We had our Anderida Gorsedd moot this past Monday. Always an interesting night where we pick a topic and pass the talking stick (well, a beer mat actually) around with each person offering their opinions and experiences. On Monday we spoke about divination, and in particular, do we really want to know what will happen in the future?
The focus of the evening seemed to go into a few common directions:
- If we could know, would we want to know the date of our death?
- Does the act of divination itself change the influences of future events?
- How does divination work, and how?
Do I want to know when I’ll die?
If, on the day I was born, my parents could be told the exact date I would leave this life would I want them to tell me? On one hand knowing that date might help motivate me to work hard to make sure that every second counted, and that I used the time I had with clarity and focus. On the other hand what if it had been just 5 years? Or even less? Not knowing that date can lead me to think I’m immortal, or at least I know I’m not but that doesn’t bother me as it feels like it’s so far away that it’s not worth bothering about. Knowing that date would encourage me to take more risks. I wouldn’t worry when I got on a plane as I would know it would be safe. Getting into a car, on a crazy theme park ride, even crossing the road, it wouldn’t matter as today wouldn’t be my day. Of course that date (hopefully many years ahead) doesn’t say anything about injuries…
I think, after much thought, I wouldn’t want to know. I think that the secret is to live life like you do know. Carlos Castaneda wrote that we should live our lives with our death at our shoulder. To encourage that we never take life for granted, and with that presence there, we savour every day as if it might be our last. If I can manage that (and I’ve done a pretty good job thus far) then I can’t ask much more.
Does the act of divination itself change the influences of future events?
We know through scientific research that the simple act of observation can change the result of an experiment. So it makes sense then that the act of divination can change the direction our lives take. Firstly, I know that divination itself isn’t telling a fixed future – rather the reading of Tarot etc will show trends and events of a possible future, but that nothing is already set. So by reading those cards we are asking to see into a future that may happen if we don’t change our current trajectory. Simply by reading the cards this could change.
If the reading is not what we want to hear – there are many situations that we can be forewarned about that can encourage us to make some powerful changes in our lives that will instantly affect the direction of our current path. But I guess to do that effectively we also need to know where we want to point our wand. It’s all very well saying I don’t want this to happen, but what do we want instead, and how can we make that possible? These are things that sometimes the Tarot, Runes etc are stubbornly silent about. I guess forearmed is forewarned, but some kind of action is needed.
Or is it?
What if the simple act of reading the cards has already placed those changes ahead? Just like the observed experiment, the future has changed with the knowing. If we were to do another reading immediately after, it is highly unlikely to come out the same (there are professional readers who will tell me why that is, or that you should always leave time between readings for that exact reason I’m sure).
What if the cards tell us exactly what we want to hear? Then I guess we might just relax about the whole thing. If the cards say everything will be ok, then we can just chill out and not worry. If the cards say we won’t lose our house, why bother trying to sort out the mortgage? If the cards say the hellish relationship you’re in will be fine, why bother trying to sort things out? That to me is the danger of taking what we read in the cards as some kind of inevitable Truth. I’m a great fan of an American motivational speaker called Anthony Robbins. I got into his work when I was a Sales Manager and Director back in the late 80s. He says “Affirmation without action is the beginning of delusion. Affirmation with discipline creates miracles.” If we have the most amazing reading, then follow that up with direct action, that might just amplify the positive end result. Doing nothing may well do the exact opposite.
This Monday my card was Strength. Not a bad card, but I also know it can mean that I will need strength this coming week. I have Witchfest International this weekend. My biggest gig of the year. I’m on an ‘ask the Witches’ panel, giving a talk, and doing a concert in the evening. A great day. Usually my talk is held in a room that is always packed out. In fact there are always people who simply can’t get in. This year I am giving my talk in the second large theatre. A massive hall. I’ll be on a stage, under the lights. I’m good with that when I play my songs, but I’m much more comfortable giving talks in smaller intimate settings. I then realised what the card had told me, and where I might need that added strength tomorrow. It was good to know. This time.
How does divination work, and how?
The simple answer is, I don’t know. But something happens that’s for sure. I’ve heard the theory of vertical time, that everything that has, is, and ever will be is happening right now in this moment. Some see time as linear, others as a circle, but this idea of vertical time is different. So, if everything is happening right now, when we use the cards and ask a question we are asking our future self what is happening right now. They tell us through the cards or the Runes, and that simple act of knowing can help us change the future. It’s a fun idea to contemplate.
If some Quantum Theories are correct then maybe the cards are telling us our futures in parallel universes… Boom.
Or as the name suggests, Divination, maybe the act of reading the cards is an act of a prayer to the Divine, either out there or within ourselves. Maybe it’s all of these and none. As I say, I don’t know. But it’s always fun to ponder these things.
What topic will the next moot bring…?