‘Divination 1’ Posts
Within the context of a single paleo-pagan Indo-European culture, discuss three different forms of divination or seership, and give an example of each. (minimum 100 words each)
Since I have limited material available, I’m changing up my culture a bit for these essays and working with one of the books I used in my DP, The Druids by Peter Ellis. Here we’ll be focusing on various Celtic methods of divination, such as frith, bird flights, and sacrifices (Ellis, 221).
In regards to human sacrifice, Ellis states that divination by entrails, done by haruspices, was observed through size, shape, color, and markings of various organs such as the liver and gall bladder. The bull was particularly coveted for sacrifices due to its strength, and eventually evolved into a “cult of the bull” across western Europe.
There was also a custom use of bull hides four divination purposes as well. Such as a hide being spread over a rowan tree with the inside facing towards the sky to attract certain energies, or the seer wrapping himself in the bull hide only to lay by a waterfall to meditate. Other animals were also used for divination sacrifices, such as the pig.
(Word Count: 119)
Moving on to another form of augury, Diodorus Siculus ascribed to a method using the flight of birds to predict the future. Flight behavior and even eating habits were methods used to divine in various cultures. The historian Nennius wrote in a version of Historia Brittonum about the Druid “Bird Watchers” and how a Welsh Prince could make birds on Llangorse Lake sing because he was the ruler of Wales (Ellis, 223).
Other example recorded of bird augury are recorded by John Toland in History of the Druids, where he spoke of an encounter with two irish men who were discussing the profitable future of their business due to seeing a raven with white feathers on its plumage, but that they would not continue until they saw the path the raven would take.
(Word Count: 133)
Frith, according to MacLeod (MacLeod 153), was a method of augury to discover lost beings and what condition they were in, both human and animal. The diviner fasts for a period of time on the first Monday of each quarter. They have bare feet and an uncovered head and stood in a doorway with eyes closed. The doorway symbolized a position between worlds, that position being between the house and the unseen world. With hand on each side of the door, prayers were made in silence to be granted access to the unseen world. After some more time, the diviner opens their eyes and stared straight ahead directly. The positioning of all the visible items in their line of site was used to determine the outcome of the vision from the otherworld to help locate the lost loved one.
(Word Count: 139)
- Thorsson, Edred. Futhark, a Handbook of Rune Magic. York Beach, Me.: S. Weiser, 1984. Print.
- MacLeod, Sharon Paice. Celtic Myth and Religion: A Study of Traditional Belief, with Newly Translated Prayers, Poems and Songs. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012. Print.
- “Oracle.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Sept. 2013. Web. 01 Oct. 2013.
- Paxson, Diana L. Taking up the Runes: A Complete Guide to Using Runes in Spells, Rituals, Divination, and Magic. Boston, MA: Weiser, 2005. Print.
- Ellis, Peter Berresford. The Druids. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 1995. Print.
Discuss both the role of seers within at least one Indo-European culture and the relationship of seers to other members of the society, including in that discussion how seers or visionaries would have supported themselves or how they would have been supported by their people. (minimum two paragraphs)
Back around 2010/2009, we had the fortunate blessing to have Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone visit CedarLight during a tour in America. It was a very intimate setting, but we had them for the evening to discuss anything and everything we wanted. One thing that stuck out with me though, is their discussion about the local Irish culture regarding what they refer to as “witches”. The local townspeople in Ireland are apparently VERY protective of “their witches”. They love to have them around, they want to keep them around, and they find them useful for many things in a very superstitious culture. This is because they see them as a form of protection from various ailments or threats, a guide, a diviner, etc. Granted this is not so much in the polytheistic culture where they are looking for messages from the Gods or anything like that, but it was still very interesting to have that sort of insight related to divination in modern society.
