8 - The Old Crafts of Divination and Dowsing

You could use a picture or a pattern as an analogy to represent something In this sense there is a lot of similarity between using a pendulum and using one of the classic divinatory tools such as the Tarot or the I Ching The main difference is that with the pendulum we're specifically asking a single question and aiming for a single answer, whereas with the Tarot we're using the rich symbolism of the card designs, developed over centuries, as allegories rather than analogies, to look at a general background in an overall way Again, it's like the pendulum, 'entirely coincidence and mostly imaginary' to be used rather than worried about.

(Tom Graves The Elements Of Pendulum Dowsing)

Among the many skills the old village witches had was that of divination in its many forms. Technically, divination is a method of receiving information directly from the divinity, which in both ancient and modern practice takes many forms. The older folk forms for telling people's fortunes include palmistry, when the lines and shapes of the hands are considered; reading the messages of cards, particularly the magical images imparted by the Tarot cards, whose history may well be extremely old although the decks we are familiar with today only came into use from about AD 1500. The old wise women and men could read omens, a much ignored system about which I will explain later, for this is a very simple method relying entirely on unstructured intuition.

It is likely that the Old Wise Ones had a basic knowledge of astrology, not the intellectual, ephemeris-based system used by most modern astrologers, but a reaction to the actual positions of the planets and signs as they appeared in the night sky. Oracle stones, marked on one side with traditional, planet-based symbols, were tossed out onto the floor, and their message read from the position and relationship of each visible pattern by those wise in this matter.

More complex versions of this old method are beginning to appear commercially, using the Scandinavian runes, on both clay tiles and wooden discs. Modern authorities on this subject are springing up like mushrooms all over Europe, and each seems to have a slightly different approach to the matter!

Perhaps psychometry was the most powerful divinatory system used by the old lady, sitting by the hearth of her cottage. Today this is usually done by 'reading' an object which has belonged to the individual questioner for a while. The psychometrist takes the object in her hand and perhaps by holding it to the forehead, over the 'third eye' of psychic vision, or the brow chakra, that wheel of violet light, she is able to sense things from the history of the questioner, and often future developments. Like most magical systems that work, this is very simple but not necessarily easy.

You can teach yourself how to do it by getting people you don't know too well to give you things to hold. Take the object and get into your relaxed and switched-off mode and immediately begin to speak of the images and feelings that come into your mind. The most vital component of this method is that you have to work fast, not allowing the logical side of your brain to interfere by trying to make neat sentences or clarify visions.

Take the object, relax and speak. You may find a jumble of words, images, sensations or thoughts come to you, and it will be among this outpouring that the true, accurate and relevant material will be found. If you hesitate and try to rationalise, or explain what you are seeing or feeling, you will lose the vital flow and your reading will turn into logical guesswork!

It is well worth the effort of mastering this old art because it means that as you shake hands with a stranger, immediately you will know something about them, their motives for meeting you, how you might be able to help them, or the fact that they may cause you harm or pain. Touching a person, especially holding his hand, can open a very powerful channel of information, which of course flows in both directions.

If you are able to read something about the person you are touching, he may, if he is trained or naturally sensitive, be able to assess you. This art can be applied when you are being interviewed or interviewing for a new job, meeting a friend, lover or enemy. Who knows what you may learn from the brief touch of a stranger's hand, or even a kiss from a dearly beloved.

All forms of divination rely on the diviner being able to open herself to those subtle levels of communication which are all around us all the time just as radio waves are, but are undetected until we have the equipment correctly tuned to interpret the signals. Learning these arts of magic and the traditional psychic skills of the wise ones of old requires two things.

The first is the ability to open our awareness up to access more information than is generally available to our five ordinary senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch, so that we have 'super-hearing', 'second sight', 'ultrasensitive touch' and an 'extraordinary sense of taste/smell' which allows us to perceive things that others do not notice. The second is the ability to make sense of these subtle clues and gain knowledge from them.

