The right tool for the job, part 2: what and why

I think that different divination tools work better for different kinds of questions. That said, I don’t make this an absolute rule of my practice. Sure, it would be nice if I could always make the perfect pairing of tool and question, but I’m not equally experienced in all the tools I’ve tried and I certainly don’t have each of them available any time a question comes up. If the need exists, I figure you can get an answer from whatever oracle you can get your hands on. But if I can manage a better pairing of tool and question, I do. I see it as a way to stay flexible, since this nudges me into using a variety of tools rather than only reading tarot cards or only consulting the I Ching. And while it would be neat if I could simply list off the basic question words (who, what, where, when, why, how) and assign a divination tool or two to each, but no, my experience isn’t that nicely organized. I tend to ask the same sorts of questions over and over, and it’s my preferred questions that I’ve ended up matching to certain tools.

What’s going on? These are the situations in which I know something is bothering me, but I’m not sure what it is. For these sorts of questions, I prefer to pull out a pack of tarot cards and use a general purpose spread to give me an overview of the situation. I could also use runes for this, but if I’m truly trying to get my bearings in a situation, I want to cover as many options as possible, and 78 tarot cards give me more detail than 24 runes. Plus, I need all the help I can get trying to figure these things out, and I find the pictures on tarot cards to be more stimulating to my imagination/intuition than bare runes.

What should I do? When I have a pretty good grasp of the situation itself but want solid advice about it, I turn to the I Ching. Since the I Ching is written text, not pictures, I find its advice and commentary comparatively straightforward even if the translation I’m using leans towards the abstract. Do this. Doing that would be ill-advised. No one is to blame for this situation. The wise person acts in this way in a situation like this.

Where is it? This category is a little different because I only started asking these questions after I found the right tool rather than the other way around. I used to not ask lost item questions because I couldn’t imagine being able to interpret a tarot spread or rune casting well enough to get a meaningful answer. And then I learned about horary astrology. Horary astrology is astrology as divination: a chart is drawn up for the time and place of a question and then interpreted according to certain rules. If the question is “Where is [item]?” the chart can be interpreted as a description of where the lost item is and if the querent will ever find it. I admit my success is rather hit-or-miss with this, although I’m still proud of using a horary chart to locate one of my entries in the state fair knitting competition one year.

Yes/no. For years, no matter what divination tool I was learning about, yes/no questions were discouraged. I suspect this was part of a broader view that held that divination was to be used for personal growth and self-understanding, and that yes/no questions encouraged querents to focus on the material aspects of a situation. When I did come up with a yes/no question, not only did I have overcome that discouragement, but I wasn’t sure what kind of divination to perform. I’d heard that pendulums were good for yes/no questions, but I have no affinity for pendulums. There were systems out there that used the tarot or runes, usually variations on comparing numbers of upright cards to reversed, but they seemed stiff and artificial to me. I’m still not comfortable using the tarot or runes for these questions, but I think the I Ching or horary astrology work well. The I Ching is not shy about labeling actions good or bad, and horary charts show whether the different elements of a question will come together or not, which pretty much shows yes or no. And of course, a divination may tell you more than that. Once I asked “Will So-and-so get the [job]?” and drew up a horary chart. Not only did I get a “no” but a description of the person who did eventually get the job.

2 thoughts on “The right tool for the job, part 2: what and why

  1. Have you read any of the Discworld novels? In the…second one, I believe, the wizards cast an extremely specific horoscope to locate Rincewind; I didn’t even know that was an actual thing!


    1. I’ve read a few Discworld novels, but not that one—or if I did, I completely spaced that bit of it. I wonder if Terry Pratchett knew about horary astrology at the time or if he thought he was inventing a form of magic. But yes, you can use horary to try to locate lost people as well as lost items. Or lost cats, which seem to be what many modern practitioners use it for, judging from the examples in my textbooks and mailing lists.


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