Magical Thought, Ritual Space: Part 2

Magical Thought, Ritual Space: Part 2

Originally posted on Huginn’s Heathen Hof.

If you haven’t had a chance to look at the demographics recently released by Huginn’s Heathen Hof, I suggest that you take a look. The reason that I mention this is because those demographics showed some interesting facts about those who responded. Mainly, that we have a lot of solitary Heathens who are fairly new to the faith and of a younger age.

The reason I’m mentioning this is because these statistics can serve as a good snapshot of who the audience for this article is. This particular article is aimed at newer Heathens who aren’t as comfortable in their religious practices and are perhaps not yet settled into the how’s and why’s of performing rituals. There is also a good possibility that some individuals may have some reticence towards participating in ritual due to baggage brought over with them from former religions. Honestly, it is alright if you take the time you need to figure out what works for you in terms of ritual or whatever your participation in your religious practices looks like. This is especially true if you are solitary. Whereas if you’re fortunate enough to have access to a face-to-face community, that community is quite naturally going to shape how you practice and what you have the opportunity to participate in.

I mentioned a study in Part 1 that showed that the participation in rituals – even arbitrary ones with no true meaning—fostered a sense of trust between individuals. Knowing that, it makes sense that ritual plays a huge role in our religious practices whether or not we are a part of a community. Even if you’re a solitary practitioner, ritual can have an impact. It changes how your mind is functioning. It can give you more confidence, a sense of calm, or (if you’re inclined such as I am to believe) can foster a connection with spirits and deities.

E.M. Zuesse defines ritual in The Encyclopedia of Religion vol. 12 as “those conscious and voluntary, repetitious and stylized, symbolic bodily actions that are centered on cosmic structured and/or sacred purpose. (Verbal behavior such as chant, song, and prayer are of course included in the category of bodily actions.)”

That is a broad definition, and fortunately so, because it covers a wide range of expressions across all modes of religion and faith. There are no doubt behaviors that some people engage in that they wouldn’t think of as being a ritual per se that fall within the scope of this definition.

The rituals that we participate in as Heathens are naturally going to vary. They’ll vary based on the experiences of the individual, as well as their inclinations. A reconstructionist, for example, is going to perform a different kind of ritual from someone who is more inclined towards being intuitive in their practices. The rituals that a solitary practitioner performs are going to be necessarily different from those performed by a kindred. The purpose of all of these varied rituals is, however, going to be similar.

Ritual is enacted communication that may be intercepted or shared by other humans but that is directed primarily toward an efficacious god or intermediary. It can record, reenact, even reactivate an earlier act of communication in the here and now, drawing on a symbolic idiom established during a seminal communication in the past. It can persuade its supernatural audience to act favorably towards the human community (DuBois, Nordic Religions in the Viking Age, 122).

Aside from all the shifts and changes ritual makes to our minds while we are engaged in it, it is a clear and intent filled signal that we are attempting to communication something. Whether that something is a need, a plea, an acknowledgment or an expression of gratitude. It all comes down to communicating with something beyond ourselves.

I find that rituals are easier to perform when we have routines that we adhere to or something that is the same each time. This somewhat operates in a rather Pavlovian manner. If you see a specific drinking horn that you always use for Blót, your brain will be signaled that you’re about to engage in a ritual. That signal is just like the ringing bell for Pavlov’s dogs, only instead of our mouth’s water, our brains will already be primed for the ritual. And who knows, maybe your mouth will actually water because you have a taste for the mead that you drink from that particular horn.

The signal for our brains to prepare themselves for a ritual that we participate in multiple times does not have to be a physical object. It could be a phrase. It could be a place.

The fact that a specific place can help us shift into ritual mode is one reason why the creation of “sacred space” can be important. If you participate in rituals in one specific place often, that space will start to have a specific feeling to you. If you’re someone who is inclined to be sensitive towards such things, you may pick up on this without the help of any kind of Pavlovian conditioning. If you’re not sensitive in that manner, it is going to be the repetition and that mental priming that will make you feel a certain way as soon as you get inside your ritual space (or set it up, if that is what you have to do).