The best way of explaining how these extra-sensitive abilities can be developed is by saying that we all have a sixth sense, an old concept but increasingly found true, as scientists and magicians work together in those fields where their studies overlap, in para-science, paraphysics and 'psi' experiments.

The technique has been mentioned before, for it is an altered state of awareness, achieved quite simply by allowing the normal physical reactions to relax and thus the focus of our trained awareness can be redirected to other matters. This art can only be learned, like any other art, by regular practice, just as playing the violin requires regular practice. Spend a few minutes every day gaining new information by looking at Nature, reading relevant books, talking to those wiser than yourself, which may include both old folk and young children.

Watch what is going on in your environment, try to read the body language of everyone you encounter, stretch your senses, always aiming to be calm and relaxed about it. Gradually you will find that you do know things beyond what your normal senses tell you, that flashes of intuition strike you when you need such guidance, and all sorts of ideas and the solutions to problems flow naturally to you.

There is no short cut to regular planned attempts at each of these old skills. We have to learn them artificially, whereas our ancestors, by the very steady and slow nature of many of their lives, were able to broaden their awareness because book learning and its strictures had very little impact in their daily round. If you think about it, we are reading most of the time, road signs, instructions on packets of things, names of shops, reference books, shopping lists and advertisements.

We may not be consciously noting much of what our eyes scan, yet all of it is being recorded on some mental tape recorder, and could be played back again if absolutely necessary. Our forebears similarly recorded aspects of their unliterary lives, the words of children's games, the flowers, trees and plants in fields and gardens, the weather and any harbingers of change like wild flowers closing before rain, or flights of birds fleeing stormy weather at sea.

The feel of the earth turned by the plough would mean something to the farmer and his ploughman, the temper of the horses, the rising of the bread dough, the direction of the wind, clouds on the horizon, and the colour of the sunrise. All these messages from Nature would leave us bewildered, even if we noticed them at all, yet they were the books of our ancestors, the newspapers, the weather forecast, the shapes of things to come.

We have to learn to awaken our gentle senses, our intuition and our feelings about things from which we may be unable to receive direct information. These are all aspects of divination, for the channel from the divine to the mundane is within each of us, as unregarded sense which we have neglected since childhood.

Our task, as magically-minded adults, is to re-examine such skills as we used to have and bring them back under our conscious control. Like many games, most of the psychic arts need to be tackled in a playful or lighthearted manner, for nothing stops them working more than trying too hard. It is for this reason that newcomers to many of the psychic arts have immediate success, and then struggle to return to the ease and accuracy that they first achieved in some arcane experiment, like psychometry or ESP, for example.

Lots of people trying to guess the colour or suit of playing cards, as a kind of psychic game, score very highly on the first run, but then fall back to nearer average later on. The same applies to many of the magical mental skills. For example, the first time you try to read Tarot cards or scry in a crystal or glass ball, you may get an amazing effect, which then deserts you. The next time you would consciously be trying harder, and that alone can prevent you being able to use your natural talents.

Today, when people are learning these ancient magical skills anew, it has been found that the more lighthearted and play-like the attempts at reading tea leaves or at psychometry, or the more story-like the inner journeys are, the clearer the impressions and the greater the new knowledge gained from these experiments may be. It does help to begin among friends, and in a relaxed and unforced atmosphere.

This is always what is aimed at in rituals and in the way that much magical work is approached. The best possible psychic ambience is created by a different but hopefully pleasant atmosphere, lit by candles, sweetly scented with incense or aromatic oils, and with a little expectation and concentration applied within those quiet moments.

Being free from the pressure of other activities, or unnecessary feelings of guilt brought on by the fact that you are taking some time for yourself, away from the needs of the family, job or society, can go a long way to releasing the freedom of spirit which will allow that spark of divinity within you to make itself manifest, to teach, inspire or grant you healing. Relax, set up a quiet place, and ask for help, and it will surely be given.