The way this relates to other cultures in Indo-European culture, such as the Greek, is how often Seer’s can get claimed or are sought out for help in one area or another. Greek’s of old (lets say around 500 B.C.) saw their seers and oracles as a very prominent role in society. The Greek’s commonly referred to seers, and those associated with oracles, before making decisions as a method for communication with the Gods. The Greeks opted to please the Gods, so they sought out their favor and in the seer’s job was to help petition that.
In addition to that, the power of an Oracle was never questioned. If a prophecy of sorts did not come true, it was blamed on the interpreter, not the oracle. This alone shows the amount of prestige behind seership in Greece. The King of Lydia spent time testing all of the Oracles to find the most accurate, and when he decided the Oracle of Delphi was the most accurate, he lavished her with gifts (Oracle). Being presented with Gifts, finding favor among Kings higher society peoples who simply want to keep an Oracle within arms reach are just a few of the ways a seer could or would have been supported by their people.
Seers in general are seen as having a power beyond comprehension across many cultures. Even today in Ireland, and those Oracles of Ancient Greece. There is always the unexplained that people attempt to decipher through divination.
(Word Count: 411)
Briefly describe the symbology of your chosen method of divination, and include a method of application for that system. (minimum 100 words overall description plus at least one sentence or line per symbol)
The runic alphabet is just that, an alphabet that was used for both language and magic. It consisted of straight lines in a set pattern for the symbology. These were carved into several types of materials, but mainly wood, which meant a lot of sets rotted over time. The Elder Futhark is the main system that I use right now, which consists of 24 characters. There is also the Younger Futhark, which has a few less characters, and the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, which has 33 symbols, but all three are very similar in design.
In ritual, I’ve mostly seen runes drawn in groups of three, which is also what I normally do. If there is a need for clarification, additional runes are drawn to help understand the pattern or statement sent through the divination. They are typically cast on a white cloth (Thorsson, 13) or white fur (I like fur, just feels awesome), and carved into various trinkets, pendants, and such for a particular purpose in mind. Such as Raidho carved into a necklace for travel or Algiz into a drinking horn for protection. Candles are often also carved with runes in order to burn them towards a specific prayer or purpose.
(Word Count: 201)
|Fehu||Wealth (Cattle). Originating from the English word “fee”, but originally meant livestock as a manner of wealth in a cattle culture.|
|Uruz||Aurochs (Wild Ox). Wild primal cow that symbolizes the strength of the fighting spirit that helps manifest.|
|Thurisaz||Thorn of Thor. Shaped like a thorn on a vine, Thurisaz represents Divine Power or catalytic force that helps assist or prepare for the upcoming changes.|
|Ansuz||God Mouth (Communication). Inspiration for communicating through wisdom.|
|Raidho||Cart Journey (Transportation). A rune of travel or movement. Counsel and negotiation or the movement of events or just physical movement.|
|Kenaz||Divine Fire or Torch. Controlled fire, perhaps destruction for growth. Inspiration and revealing truth and clarity through light.|
|Gebo||Gift. An equal exchange of energy. Generosity and Luck and *Ghosti.|
|Wunjo||Joy. The joining of folk through joy and bliss. Harmony in community.|
|Hagalaz||Hailstorm. Transformation and change through the storm.|
|Naudhiz||Necessity. The needfire or friction of opportunity for change and growth.|
|Isa||Primal Ice. Frozen stillness that may eventually defrost but for now this is a cooling off time of solidarity.|
|Jera||The Harvest. Right reward and cause & effect. Transformation and Balance throughout the year.|
|Eihwaz||The Yew Tree. Representative of a state of transition, connection, or relationship between poles in the center of all worlds.|
|Perthro||Cup or Game Piece. Chance or change, perhaps fate and forces already in motion. Unexpectations.|
|Elhaz/Algiz||Elk (Protection). Could also mean “man”.|
|Sowilo||Sun (Solar Wheel). A healing light or light of clarification. Guidance through light.|
|Tiwaz||Victory (Justice). Could also represent truth or self-sacrifice to attain justice.|
|Berkano||Birch Tree. A rite of passage, or a cycle of rebirth or new growth. The figure of the women and her nourishment through birth.|
|Ehwaz||Holy Horse. Partnership and cooperation. Could also mean travel or change.|
|Mannaz||Man. Human condition or inner introspect.|
|Laguz||Life Lake. Passing through the waters to purify.|
|Ingwaz||Ing (Freyr). A gestation period, time of reflection to allow the seeds to grow. Transformation after fertility.|
|Dagaz||Dawn & Growth. Positive comings, the light at the end of the tunnel.|
|Othala||Ancestry. The tribe or community home and environment.|
Describe the results of three divinations performed by you. These divinations may be text assisted. (minimum 100 words each)
The first Divination performed was for the question: “What do the kindred have in store for me?”
