I’ve discussed already how it’s okay to be wrong, and in that article I mentioned several times that divination is ultimately an act of intuition. I’d like to clarify my meaning on that by discussing what divination is. Generally, divination can be said to be a process by which one gathers information about a situation that they do not have conventional access to. For example, nobody would say that looking outside the window is a method of divining the weather, but it could be said that the meteorologist divines the weather based on past trends using his intuition. Naturally, the difference there is that data collected through scientific materialist means is preferred both culturally and for purposes of correspondence. Ultimately, what distinguishes divination from observation is the directness of the action. With observation, we look directly at a thing and observe its characteristics. With divination, we look at something usually unrelated and hope through whatever theory we prefer that we can get clues as to how something will go.

How this becomes an act of intuition is because very rarely does the application of the method yield immediately relevant results. Indeed, when we turn cards or cast astrological charts, it is very rare for those cards or charts to directly relate to the subject at hand. It becomes our task, through intuition, to extract some meaning from the cards or configuration of the stars or elements associated with the day or so on, and relate that meaning to the subject. Without a question, there is no divination. And nobody needs a divination for things with easy or obvious answers! They may need a clue, but they needn’t cast lots.

When we talk about divination as intuitive, that means several things. Firstly, it means that the diviner is inextricably linked to the process. You cannot remove yourself from a reading, you cannot remove your own perspective or viewpoint or biases from the view of an astrological chart. Attempts are often made to do this, to divorce the diviner from the divination, the operator from the operation. We think that by removing ourselves from the equation, we can yield more accurate results. And that’s true, to an extent. We can remove some of our influence based on our biases by structuring sessions in ways that allow for better information exchange, or prevent our own deceptive minds from interfering with the actual information we’re receiving. It’s very important that we not bias ourselves ahead of time, or we end up seeing only confirmatory information. But it’s also important that we acknowledge that we cannot remove ourselves entirely from the process. We want to cut back on interference in gathering information, but it’s a slightly different problem when it comes to interpreting the information. Once that information is there, we must simply remain honest with ourselves about what it means. We have to stick to the method and avoid introducing our own hopes, wishes, or desires into the final interpretation.

Perhaps somewhat confusingly, however, we cannot remove our approach, our inclinations, our strengths, or our tendencies. We can prevent our biases from misinforming us and misinforming the client, but we cannot view the cards from the perspective of anyone other than ourselves. When I work with Western astrology, I lean heavily on the alchemical meanings of phases and elements. The signs do not mean the exact same thing to everyone; anyone with experience with astrology will tell you their own observations and ideas, their own meanings for the symbols of the signs. “The book says that this means such and such, but I find . . . ” is a common phrasing in astrological circles. This is because the astrologer can only view the chart through their own knowledge and experience.

So what value is that to the subject? Because they have hired or requested us to relate meaning to them. If meaningful information that the subject finds useful or interesting is imparted, our job is being done. And the sitter cannot possibly gather that information for themselves. Without the discipline of experience and knowledge of a method, or perhaps even with those things, it is very difficult for a person to interpret the signal without the interference of their own hopes or wishes or desire. If I throw cards to see if I should move houses, my inclination will be to find those cards in such a way that whichever answer I hope is the case is reflected in the cards. I cannot be an unbiased reader of my own future, and neither can our clients. What the client comes to us for is a story, a narrative, and perhaps the potential to change that narrative.

I have often spoken of my primary interest in divination for helping others avoid the undesirable, or at least mitigating the unpleasantness. Tibetan astrological texts always provide a key including what things to avoid and what practices to perform to mitigate the chances of whatever fate is found. Sometimes, this is quite obvious: if you’re having a bad year for your health, for example, you practice Medicine Buddha, you avoid sick people, you practice good hygiene, and so on. If it’s a particularly bad year, you may want to take on meritorious obligations so that your karma will not allow you to not accomplish them, or you may change your name, so the demons of sickness cannot find you. In either case, this is fairly straightforward. But what of a Tarot reading? If we find that the cards show an outcome is likely, how can we escape? Well, of course we can throw additional cards to help determine this, but again, all of this reading, and how it is applied within the context of the question, not the questioner, is the responsibility of you, the reader, and you must rely on your intuition.

Divination becomes an intuitive act because there is no objective book of information that perfectly reveals the answer. If there were, it would not be divination, but observation, and we’d all be out of jobs on account of everyone having the information. The difference between divining and knowing is looking at signs versus having omniscient knowledge. The difference between divination and observation is the degree of intuition involved and the degree of removal of the sign from the subject. The flights of birds are not related to the troubles of man – but we can find meaning in many places. And in the end, it’s meaning that we seek.

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