Another very old magical skill shared by witches and oracles was that of far sight, in the witches' case normally aided by something to stare into or at. Today this is often a glass ball, occasionally the far more expensive rock crystal, but just as effective and far less destructive to the crystal mountains in America, is a bowl of water or a black-painted recycled clock glass.

It has become very fashionable to use crystals for almost everything, from scrying (the art of crystal gazing) to pendulums, another form of divination, and for many types of healing. This is not to be encouraged for at least two reasons. First, the way that crystals are collected requires blowing up seams of rock, often deep inside crystal-lined caves. Crystals, like coal and other minerals, are a finite resource and the destruction of their habitat could be seen as nearly as important as the destruction of the forests where wild plants and animals live. Lots of money is made by unscrupulous dealers selling 'magic crystals' which have been torn from their matrices after millions of years to be sold as trendy wand tips or pendants and so on.

If you want a crystal, yes one for yourself, go to a beach in Cornwall or a Welsh mountain and find one. Take care that you do not damage anything, for they can be found washed up by the sea, or in rivers in the mountains. Small crystal clusters are quite common in many forms of rock, from flint nodules, again from some beaches, to crystalline veins in many hard rocks. You will soon see that getting even one crystal might require hard work, but it would be of great value to you because of this. Like every aspect of practical magic, the more work you do on your own behalf, the more powerful the outcome.

Another misuse of crystals is the common underestimation of their innate power. People are always unthinkingly pointing crystals at each other, being unaware or unable to see the ray of energy which issues from the point of these beautiful stones. If the crystal has been quarried carefully its own inherent power is undamaged, and it can be used for healing by someone who is properly aware of what he is doing. In the hands of the untrained or the unwary, it can give off a nasty burst of unsettling force, so don't play with crystals. Also, don't go round planting them in sacred sites.

The ancient people chose the special crystalline stones which form the vast majority of stone circles, ellipses or rows because they had special power, carefully balanced with Earth's own harmonies. Going round randomly sticking other bits of raped crystal into these areas may disrupt or change the very magical nature of these ancient monuments because modern people scarcely understand anything about this monolithic culture and its science. Take nothing but mental pictures and leave nothing but footprints, for these will be the keys to sacred sites which you can reawaken in your own meditation spot, where and when you need them.

One very simple way you can begin to explore your own link with divinity is to make a pendulum. Yes, make one. It only requires a small, symmetrical weight, a short length of some kind of thin cord or flexible string and about a quarter of an hour to start with. The best pendulums feel right in weight and length in your hand, and will swing freely in all directions.

A single fixing spot at the top of the weight, or bob as it is known in the trade, will ensure an even swing both in straight lines and circles. If you use a doubled chain and some sort of pendant you will find that this set up prefers to swing in only one direction and is best avoided by beginners.

A heavy bead, a proper, very small brass plumb bob, or a polished stone with a hole in it or a ring glued to it will do. Picture cord is cheap and is excellent for pendulums as it is woven instead of being twisted to stop it unravelling when your pendulum swings. I made several good dowsing pendulums with large glass marbles which had a chip off them, by glueing the burned and flattened end of the cord to the flat spot.

The marbles were free from a toy shop as they had been damaged in transit, and the cord was about 2op per metre! You can pay pounds for fancy pendulums but they work no better than something you picked up for pennies, or found at the back of a drawer! Also, if you make the thing it will be closely attuned to you and work better, by the law of magic.

Get your weight and string and hold it over the top finger of a loose fist, so that the bob hangs about a stretched handspan below your hand. There are no hard and fast rules about how long or short or heavy such a pendulum may be; as you work, it will become clear what feels right to you, ultimately the only criterion in magic.

Hold your other hand flat, a bit below the bob, and ask it, out loud if you like, 'Is my name ...?' stating your ordinary name. Relax and idly watch what happens to the bob, whilst forgetting about both hands. After a few moments the bob ought to be making some sort of swing.