I pulled Uruz, Berkano, and Eihwaz
Uruz to me is a symbol of the fighting spirit towards manifestation.
Berkano is a symbol of a rite of passage, or a cycle of rebirth or new growth
Eihwaz is representative of a state of transition, connection, or relationship between poles in the center of all worlds.
There seems to be a common theme of transformation in this reading. I already know you as a fighting spirit towards your beliefs and goals, so it is not surprising to me to see this in this reading. Berkano suggestions you are going through a period of growth during this transformation. It was pulled as “reverse” if you believe in such things, but I tend to not lean that way. I see this growth as a positive change, but I suspect it will not be an easy one at all.
Ending with Eihwaz, I almost see this as you taking the part of the world tree, connecting worlds or “arguments” together and bringing peace between them, or at least opening the lines of communication between them.
When asking for a little clarification, I pulled Thurisaz, the thorn, or that divine power or “fuel” that helps assist in changes. I attempted to pull additional runes for clarification, because this is pretty generic, but they pretty much all pulled towards this same transformation. So I believe this to be your path from the Kindred. The question was pretty broad, so I couldn’t get too specific.
(Word Count: 264)
My second divination asks: “Will my daughter have justice?”
I am leaving out specifics in relation to this question out of courtesy as both Clergy and general privacy.
I pulled, Jera, Ingwaz, and Eihwaz.
Jera is the good harvest, right reward of the season. A natural law of cause and effect.
Ingwaz as death that turns into life. Transformation after a period of gestation. Fertility and successful completion.
Eihwaz is the rune of transformation and a communication between worlds.
I read this as a very positive omen. Jera represents a good harvest, a good collective outcome and the attribution of karma. I believe this to mean that the outcome will be positive for the question.
Ingwaz leads me to believe that this will not necessarily be a visible karma that you will see, or even one that will happen immediately, but one that will happen after the appropriate time, and with a fertile outcome. So do not expect immediate satisfaction here, you have to let nature takes its course.
Eihwaz to me points in the direction of you acting as a facilitator for healing here. It’s not a healing rune, but it is a rune that brings together worlds and communication. And I think that is going to be your role in this and that your daughter will need you to be that world tree to stand tall between the worlds for her.
(Word Count: 233)
The question: When the right guy will come along, when will I have a happy and successful relationship?”
I pulled Fehu, Uruz, and Isa
Fehu means wealth, or “cattle” in what is considered a cattle culture, so this is a term of wealth.
Uruz is the wild primal energy that helps to manifest an outcome.
Isa is ice, or rather primal calm ice that was melted and creates an attraction to fire. This is a frozen stillness that may eventually melt.
This was a tricky reading, but I believe it to be a positive outcome, though timely. Fehu brings in wealth, which I take to mean there will be an abundance of good things to you in terms of a relationship. Uruz brings in an unorganized passion, which I believe to mean that this will not be something you can look for and find. I think it will come abruptly and not by your own influence. Isa as the frozen stillness gives brings in two notions. The first being that this is not going to happen soon, that there needs to be a defrost period before you can achieve this. There may be a buried anger or coldness inside you, even an obsession or pain, that you need to focus on first to let that fiery passion take over. Essentially you need to defrost yourself or whatever is holding you back now in order to allow this fire of plenty to come into your life.
