an we see into the future to tell if we are going to be happy and rich or miserable and poor? What does fate have in store for us? How long will we live? These are the kinds of misguided questions that many people think of when they think of divination. Because people think this is what divination is all about, they may think that it is unscientific or, worse, superstitious and just plain dumb. But, divination is not an effort to predict a fated and unchangeable future. If this were true, then divination would not have been respected as it has been throughout most of recorded history. It would not have been respected by the greatest minds of the ancient world, such as Socrates, Sophocles, and Alexander the Great, or played the role it did in the formation of our political, philosophical, and religious history. It is better to label the superstitious effort to predict fate "fortune telling." As we will see, divination is something else.
At its best divination is and always has been the practice of looking to one's inner wisdom for guidance. Cards, star charts, bones, or crystal balls are all just tools designed to help us find this inner wisdom. At times divination may point out what is likely to happen in the future but its main concern is to provide insight and guidance that helps one create the future. Don't you wish, sometimes, that you knew a wise seer, someone who knew a lot and had insight into how things work, and that this friend was always available to help when you needed to make important decisions? Well, that is how divination works. It is a way of contacting part of the human mind that lives in the unconscious and has greater perspective and access to psychic abilities. It is the oldest and wisest part of one's mind. The ancient Greeks, Romans, and Hebrews, who are the founders of Western culture, believed that this instruction came from the gods or from God and that is why the word divination was formed to describe it. The word literally means to get in touch with the divine. It is derived from the Latin deus, meaning god. In modern terminology, this source of wisdom may be referred to as the Higher Self or Wiser Self.
a word from carl g. jung
If you are not, however, convinced that a physical object like a deck of cards or the planets orbiting around the sun can have anything to do with you and your life, look at the exploration of this process by one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century, the famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl G. Jung (1875-1961). Jung and other psychiatrists who worked with dreams and explored the unconscious part of the human mind observed incidents with their patients that they described as predictions, telepathy, or clairvoyance. That means in their dreams these patients saw what was likely to happen the next day, knew what someone was thinking without speaking to them, or knew details about something that should have been hidden from them. Jung also noticed that such things happened to himself, his colleagues, and members of his family.
Jung concluded that if anyone looked objectively into his findings and the findings of other psychologists, they would see that these telepathic abilities were undeniably real.1 He also believed they showed that the human mind did not seem to be limited by time and space. In other words for a person to know the future or to know things that he could not physically see or touch meant that his mind was not confined in the body but existed beyond it. In the modern world most people have become accustomed to thinking of our minds as living in our brains, but Jung was saying that the brain works something like a television set and the mind is like the signals that it picks up. Just like it would be silly to believe that actors on television are living inside the set, we should not think that our thoughts and feelings are just in the brain. Not being confined by time or space, the mind is capable of connecting with the minds of other people far away and because the connections are outside of time they happen instantly. Also, because the mind is not restricted by time it can look at where we are likely to be in the future.
Besides observing these things happening in dreams, Jung also noticed that seemingly magical coincidences happened in everyday life. For example, Jung was talking to his patient about the symbolism of the Egyptian scarab beetle while he was looking out the window of his office and at that exact moment a large beetle walked across the glass in front of him, as if it had arrived just to illustrate his discussion. Ancient peoples would consider such an event a message from the gods, or an "omen." Jung decided to create a new term for these events, one that sounded more scientific. He called them examples of synchronicity, combining syn, which means together, with chron, which means time. Then Jung tacked icity on the end to make it into a noun, so that it would be a thing that could be studied.
Jung defines synchronicity as an event happening in the physical world that coincides with an event happening in our minds, together in time, in a way that the mind feels it is meaningful, like a message from the gods or God. Nothing specific causes this to happen; it just occurs because the outer world of physical reality and the inner world of the mind are connected. Jung also found that each moment in time
had its own quality and certain things seemed to happen together. Once Jung created this term he was able to study synchronicity as a part of psychology and he realized that synchronicity was also at work when people did divination. He started looking into astrology and spent a lot of time studying an ancient Chinese book used for divination called the I Ching (pronounced "EE jing").
There is another important term that Jung used in his study: unconscious. The conscious part of our mind is what we are thinking, feeling, and noticing right now. The unconscious part is not conscious. Normally people use this word to describe someone who is knocked out or asleep. When we sleep our minds are still working but they work differently; they create dreams. Dreams have a different logic about them than reality does when we are awake and things can happen in this unconscious realm that cannot take place in conscious reality. For example, we might see ourselves flying or we could suddenly be in a distant location. What Jung and other psychiatrists discovered is that this not-conscious part of the mind communicates with symbols instead of words. Symbols are images and sounds that have meanings that cannot always be put into words. Psychiatrists also discovered that this process is always going on in our minds, even when we are awake, just outside the focus of our conscious mind, and dreams are just the surface of something even larger.
Have you ever wondered where your thoughts or memories come from? Neuroscientists have observed how the brain functions while memories are being stored or retrieved. They have come up with theories about which parts of the brain are being activated and how neural connections form. They have also classified different types of memories, such as short term and long term. But, as Jung said, the mind is not confined by the physical. In Jung's view, neuroscientists are like technicians observing the workings of a television set but unable to tell us much about the actors on the shows. The essence of thoughts and memories is still a mystery.
You do not need to be a neuroscientist to explore the mystery of thought. You can do it right now. Hopefully, at present, you are thinking about what you are reading, but if you try to remember something that happened earlier today, that memory would suddenly come into your mind from someplace else. You were not conscious of it and now you are. Where did it come from? If we sit quietly with our eyes closed and observe our thoughts, we can see that they keep coming out of that same other-place. If we go deeper into a relaxed state, as we do in meditation, we will begin to see dream-like images, but these too are coming from someplace else. No matter how deep we go, we will always see that these thoughts or symbols are coming from somewhere deeper. That deeper place is the unconscious, and Jung realized that it was much bigger than the conscious part of the mind. The experience that he had was like the one we have when we look at the stars at night and realize how big the universe is. Jung found that the unconscious is as big as the physical universe. And, it's all inside us.
