Throughout the Betwixt Series I’ve mentioned that spiritual chutzpah doesn’t necessarily equate to having solid coping skills.
There pervades the idea that simply by virtue of having a good relationship with spirit guides, which is the foundation of successful shamanism, the ability to cope with life around that ecstatic component just falls into place. Not so, and any spirit guide worth its salt will say so.
Given that fact, what role does divination play in shamanism? For many it occupies a position somewhere between engaging spirit allies and sacred aspects of the self. Reading the signs of the world around us serves to inform free of ego projection. In fact, I’d even say the relationship formed with a divination tool is a spiritual ally. From a shamanic standpoint, when connecting with a divination system, only part of that bond is based on the symbolism. The rest is with the spirit of the system, itself.
However, in our modern use of them, divination tools such as the runes, tarot, I-Ching, bones, or other oracle don’t widely carry that spirit ally assumption. Defined as the act of reading the signs around us, whether they are time-tested, handed down ancient glyphs, or contemporary markings of chaos magick, the system we work with speaks to us. Many assume such tools tell the future, and in truth, that’s what we’ve all been fed through the Magic 8 Ball, playing Ring-Around-the-Rosy, and reading newspaper horoscopes. The reality is, oracles give us a distilled insight into the present, from as many open vantage points as possible.
Through the allure of a visual component associated with a philosophical concept illuminating some facet of human life, both brain hemispheres are engaged, and we suddenly realize choices for the future that were previously hidden. When we’re in this state of full awareness, we enter the theta brainwave, or god state.
That said, in and of itself, divination doesn’t solve everything. Years ago, I fell into a pattern of setting intentions to see the most likely outcomes of specific life dynamics through divination. It was an educational and often predictable exercise. After all, most of us never veer from the same life patterns, making us pretty damn predictable. However, despite having that vivid glimpse into my grounding and possibility, I found my stress level climbing higher.
I assumed that by knowing the potential outcome of a dynamic, I’d be ready for it to actually come into being.
It seems simple enough, yes? What I Want+ Potential for Manifestation = Ready for Manifestation. No. Not at all. Why? Because just because I could see the potential of what was coming didn’t mean I was capable of coping with what was coming. I was using divination in place of coping skills, which is a tragic mistake I now see other seekers doing all the time.
New Age culture has programmed us that our problems stem from not being able to see what’s coming. We think if we can just see what’s ahead, we’ll feel better. If we can divine the future, purely based on that satisfying glimpse, we’ll be prepared for it to arrive. We live in a fear-based society that wants to prevent aging, death–anything unknown that lies around the corner. However, the unresolved hurts of our past are largely what cloud our present. Tools like divination align the brain not just with itself but with deeply ingrained symbolism that cuts through the past fog, so that we can in the present come to better conclusions about our future. It doesn’t in any way make us ready for them. It doesn’t in any way give us the ability to deal with the changes ahead. We don’t get to skip the emotional and mental processes required to cope with change–even amazing, wonderful change. There is no substitute for drawing boundaries and holding them, gaining self-confidence, dealing healthily with conflict and confrontation, and coexisting peacefully.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that oracles can’t be tools to learn those things. It’s entirely possible to shift the nature of intentions brought to divination from ones of learning what’s ahead to seeking insight into how to best deal with what’s happening in the present. Yes, we can impact what happens in the future, though that impact comes through putting focused effort on the present. We can’t shape what hasn’t yet transpired by neglecting what’s happening now. Clean up the present to ensure the wanted future. Good intentions to make use of an oracle for support or shaping the future are, “My intention is to learn how to best create boundaries for myself,” or “My intention is to learn how to stand in my power in this conflict,” or “My intention is to learn what I can do now to improve my self-confidence.” In using divination this way, the health and wellbeing of self is put first, which is the only assurance any of us really have for the future.
The only true point of power is in the present. By standing empowered in the present, the odds of what we want to come increase radically.
The next time it seems that learning the potential of what may come brings more comfort than actually dealing with what is, consider putting the oracle down, taking a long, hard look in the mirror, and honing what’s most needed to know about self.