Before choosing my own path and even conscious that I could make that decision, divination and any kind of “woo” made my skin crawl. I equated divination to that horror trope where a group of kids or teens decide to do something a little spooky only for things to go horrifically wrong. I remember that one time in grade-school where my classmates huddled at the front of the classroom, hands shaking while holding a piso coin atop hastily scrawled letters on a pad paper. I didn’t join them because whatever they were doing and whatever spirits they were trying to contact was their mess, I thought. I put on that tough-girl I-don’t-believe-in-ghosts facade on when I was really oh-jesus-mary-joseph-save-me on the inside. Someone shrieked that “the coin moved!” and everyone stood up, screaming, pushing and laughing themselves out the door. I pushed myself out the door, breathing caught in my throat, and that was the highlight of what divination was for me prior 2012–the year I started my spiritual & personal development journey. If you’re reading this, you likely are, too, and are curious about Tarot cards, horoscopes, ouija boards, crystals, among others. Why do people use those tools, and what for?
How does divination even work?
Merriam-Webster defines divination as “1: the art or practice that seeks to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge usually by the interpretation of omens or by the aid of supernatural powers.”
Theresa Cheung, in her book “Element Encyclopedia of the Psychic World”, defines divination as “The art or practice of foretelling the future to discover hidden knowledge… by supernatural powers. All divination is an attempt to communicate with the divine, higher spirit realm or supernatural or to learn the will of the gods.”
Damon Brand, in his book “Archangels of Magick: Rituals for Prosperity, Healing, Love, Wisdom, Divination, and Success” which focuses on working with the Archangels in magickal work, affirms that divination can “tell you what might be in store in the future… the trajectory of your life, the present moment of your calling” but can also give you “feedback and guidance” and “doesn’t just predict, but shows possibility, and also how that possibility can be affected by magick.”
How to use divination to tap into the divine
Personally though, yes, you can use divination to review your path, the influences and factors affecting the outcome, as well as the courses of action to take you closer to your goals, divination is not just about knowing these things—it is an act of reaching out to God, Divine, Higher Power—also known as God, Spirit, Allah, the Universe–which is reaching out to ourselves. We use divination as a means to tap into that Universal wisdom, initially because we are looking for guidance and reassurance on our journeys, but more than that, it is an expression of free will. An act of re-making and rewiring your experience of life, others, and ourselves by shifting from a perspective of “I am disconnected. I am powerless. I am unloved.” to “I am connected. I am powerful. I am loved.” When you do divination, you are forming these new beliefs:
- I can ask for help. The Universe can support me when I ask. I am supported.
- I’m creative and resourceful.
- When I’m stuck, it’s an opportunity to gain perspective.
- I love myself. (Because I’m actually trying to help myself through this non-traditional means.)
- I can have success, wealth, security, and love. Yes, I can have good things.
- I can heal.
- I’m not limited to what I once was. There are consequences to my past actions, but I am now in the present and can choose more conscious ways to be.
- My life can change for the better.
- I can have good things.
When I was a child, I learned to feel misunderstood by my peers and family members at an early age. I remember countless experiences when I was really young (about grade school level) talking to my “friends” who laughed at my feelings. I learned to whittle myself down, to make myself into a chameleon so that I can feel accepted. Pair the circle-in-square environment at school and a toxic social environment connected to my father’s work in the military where I was compared to other kids, mocked–my parents included–I learned to feel that nowhere was safe from judgment and learned to become reclusive. I became fickle and had difficulty trusting my own decisions. I lacked insight and judgment because I thought that what others had to say was more credible than anything I can come up on my own. I remember thinking how the clouds were so bland, reflecting my inner world at the time: Going through life on auto-pilot, never really consciously doing things, just what I was told. But as I grew older, from a child to a teen, living this way became increasingly unbearable. My friends were speaking about their dreams. What was mine? What were my goals? I never felt like I was good at anything, not even at drawing which was my art, friend, and therapy at the time. I could never tell what I ever needed. I’d just shove chicken nuggets in my mouth (I was addicted to junk food), never really feeling what was behind the pain and emptiness within the craving.
My first psychic reading and spiritual experience that followed gave me glimpses of the kind of person I can be: Happy. Whole. Thriving. Edified, I made the decision to learn this spiritual thing properly: Read the books, learn from the mentors, and above all–work on myself. This is when I started divining. My sister gave me my first cards, a Faerie Oracle deck, and an Angel Tarot deck. That’s when I started to read cards.
