Choosing a Divination System

Divination in Theory & Practice: Part Two (YouTube)
Tarot de Marseille from Pierre Madenié 1709 © Yves Reynaud


Unless you’re a hermit living atop a lonely mountain, you’ve probably noticed that tarot is having a bit of a renaissance at the moment. Years ago, I used to get maybe twenty people for my in-person tarot workshops for the Johns Hopkins Odyssey Program. The last time I taught in person (pre-pandemic), the university had to move me into the largest classroom on campus to accommodate the 60+ students who signed up.

  • Are drawn to the deeply resonant and symbolically rich images on the cards
  • Are good with language and metaphor
  • Like telling stories
  • Are primarily visual and verbal
  • Want to be able to read for others (or even read professionally)
The 64 hexagrams of the I Ching


The ancient I Ching (or Book of Changes) is still incredibly popular, and with good reason — those who practice it liken it to having a wise friend who is always available for consultation. Many, including psychologist Carl Jung, considered it to have a very distinct “personality.”

  • Prefer more abstract symbols over complex pictures (the oracle generates one or two hexagrams (symbols made up of broken and unbroken lines) from a total of 64.
  • Like to have the meanings of the symbols clearly written and explained
  • Are more logical and prefer short, succinct answers (vs. fuzzy metaphors of tarot)
  • Are mostly interested in reading for yourself
The 16 Geomantic Figures


Geomancy (often confused with Feng Shui) is my most recent practice, but also one of my favorites. In the few years I have been using it intensively, for myself and for others, it has provided incredibly specific and concrete information and advice. Frankly, I’m surprised it is largely neglected among diviners.

  • Prefer a logical, forthright, binary numerical system
  • Enjoy and have some familiarity with astrology (European geomancy incorporates astrology)
  • Like getting direct yes/no answers to questions
  • Don’t mind limited educational resources (as compared to tarot)
  • Are drawn to African and African diasporic traditions, like Sikidy and Ifa (which are related)
  • Want to provide unique, uncommon readings for yourself and others

But What About. . . .

You may wonder why I didn’t mention other popular systems—runes, bone throwing, palmistry, numerology, etc. The answer is short: because I have not practiced them extensively. I can recommend the above three systems because I have studied them rather intensively, have practiced them for a period of years or decades, and because I have used them to help other people.



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