As Jung explored this vast inner universe, he discovered that we all have other, very different personalities inside of us and that these personalities fit certain patterns that are the same in all people. In various mythologies, religions, and folk beliefs around the world, Jung saw that these inner personalities took the form of various heroes, gods, angels, and demons. Although these characters all wore different clothes, had different names, and spoke different languages, they had more important things in common that showed that they were all forms of the same inner personalities. For example, we can see that there are ancient goddesses associated with the moon, like Artemis in Greece, Diana in Rome, and Isis in Egypt. All of these goddesses have certain things in common. They are beautiful, protective of women, and associated with childbirth. When the ancient religions that worshiped these goddesses disappeared, the qualities that they represented did not. We can find these same things associated with modern religious figures, such as Saint Mary, who is associated with beauty, motherhood, and the moon in Christianity and the Bodhisat-
tva Quan Yin, who is associated with the same things in Buddhism. Jung called these inner people the archetypes (pronounced "AR-ka-types"). And, just as the archetypes could appear in myths and visions, personal versions could also be found in dreams.
Jung believed that these archetypes, which are the same in all people, come from a deep part of the unconscious where the minds of all people are connected. He called this the collective unconscious. So, if our minds are all connected, we can all share thoughts and ideas. The trick is to get this insight out of the not-conscious part of the mind and into the part that is conscious. That is where divination comes in. Besides all of these archetypes, like mothers, fathers, teachers, lovers, heroes, and monsters, Jung found that there was one central archetype that was bigger and deeper and connected to all of the others. He called this archetype the Self. This is the same as the Higher Self, mentioned above, but Jung just called it the Self. The Self is the whole mind, bigger than its parts, and it is the place where the conscious, the unconscious, and the collective unconscious minds connect. So, the object of divination is to communicate with this Self or Higher Self and let the conscious mind make use of all its wisdom and knowledge.
three types of divination
Since before the beginning of history people around the world have sought out help from intuitively gifted men and women who could guide them to inner wisdom. In tribal cultures these gifted diviners are called shamans, and their methods include the interpretation of dreams, visions, and signs from the natural world called omens, and the interpretation of natural patterns, such as the pattern of bones or sticks thrown onto the ground. As the first civilizations appeared these shamans became priests and prophets and their forms of divination evolved. The Babylonian priests, looking to the sky for omens, developed astrology; the Hebrew prophets, looking into their dreams and visions for the word of God, wrote religious texts; and the ancient Greek oracles went into a trance, spoke for a god, and from their words wise men like Socrates developed philosophy. Along with these shamans, priests, prophets, and oracles, ordinary people also sought ways to get to this advice. They made use of astrology and books, but
Jung's Image of the Self
Jung's Image of the Self lthough Jung found that the archetype of the Self could appear in dreams as a circular diagram, a rock, a giant figure, the center of a landscape, or other things, perhaps one of its most useful appearances was as a wise teacher. Jung discovered this in his own dreams in 1914 when a wise teacher in the form of an old man with a beard and large wings like a kingfisher bird flew into his dream. Jung named him Philemon, and he became a regular figure in his dreams and fantasies, one he was able to talk with and learn things from. What clued Jung in as to why this Philemon would be important to him was a synchronistic event connected with the first dream.
After Jung first dreamed of Philemon he realized he was onto something, and over the next few days he painted Philemon's picture with a white beard, a long, colorful sort of ancient robe, a golden halo, and large green, red, and black kingfisher wings. While Jung was working on the painting, he decided to take a break and walked out into his garden to the shore of the lake where he lived. On the shore he found a dead kingfisher. Now, these birds are rare where Jung lived, he had never seen one on his property before, and he never saw one again. As you can imagine, he was blown away. Jung realized that this was an example of synchronicity. He further realized that there was a connection between synchronicity and the archetypes and that this showed that there was a connection between our inner mental world and the outer physical world.2
also everyday objects like dice and cards. They helped themselves and each other and this practice continues to this day.
This book is an overview of the history and forms of divination that have existed in human culture around the world from prehistoric times to the present. Although they were all trying to communicate with the same deep part of the unconscious, people around the world have used many methods of divination from ancient shamans using rocks and bones to modern diviners using very artistic looking Tarot cards and mathematically accurate astrology charts. To help organize this material, the forms of divination are divided into three categories based on how people tried to connect with the Higher Self. They are
• Intuitive Divination: The direct connection with the Higher Self through dreams or an oracle or a prophet. An oracle or a prophet is someone gifted at contacting the Higher Self through visions. This form of divination is covered in Chapters One through Three.
• Inductive Divination: Looking for signs of the communication with the Higher Self in nature, such as omens. This led to the practice of astrology and palmistry. This is discussed in Chapters Four and Five.
• Interpretative Divination: Connecting with the Higher Self through the use of random patterns, created by human interaction with objects such as stones, sticks, bones, coins, or dice. This led to the creation of Tarot cards and the Chinese divinatory book the I Ching. This is explored in Chapters Six through Eight.
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The pathology of the poet says that the undevout astronomer is mad the pathology of the very plain man says that the genius is mad and between these extremes, which stand for ten thousand analogous excesses, the sovereign reason takes the part of a moderator and does what it can. I do not think that there is a pathology of the occult dedications, but about their extravagances no one can question, and it is not less difficult than thankless to act as a moderator regarding them.