Lot Casting: Divination of the Hebrew Tribes will richly repay your study.

Here follows a bare-bones selection of some of the points that she makes, in much abbreviated form. (I leave out some points specific to AMHA.) For a fuller discussion, please refer to the original.

Always remember that divination is by nature interpretative rather than predictive. For the ancestors, the purpose of divination was never to know what will happen, but rather to know the will of the god consulted pertaining to any given issue.


The Ethics of Divination

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Scrying Mirrors and Crystal Balls

Scrying is the art of divining by looking into an appropriate surface. It could be water, a mirror on the wall, a crystal ball, or a slap of rock. For that matter, some people are quite talented at seeing visions in the flames of fire or in the bottom of a teacup. Smooth, natural surfaces are much better and less distracting, however. 

I like to think that a chunk of shiny black obsidian was the first scrying mirror. We know the ancients had special prophets and priestesses who engaged in foretelling the future, and they were making and using tools of their trade from various crystals at hand. No doubt they would be delighted to know we are still using crystal balls made from translucent quartz and mysterious volcanic obsidian! I cleanse mine before and after each use with rainwater that has set through at least one day of sun and one night of moonlight, but rituals can get as elaborate as you want! 

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 Palamedes, knucklebones and virtual dice rollers | Original D&D Discussion

A True Story


The priests of a certain sanctuary wished to build a shrine on a particular piece of land. Accordingly, they summoned a diviner to take omens for the project.

“Build elsewhere,” said the omens. “Build here, and in five years' time, there will be no shrine.”

Now, the priest-kind misliked this divination, for the site was indeed a choice one. They brought in a second diviner who, as you will not be surprised to hear, soon found omens more to their liking.

Without even offering sacrifices of propitiation, as one might expect, the priests soon oversaw the building of a fine shrine in the chosen location.

Five years later, this shrine was destroyed by a flood.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I remember reading that the Romans were known for rejecting omens they didn't agree with. And making terrible mistakes when they d

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Mirrors of Mystery

Mirrors have been tools of magic since time immemorial. Shiny, smooth reflective surfaces have lent themselves so well to the imagination and intuition. It is little wonder that these portals to another world promote psychic awareness. Obsidian and other types of shimmering rocks and volcanic glasses presented themselves to primitive peoples as opportunities to communicate with unseen spirits, which is what we modern folk do when we are accessing energy. 

When Harry Potter famously looked into his magic mirror, he awakened the masses to this tradition, and I have heard that sales of magic mirrors have skyrocketed. Throughout history, people looking for answers have used mirrors and even bowls filled with ink to peer into another dimension. Gazing balls and pools have also served for dealing with the divine.

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The pendulum is a tool for gleaning information from your inner self. Some of the best pendulums are the ones you can make yourself by tying a piece of string or rawhide to a crystal. You should tie it so that the crystal points down. Each time you use it, ask the pendulum, “Show me yes or show me no.” The crystal pendulum will swing up and down, giving you answers. I recommend keeping a journal of your work with the pendulum. Not only will this give you a record of yes-and-no responses, but it will also help you track their effectiveness, and you will be able to see patterns of information emerging from your unconscious and the universe. I can’t recommend this highly enough. You will learn so much about yourself and your place in the world from this. I know people who absolutely depend on their pendulums for help with shopping and all manner of decision making. 

Most New Age shops now sell lovely chunks of amethyst and quartz attached to delicate chains. Do try this easiest of all forms of divination. It is fun and full of surprises!

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Review: Findhorn Spirit Oracle Cards


Findhorn Spirit Oracle Cards
Written and illustrated by Swan Treasure
Findhorn Press, Rochester, VT, © 2022. $19.95
ISBN: 978-1-6411-374-5
44 cards. 3.5” x 5”

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