At first, it was frightening and not for the reasons you’d expect: More than the fear of going against my catholic religion at the time, or feeling or sensing energy and presences I otherwise would not, I was terrified of having to rely and trust in myself because I believed I was incapable and unloveable. I was terrified of what the cards, and the Higher Powers guiding them, would say about me. Perhaps the cards would affirm all the shit I did in my life and point out wounds and scenes that hurt too much to admit. I was scared of the truth because I believed I was a bad person and that God/Source truly didn’t love me.
Though I did read for myself, it didn’t come as fluidly as it did when I read for others instead. With myself, I felt blocked, but I couldn’t help but notice the way the readings made others feel. Reassured. Inspired. My friends told me they felt “uplifted”. This all helped heal my self-esteem and enkindled the curiosity to keep trying to read for myself, despite feeling “blocked”.
It’s a different kind of bliss, reading for yourself. You feel a one-on-one connection with the Divine as if your tools are a telephone connecting you to the skies where God once felt unreachable. Divination through cards (cartomancy)–though you can choose other tools–encouraged me to not only trust myself and connect to higher wisdom but as well as to:
- listen to my feelings,
- pay attention to the sensations in my body,
- be aware and coolly detached,
- trust my intuition and develop discernment and judgment–the latter which has been “lost” to years of people-pleasing and diminishing oneself,
- be aware of patterns in my life,
- acknowledge beliefs, behaviors, desires, fears, and thoughts,
- see influences external and internal,
- & remember myself: How I am helping or hindering myself?
Of course, you can utilize divination to forecast possibilities, cycles, and trends, and evaluate a choice or path. I wish to give you an alternative perspective on divination on how it can be a self-healing and recovery tool. A tool for you to remember wholeness, kindness, magick & dreams. A tool for you to improve relationships and have a better understanding of others and yourself, plan for major life events, and tap into the Universal support available within and around you. Below, you will find a mix of divinatory tools you can find at home or free as well as tools you can invest in. I didn’t have much financial resources when I started and that does not have to hinder you from delving into divination! Where you are, how you are, and what you have is enough. It’s mostly about your openness to the experience, willingness to learn & discern, improve yourself and your skills. Taking the next step doesn’t require you the absence of fear, but the presence of grace and allowing.
Before I teach you the tools, there is a crucial pre-divinations you are recommended to do as a means to detach from biases and make your practice sacred & safe,
Space setting and protection ritual
Why do you need a protection ritual? The practical reasons are: Many feel unsafe to do this work due to formed beliefs about spirituality. When you do a protection ritual, it is very soothing for your nervous system so that you feel safe doing this work and can be most receptive to the guidance you receive. When you’re stressed or in fear, it will affect your reception of the messages and you can feel blocked or interpret the guidance negatively as a reflection of your stressed-out nervous system. While it is realistic to expect that not all the guidance you receive is easy to digest, guidance from the Higher Power will never make you feel like you are backed-up against the wall and alone. That’s usually the ego, stressed-out nervous system, or other interferences not aligned with your highest good.
More on those interferences: The spiritual reason for a protection ritual is to secure your connection with the Divine. When you do work that involves intuition and psychic abilities, you are like an open WiFi signal for any device (e.g. energy) to connect to. When you have a protection ritual, you are a WiFi signal with a password and encryption on! In this case, you only want God & beings of goodness to have your energy “WiFi password” and no lesser else. It sets your energetic boundaries. Since you are in control of your energy, your boundaries will deflect of those who wish to invade them–and this works with people, too. (Are you seeing a connection with how personal boundaries reflect on spiritual boundaries, and vice versa?)
There are many kinds of tools, techniques, magick and rituals for protection. But protection should be simple, direct and above all–should WORK. Make a mental or verbal declaration calling your Higher Self, Spirit Guides, Angels, and Masters to protect you and set your energetic boundaries.
Example (Change into your own words if you prefer different wording): I am [your name] and I declare myself free from all malefic influences and energies that interfere with my highest good in all times, dimensions, spaces, and realms known and unknown. I call on my Higher Self, Spirit Guides, Angels, and Masters [you can also put in specific names if you know them] and give them full permission to protect me and intervene for me. I declare myself free and protected and camouflaged. I connect to the Divine with me and all around me that adheres to my highest good. I ask only for the highest and best advice that helps me and heals me. And so it is. Thank you, God/Universe.
Free or at-home tools!
