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A witches guide to divination

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Divination is an important part of many witches’ practice. However, it can be quite misunderstood. Most witches that I know don’t consider that divination literally foresees the future, it is more a case of helping us tune in to our intuition, consider things in new ways and seek guidance and inspiration.

I use divination tools to help me develop my intuition, uncover hidden limiting beliefs and blocks and connect with higher sources of wisdom. Secular witches see them as a psychological tool which can help them understand themselves more deeply and gain clarity on a situation. Even if you believe that divination tools help you see into the future, this does not mean that the future is set in stone. If you don’t like what you see in the cards, you have the opportunity to make changes in your life that will change your future.

People are sometimes scared of divination because of symbols such as the death tarot card and the scythe rune which seem very negative. However, these symbols do not usually foretell death and disaster. In fact, the death card can often be a symbol of change, spiritual growth and the death of the ego or old ways of thinking and living. However, if you find a particular card or rune triggers a strong negative response then simply remove it from the deck or bag. The divination tool will find another way to deliver its message. It is not helpful to use a card that triggers trauma in divination as it will skew the reading and you will not be able to remain objective. You may be able to use it again at some future point in your journey but for now, put it away and don’t worry about it. Wrap it in black paper or fabric if you want to shield yourself from its influence at present.

Of course, divination isn’t for everyone and as a witch you do not have to use this tool if it does not resonate with you. You might be better suited to journaling, dreamwork, shadow-work or pathworking to connect with the divine and your intuition.

Divination Methods

There are dozens of divination methods to choose from reading smoke, candlewax or tea leaves to scrying in a mirror, a crystal bowl or water, to divination tools such as tarot and runes. It is beyond the scope of this article to describe all the different divination tools and how to use them so I will cover three of the most popular divination methods: witches’ runes, cartomancy and scrying.

Preparing for divination

To get the best out of your divination session, it is essential to prepare properly. I like to cleanse my space and do a short meditation before I begin. If your mind is calm, you will find it much easier to divine easily and will be less likely to hurry through the process and jump to conclusions. Don’t rush your divination session because it will not be effective if you do not take the time to explore the deeper meanings and complexities of the reading. Some witches like to light a black candle to help support their divination practices but this choice is up to you.

You may also like to enjoy one of the following psychic brews before you begin your divination to enhance your intuition and psychic abilities.

Spell: a psychic brew

Drinking a cup of psychic tea, coffee or hot chocolate can help enhance your intuition and psychic abilities. herbs that increase psychic abilities include mugwort, valerian, skullcap and passionflower. You can also buy psychic and metaphysical teas online. If you don’t have these, you can make a psychic enhancement drink with everyday kitchen ingredients.

Psychic tea, hot chocolate or coffee

  • Brew a cup of tea, or coffee or make a hot chocolate. Add milk or plant-based milk and sugar if desired 
  • Add a sprinkle of cinnamon to promote spiritual awareness and stir.
  • You could also add cloves and nutmeg if you have them. Nutmeg can increase clairvoyance and spiritual connection and cloves are both protective and can enhance the other ingredients making them more powerful
  • Breathe in the smell of the spices as you sip your brew

Mint tea

Mint tea can also help with increasing psychic vision and creating clarity. You can either buy mint tea bags or brew your own with fresh mint leaves and water that is just off the boil. Let it steep for a few minutes and then strain. Add honey or other sweetener if desired.

Lavender tea

Lavender is used to improve spiritual connection and promote calm and spiritual healing. You can buy lavender tea bags online or in health food shops. If you grow lavender, you can make your own using fresh or dried lavender buds using 1/2 a teaspoon of lavender to a cup of water, steeping for five minutes and then straining.

With all these recipes, take your time when sipping them. Try to stay in a relaxed calm state and notice the aromas of the tea as they impart their magical powers to you.

Once you are feeling calm and prepared, you are ready to start your divination.

Witches Runes

I find the Witches’ Runes to be a very accessible tool for the beginner. The symbols are clear and intuitive to read but they still have the scope to achieve detailed readings. You can buy sets of witches’ runes online, however, they are simple to make yourself.