If you are coming from a Neo-Wiccan background, or traditions influenced by Wicca in some way, you’re probably familiar with the creation of sacred space in the form of casting a circle. You may or may not have (at one point) called the corners, or called upon the aspects of the God and Goddess in order to sanctify that space. This creation of sacred space is very distinct and very specifically shaped. You may or may not have had actual physical visual cues for the edges of the circle that helped you differentiate between the sacred space and the mundane space beyond. Moving from this very specific practice, and into something a little more Heathen flavored, you have the Hammer Rite. The Hammer Rite is essentially the same thing, only you’re using a hammer to call on the cardinal directions and you’re not as beholden to geometry. This is probably not something that you’re going to want to do if you’re a recon because it has no real historical basis beyond stemming from Wicca. If you’re coming to Heathenry from Wicca, Neo-Wicca, or some other form of Neo-Paganism, you may have some interest in performing the Hammer Rite to create sacred space as it will at the very least be somewhat familiar to you. There is no shame in doing this. There’s no shame in having that kind of background. Find what works for you. That’s going to be my mantra for much of what I write because I believe different things work for different people.

For me, a part of setting up sacred space to perform a ritual is cleaning. So, one of the reasons this is a part of my creation of sacred space and ritual performance is the fact that my “sacred space” happens to be in my living room in front of my fireplace. Because it is my living room, it is lived in, and there might be an errant dog toy that doesn’t need to be a part of my communication efforts. Cleaning also gets my wife and I working together and talking, which makes the performance of rituals easier in and of itself. After we finish cleaning, we Cleanse the house. This process includes recaning (smoke cleansing) with a juniper and thyme mix and swatting everything in the vicinity with a horse’s tail. The horse’s tail has no historical correlation that I am aware of, it just seemed a very natural thing to include as I started to define my own practices. I happen to have a horse tail, so that is what I use it for amongst other things. Again, the purpose of these practices is to engage my mind in the ritual. They also “stir up” the energy of the house and help me to focus my intent. I also believe that this starts calling in the intention of the spirits and deities that I am attempting to communicate with.

I also sing, hum, chant or generally chatter while I’m doing this. Again, the point of this is to call the attention of the spirits and deities to what I am doing. If you’re going to communicate, it generally helps to draw some attention to yourself. You can’t really expect to pick up the phone and start talking if you don’t dial. I will discuss the role of song in a later post.

The semi-permanent aspects of my sacred space are my altars. They do change from time to time as I switch objects out, or give and replace offerings. Their placement and purpose remains consistent. Whether I engage in the whole production that I described above or not, they have a sense of gravity and sanctity to them because I have performed rituals in front of them many times, and because I view them as true space for my gods. They are a way my gods can be “present” in my home. They’re a mental connection for me. Whenever I look to my altars, I think of the deity that they are honoring and I feel that connection.

Outside my home, near the stream that cuts through our property, there is a stump that we have dedicated to the landvaettir. We take offerings to it there, go there to speak with it, and generally acknowledge its presence. The more we use this space, the more sacred it begins to feel to us. The area around it has started to feel like an acceptable place to give offerings to our gods as well. Earlier this week, we took fresh cream and eggs down to the stream as offerings. The more we use the space, the more present the spirits and gods feel, and the more our brains engage in “ritual mode” as we stand within that space.

The purpose of sacred space then is to provide the background for your ritual. It helps engage your brain, and give you that security of repetition that ends up acting as a shortcut. This is a huge benefit when you find that you don’t necessarily have a lot of time to gear up to a ritual but that you need to perform one. This can also be helpful when you find that you need help feeling connected to your faith in some way. Repeating certain acts, anchoring specific energies, to a space and objects is hugely beneficial in fostering that connection.

That connection, between the individual or group and the divine or spirits… that is what it is all about. So, whatever you find that helps you improve or create that connection, use it. If laying grandma’s doilies out on a coffee table before you try and honor your ancestors helps give you a sense of connection, do it. If (safely!) maintaining a flame for Thor helps you feel connected to him, then by all means… do it. It is your responsibility to find what works the best for you.

