The art of divination: divination systems

In order to gain contact with the universe, there are oracle systems that many peoples have worked with for thousands of years. Certain methods are simple and easy to learn, but others require some discipline and several years of study. To discover which one you have the most affinity with, you can try out the different divination methods, adopt them and adapt them to your own insight.

Divination or “the art of divination”

Throughout history, numerous systems have been developed that can bring us into contact with the divine forces of the universe. The place where the divination took place and the means by which it had to be divined depended on the type of oracle one wanted to consult. Each of us can learn to divine, provided we have a well-functioning intuition. It is also possible to develop your own oracle system with random symbols and words of your own making. Because there are countless ways to divine, they were divided into seven groups.

  • Divineizing dreams
  • Divine with the help of the dead
  • Inspired divination
  • Divine from accidentals (omina, omen)
  • Divine with meaningful movements
  • Divine with meaningful patterns
  • Casting lots


Divineizing dreams

In our subconscious there is a hidden knowledge about the past, present and future. A dream can reveal this knowledge in some way. Dream images can be interpreted using a dream diary, because every dream image has a meaning. There are various textbooks available that can be a good guide to correctly interpreting your dream images. You can also keep your own dream diary by writing down the images you remember after waking up and trying to work them out step by step. However, dream interpretation is one of the most difficult divination systems that exist.

Divine with the help of the dead

Necromancy is the summoning of spirits and in the Middle Ages this system was usually seen as necromancy, black art. Spirits of the deceased only play a role in spiritualistic séances. There is not always an attempt to actually summon a spirit. Usually the deceased is only asked to give a sign from which the answer to the question can be derived using divination forms. Example: Asking a deceased person to appear in a dream.

Inspired divination

This form of divination is the most difficult of all because you must have a talent for it. It is a form of oracles in which the answer to a question about the past, present or future presents itself to someone without him or her using any means to express this message. The answer can only be seen by the person involved, making it difficult to control the outcome. If a fortune teller tells you what she sees in her crystal ball, you have to assume that she is indeed seeing it. Many fortune tellers cheat with this system because it is a convenient way to get money out of someone’s pocket.

Divine from accidentals (omina, omen)

In ancient times it was assumed that a phenomenon in the sky coincided with an event on earth, which meant that people saw an omen in all kinds of natural phenomena that could say something about the fate of man. The Romans used the name omen as a general term for phenomena to which a certain occult meaning was attached. Rain, storm, lightning, stars, lunar eclipse and animal entrails are some natural phenomena in which an omen was seen and read.
In the Middle Ages they were very attached to such omens. For example, the weather had a predictive meaning for the coming days and over the centuries people have derived more and more omens from natural phenomena. The most famous omens are lightning and entrails, but the most famous omen is still the Star of Bethlehem that announced the birth of Jesus.
Entrails: Is a study of the intestines performed on animals to induce an omen. If the intestines looked good the omen was favorable, but if the intestines were found not to be in order the omen was unfavorable.

Divine with meaningful movements

An oracle can make itself known by initiating a movement, such as the oracle of Dodona. This oracle spoke by moving the leaves of the sacred oak sacred to Zeus. Another oracle spoke through movements, which the image of the deity made during processions. In the Middle Ages, a forked stick was also used, which moved when there was water in the ground. Later this stick was called a dowsing rod. The most popular object to divine was the inheritance key and is better known today as the pendulum. A pendulum can provide an answer to the question asked through its movements and it is a simple divination method that almost anyone can learn.

Source: WolfgangRieger, Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

Divine with meaningful patterns

Heaven was viewed by the Babylonian Empire as a sphere above the earth. The moving stars changed the position of the planets relative to each other and to the stars, causing them to always form a different pattern in the sky. Certain patterns were seen as favorable and others unfavorable. Astrology and astronomy emerged from this systematic view of the sky. The Greeks later called heaven macrocosm and society microcosm. The fate of the microcosm was read from patterns in the macrocosm. This is how horoscopes and palmistry came into being. There are numerous manuals available on the methods of palmistry and horoscopes.

Casting lots

Oracles by throwing objects on the ground, in water or in fire and interpreting the outcome are thousands of years old. According to the Babylonian and Assyrian empires, the Gods could not only express their will through celestial phenomena, but also determine fate at the moment it was cast. To express the oracle, simple means were used, such as stones, sticks, rice, sawdust, etc.
Throwing dice originated from throwing cube-shaped bones, but throwing was also used in a metaphorical sense by to put down certain objects and draw lots, for example playing cards. So it was not always a matter of throwing to generate an oracle.
Over the years, many forms of throwing the lot have emerged and some have a more playful character Runes, dice, the tree oracle, geomancy, coffee grounds, tea leaves and plumbing are some forms of divination that arose to cast lots, but the playing cards derived from the tarot have become particularly popular in recent years.

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  • The origin of fortune telling cards
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