What you need

  • 13 small wooden disks or tiles or thirteen similar-sized stones that are flat enough for you to draw symbols on. You could also simply draw your runes on 13 pieces of card.
  • Paint, a permanent pen or a pyrography tool.
  • A bag to keep your stones in. You can buy this, sew one yourself or use a square of fabric such as velvet secured with a ribbon.

Activity: Make your own witches’ runes.

To make your witches’ runes you simply draw or burn the symbols shown below onto your chosen stones or wooden discs. If you are using wood, draw the symbols in pencil and go over them with your pyrography tool. If you are using paint or a pen, check the medium on a spare piece of the same wood to make sure it doesn’t bleed. You can seal wooden runes with natural oil or wax when they are completed to protect them.

You may like to cleanse and consecrate your witches’ runes before using them. Keep your runes safe in a pouch, bag or box.

Ritual: Using your witches’ runes

The witches’ runes are quite simple to learn as there are only thirteen of them. However, they offer scope for in-depth work as you come to know them better. The relationship between your question and the runes and the runes with each other all affect the way they are interpreted adding extra layers of meaning.

Here is a brief description of the witches’ runes. You can find books and online resources to help you develop your knowledge of this divination tool.

1. Sun  – vitality, growth, creativity, joy, success

2. Moon – transition, mystery, illusion, feminine energy and magic

3. Flight – communication, travel, higher consciousness, freedom from obstacles

4. Rings – connections, teamwork, community, contracts

5. Romance – love and sex, soul mates, deep spiritual connections with others, fertility

6. Woman – the feminine principle, goddess, receptive, nurturing, receptive, creativity, fertility

7. Man – the masculine principle, god, decisive action, protection, impulsivity

8. Harvest – abundance, goals coming to fruition after hard work, prosperity, and planning

9. Crossroads – choices, decisions, being stuck, obstacles, the need to change direction

10. Waves – movement, action, purity, temperamental energies

11. Star – wishes coming true, manifestation, 

12.Scythe –  endings, changes, warnings, letting go, completion

13. Eye – Clarity, intuition, truth, self, clear vision

You can see more detailed descriptions of the witches’ runes here.

To use your runes you can pick simply pick one, or you can pick three to represent past, present and future, or you can cast all the runes.

Begin by asking a question of the runes. This could be specific, such as what career would suit me, or more general, such as what obstacles are getting in the way of me achieving it.

If you cast all the runes, tip them into your hand and then cast them onto a hard surface. Ignore the runes that land face down and put them aside. Look up the meanings of the remaining runes. The layout of the runes will help you to make connections which will develop your reading. For example, if you cast the crossroads which is about decisions and obstacles and it lands near flight you will see that the obstacle may be around communication. Some witches believe that the runes that land closest to them have the most significance. 

If you choose to use three runes, ask your question and then draw the first rune out of the box or bag: this rune represents the events leading up to the situation. Draw a second rune to determine what action should be taken. The third rune represents the potential outcome if the second rune’s advice is followed.

You can also use the runes as part of your spellwork. For example, using the sun and moon to represent the god and goddess, or air to facilitate communication, or man to help with taking action, or the star to assist with manifestation. You can carve a rune into candles, inscribe it on jewellery, add a rune to spell bags or carry one in your pocket or purse.

Cartomancy

Cartomancy is using a deck of cards for divination. The most common form is tarot, however, you can also use oracle cards or an ordinary deck of playing cards.

Tarot cards

Tarot cards are easily available from bookshops, metaphysical stores and online. They consist of 72 cards with 22 major arcana cards and 56 minor arcana cards. If you want to use tarot then I suggest visiting a metaphysical shop and looking at the cards to see which ones you like. Some decks come with a full-sized book and others come with a small booklet. I don’t find these booklets particularly helpful as they are not very in-depth. I would choose a deck with a full-sized book or use a standard deck with a separate book. The book is also very important as different readers have very different ways of using the cards and assign slightly different meanings to them so you should look through a couple, or borrow some from the library to find a writer whose work resonates with you.