Ask it to show you more clearly, so that the circle or straight line can be determined. Then ask a few more questions to which the answer is 'Yes': the day of the week, the state of the weather, your address. All very mundane matters, but in each case the swing should be the same one of roughly four options. Pendulums can swing in clockwise or anti-clockwise circles, towards and away from your body, and right/left across you.

They sometimes stop, or hesitate if a question is unclear. Often it is easier to allow a slight swing to occur before you ask a question, because the subconscious movements of your hand muscles which cause it to answer will work more efficiently if they don't have to overcome inertia to begin with. Once you have established something which means 'Yes' to you and your pendulum, try some questions to which you know the answer to be 'No'.

You ought to get a different swing, perhaps a line if a circle before, or the opposite direction of circle, but there should be an unmistakable difference. Try alternative questions for 'Yes' and 'No'. The movements may be slight to begin with, but as you relax and play the game, you will get stronger and faster reactions. You will find that most children can do this without any kind of hesitation, much better than some adults, and men tend to find this harder than women.

When you have established this basic code in respect, after a few attempts, nine out of ten people can get a clear reaction. It does help to practice though. This is necessary because occasionally the results reverse when you are asking questions about another person. It does help to be sure that 'Yes' is 'Yes' and 'No' is 'No' when dealing with someone else, especially if you are trying to find a proper herbal remedy to help them or checking food for allergic reactions, for which a well-trained pendulum is ideal.

Check things in your own life - chemicals, soaps, foods, as well as medicines like the Bach Flower Remedies, which a pendulum will often pick out more swiftly than you could by reading the booklet. If you offer healing, it is worth asking the pendulum if you can help the patient, whether you should help him or her and, if you go down a list of what you have to offer, in which way you can best help that person get well.

Dowsing with a hazel or willow rod takes a bit more practice as the essential grip is quite hard to get right. The Y-shaped rod is held in both hands, with palms up, so that the ends cross the palms from the little finger side, with the tips sticking out between thumb and first finger. This tucks the elbows in and makes the wrists flex backwards, so that the whole rod is parallel to the ground. Then pull a little outwards, putting tension on the Y-joint of the rod. This is why hazel or willow woods are used, because they will bend and not snap at this point. They are also connected with water, magically!

Walk towards a known source of water, in a bucket or hose, as this is a bit clumsy to use indoors. Running water reacts faster, so that as you cross the flow in a hose, for example, the rod will twist in your hands, usually so that the tip points down - although some people find it flies up, and can smack you on the nose, if you happen to have the 'fluence' particularly strongly! Keep at it until you get a clear reaction in the lightly gripped rod. If you clutch it too tight it will hurt your hands, raising blisters if you wear big rings and grip too hard.

There are a number of excellent books to 'teach yourself dowsing' with both the pendulum and the rod, explaining the way to locate pipes, seats of illness in humans and animals, allergies, mineral deposits, and lost treasure. Children can normally learn both methods quite fast, and 'treasure hunting' for a small coin hidden under a carpet or a toy concealed in long grass can keep them amused for hours.

Like many other magical arts, if you are relaxed and have a 'let's give it a go' sort of mental attitude, rather than gritting your teeth and clenching your hands around the hazel rod or pendulum cord, you will succeed more often. It is a useful skill, in any case, for locating lost objects in your home, or a stolen car or wallet, for example, as well as helping select an appropriate remedy or herb.

In the old days the witches and Wise Ones would have a personal system of divination for telling futures for those who came to visit them. Some would scry or crystal-gaze in any dark or shiny material - even a cauldron of bubbling soup over the fire - or in the hot embers, the patterns of smoke, the flights of birds, or the shadows of leaves on the trees overhead.

