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Today I spoke at a ladies’ luncheon. It was just a short half-hour presentation.

It’s a challenge to speak to a diverse group of people who are not necessarily bought in to tarot. It’s also one of my favorite types of audiences.

My primary focus was not me, nor tarot, but rather about divination in general, and that we all do it.

Divination is the practice of seeking knowledge of the unknown, through signs, symbols and intuition. I like the word because it has, at its root, the word “divine”.

Although the actually etymology of the word is about seeking information rather than actual divinity, I personally like to think about the process of divination as the process of connecting with the divine.

I really resonate with the idea that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. This suggests that we all yearn to connect with something greater than ourselves, whether we see that as communing with our higher self, our ancestors, angels, deities, or a single Higher Power.

Often, when we think of tarot, and other tools of divination, we think only of future prediction. Many people, and many professions, predict the future. Doctors predict our future health, meteorologists predict the weather, financial forecasters predict economic trends, political pundits predict electoral outcomes.

Predictions can be very helpful. They can help us prepare for something, or perhaps avoid or mitigate something.

However, prediction is perhaps not the most important reason to divine.

When we seek answers through spiritual means, we can discover insight about ourselves, about our motivations, about our own skills and abilities, and about our path to healing.

The ancient Greeks inscribed the words “Know Thyself” outside the temple of Delphi. To me, the process of divination is the process of working to know oneself.

One would think that we inherently know ourselves. We have to deal with ourselves every day.

Sadly, we all seem to spend so much time trying to be who we think we should be, or trying to please others by being who they want us to be, that we are often confused about who we actually are. Guilt and shame can play a role in our inability to look in the internal mirror. Sometimes, we fear owning our skills and talents because we don’t feel that we are good enough, or talented enough.

Through divination, we connect with our intuition, with our Higher Self, and our Higher Power. In that place of awareness, we can see our potential, our true desires, and the place where we need to heal.

Many people have a tarot deck, rune set or oracle cards gathering dust on a shelf. With or without these tools, almost all of us have participated in divination.

Do you remember “he loves me, he loves me not”, or bouncing seeds on your hands until only a few are left, to predict the number of children you would have?

As a professional tarot reader, those simple childhood games of divination make me smile now. It’s fun to prognosticate, and imagine what the future might bring.

Sometimes predictions aren’t fun at all. Sometimes we get an inkling that something undesirable is going to happen. Some people avoid tarot readings because they “don’t want to hear anything bad”.

When we receive an ill omen, a predictive dream or some other heads-up form the Universe, that information can ultimately be a comfort, and here’s why.

If Spirit bothers to let you know that something is going to happen, and it happens, you have to accept that there is nothing you could have done to change the outcome, and that there is some rightness is what has happened, even if it doesn’t feel right at the moment.

As we get older, we have more time in the past than we do in the future. That’s one reason that divination for introspection, rather than prognostication, can become so important. As we get older, we come to understand that we won’t always have the time ahead of us to do what we want to do. The energy becomes “If not now, when?” Tarot can help motivate us.

Another reason future prediction is not the best, or most significant use of divination is this. Often, the future is within our hands. What we do today impacts what the future will be. Certainly, there are some things that seem destined, fated, or unavoidable. However, in many cases, the future will be what we make it.

Divination can help us get out of our own way, so we can do the things we really want to do, and create for ourselves the future that we desire.

In this way, divination is not about simply seeing what is, it is about creating what will be.

There are many ways to divine.

Some methods, like tarot and runes, involve what I call “random token divination”. Others, like tea leaf reading, involving interpreting shapes and looking for symbols.

I believe that we all do some kind of divination every day, whether we do it consciously or not.

Perhaps in prayer, meditation or yoga class, we take a moment to check in with ourselves and ask “How do I really feel about this?”, or “What do I really want?” That process is divination.

Perhaps, as we travel through our day, we see a sign in nature – an animal or a flower – and we take that as an omen, a sign of luck, or victory, or approval from a Higher Power. That is divination, too.

Sometimes we look to the sky and see a shape in the clouds that means something to us. Sometimes a song on the radio seems to have a personal message for us.

Many of us have dreams, either sleeping or waking, that offer guidance.

A concern is that psychotic people see signs in everything, and that there is a thin line between being psychic and being psychotic.

How do you know that your process of checking in with yourself, and interpreting the signs around you, is divination rather than delusion?

Basically, if the information you receive is supportive, logical, compassionate and healing, you are in communion with Higher Power. If what you receive is didactic, illogical, or suggests that you should hurt yourself or others, it’s time to see a doctor.

Whether you work with cards, interpret your dreams, or seek insight in meditation, the key to good divinatory practice is know what truth feels like.

We often have physical reactions to truth. If we can tune in to what they feel like, we will usually know what is true for us, and when others are lying.

When we divine, not with only an eye on the future, but with an eye on what is really true for us, we make a connection with our Higher Power, and we empower ourselves to create for ourselves the life that we desire.

I was basically able to present these concepts, give a quick hand-reading lesson and take a few questions, psychic gallery style – all within my half-hour time slot.

The job of a tarot reader offers something fun and different every day.  Of course, my primary job is divination, but I also have the opportunity to be creative in a lot of ways. Of course, before I began my talk, I did a one-card divination to ground me, and give me focus. The card I received was the Queen of Pentacles. How appropriate for a ladies’ luncheon!