Magical Thought, Ritual Space: Part 1

Magical Thought, Ritual Space: Part 1

Originally posted on Huginn’s Heathen Hof.

I spent a lot of time alone as a child. There are various reasons why I don’t retain many memories from childhood, but the ones that I do occasionally become interesting for one reason or another. The one I’m thinking of at this moment is interesting because it has some relevance to the topic I want to discuss – ritual.

My grandmother’s house had a side yard, joined to the front with an archway between a rose garden and a massive pine tree. You could not get to the side yard without passing through that archway unless you really wanted to wrestle with the bristling pine. The side yard had a few trees, a bird bath, and the bird feeders that my grandma put up so that she could watch the birds through her living room window. There seemed to be something special about passing under the archway. The idea of this “something special” captured my imagination and so I invented a ritual (albeit a child’s ritual) for crossing into the side yard. The thought was that if I said the right thing, and I crossed back and forth under the archway three times, I’d be in “another world”. The first time I performed this was amazing to me, though I can’t tell you exactly what happened. I know I spent the day in that side yard, and that I constructed a handful of little houses out of leaves and sticks. When I tried to recreate this experience with a friend, I just couldn’t do it.

Partially, because I felt silly. I remember being a little embarrassed as I told her what we had to say and showed her how you had to go through the archway three times. I was embarrassed, too, because she asked questions. Why can’t you say it like this? Why do we have to do it three times? Why can’t we just go into the yard? She wasn’t terribly impressed by my little houses, either, save for the one that had a ladybug inside.

As I got older, it became harder to create moments like what I experienced as a child. The self-consciousness I experienced trying to explain what I was doing and why to my friend seemed to stick, to the point that I found myself feeling embarrassed even when no one else was around to watch me. This sense of embarrassment has knocked me out of moments that could have been very important to me, and I don’t think I’m alone in this. There is a certain level of self-consciousness we experience when we’re engaging in something that we’re uncertain about. And it is very, very easy to be uncertain about things within religion, and magical practices. After all, we’re working with things that aren’t precisely concrete and cannot be measured in a specific way. We’re working in the realm of belief, faith, poetry, and metaphor.

Sometimes, you just have to buckle down and let go of that feeling of self-consciousness. If possible, and you’re inclined, embrace the silliness. Laughter can help relieve stress and reduce tension. Learning to laugh at myself has absolutely helped me to get back in the moment, and get back to what I was attempting to accomplish. Being able to have a sense of humor about myself and what I’m doing has also helped me work with others more effectively so that I don’t have a repeat of the side yard incident I mentioned above. The reason the self-consciousness is an issue is the fact that it disrupts our ability to engage in magical thinking or to see a correlation between our symbolic acts or thoughts and the world around us. If we get too caught up in the rational, logical side of things, it is easy to dismiss everything as being too silly and never quite stepping over into the area of belief and correlation.

The concept of magical thinking is easy to balk at, especially when it is attributed solely to the experiences of children or certain heavily stigmatized mental illnesses. The truth is that magical thinking is everywhere around us, and we all hold “irrational” beliefs to some extent. Magical thinking extends beyond religious experience to the secular world, with a vast majority of people not even realizing that they’re engaging in it much less that they hold beliefs that could be seen as irrational if we attempted to explain them. Investing personal meaning in occurrences, objects, and places is natural to our humanity and just another aspect of how our minds work. Magical thinking is part and parcel of our everyday lived experience and plays a part in our secular rituals (wearing a particular pair of underwear for luck, anyone?), our perceptions of others and our relationships with them, and the belief that things happen for a reason (Psychology Today, Matthew Hudson, ‘Magical Thinking’).

Magical thinking is a cornerstone of our performance of rituals, be they secular, religious or (as a given) magical in nature. It is what allows us to shift from one phase of a ritual to the next, and to come out on the other side with a feeling of accomplishment – that our symbolic act within the moment of ritual has, in fact, affected a change in ourselves or the world around us. Like magical thinking, nearly everyone engages in the performance of rituals. Because they’re so ingrained, rituals can have a measurable impact on individuals. They can increase our confidence, enhance our abilities, ease the sense of loss or facilitate grieving (Why Rituals Work, Scientific America). One study even showed that the performance of completely arbitrary rituals within a group can foster trust and a sense of community, causing individuals to automatically trust people they performed a ritual with more than those they hadn’t (Social Science Research Explores Psychological Effects of Rituals, NPR). You can imagine the importance, then, that religious rituals could have for a community. It isn’t a stretch to see that the performance of blót or sumbel within a kindred or another community group only serves to strengthen bonds and increase trust between fellows.

