It is the business of the future to be dangerous.
Divination is defined as the ability to obtain knowledge of persons, places or events at a distance, either of space or time. If we accept the concept that all things are interconnected, then like the DNA molecule, any part of the whole contains the essence of the entire organism we call the Universe.
But this connection is tenuous at best, or exists at such a low level of manifestation that the ripples of information that propigate through space-time can only be detected when the mind is open to recieving them, and the psychic censor can be induced to allow them to pass into the consciousness. To this end the many forms of divination technique are directed.
Intution plays a major part in any description of magic. Much of what you will experience in magical practice will come to you intuitively, whether you plan it that way or not. Generally speaking, your intuitive powers will tend to develop naturally as a consequence of magical practice. Much of what is called intuituion is simply a matter of being aware of what's going on around you. The meta-patterns of existence will simply be more obvious once you've had some experience in manipulating them using magic. The difficulty arises not from being unaware of the magical world around you, but being inattentive to the subtleties that can be used for practical purposes. Omens do you no good if you ignore them.
On the other hand, constantly looking for omens in every event that crosses your consciousness is also a trap. While, yes, it may be true that everything in the Universe is interrelated, especially on a magical level, the Universe also behaves Chaotically -- a turbulent, non-linear system. Predicting which drop of water will be the one to splash to the northwest when the bucket hits the floor is literally not possible. Certain predictions cannot be made, only tendencies identified. You never know where some little butterfly is going to flap it's wings and alter reality.
Some intuitive links are "natural", such as between twins or a parent and child. There are many documented cases of this link proving to yield accurate information, especially concering catastrophic events.
Divination seems to be the facet of magical practice that is seen by the general public as the most benign. Horoscopes are published in all major newspapers. Fortune tellers have set up shop in almost every city, town and village in th world. Getting your "fortune told" is a popular and pleasant form of entertainment for millions of people, and may be as close to touching the spark of magic as they will ever get.
It's not the intention of this chapter to give in-depth descriptions of divination techniques or instructions for their use. There is a great abundance of books available in any bookstore that explain these systems in depth. What's important is to choose a technique and spend some time developing it, for it is an important part of being a magician.
Methods of Divination
Divination can be subdivded into two basic forms -- intuition and sortilige. Intutive forms include crystal gazing, reading of tea leaves and "bones", and of course the ever-popular entrails of a goat. Prophetic dreaming also falls into this catagory. The commonality is that there is no mechanical device with a prescribed set of meanings involved, and the divinatory knowledge comes to the seeker as a "vision" or a convincing intuition.
All of these methods involve developing the talent of being able to diminish the "background noise" of the mind enough to be aware of the faint echos of events far away in space/time. This takes practice, though some people seem to have more natural ability in this regard.
Various methods for attaining this goal have been discussed in previous chapters. Deep meditation practice increases one's effectiveness in divination, if the trance state can be induced to operate at a level that still allows the conscious mind to communicate the impressions received. This is the purpose behind such devices as crystal balls or magic mirrors, by giving the mind something on which to fix it's concentration, and reinforcing the association of this device with the reception of divinitory knowledge by repeated practice.
The other most effective form of divinitory trance seems to be gnosis via sexual exhaustion, as discussed in the previous chapter on sexual magic. The ecstatic orgies of the famous Oracles of Delphi and other old-world cults of Dionysus served this end. This method, however, presents some logistical problems if it is to be used in this day and age as a general purpose means to prepare for a divinitory session.
Certain psychoactive drugs have been used to induce divinatory trance states, but I question the actual effectiveness of the method and the interpretation of what is really going on. In most examples of this art, both a "seer" and someone to interpret the drug addled babblings of the seer are used. In my opinion, this is nothing more than using the seer as a form of "tarot cards", and the quasi-random ramblings of the seer are intuited for meaning by the one who is really doing the divination.
Scrying must also include divination by images experienced in dreams. Almost everyone has the experience of "dreaming the future" at one time or another, but magicians can train themselves to dream for specific purposes, or even in the techniques of lucid dreaming, where the dreamer is self-aware during the dream itself. From this vantage point, divinations can be deliberately obtained in the dream state, directly interfacing with the subconsciousness. This is an advanced technique, beyond the scope of this book. There are several good sources of material available describing methods of training in lucid dreaming in any large bookstore or on the Internet if one wishes to learn this very powerful system. But be prepared to practice for a very long time, even years, to become proficient at it.
Sortilige means using some quasi-random means to derive a pattern, which is then interpreted using a pre-determined set of symbolism. Tarot cards (and their various offshoots), runes and palmistry are all examples of this. This does not mean that the magical intution is not involved, or else anyone who used the cards or runes (and were armed with a book of their meanings) would be equally effective as a seer. This is obviously not the case.