Today we have the hexagrams of the I Ching, the Tarot cards, the rune stones or the many varieties of divinatory images implanted on cards or plastic tablets. You can teach yourself to divine in the old way by collecting a dozen or so small objects which represent concepts like 'travel', 'good news', 'luck', 'money', growth', 'change', 'stability', 'love or harmony', 'quarrels or law suits', 'authority' and many other similar ideas. These could be pictures from magazines stuck to small cards, making your own mini-Tarot, or a stone for stability, a feather for travel, a postage stamp for news and so on. If you hunt around those odd corners or drawers or boxes of old birthday cards I am sure you will gain inspiration. Take your time, and also look out for a small box to keep them in.

This could be decorated with felt, jewels, embroidery or stuck-on pictures, if you are feeling artistic, for it all helps link your consciousness to the symbols you have chosen. When you have as many items as you feel you will need, thinking of each object as a phrase or saying in answer to your question, hold the box between your hands, think hard about the query and silently, if you like, ask that the Spirit of Divination help you see the answer.

Then shoot the objects loosely along the floor, or onto a table. Look at the relationships; those closest to you will speak loudest and soonest, those further away will be later developments. Any that fall to the floor or are hidden by other objects, or fall 'face down' if that is possible, should be ignored. You may be amazed how deep the answers from such a primitive and personal system can be. Do try it. It is much easier to learn with than someone else's ideas developed into their Tarot, or new I Ching.

Another old method, which is really a development of the object oracle, is the use of short sticks deliberately cut from trees. In the days of the Druid priests this was a very important divination system. Short rods of about twenty native trees were carefully collected, and the diviner, knowing the uses and magical connections of every sort of tree, could throw down the bundle, after making a prayer for guidance, and the divinity would answer, again through the positions and interlacing of the various sticks.

If you have the patience you can make a simplified version of this for yourself. I hope no one tries to make sets to sell, because these would harm trees and have very little value to the buyer.

You will need to cut just one small branch from each of your chosen trees, so you will need some sharp secateurs, as it is best to take only twigs about as thick as your middle finger and about a handspan long, as that was the traditional size and it works well.

If you take a sharp knife to trim off any side shoots, you can also cut a flat surface at or towards one end of each stick and put a number, letter or identifying mark on each one so that you know what it is, when you have a handful. Twigs can look extremely similar! Later on you will need to make a cylindrical container, or find a nice box in which to keep your magical twigs. You may also like to acquire and paint or embroider a special cloth onto which the twigs may be shaken or scattered when you divine with them.

It is possible that in early times this cloth had the figures of the zodiac or the twelve houses marked upon it, so that a kind of instant tree horoscope would be produced. There is very little recorded information about this Celtic form of divination, and some recent books on the matter seem to be largely guesswork, but if you venture into the past, through far memory, you may be able to see clearly how it was done.

The trees suggested below are some of the traditional ones, with meanings from which you can elaborate your own system. In some cases I have suggested 'a fruit tree' rather than apple or cherry, for example, as you may not always have access to every kind of tree. Whatever you do, take your time.

My own collection of about thirty trees, some native, some introduced, took about two years to gather, taking only one twig from any species, and having to travel across the country as certain kinds of trees just don't grow in the vicinity. There are 'introduced' species of tree in this list as they represent the new ideas, technologies and activities which simply did not exist in the Druids' age.

A basic set of thirteen trees would include oak, ash, willow, rowan, sycamore, holly, yew, hawthorn (may), horse-chestnut, elder, as well as a fruit tree (ideally apple), a hedge tree like privet or laurel, and a conifer, fir or pine. Because these trees are being used symbolically, some have shared meanings; the apple, for example, is held both as a Tree of Life and of Wisdom.

In the Celtic tradition a branch of flowering apple was a safe passport from this world to the Otherworld and, more importantly, a passport for a safe return. Pear or cherry does not have the same meaning, but trees should not be cut when they are flowering in any case. Six of these trees are linked traditionally with the Goddess, and six can be tools of the God.

The thirteenth, the horse-chestnut, a fairly recent introduction to Britain, is symbolic of children, partly because of its association with the game of conkers. Although, like most Goddess trees, it has white flowers, its wood has many practical uses, linking it with craftsmen gods.

