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The Role of Divination in Discernment

The Role of Divination in Discernment

altar photo 20140725There are many tools of discernment.

Prayer—reflecting on and asking for clarity and nonattachment to outcome—is central for many forms of discernment. It is the foundation of my practice of discernment. Prayer is the fundamental tool.

You cannot make a well-discerned decision if you have decided from the beginning that you know the right answer. If you do that, it’s not discernment, it’s just choosing. And that’s fine. If you know the answer, then choose it.

If, on the other hand, you are working to find a way into Flow, into alignment with your wisest Self and the Love that sustains it, well then that’s another matter. In this case, non-attachment is essential.

No, I’m not Buddhist. No, I’m not Christian. No, I’m not Hindu. But not being attached to the results of one’s discernment is absolutely essential for a clear discernment.

Divination Is a Tool for Discernment

Why? And what is divination anyway?

Second question first.

One kind of divination is the intuitive interpretation of any randomized system. Shuffled cards, thrown sticks, shells on chains, birds flying in formation, cloud shapes, dark and light sides of pieces of coconut, verses of any sacred text, tea leaves, rune stones rattled in a bag…all these may be used as forms of divination.

And why should we use divination. It’s just random, anyway!

It Is We Whom the Cards Shuffle

What does that mean?Tarot deck

Divination awakens the intuition of the reader, if she is open, ready, and practiced. Divination can help answer the powerful question, “What am I missing?”

“What am I missing?” “Where am I not looking?” “What am I not perceiving?”

Asking these questions opens us in non-attachment to the answer. The cards (or futhark, or verses, or diloggun, or what-have-you) help us open to the Flow. They may be random, but randomness does not equal uselessness.

Furthermore, if you believe, as I do, that everything is connected with every other thing in existence, then even the randomness of the divining tool is meaningful. It connects with our intuition, the most powerful magical faculty we have.

Am I in Danger?

In Unitarian Universalist traditions, intuition of this kind, particularly when called a “magical faculty” may be pooh-poohed. Or worse, considered damaging to the tradition. Folks may believe that Tarot and other divining tools promote “magical thinking” (in the bad way) and discourage their use or even discussion about them.

In fact, there is a kind of censorship about divination. I have been told that, as a minister in preliminary fellowship (like being junior faculty, pre-tenure), I should stay away from talking about or advertising Tarot as part of my ministry. That being open about my use and appreciation of the cards could damage my career.

Oops! Just did it!

I’d rather be educational than fearful. I’d rather be honest than sneaking around. I’d rather be clear than commit sins of omission regarding my ministry.

So here I am, cards in hand. What do you want to know?

4 Responses

  1. This opened my mind to seeing divination in a much deeper way: “Divination awakens the intuition of the reader.” I often enjoy the I-Ching for similar reasons, and approach it as prayer, yet I hadn’t thought of it that way. I didn’t realize I felt a little sheepish about using divination, so I also appreciate your talking openly about it. Thanks!

    1. I’m so glad this post was helpful to you. I find that many of us use divination “on the sly” or with a sense of sheepishness, as you say. It’s a useful tool in so many ways, and I plan to write more about it. Thanks!

  2. I use divination as a way to ground and center myself when I’m writing and when I’m talking with clients and potential clients. Helps me to be aligned with my mission and purpose especially when I’m invested in the outcome, or have a big deadline, or both.

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