There seem to be a few different schools of thought regrading the use of cartomancy (card reading) and it's relatives as divination tools.
The first holds that the cards themselves tap into some deep well of symbolic inspiration and are effective archtypes for reality itself. This is somewhat of a religious view, with the cards or runes or what-have-you being held as holy relics whose meanings were set down by the ancient adepts of Egypt or by a god hanging upside down from a tree at the end of the earth. As such, these meanings are sacred and cannot be altered without losing the effectiveness of the system. Much hot air is blown about by those with competing interpretations of these meanings.
Another holds that the objects are meaningless in and of themselves, and are only useful as a means of fixing the concentration of the seer -- Tarot cards as a fancy version of a crystal ball.
Yet another way to look at it (and one a ascribe to myself) is that these devices and the method of using them are a form of enchantment, "reading the wind" of the chaotic potentiality of the universe at a given point in space/time. For this to be effective, the system of meanings must be a form of "language" with a large enough vocabulary to express a great range of potential meanings. Tarot cards work well in this regard as they have a suffciently large and well-developed vocabulary of defintions, with subtle shadings of meaning obtainable in context.
Professional seers, such as those with bright neon signs in storefronts or their own television infomercials and toll-free telephone lines, often are well-versed in techniques known as "cold-reading" which are not exactly the same thing as true divination. These techniques involve keen observation of the subtle clues provided by the querent combined with application of "average" psychological tendencies of typical societal groups.
Among the generalizations used are such tendencies as men are interested in power (money, career, prestige) while women are interested in love (romance, relationships, marriage). While this may seem trite and even sexist, they are not too inaccurate descriptions of those men and women who tend to be customers of professional fortune tellers.
The pro will take these tendencies, combined with observations of the general mood of the querent (excited, depressed, anxious, etc.) and will ask seemingly offhand questions about the situation, looking for clues to what is really important: saying what the client wants to hear. Professionals don't stay in business long if they don't give the customer what the customer wants. Usually this takes the form of a combination of flattery and warning. ("You are a good person with much to offer in a relationship, but you might be taken advantage of by someone of low scruples. Do you feel this has happened to you in the past?") In any case, if this line of work appeals to you, I suggest reading Secrets of Gypsy Fortune Telling by Raymond Buckland (Llewellyn) and The Satanic Witch by Anton Szandor Lavey (Feral House) which both contain chapters describing the techniques of professional cold reading.
The most well-known tools of the scryer are the crystal ball and the black, or "magic" mirror. Scrying is a talent that comes more easily to some people, though just about anyone can learn to do it with enough practice. The gazing device is merely a "blank screen" that allows the scryer to fix his or her concentration while allowing visual images to float into the mind's eye without conscious direction. As such it is a form of self-induced sensory deprivation, where stilling of the mind's internal dialogue and single-point concentration on a "blank" object forces the subcosncious to fill the void with images of its own. Bascially, one practices scrying by deep meditation on one's chosen scrying device for extended periods until the mind eventaully rebels at the lack of stimulation and images begin to arise from the deep mind. Tenacity is the key to success. Eventually the required mental state becomes easier and faster to obtain.
Sexual gnosis is also well suited to the proper mind-state for scrying, and a procedure for this is covered in the chapter on Sexual Magic.
Developing skill in divination by sortilige is based on becoming very intimately aquainted with the symbolism of the chosen divination tool. The more one studies and memorizes the symbolic language of the cards, runes, hexagrams or what-have-you, the more effective one's divinations become. Again, such systematic studies are beyond the scope of this book, and there are many sources available from which to learn. But like scrying, practice is the key to success. Doing a daily reading for the purpose of personal enlightenment is a good course of action, and a diary should be kept so that outcomes can be compared to predictions and techniques refined to bring about better results.
Some texts (Crowley's for example) warn against introducing too much randomness into the sortilge process. When one is about to do a Tarot reading, don't shuffle the cards obsessively dozens of times over to force randomness into it. Go with intutuion -- sometimes you feel like you should just lay down the cards just as they happen to have been stored away, and this is fine.
A Two Way Street
One final point should be made about divination in the context of Chaos Magic. The idea being that when we divine distant events, we are listening to the echoes rippling through the interconnectivity of space and time. However, when we are casting enchantments, we are doing the exat opposite, so to speak -- we are sending a "signal" to events far removed from the here-now and inducing it to conform more closely to our magical will.
But is there really any difference?
Perhaps divination is simply another form of enchantment. Perhaps the drawing of the cards or runes or the images that arise in the crsytal ball are not the effect of the events they are divining, but the actual cause or them. As magicians we are palying games with causality anyway. If causality is malleable then who is to say in which direction the influence is being felt? Are those cards predicting your future, or causing it?
And does it matter?
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