It’s very common today that even occultists who can, themselves, divine very well will seek out second opinions and unbiased perspectives from their peers via divination. While I have never been of the opinion that one is unable to divine for oneself based on personal experience and the words of those who taught me over the course of my life, it’s very reasonable to say that sometimes you really are too close to a particular issue to get a clear view of things.
There’s no shame in this, of course. Doctors see other medical professionals and therapists have their own therapists. So, too, do magicians seek out the services of their fellows. There are a myriad of other reasons one might do this, as well. Perhaps divination just isn’t your strength and you know a reader who is remarkably good and you’d rather leave the card-throwing to them in times of serious importance. Maybe you find yourself at your wit’s end, under duress or even cursed and unable to access your full psychic scope. Further, it’s also possible that you’re fairly new to magic in its various forms, either as a practitioner or a purchaser of standalone amulets and talismans, and you would like to seek out the help of someone towards these ends.
Regardless of why, it’s important to understand how to engage with readers for the best outcome. The right question asked can be the difference between getting an answer that empowers you or getting an answer that only makes things more confusing. Also, to be blunt, asking the wrong questions can make even the best diviners less-than-able to give you clarity if they aim their practice in a nebulous direction.
How to fix this? Remember the following:
Your reader is translating messages from spirits. Depending on the reader, the method and the tradition of divination the beings being questioned will be very different. What remains the same, however, is that the person you pay to do this for you is very literally acting as the go-between. Considering that in how you phrase your question is important. If you were asking for directions from someone you might be better served in saying “where can I get a good meal in this city” rather than “what would I like about this city?”
To that end, direct questions are always best. For my own part, my least favorite questions a client can ask me are “tell me about me” or “is there anything I need to know about my life right now?” these are so vague as to be nigh impossible to handle well. If you ask someone this, their spirits will give equally vague answers and, in the case of spirits who are a bit snarky, will make it a point to poke fun at the client while still answering the question. While there are certainly a host of clients out there who have the sort of metaphysical masochism that makes them love being read to filth by the person they pay real money to tell their past, present and future, that’s less-than-helpful.
Instead, try focusing on the specifics. An example list of genuinely good questions might include:
- “Do I have any enemies?”
- “What are those enemies doing to hinder me?”
- “Is my partner cheating on me or going to cheat on me?”
- “Will I get this job?”
- “What kind of job would be best for me in terms of personal satisfaction/money/prestige/etc?”
- “Am I cursed?” (the answer is usually no but sometimes you have to check)
- “What does so-and-so think of me?”
- “Will (insert enterprise here) succeed?”
- “What will it take for (insert enterprise here) to succeed?”
- “Why is (insert bad thing) happening to me?”
- “Why did my spell fail?”
- “What will it take for this spell to work?”
Direct, to the point, and focused. These are the qualities of the questions you should ask.
Now, one might ask something to the effect of, “well, Alex, what if I want to know what ‘my spirits’ want to tell me?” That’s a fair question but that comes with its own complex caveats. For one, it is a specific sort of divination that is sort of a specialty within the art of divination. Secondly, ‘your spirits’ in general may not have anything to say or you may end up hearing from your many-greats-grandparent about how you’re a deeply ungrateful and lazy person because of some value mismanagement on your part in their eyes. It’s just as likely that you will get no answer, a bad answer or a generic answer like “keep doing what you’re doing.”
Some people practice divination in what I would call a “big picture” sense. These sorts are less focused on the specifics of things and more on the generalities. This is entirely valid and a useful way to approach it for some but even they are best served by a bit more specificity than being asked what the Universe ™️ wants to say to them at this moment. Such questions are the breeding ground for trickster spirits at times and, even in more mellow situations, vagueries may only be answered by generalizations that are less-helpful than we’d hope.
Another factor that is worth mentioning is that some people divine from within their tradition the spirits from that tradition that are likely to or willing to work with you either after or before some initiation. As I don’t take part in those specific traditions I can’t speak much more about them other than to say that if that is something you want, you’d need to seek out people from those systems for that service and engage with them in that milieu which is, as stated, its own thing.
An additional bit of diviner-client etiquette to remember is that your reader is not, unless licensed and trained to be, your therapist. They can provide you suggestions on what to do or how to process readings based on what happens but too often do clients pay for a divination session mostly to have someone to talk to about their problems. This is not the worst thing in the world but it is largely a waste of your time and your reader’s time unless the question is the primary focus and the advise or “debriefing” after the fact is a distant secondary concern.
A further nitpick would be the clients who essentially beg for free extra readings. Many’s the time when I’ve finished explaining a card spread to a client only for them to go “do you have time to do a quick yes or no reading for me in addition” and then balk at me saying that I do if they have the amount of money it costs. Keep in mind that you are approaching a professional for a service. These things are not free and it is endlessly frustrating to have people expecting to slide in that way.
Divination comes in many forms, as well. Picking the diviner for you based on system is important. Personally, I read the playing cards in an old-school conjure style based around systems practiced in the United States. My direct, matter-of-fact style works well for those who enjoy that sort of thing. Others may like the rich tapestry of symbolism in the Tarot or the mysticism in rune-throws. There are, without exaggeration, hundreds of styles of divination in the world and even two people practicing the same system may come at it from radically different ways. Finding the reader that works best with you is often a process of trial-and-error for people while others stumble on such a person right away. It helps, though, to try and find someone whose system, personality and values align with yours. Easier said than done, perhaps, but still worth the effort.
Hopefully this short piece can point would-be customers of diviners, and even diviners themselves new to the practice who hope for pointers, in a constructive and helpful direction.