It’s a good idea to cleanse a deck of cards before using them, especially if they are second-hand. I like to pass mine through incense smoke, but if you prefer not to use smoke you can ring a bell around the cards. Once you have cleansed the cards, hold them in your hands and think about the question or situation you would like guidance with. As you think about the question, shuffle the cards and then cut them. I like to cut the cards with my left hand. You are then ready to start your tarot spread.

It does take time to learn the tarot and be able to conduct a reading. The more you practice, the more accurate and helpful your readings will be. If you are a beginner, you may like to start by pulling one card every day and spending some time intuiting its meaning and learning from others. There are so many great tarot resources online and loads of excellent books available.

A simple spread for beginners is the three-card spread. With this spread, you take three cards. The first card symbolises the past and what led up to your current question or situation. The second card represents your current reality and any decisions you need to make in the present. The third card gives you information and guidance about the future, particularly if you follow the advice of the previous card. However, remember that the future is never set in stone and whatever actions you take may change your future, That is why it is so important to take the time to really understand what the card is telling you.

Cartomancy with playing cards

If you are a broom-closeted witch you can use an ordinary pack of cards for divination though this will only cover the minor arcana. You can find an excellent introduction to cartomancy with playing cards here. Using playing cards for cartomancy and spellwork is also a budget-friendly option as they are much cheaper than tarot or oracle cards.

Tarot cards and playing cards can also be used as part of your spellwork. You can use a card in a spell bag, carry one with you, or place a tarot card on your altar.

Scrying

Scrying is the act of looking into something to see symbols which will guide you You can use a crystal ball, a scrying mirror or, for simplicity, a dark-coloured bowl filled with water. You will find it easier if you undertake scrying in a darkened room.

Ritual: Scrying with a bowl of water

What you need

  • A scrying bowl, preferably dark and made of a natural material but any dark-coloured bowl will work.
  • Water, you can use rainwater, moon water, spring water or just tap water
  • A crystal or stone
  • Two candles, LED candles or small lamps with soft-toned bulbs

What to do

Before you begin scrying, cleanse yourself and the space in your preferred way. You will also want to decide on a query or intention for your scrying session. Perhaps start by asking for a connection to develop and for guidance on your divination journey.

Prepare for scrying by filling the bowl with water and placing the crystal or stone in the centre. This will give you a focal point. Light the candles and place one on each side of the bowl so that their light is reflected in the water. Take a few deep breaths or do a grounding exercise or meditation to clear your mind. Alternatively, dance or chant to release excess energy if you feel the need. You could also listen to binaural beats or do a meditation to enter the alpha state.

Once you feel peaceful, focused and connected you can begin scrying

  • Seat yourself in a comfortable position and gaze into the bowl with relaxed eyes. You should focus on the crystal but allow your vision to go soft. Keep your body, face and jaw relaxed and breathe slowly.
  • Now think of your intention and hold it in your mind as you continue to gaze into the water.
  • You may see images flit across the surface of the bowl. Do not try to hold onto them, simply let them come and go. Allow your mind to wander but keep your eyes focused on the water. Eventually, a word, image or scene may appear 
  • Be patient. It can take time to master the art of scrying

Once you feel your scrying session is over make a note of images you saw as well as any thoughts sensations and feelings. You may understand what they mean immediately or they may not make much sense to you yet. Think about these images over the coming days to see what else comes to mind. You may like to research any images that appeared to you to see what their symbolism may represent but I would recommend giving your mind a few days to work on the images first before you look them up as it’s your intuition you want to rely on most.

It is always a good idea to record your divination in a journal. This way you can refer back to your notes when you need a reminder of the guidance you have received. Your journal will also help you learn more about your divination practices as you can look back after events and see any clues you may have missed at the time. Gradually your divination will become more effective and create positive changes in your life.

What are your favourite divination methods? Do you have a more unusual way of divining that you would like to share? Please comment below

Eva May Baker
Eva May Baker
Hello, and welcome to The City Witch, your portal into the magical world that exists within the hustle and bustle of city life. My name is Eva Baker and I am an urban folk witch, author and your guide on this magical journey.

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