Oak:

This is a God tree, symbolising authority, strength, endurance and earthly power, also plenty. A Midsummer tree, sometimes.

Ash:

A God tree of kingship, craftsmanship - as tool handles were usually made of ash staffs — protection on journeys, guidance in practical matters. The Norse Tree of Knowledge from which Odin gained the runes.

Rowan Or Mountain Ash:

A Goddess tree, used to ward off harm, both magically and practically. A good stick for a natural magician's wand. It has white flowers and red berries both Goddess colours.

Apple (Or A Fruit Tree):

This is again a Goddess tree, as most fruit trees have white or pink flowers, but apple is especially magical. It represents a gaining of knowledge and wisdom, it is the tree which outlives death, and inside the sacred fruit there is a magical sign of Light and Hope. Apple protects the bearer as he travels through the worlds, and awakens insight and magical power.

Sycamore:

A God tree, used by carvers of love-spoons as a symbol of offered or received love, and of hard work, craftsmanship and care. It is a spring tree, first to leaf, and is also often that from which Jack-in-the-Green peers forth.

Holly:

A God tree, symbol of sacrifice and life reborn for it is an evergreen. A winter tree, closely associated with the Yule feast. It shows that sacrifices made will be repaid threefold.

Yew:

Goddess tree, symbol of eternal life, death and rebirth. Be careful cutting this one for its leaves are poisonous to animals and people, and though birds may eat its sweet red seeds with impunity, humans are poisoned by them. This stands for changes in the pattern of things, old age, stability in the long term and patience.

Horse-Chestnut:

A child's tree, games, sport, youth and folly. The spring symbol, full of promise and life. It also represents journeys, for the horse was the oldest form of transport. It is the smith's tree, and he was master of the magic of making things, creativity and invention. Look up Wayland Smith!

Hawthorn (Or May):

This is a Goddess tree of protection, for quickthorn was often used for hedges and also its flowering marked the beginning of summer. It is the Maiden's tree, sacred lover and playmate, joy and fun above other things. Surprise gifts or outings may appear.

Elder:

Another Goddess tree with white summer flowers and black autumn fruit, ideal for the dark ritual wine. She is the Goddess in the dark part of the year, from Hallowe'en to Yule, bringer of gifts of the spirit, prophecy and visions. Revelations spring from her appearance in a reading.

Willow:

Another Goddess tree, this time of healing, both of the body (aspirin is derived originally from willow trees) and of the soul. This can mean the uncovering of the roots of a problem and the cleansing of the spirit, perhaps by a good cry! Just as the besom, made of birch twigs, ash handle and willow bindings, cleared the circle, so the willow brightens the view of the future.

Pine (Or Any Other Conifer):

A God tree, sweet-scented, with sharp evergreen needles (except larch, which is bare in winter), used to build boats for travel, or houses for protection, or furniture for comfort. Its woodsmoke offers prayers a ride to heaven, so wishes may be granted, if they are spoken truly.

Laurel (Or Any Hedge Plant):

This is a symbol of divine protection, law, an edge or barrier to something. Often you will have a hunch about how a judgement will go, or how you can bring a long-running dispute to an end. It will help you focus on what is really the crux of the matter, and limit your wasted time and effort.

This list and the associations with each tree are very basic, because to make any system of divination work for you, you need to find symbols and ideas which you associate with every card, stick or tree. You will need to spend time sorting out the ideas about each tree while you are collecting, refining and allowing each twig to dry. Unless you happen to have an arboretum at the bottom of your garden, or know someone who works at Kew Gardens, you are going to have to search around your home area, be it city or countryside, to locate every tree on the list you should make.

When the twigs have all been gathered, and allowed to dry in an upright position to keep them straight, you can cut a slice off the 'bottom' end and mark it with a rune or identifying mark of your own so that you don't forget what it is. You can round the ends of the twigs with a piece of sandpaper, but it is best to leave the bark and any rough places or small twig junctions as Nature intended. Each will give that twig a character which will help with future readings.