Defined as divination through written material such as books. What makes bibliomancy so enjoyable is because it’s such a playful method—just letting synchronicity to take place. Here are some ways to do bibliomancy:
- Visit a library or a place with many books. There’s this place called Biblio cafe where I live which is a bookstore cafe. What I do is mentally set the intention and count down from 5 to 1, and afterward, move my head slightly and look around the sea of book spines with a “soft-gaze”. Looking, but not looking intensely. You’ll notice that the titles answer your query directly, summarizes the situation, or even presents it as a pun, and so forth. Funny story: My friend was with me when we were in Biblio. I kept cracking jokes so, in a joking manner, she told me she “loved me” but “wanted to kill” me, because I was teasing her so much. The funniest thing was the book that popped out to me at that exact moment this was happening was titled “Love & Survival”. Hilarious!
- You can also open up a specific book and use its text for divination. Although you can use any written material such as magazines, newspapers, cookbooks, comics, guides, novels, dictionaries, and so forth, the best choices would be materials that have the content on your query. You can definitely experiment and surprise yourself, but choosing the most resonant material can help if ever you get a confusing answer. Book in hand, set your intention and open up a random page in the book, then let your fingers glide on the pages, stopping when you’ve finished counting down. You can read the word, the line, the whole conversation, page, or paragraph. I asked for whatever God/Source wanted me to know and used the anthology I was in (it would have been wild if I landed in my own story in the book). I landed on this specific segment on money called “God is my Money Source”. I was deeply struggling with money at the time and it was exactly what I needed to hear.
- Food is culture, and as meaning can differ from context to context, ground which culture you will be using or perhaps even your own stock knowledge, interpretations, and always your intuition. You can use the same method as the previous point for cookbooks with the difference being that you pay attention to the first ingredient mentioned in a recipe, but feel free to mix up which order you’ll be using (such as 2nd ingredient, last ingredient, etc.). For example, if I am asking about what next month brings for me and get an egg. Eggs in Filipino culture are used as offerings to St. Claire in exchange for an answer to their petition or for better weather (we are a typhoon prone country). There’s so much to unpack from this one symbol alone: petitions answered, clearer skies or asking for better weather, an invitation to let the Higher Power helps you, and so forth.
Pro tip: Make sure you set your intention for divination when you do this method and discern messages/texts you picked out when you didn’t set intentions. The intention setting gives anchor and helps minimize getting messages based on a reflection of your emotional state and consciousness at the time.
Defined as the use of numbers in magick and divination. The numbers can appear anywhere from the phone number on a TV advertisement, car license plate numbers, clocks, queue numbers, prices, the associated number on your Tarot card or page number in a book, and so forth. These numbers can appear singular, plural, and even sequences. There are different numerology systems from Chaldean (the oldest), Pythagorean (by Pythagoras), Kabbalistic, Chinese, Tamil or Indian, among others. The system I personally use is Pythagorean as due to its popularity, there are a lot of resources for you to learn from, experiment, and expand on depending on your unique experience. Numerology is a great choice for those who want a quantitative and quantifiable approach to divination, one where you have a specific formula to calculate the answers and the specific aspect, archetype, and vibration the numbers and sequences embody. Pairing your divination with numerology helps ground the information and helps in those moments where you feel you cannot trust yourself with a certain question or inquiry, perhaps due to feeling blocked or not knowing enough stock info for your intuition to use as references.
Here’s a quick and dirty breakdown on the numbers in the Pythagorean system:
0 (Not used. But since it is before individuality, this can mean things yet to take form.)
4 Structure and Discipline
5 Freedom: Harmony vs Rebellion
6 Commitment: Virtue & Vice
7 Spirituality: Journey & Pathworking
8 Legacy: Power & Authority
9 Achievement and Completion
10 Endings and New Beginnings (Reduced to 1)
Numerology is flexible and can be as simple and as detailed as you’d like, just like mathematics. It’s worth knowing the numbers in-depth and the formulas you can use to calculate for:
- Personality traits
- Destiny or Life Purpose, basically your big “WHY” in your entire life
- Soul Number or your urges and deepest yearnings
- Maturity number or the kind of person you actively work towards becoming in this life
- Karmic numbers
- Compatibility or the experienced dynamics in a relationship
Pro tip: Although numerology offers precision, don’t obsess over the numbers you get to the point that just because you derived a certain number for your life means that’s all you will ever be or become! Think of numerology divination as a template. Though we are given a template and there are certain restrictions and tendencies, because you can think and as a human, you grow, you can evolve far beyond what you were given.