Some examples of magical thinking within a historical context were laid out well in Xander’s recent article, “Real Rune Magic: What it is and how to do it”. I say these are good examples because they demonstrate a desire and initiative to affect the world through symbolic action and ritual. There can be no doubt that the creation of charms and amulets was intended to have a magical impact on the world around the creator. Modern Heathens have the same desire when they attempt to recreate the workings of the past or to event their own methods of practice.

It is an important foundation of my personal religious and magical practices to have an understanding of how and why things work beyond “it’s magic!” Looking at ritual and magic through the lens of psychology and anthropology actually work in my favor to get me past the self-conscious giggles. It provides an assurance that I am not the only one doing such things, and that my experiences are valid in that they are impactful for me. And there is the purpose behind much of my work – to have an impact on myself, or others participating.

Impact is so important. Impact provides the personal connection with an experience. If something has no impact on us, then it is impossible for it to affect any change. If we are unable to immerse ourselves in a ritual or unable to engage in magical thinking for whatever reason, then it is impossible for us to affect change in the world around us. And that change is affected because rituals have a real-world impact on how we think and behave – otherwise, carrying that lucky coin in your pocket wouldn’t help you feel more confident walking into a job interview. Praying for the protection of Thor wouldn’t help you feel safer and ease the anxiety of walking alone in the dark. Without personal impact, we would be far less likely to engage in any kind of ritual or magical practice because we wouldn’t see the results we believe exist.

In part 2, I will be discussing the role of religious ritual specifically as well as the creation of sacred space.

Personal Expectations

I have some pretty high expectations for myself. I may even be somewhat of a perfectionist, when it comes to certain things. This doesn’t always work in my favor… especially where spirituality is concerned.

There is no true way to be a perfectionist. There’s no real standard of “doing it right”. There are reconstructions (if that is what interests you), and there are accepted ways of doing things, but if you’re a solitary practitioner? You have to find what works for you, and avoid focusing on what is “most correct”. People are going to post their own methods and practices on social media, and you’ve no doubt read over one or two and had a moment of pause because it resembles NOTHING that you do. Or it just wouldn’t work for you. Then comes the tale spin “so and so a popular blogger says I should be doing it this way, but….”

The other detraction that you may face is your own personal expectations based on past experiences. For example, I have had moments of extreme clarity where divination is concerned. I described a friend’s house, down the the color of the paint in her kitchen, looking at my runes. So it can be a slap in the face when I’m informed by a client that my reading is off. What do you mean? I’ve done this amazing thing before! And there goes all confidence I might have had in myself…

It takes time to learn to set that kind of thing aside, and to reflect on the fact that everything is a learning experience. Divination, magic, religion… none of it is an exact science. It is an art, and art takes practice, work, and dedication more than anything.

So, be easy on yourself. Be true to yourself. If things aren’t going the way you expected, step back for a moment and breathe before you start to be critical of yourself.

With Gratitude

I want to take a moment and praise friends, present and previous. I would not be where I am, or doing what I am, if it weren’t for friendships I have and have had.

I came to be a Heathen because of a friend of mine. I was a rather eclectic pagan, with a truly disastrous practice. She started to ask me some questions about being pagan, setting up an altar, those kinds of things because she had an interest in the Norse gods and did not know where to start in her own practice. I answered some questions, then ended up being drawn further and further in. She isn’t in my life anymore, but I am grateful for her having brought me to this place. I’m grateful for her showing me a road with her own curiosity that I didn’t think I wanted to travel. I’m grateful for her dedication to academia. I am happy to know that she has continued on and found her own way. Sometimes you find that people don’t need your meddling… as well intended as it may have been, or you may have believed it was supposed to be. I would not have come to Loki were it not for her.