To divine, you will need to have discovered something about the symbolism of each tree for yourself, and have learned how to identify each quickly as it lies before you. The Druids apparently shook the container three times so that a few twigs fell out onto their special cloth, and then they read these for answers to the question, which they thought about as they shook the box. The twigs can be considered in all sorts of ways, but I use the following simple method.

Distance from you equals time, so that those twigs further away will mean something will happen later than those closest. Twigs touching or crossing each other have to be read together. Tops away from you are positive symbols whereas the marked 'bottoms' mean delays or problems in whatever they individually symbolise.

The twigs which didn't fall out (and some should always be left in the box or tube) have no relevance to the particular question. Obviously, certain trees may represent certain people or jobs, some trees may seem to you lucky or unlucky, some suggest growth, fruition of plans, travel or communications, perhaps, some dealings with authority or the law or older people or children.

You must sort this out for yourself, partly by research into the uses of various woods, and by meditating upon your own twig, thinking about the nature of the tree it was cut from, where it grew and so on. Get a small book and use one page for each tree, adding in all the new ideas you have until every single twig has a clear and complex message for you. Look at each alone, and then with other twigs. Look at the shapes they form: are these runes, or patterns you can read like tea leaves? Although it is simple, this can be a very effective and wide-ranging divination system.

Exercises

Like most of the real arts of the village witches, dowsing and divination are really very simple. Modern folk try to make them more complicated because we are complicated people, and seem to need to make things hard for ourselves. Play at dowsing with a twig or pendulum and you can surprise yourself with the results you achieve; try to use 'scientific' explanations for such powers, or 'work at them' with gritted teeth, and you will fail.

If you do fail at any of these tasks, take that as a valuable lesson and try again. You wouldn't expect to play the violin after one go, would you? Magic is the same. It is an art and a knack, gained by trying gently.

There are lots of basic exercises in the chapter for your eighth moon of work. Try psychometry and pendulum dowsing, and later on, when you have gained some confidence from your natural abilities to do those to some extent, go out and cut yourself a dowsing rod from a hazel or willow tree. Mastering rod dowsing is harder because the grip is difficult to describe and feels very unnatural, but it does work for most people who persevere.

Try a pendulum at your local sacred site. See how it reacts and then ask it why. With any sort of divination it is asking the right questions which produces the most effective answers. Each system has a limited 'language' of expressions; a pendulum can only say 'Yes' or 'No', remember, so can't make comparisons. The Tarot can tell you 78 things, multiplied by however many cards you draw. You will have to learn to ask things in a way which ensures a proper and coherent answer.

Have a go at scrying with any dark glass or bowl of water set on a black cloth, by candle light. Try until you succeed.

Sort out a selection of omen objects for your own personal divination set. Use them and broaden your awareness, whilst very relaxed, to seek answers to questions about travel or communication from friends, about your magical progress and how you can make closer contact with the Old Ones. You may well be surprised at the clarity of the answers such 'primitive' systems give you. Allow your own inner voice to expand what the symbols alone indicate, for that is the true art of divination, or divine inspiration.

Carefully make a set of the Tree Oracle, and a container for it, if that attracts you. Otherwise get a set of runes or Tarot cards and really begin to learn what they can say to you, studying one symbol at a time. Always record in your Book of Illumination anything which you learn, the question and answers or symbols of the response, and your own expanded reading of it.

Again, here are just a few books — there are various systems of divination, ancient and modern, and you will need to use your growing powers of discretion to select ones which will help you on your quest for ancient knowledge.

Tom Graves, Dowsing: Techniques and Applications (Turnstone)
Tom Graves, The Elements of Pendulum Dowsing (Element Books)
Caitlin and John Matthews, The Arthurian Tarot (Aquarian)
Liz and Colin Murray, The Celtic Tree Oracle (divination system) (Century)
Naomi Ozaniec, Teach Yourself the Tarot (Teach Yourself)

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