Tools to invest in:
Defined as divination through cards. Did you know there are other cartomancy systems other than Tarot cards? There are Oracle cards, Sibilla Oracle cards, Le Grand Jeu Lenormand, Le Petit Lenormand cards, and Kipper cards to name a few more, even regular playing cards are used! Not to mention, there are sub-systems of Tarot cards such as Rider-Waite Smith, Tarot de Marseille, and Thoth. With thousands of Tarot decks and Oracle decks in the market, it can be difficult to choose! Why are there so many varieties of the same 78 Tarot cards, for example? How can you pick out the right deck?
There are many varieties because although a certain cartomancy system may have the same archetypes (ex. Magician, Fool, Empress, High Priestess, etc.), the decks each have a different “niche”. Same with how there are so many Life Coaches in the world, we all know they help people with the problems but: what kind of problems, what kind of people, how (such as the philosophy & ontology) these Coaches help greatly differ. For example, Animal Totem Tarot utilizes animal behavior and wisdom to make sense of human life. The Zombie Tarot cleverly connects surviving the zombie apocalypse with surviving the stress of human life.
You pick out the “right” deck when you “get” your deck and your deck “gets” you. For example, I don’t get the Zombie Tarot because I personally don’t resonate with the apocalypse, and don’t resonate with the metaphors used (since it’s based on the apocalypse situation). The setting also seems to be from the United States in the 1950s, a culture I personally cannot connect to. Think about your unique experience and context as well as your needs and the ways you want to grow. For example, if you are queer or a person of color, you may want a deck that contains that or both. If you have a dark sense of humor then you would likely prefer a deck that spoke that way. But it doesn’t always have to relate to your reality: You may feel attracted to aliens, faeries, angels, or even a setting like ancient Egypt. You can choose a deck that helps you explore those themes and understand life through that lens. You know the deck is good when it brings you to yourself, your thoughts, behaviors, choices, and etc, in relation to others and life, and vice versa.
Pro tip: Cleanse your decks before and after readings. The fastest way is to tap them firmly. You can tap once or more. Thrice seems to be my sweet spot.
Aside from its usage as a divination tool such as the crystal-gazing which is arguably the most recognizable symbol representing psychic ability, crystals are a powerful divination aid. Crystals are crystalized magick: The properties within them, shapes, and structure can be tapped into to enhance and encourage our abilities.
You can do this by:
- Setting up a crystal grid composed of crystals with the appropriate energy for a specific intention such as carnelians and quartz to enhance safety in our sexuality, amazonite and larimar to encourage speaking our truth, and etc.
- Laying crystals on the specific body part it pertains to. For example, if you want to enhance your clairvoyant abilities, you can meditate with an amethyst on your third eye (space between the brow).
- Wearing the crystal as jewelry, like a charm, and letting it help you passively. The benefit of crystal jewelry is that the crystal can affect others too. A guest who came over to our house wore lapis lazuli jewelry, the deep navy blue was mesmerizing and the lapis lazuli not only helped her become more convincing in her speech but also protected her energy while she spoke.
- Holding the crystal in your palm and consciously and actively letting it help you.
So, how do crystals assist us in divination? They serve us “buffs” in whatever work we need to do. For the gamers or even fantasy readers out there: You know how a character will wear something that improves their stats? Like a bracelet that increases defense and a ring that increases attack stats? Kinda like that! When you read cards or use your chosen divination tool, for example, memorization is not enough. Sometimes the booklet definition of the card doesn’t apply and I need to tune in to the card with my intuition. I often had my Spirit Quartz on my table where I did readings as its presence soothed me and helped create this holy ambiance that allowed me to really feel that I was communing with the Divine. I had a tiger’s eye bracelet which helped me discern what was helpful and truthful from what was not. Crystals will give you the right push when it comes to magickal work and improving an aspect of yourself and life, and even pull out abilities and feelings you didn’t know you had. There are people moved to tears when they hold rose quartz for the first time because the crystal was stimulating their heart chakra, a part of us some of us close and guard for survival from emotional pain. Crystals may not work as explicitly and intensely the first time, and that’s fine. You will grow more sensitive through time.
Pro tip: When you touch or interact with something, it gets dirty, it starts to feel funky. Same with if you leave something alone for it to gather dust. Cleanse your crystals. Fastest way? Clap. But with authority. You can also pair this up with a declaration (see previous subheading).