I am grateful to a friend that I made when I got to Tumblr, for the guidance he always provided and the sources he made readily available for study. He opened doors and acted as such a still point within a rather frothing sea that I cannot help but count myself fortunate for knowing him.

I am grateful for other friends that I made, those who were academic in nature and those who were less so. You’ve all represented aspects of faith, practice and magic that give a wider picture of the world than any one person could ever hope to.

Even if you don’t find yourself in the midst of community, there can be people present in your life who bring with them important moments and lessons.

Shielding

I recently had a question about shielding, so I thought that I would make a basic post about it. Shielding, even at its most basic, is a technique that I recommend anyone attempting any kind of magical or spirit work invest time in learning. There are a variety of techniques to shield, and you should experiment with them to find what is most effective for you. What works for one person may very well be a miserable failure for you.

Shielding is important because it allows you to maintain control over the energy that you’re putting out, and receiving from the world around you. Working on shielding techniques also gives you an added awareness of the energy around you, which is useful before you even approach trying to shield yourself.

This being said, the first thing that you should work on is “grounding”. Grounding is sometimes referred to as “earthing”, and it involves connecting yourself with the energy around you. Some people operate under the belief that they’re connecting to the deep, core, energies of the Earth itself — this concept may not work for you. You may find more connection with the belief that you’re connecting with spiritual energy, divine energy, or just generalized energy around you. Just like shielding, there are a lot of grounding techniques. I personally use visualization techniques and breathing exercises in order to ground myself, and I don’t continue until I feel comfortable doing so. Relaxed, clear headed — but hey, sometimes, I have to shield when it is impossible to get 100% relaxed. So, I go with “more relaxed”.

When you’re grounding, you’re supposed to let go of anything negative that you’re holding onto… within the best of your ability. You’re obviously not going to be able to absolutely let go of a trauma, but you may be able to get yourself into a more stable mental state. If you’re unable to calm yourself enough to be able to work, the negative emotions you’re carrying with you may very well have an impact and disrupt your concentration or ability to perform. It may also attract the attention of negative energies that you’re not wanting to deal with.

This isn’t to say that you’re screwed if you can’t let go of things, or get to a state where you can at least focus on what you’re doing. Instead, you may find it more difficult or have some issues in terms of performance. If you find that you’re attracting a lot of negative energy that you’re not prepared to deal with, work on cleansing and banishing. You may also want to look into warding the space that you’re working in. This can do a lot for you in the long run, even if you don’t have any complications with grounding.

I’ll write more on grounding at a later date.

A good shield will help protect you from the emotions of other people (if you are empathic), from energy around you originating from other people and spirits. It can also help protect you from the negative energy that is associated with a location — this energy could be left over from something that happened, could be associated with the presence of a sentient spirit, or could originate from something else within the environment.

Once you develop a shielding technique that works for you, it would be a good idea to practice it on a daily basis. Having a base shield makes it easier to add reinforcement to, when you’re in a situation where you can’t go through the whole process of thoroughly grounding. For example, if you unexpectedly come across an angry spirit — or, more mundane, a ticked off co-worker.

Now, please note that I primarily use visualization techniques to shield. If visualization absolutely does not work for you, you may need to find a workaround that does. This may be something like physically drawing a representation of yourself on a piece of paper, then drawing a barrier around that. It may also be a mental reassurance or mantra that you repeat to yourself. Find what works for YOU.

Possible techniques:

