Divination is a sacred, highly dangerous, and important craft. It is one of the ways that we can be aware of our right relationships with the Gods as well as Their wishes and reasons. So, too, it is one of the ways in which we can peer into our futures in order that our present actions are responsible, forwarding reactions – and one of the ways that we can look at our own pasts so that we may understand ourselves more deeply.
When engaging in divinatory and/or oracular workings, it is of the most crucial importance that one fully understands what they are doing, how they are doing it, and why they are doing it. It is important to use the right tools for the work, to be open to all methods of receiving communication, to be secured against false/malicious entities (or to be able to discern from where the information is coming from), and to maintain energetic boundaries properly. Everyone divines differently: the tools, the preparation, the ways in which a diviner receives information, their personal theology, and how they engage with Powers (if at all) all differ between diviners.
I present here my personal protocol with divinatory and oracular work, so that perhaps it can help others. I am a hard polytheist who conducts her services with pure direction from the Gods, so my protocol is directly tied to a theology of hard polytheism and Gods-centered religious practice.
A) Before sitting down to ask a question, make sure that you can actually read for it. Sometimes there are some questions that are not meant to be answered (whether at that particular time or at all) so it is always best to make sure with the Powers that the questions can be read for. If a Power makes it clear to you that They do not wish for you to divine on the question, then the best idea is to respect that verdict. Checking to make sure you can read a question also applies to your personal practice; if you receive a question you’re uncomfortable reading for, you shouldn’t read for it. If someone who asks you for a reading asks something that you have a caveat or taboo for, you shouldn’t read for it.
B) When you have your question, make sure that it is a question written without bias to an outcome. Of course, all questions and situations are unique; however, generally, a good question should always encapsulate the concept but never lean towards one particular outcome. It is one thing to ask, “When will my annoying mother-in-law finally move out?” and another to ask, “What can I be doing, right now, to improve my difficult relationship with my mother-in-law?” The question is perhaps the trickiest and most important part of any reading: words are important, and you need to be both as specific and as open as possible so that you can receive the best guidance.
C) Make sure your space is clean – cleanliness applies both physically and energetically. Make sure that your reading space is tidy and orderly, and that your reading space has been thoroughly cleansed. Put up shields and protect your space so that you can perform a reading as “safely” and well-protected as possible. If you work with a Power or Powers, petition Them to help cleanse your space, protect you during the divination, and to allow you to be as clear a medium as possible for the reading. If you bless or cleanse your divinatory tools, make sure that you have done so.
D) Make sure you are clean. I always take a cleansing shower before and after divinations as I am sensitive to energies and my way of performing divinations has a lot of components. Everyone picks up miasma, so it is imperative to personal receptivity and health that one remains as energetically clean as possible. Energetic cleanliness both protects you and renders you a perfect medium for all information passing through – and it also gives respectable, honorable presentation in the presence of any Power.
E) Offerings are really important. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to spend your whole paycheck on offerings; if you have no money to spare, a clean glass with water or a slice of wheat bread is a perfect offering (unless the Power in question does not like water or bread- then offer something else). Offer what you can, but offer – it’s proper hospitality to grace a visitor with food and drink when you invite them into your space. It is generally advised that you do not ingest offerings; however, your practice is your practice, and if you have a tradition of (or have been allowed to) ingesting the offerings, by all means honor that.
If you are performing a reading with the following components, offerings are vital:
→ If you work with a Power who protects/guides you in your readings
→ If the question you’re asking is directly tied to a Power
→ EX: Asking if Hekate is interested in starting a relationship with you
F) Practice discernment, but don’t just rule out anything that happens. Discernment is really challenging to cultivate, but it is crucial to have a system where you can determine what is the ‘correct’ information you’re receiving and what is simply ‘in your head’ / ‘chatter.’ Your job as a diviner is to transcribe the information you receive as accurately as possible.
G) Cultivating a good system of determining what comes from the mouth of the Powers and what is simply ‘static’ also greatly depends on your knowledge of how you interpret information. Some people have the clair-senses. Others see visions or are very familiar with using the ‘third eye’ to see and hear the Powers in real time. Some have deep connection with the tools they use, to the point that tools like tarot decks have particular voices, personalities, and ways of giving information. Some have to drink some tea and spend some time in quiet and silence before performing a reading, while others can sink into a reading at a moment’s notice. You are as much a tool as your tarot decks or your runes; in order to be a proper diviner, you must be finely-tuned, and you can’t do that until you understand how you work.
H) When you are finished with your divination, thank the Powers and put everything in its place. Make sure your space is clean and that the offerings are properly disposed of. If you have a protocol of ‘cleaning’ your tools once divinations end, be sure to do that. It is advised that you cleanse after every reading, so if you have a protocol of cleansing/banishing after divinations, go ahead and do that.