In the beginning

When did you start working with divination?

This has been a question which I have usually answered by talking about my experiences in church. As a teen in a charismatic church it was common practice to “lay a fleece” before the Lord or to practice bibliomancy by opening open my Bible at random and place my finger on the page for a message. At the time I didn’t realise these were forms of divination, and other forms of divination such as tarot were considered “of the devil”.

But this week I’ve been digging deeper into these roots. Where did my divination practices begin? What were the seeds?

I realised that I’ve known about and used divination since I was perhaps six or seven years old. Likely you have too.

First there were the fortune teller fish. These often came in party bags, or maybe in a comic as a free gift. You place the tiny cellophane fish on your palm and you read a message according to how it behaves, so if it curls it might mean you are in love, if it flips over it might mean you’ll soon be rich.

Then there were the paper fortune tellers. Never the most coordinated person I could find these a challenge to make (where I am folding and what bit gets written on?) but I could often get my mum to help me. I tried making one of these today and it was so much fun. I watched this video first to see how to do the folding, and then this one to see how to use it and where to write the fortunes.

Then there’s the old “flip a coin“, what shall we do? Whose turn is it?

Nature was also an oracle. We were taught the traditional rhyme “red sky at night, shepherd’s delight; red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning.” I could never work out if it was true or not, but I still say it when I see a rosy sunset.

Daisies too, to work out if “he loved me” or not. I remember sitting on a field and picking out each petal carefully as a nine year old. And how if I wasn’t quite so careful I could pick petals to get the answer I wanted!

Divination is a powerful part of folk traditions and folklore in a way I hadn’t realised before. What are the divination traditions you recall from childhood?

I hope we can keep these alive for future generations.

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