  1. Pure visualization. Imagine a barrier of white or gold light surrounding your body. You may also experiment with different elements (fire, air). Imagine the material of your shield forming around, starting at your feet and closing or finishing above your head. Breathe in and out as you imagine your shield enveloping you. Imagine how this material interacts with energy being directed at you… does it disintegrate in the light? Is it burned away by the fire? Make sure you specific about how your shield deters the incoming energy. If you’re worried about your own energy getting away from you, or being discovered (some people are) be sure to visualize how energy leaving your shield is handled.
  2. Gemstone based. Find gemstones that interact well with you, and perform the specific function that you’re looking for. Energetically cleanse that stone, while being aware of what physical cleansing can affect the stone — some are not meant to be placed in water, for example. Keep that stone on you, visualizing or reassuring yourself that you are benefitting from the qualities of the stone. I would suggest visualizing in the same way as I outlined above, but this is born of my visualization bias. You can also imagine the stone absorbing or deflecting the energy that you do not want to interact with. If you go the absorption route, be sure to regularly cleanse your stones — again being aware of what physical cleansing methods you can and cannot use with that particular stone.
  3. Object based. This is similar to the above, but instead centered on a specific object. This could be a necklace that you regularly wear, or some other piece of jewelry. Perhaps it is some small object that you carry in your pocket. I have a plastic squirrel in my car that acts as a ward or shield for the vehicle. It would be up to you to imbue the object with the quality that you are hoping for. Or, rely on the association you have with the object.
  4. Prayer or deity based. You could say a prayer or appeal to a deity in your chosen manner to provide you with shielding. This could be something that you say quickly to yourself, and visualize the result, or it could be the result of a ritual.
  5. Paper. I’m actually a huge fan of using paper because it is useful for people who have trouble visualizing. You could draw a representation of yourself, then draw a shield around yourself. Fold this up and keep this on your person, occasionally putting more energy into it by touching it or focusing on it in some other way. You could add runes to this, if you felt inclined and practiced enough in runes. You could add sigils, symbols, colors — anything that helps intensify the meaning of the drawing and barrier for you.

You could absolutely combine two or more of these methods, to make something that works for you. You could also end up thinking of something that I haven’t presented here — perfectly valid. It is more important for you to find something effective for you, personally, than to perfectly adhere to someone else’s recommendations. I mentioned that I usually use visualization. Stones don’t typically get along with me, so I don’t often rely on them — unless they’re being placed on a shrine or altar. I do sometimes use object based shields or warding (which overlaps with shielding). I use prayer, and I have used paper. Visualization is the undercurrent of everything that I personally use.

It is a good idea to get into a regular practice of shielding. Once you do, be sure to refresh your shields or occasionally tear them down and re-shield so that nothing is getting trapped in them that you don’t want hanging around you. Be aware of energy around you, so that you know when to shield or when to amplify your existing shields. If you have a bad feeling about something, shield. If you feel like someone is really draining you, shield. Trust your gut instincts about these kinds of things. Your body will tell you about the energy that you’re interacting with.

 

Managing Your Expectations: Divination

Managing Your Expectations: Divination

I will be the first to tell you that I reach for the bones when I’m anxious about something coming up. I’ve found myself doing it more an more lately as I’ve been getting back into the swing of divination. I’m doing little readings for just about everything that is about to change in my life and….well, I really need to stop.

Because, in some ways, I set myself up for disappointment. Divination isn’t infallible, and even the best reader can’t anticipate everything. It is important to remember that divination provides a snapshot of the most likely outcome at that moment. If factors in your life shift and change, then the reading will no longer be accurate.

So, if you’re getting a reading on a housing situation (as an example) and you find that something you were told was not accurate — calm down, slow down, and evaluate all of the factors. Did you do something after getting the reading that sped up the process, like calling your realtor? Did you do something that slowed down the process, like punching a hole in the wall that now needs to be repaired and tracked in your deposit?

It should go without saying that your actions have more of an impact on your life than any divination tool.

Knowing this, what is the best way to get a reading and process the information from that reading?