I pulled another rune for clarity and I pulled Elhaz. This is a rune of the elk and a rune of protection. This rune has a strong connection to “man” as well, and speaks of a willing sacrifice. This could be taken as this man who may come into your life as a good protective influence, or it could mean that you need to work on protecting your inner self first before venturing into another relationship, which goes with Isa above.
(Word Count: 326)
Identify and describe one method of divination to which you find yourself attracted, and discuss its relationship to paleo-pagan divination. (minimum 300 words)
Due to my Germanic heritage, I’ve always found myself the most drawn to the runes, especially the Elder Futhark, but I’ve been learning a lot about the Young Futhark and the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc through my Anglo-Saxon Kindred. It helps that my fiance is also drawn to the runes, as well as my best friend (though she’s also partial to the Ogham). My main two resources for study right now are Diana Paxon’s “Taking up the Runes” and Edred Thorsson’s “Futhark”, because they were easily accessible and Paxon’s book seems to be a great compilation of information of many sources. This gives me a book to cover many sources rather than having to spend the money on the sources themselves individually. I do plan to expand my library here, however.
Runes are a special case, because as Thorsson mentions, they were started as a magical tradition and weren’t just language-oriented. They are multi-functional in this way, with many references throughout texts such as the Havamal and the Sagas. Even though they span across several cultures which contributes to their variations, they are still very similar at their core. This lends itself insight that even though they were spread out over these different cultures such as the Norse and Anglo-Saxon, that their meanings were definitive enough to stay relative to each other.
Tacitus states that it was common practice in the German culture to carve their runes into wood (which would unfortunately rot over time) and cast them onto a white cloth where they are then strictly interpreted (Thorsson, 13). Runic incantations (runagaldrar) and posture were quite popular and mentioned in the Poetic Edda and various other artifacts found throughout history, such as the drinking horns of Gallehus. These horns showed the incantations in the forms of humans taking the shape of the runes. Even children were taught the runic alphabet by posturing into the shape of the rune (Thorsson, 13).
(Word Count: 319)
Name and briefly describe one method of divination or seership technique common to three paleo-pagan Indo-European cultures. (minimum 100 words each)
I think one of the most common method of divination was through tools with written symbols on them that have specific meanings. Many of these were used as an alphabet in some ways, so it makes sense that they were a method of communication with the Shining Ones.
Three of the most popular of these are the Elder Futhark, the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, and the Celtic Ogham.
The Elder Futhark is a 24 character alphabet with a mysterious origin that predates mankind in the Norse lore (Thorsson, 3). Their origins are said to come from Bronze Age priests and magicians, but where the transition came to the Germanic people in terms of language by symbols is unclear. The actual lore behind the origin of the Runes is the story of Odin sacrificing the sight of one eye to receive the wisdom of the runes. According to Thorsson, the futharks are divided into three families or groupings, also known as the aettir (Thorsson, 12). It’s also important to note that they originated from a magical tradition, not just language-oriented, so they have a heavy magical association.
(Word Count: 118)
The Anglo-Saxon Futhorc is very similar to the Elder Futhark, albeit a newer variation. Physical comparison shows very clear similarities in shape, although the Futhorc are more in number as there are 33 symbols as opposed to 24. According to Thorsson (Thorsson, 9), the Elder Furthark was was prominent between 200 B.C.E. and 800 C.E., while the Younger Futhark was developed in seventh century C.E. and completed around 900 C.E. The Futhorc survived Christianization until tenth century C.E. So while the Futhorc were very similar and clearly were inspired somewhat by the Elder Futhark, there is clearly additional alternative lore to warrant the variant symbols as well as the new additional symbols of Anglo-Saxon lore.
