On a wholly unrelated note, I’ve been really enjoying spending a lot of time outside watching the season change listening to Burzum. If you have the chance, I highly suggest listening to one of the meandering tracks on a day when you have a lot of time and just watching the time go on in a field or forest somewhere. Heck, put it on and read the post.
Very occasionally I run into a real head scratcher.
The person in question was trying to use the Thoth deck to give “intuitive readings”. I get it – sort of. Crowley himself had to do some sort of intuitive work to produce the thing. It also incidentally happens to be pretty much the only tarot I use. Even when we go back to things like the Tarot de Marseille, it’s pretty obvious these were some sort of occult flash cards for someone to tell a story about gnosticism. I also realize the place of intuitive work in divination – whatever the definition of the card happens to be, how does that apply to the person? When you’re paying a fortune-teller or card reader or whomever, the money goes into their ability to figure out how those cards tell a story beyond their individual definitions. I very occasionally wrote about “house definitions” of runes, but those typically occur when two runes are overlapping or occur in a particular order. So what’s the problem?
They were just reading the title of the card, and making up a story. In this case, they had decided that “dominion” (two of wands) was actually a card about politics.
The worst part about it? The card really perfectly described their situation. They managed to actually produce a good tarot draw, and an absolutely faulty reading. I think where this got off the rails was they were participating in less rigid magical practices and as a result of fluffy bunny sloppiness, they literally read what they wanted to out of the cards instead of what the cards said. Turns out this is largely a reflection of a much broader problem where they had largely stopped taking advice in general from people who were concerned.
The terrible irony when I brought this up was they said, “You’re just reading your perspective into it”. I was holding the book in my hands and just about had a rage stroke. Yes I am reading my perspective into it, thats why you’re here.
When is it acceptable to read outside of the box? I am wholly for interpreting the rigid definition of whatever system someone is using. Using a thoth deck? Best consult Crowley. Using runes? Those have pretty strict definitions, as do Hebrew letter and Greek letters. Things get somewhat wobbly in geomancy, but bibliomancy? Bibliomancy has incredibly strong context opportunities. However what happens when we have something like radhio and turisaz overlapping? That one pretty much has the house definition of “flat tire”. That one is pretty obvious. How about pertho and thurisaz? Pregnancy. Gebo/pertho/thurisaz? Marriage because of a baby. Yeah try explaining that one with a straight face when it comes up. Are they horrified? Are they happy?
How do I know this? Am I some rune-master, chosen by Odin himself? I do have an excellent beard! Nope. I kept notes. Pretty mundane, except keeping notes allows you to notice when those sorts of things come up. Want to play along?
Pick a divination system. It could be tarot, it could be runes, but I would encourage you to pick one which is popular enough that people have published material on it. In my case, I at one point owned three copies of Odins Gateways. Great book. Someone once criticized it by saying, “Everything is really negative”. Yeah well if you lived in an era where starving to death or dying in combat was pretty much a yearly thing, you’d probably be a downer too. Pick something which compliments your mood. I generally am a pessimist, given that I work in IT, so I spend most of my time wondering what the users are going to disappoint me with next. At the same time, I really enjoy how Crowley writes, even if I disagree with him on some points of technique, so the Thoth deck has serious appeal to me.
Each morning, wake up. Clean your space, and ask, “How will my day go?” Write down what cards you get, take a picture, whatever. You’re capturing how the cards or runes or staves are laid out and their positions and their literal physical representation and presence. Once you have that, write down clearly a list of whats present, regardless of position. Next to that, fill out the definitions from whatever book or source you’re using without any interpretation. Finally, the fun part, make a guess what they mean.
At the end of the day, write down significant things. Just make a list. “Got a flat tire, spilled my coffee, found $20″. So long as you’re not using some shit mermaid deck, try to make some connections between the reading of the day, and what happened.
Last trick: If you’re using something like tarot and you can leave the cards out in your space, by all means leave them out. If you’re looking at them all day you’re probably going to try to “fit” the day to the cards, and that’s a different magical operation than trying to predict the day. If you leave the cards out somewhere you might see them, cover them up without disturbing them so at the end of the day when you’re editing your journal, you can go back to “that space” for a retrospective. If you’re using the runes, I’ve found the first throw is almost always “this is the here and now” and works like some acknowledgement of the present tense. You might want to make two throws and record them both and leave the last one for examination later.
The point is – don’t stop. Keep a daily divination journal along with a daily journal of your reading and asana and similar things and go back and read it. Heck, start a wordpress blog. I probably have hundreds of posts which are simply marked as unpublished because they record my progress and are notes (well indexed and searchable) for myself. Maybe some day my kids will think dad is insane and set them all to public and you can see them, or maybe this laptop will get locked in the false bottom of a chest and half consumed in a fire.