  • Ask clear cut questions. “Will there be a change in my career soon?” is miles better than “Do the cards/runes say anything about my job?” The second question is more likely to tell you things you already know, like how miserable you are at your current job! The first gives more room for forecast, whether or not there will be a change, factors leading up to it, and so on.
  • Ask questions. Now, I can’t speak for every reader — but I don’t mind clients asking questions, especially if I haven’t explained something in a way that they understand. Asking questions can give you a better idea of what the cards or runes mean, and how to personally interpret them. This is especially important if there are details you haven’t let your reader know. You always have more of the picture than they do!
  • Take notes or review the reading (if given to you in written form). Sometimes it takes awhile to process a reading. Taking notes can help you think back on it at a later time. If you’re getting a reading online, going back and re-reading it can also be helpful.
  • Do not be hasty. Do not base major life decisions on divination. I know that you’re asking the questions you are for reassurance — that’s the same reason I do divination. But it is important to make informed decisions. If something big is coming up, it is fine to get divination for guidance and reassurance, but base your decision making processes on more concrete, less malleable, things.
  • Think about the big picture. There are a lot of things going on in our lives, and they often times influence things in ways we don’t immediately realize. Take the time to think about the big picture, and how X may be having an impact on Y, and vice versa. There may be things influencing factors in your life that you’re not immediately aware of — not being aware of these influences can make a reading seem inaccurate, or leave you unprepared for changes.
  • Be realistic. Divination is an art, not a science, and accuracy is a hard thing to achieve. Be realistic when you get your readings. This goes hand in hand with looking at the big picture and not being hasty with your decision making processes.
  • Make informed decisions. Another bedfellow to “don’t be hasty” and “be realistic”. Take every factor into account, and make decisions based on the reality of your life. Making decisions based on divination can leave you unprepared.
  • Do not get readings on the same thing too often. You’re going to get frustrated, and you’re going to be disappointed because you’re either going to get wildly varying readings or you’re going to start feeling lied to when things don’t happen immediately. Take time to review and really think about a reading before you go shopping for the next diviner to tell you what you want to hear. Be aware that people performing divination sometimes know each other, and will be aware of the fact that you’ve been “reader shopping” for the answer you want. This can have an impact on your reading.
  • If you get an answer you don’t want, that is a cue to sit back and evaluate the question as well as another opportunity to look at the big picture… and every other possible factor. Instead of thinking the person reading for you is bad at what they do, consider everything and the possibility that you’re not going to get the answer you WANT right now.
  • If you’ve taken the time to evaluate the reading, and the factors in your life surrounding it and you finally come to the conclusion that the person reading for you just doesn’t mesh with you or seems to be consistently off on their readings… find someone else. Try and do it as amicably as possible since they did provide you a service.
  • And the most important tip: Accept divination for what it is and that it does, indeed, have limits.

I really do recommend keeping a divination journal, especially if you’re getting readings from people. This allows you to track your readings, and see if there are any trends that you need to be aware of (asking the same question too many times, etc.). Record the question you’re asking, who you’re using to read for you, and the results — while being aware that results could take time. Keeping tabs on who read for you can help you remember who meshed well with you so that you can use them again in the future.

If you find that you’re getting really emotionally upset while you’re getting readings, I also recommend stepping back and giving yourself some space. It is best to come to a reading with a clear head. This isn’t saying get 100% emotional control over yourself, just try and get a little cognitive distance between yourself and the process of divination. Coming to divination in emotional turmoil sets you up to have a lot resting on the outcome, and can cause you further distress when you don’t get the reading you “wanted”.

If you’re reading for yourself, one of the worst things you can do (in my experience) is re-shuffle and re-ask the same question because you didn’t get the answer you wanted or the answer you got was upsetting. If you find yourself doing this over and over again, put the cards away. Go do something to relieve the state of distress you’re in… and this kind of self care will look different for everyone. I put the cards away and read or play a video game, but you may need to go outside or talk to a friend.

As always, things are going to vary from person to person. There may be aspects of this you disagree with (“Sometimes I re-shuffle and re-read because my cards are being dicks!” That’s fine, then I’m not addressing you!). Feel things out, write things down, say them aloud, or however you learn best and find something that works for your particular set of needs.

Update

There has been a lot happening that has delayed my third Well piece. I have a majority of it written, but I don’t feel particularly good about it because I haven’t had the level of concentration on it that I like.

Real talk moment… magic, faith, good mental health, these are all difficult things to practice and maintain when your living situation is a constant source of anxiety. Take the time to find or make safe spaces for yourself, where you can actually relax. In lieu of that, try to plan for a time when you can get away from the stressful atmosphere or situation. Being in a constant state of stress is not good for you physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

If you can’t get out of the situation or place, man, take the best care of yourself that you can. It is imperative that you treat yourself with importance and respect. You’re a valuable and important person in this life.