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Probably for as long as humanity has been able to conceive of “yesterday”, “today”, and “tomorrow”, people have wanted to know what tomorrow holds in store. Since the spirits live in a timeless dimension, they are considered to have larger, longer, wider perspectives regarding the trajectories of the universe than we people can possibly have. Hence for millennia, we have consulted them in one way or another, in our attempts to answer questions about the future. The very word “divination”, which means “the act of foretelling” reflects the fact that from ancient times prophecy has been considered to be generated by divinities or spirits. 

Because of their familiarity with the spirits, shamans are often asked to serve as intermediaries between them and those seeking answers about how events may unfold.

If you are one seeking such answers and are considering consulting a shamanic practitioner for divinatory work, here are some suggestions that may help you reap the most benefit from your quest.

  1. Avoid “yes-or-no” questions. (“Will Xerxes ever love me?” “Will I win the lottery?”) If you ask such questions, the spirits may provide a “yes-or-no” answer and very little additional information.
  2. Ask open-ended questions. (“What can I do to have my best shot at that promotion?”) Open-ended questions tend to elicit more helpful information from the spirits.
  3. Avoid time-specific questions. (“When will the mother-ship arrive to take us home?”) Because the spirits exist outside of it, linear time, as people experience it, is meaningless to them. They are notoriously vague when it comes to specific dates. If they do mention a date, chances are good it will be inaccurate.
  4. Be prepared to think outside the envelope. Often the spirits make use of symbol, metaphor, multiple levels of meaning, puns, jokes, and other word play. For example, I once knew a person who asked the spirits where she should relocate. The spirits answered, “Crystal.” At first the seeker assumed this meant Crystal, Minnesota, a very fine, nearby town, but not one she was drawn to. However, as things fell out, she eventually moved to a place in the country where she could work outdoors with quartz crystals in a way she had learned from the spirits. The spirits directed her to the quality of the place she should (and eventually would) move to, not the place’s actual name.
  5. Ask one question at a time. This is a practical and human consideration. Multiple questions make it difficult for the practitioner to remember them all and to concentrate on a particular one. Also it may be unclear what response the spirits are giving to which question.

A skilled shamanic practitioner can help you formulate your question along the above guidelines. Also, a practitioner may be able to help you find nuances of interpretation that do not immediately suggest themselves when the spirits’ response is taken at face value.

Divination work can be carried out through many modalities other than shamanic journeying. Crystal gazing, tarot cards, runes, the I-Ching, and tealeaves are just a few of these. Some diviners use no method other than their own receptivity to psychic impression. No method is inherently more effective than another. The effectiveness of any method depends on the participation of the spirits in delivering information and the ability of the reader to receive and interpret it.  

Most prediction operates on the principle of synchronicity: Since the entire universe is a single entity, any part of it is holistically connected to every other. In other words everything is in synch with everything else. Therefore, when a particular rune, or configuration of leaves is presented in a reading, or when a certain scenario is revealed in a shamanic journey, it naturally has relevance to whatever question is under scrutiny. It is the responsibility of the practitioner to find that relevance and make it clear to the seeker.

Diviners and practitioners need not limit themselves to one method or another. I, of course, most often journey shamanically when I am given a divinatory question for the spirits. However since my college days, I have been a reader of the tarot, and I still find consulting it to be an effective and rewarding way to receive information and guidance. If this method of divination appeals to you, please feel free to request it.