Doctor John

mine whether the gods approved or approved of coming events.

Dreams have always been an important medium for divining answers to questions, as has scrying. Oracles are persons who enter trance states.

Popular in the Middle Ages was the tossing of grain, sand or peas onto the earth to see what could be read from the patterns. Similarly, the Japanese set out characters of the syllabary in a circle, then scatter rice around them and let a cock pick at the rice. Whatever syllables are nearest the grain picked up by the cock are used to puzzle out messages. As far back as 1000 B.C.E., the Chinese have used the I Ching, an oracle which involves tossing and reading long and short yarrow sticks. Another ancient Chinese divinatory method, which is still in use, is feng-shui, or geomancy, the siting of buildings, tombs and other physical structures by determining the invisible currents of energy coursing through the earth.

Finding the guilty. Throughout history, divination has been used to identify parties guilty of crimes. Despite the true psychic ability no doubt employed by many diviners, it is certain that many innocent people have been punished along with the guilty. In the Pacific Islands, murderers have been identified through examining the marks of a beetle crawling over the grave of a victim. The Lugbara of western Uganda fill small pots with medicines that represent the suspects. The pot that does not boil over when heated reveals the culprit. In other methods, suspects are forced to eat or drink various substances and concoctions, such as the gruesome stew made from the boiled head of an ass. Whoever is unfortunate enough to choke or suffer indigestion—even a rumbling stomach—is guilty by divination.

During the witch hunts, witch suspects were bound and thrown in lakes and rivers to see if they would float (guilty) or sink (innocent). If the sinking innocent drowned, that was simply an unfortunate consequence (see swimming).

Contemporary divinatory methods. Most Witches have a favored tool in divining that acts as a prompt to intuition and the tuning in to psychic forces and vibrations. The divined information comes in a variety of ways, depending on the individual. Some persons "hear" it with the inner ear; others see visual images on their mental screen. Divinatory information also comes through other senses, including taste, smell and tactile sensations.

Popular tools include the Tarot; rune stones; crystals, mirrors or bowls for scrying; dowsing; and the I Ching. Many Witches also use psychometry, which is the reading of objects or photographs by handling them. Astrology and numerology are often used in conjunction with divination.

Some Witches divine by reading auras, the layers of invisible energy that surround all living things.

Palmistry, the reading of lines on the hand, and TAS-SEoMANCY, the reading of tea leaves, are used by some Witches.

Nineteenth-century Tarot trumps

Divination is both art and skill, and one's proficiency depends on natural psychic gifts and regular practice. For some, divination comes fairly easily, while others must work harder and longer to attune the psychic faculties. Most covens offer training in developing psychic abilities and divinatory skills. Many Witches feel that the best time to divine is between midnight and dawn, when the psychic currents are supposed to be at their strongest.

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