(Word Count: 115)
Ogham is another symbol-oriented divination system, established or utilized in Ireland between 300 and 600 C.E, and is thought to have been used in training poets. It is comprised of 25 alphabetic characters that are based off of sacred trees of Ireland (Celtic Myth and Religion, 108), and the symbols are a series of spines and dashes that make up the variants. These trees are divided up into four groups: chieftain trees, peasant trees, herb trees, and shrub trees. The history surrounding the Ogham is very consistent throughout the centuries.
A similar trait between Ogham and the Runic Alphabets is that in the manuscripts of the Ogham letters, they were associated with short phrases known as “kennings”. The Runic alphabet also had kennings, some of which provide practical information and others that are more related to symbols than anything. The tent-rune method has another very similar visual formations with that of the Ogham, showing even more of a potential relation from first glance outside of the original context.
(Word Count: 168)
(Total Word Count: 467)
Discuss the importance and value of divination as it relates to ADF. (minimum 100 words)
The whole purpose of performing a High Rite is to give an offering or praise for something you need or want (an upcoming harvest, a prayer for guidance, you name it), and receive guidance and blessing in return. It’s like a gift exchange, maybe even a Secret Santa, because you don’t always know who is going to come to the party.
ADF provides legit public worship. It needs to be done well, it needs to be powerful, and it needs to accomplish a goal, and that goal is the gift exchange. In order for our rituals to be documented as “legit”, it is important, especially for our Seers, to accomplish this as accurately as possible. Once the Chief Liturgist presents the prayer of sacrifice, the Seer’s job is then to bring down the words of the Divine for all to hear, as it relates to everyone there and not just to themselves. This isn’t something they do “at the moment”, their focus for the entire rite should be to create that connection with the Divine, focus on natural omens that occur in ritual, draw the omen, and put it all together into one cohesive message.
(Word Count: 195)
Discuss your view and understanding of the function of the Seer. (minimum 100 words)
In our Grove, the function of the Seer is to receive, interpret, and announce the results of a divinational period, such as the omen in our High Rites. They are our liaison through the “language barrier” with the Divine that lets them speak to us, after we offer praise and prayer to them. This is a little more complicated than just doing a personal omen for yourself, because it involves interpreting for an entire group of people, and especially a meaning that is meant for the entire group of people. You have to put aside your personal thoughts, activities, and life drama in order to see beyond the veil as to what the deities are trying to say to all, not just you.
The Seer has also taken the time and put forth the effort to really study and immerse themselves in their chosen craft of seership (runes, tarot, ogham, etc). It takes a lot of time and effort to be able to function in an unbiased way as a Seer for the people, but that is their ultimate role.
(Word Count: 180)
Discuss the relative importance and effect of divination within your personal spiritual practice. (minimum 100 words)
I can be an indecisive kitten sometimes, though I do pride myself on my ability to make the right decision in most instances through common sense and without relying on outside input. However, when dealing with otherworldy influence, such as the Divine, I’m certainly out of my league and could use a little support through Divination.
Runes hold a special place for me due to my German ancestry and just that “feeling” that this is a very ancient tool that has received much research and development over the years.
For me, the use of the Runes helps provide a steady hand in unsteady circumstances. It provides sound, unaltered advice and direction when I might not see through the cloud of my own emotion. My first exposure to Divination in the late 90’s was to both runes and tarot, but I felt no connection with any tarot card (and still haven’t), and felt the symbolism to be too chaotic and complex for me to memorize with any significant progress. Runes are blunt, old, and no-bullshit. Kinda like me, well, except for the old part.
I’ve always had a difficult time communicating with the Gods, I think because of how busy and chaotic my life gets at times. I don’t always listen to the signs, but the runes force me to and provide a clean palate in which to communicate. That is pretty much their importance to me, they provide me with a direct line through the chaos so that I might have a better relationship with the Divine.
(Word Count: 257)