“Hermes, too, gives his followers acute hearing; they call him “the god of the third ear”, the one that can hear an essence buried in an accident.” (Lewis Hyde, Trickster Makes This World)
Such a promising headline. It deserves an instructional essay or at the very least some dot points to lay down the gist of things. Augury 101; reading signs and omens.
Lets start with a prediction; in a world that wants more and more out of everyday experience, we’ll want to know what everything means and want it to fit with our ordinary understanding. We’ll want a method for interpretation, a glossary of the terms of the Gods, all the air-borne secrets revealed in one digest.
Friends, divination is one subject that’s, well, subjective for one thing. To my mind there’s no direct route or hard and fast approach. But we can sneak up on it from behind to catch it by its tail and we can stay very still and wait for it to come over of its own accord. We can ‘greet the angel’.
Whatever our system of belief, looking to the Gods for guidance begs us to open up our minds to meet with life around us differently; to assign value to that which ordinarily means nothing and to assign nothing to the usual clout.
What that entails, more or less, is willingness to let go of the stories of how things should be and allow life to present itself as it is; to generate awareness that all the answers to our questions are already given, and detachment from the need to know.
Because as soon as we think we know, it all changes.
Take, for example, a form of divination called cledonomancy – a random remark, a kind of language version of a lucky find. The Greek origin of the word cledon itself refers to two things, rumor, a report and avis, a bird, pointing us to what ‘a little birdie told me..’ as more than a turn of phrase.
A cledon is when you turn on the radio and hear a message in a song which resonates with something on your mind. Its a voice in the crowd which calls out a message that may or may not be heard by anyone else but nonetheless speaks directly to you. Clear as a bell.
Its the answer to a question of how to proceed at a crossroads in the same manner as bibliomancy or cartomancy or any other ‘omancy‘ (whether you know you’ve asked a question or not). Its something ‘out of the blue’ like the kookaburra that appears on the fence outside your house to laugh at you just as you’re pondering the seriousness of the matter at hand.
And then its gone, leaving you to wonder if you only imagined it.
In fact it was probably there every day as you left the house and you never noticed until this moment. The voice in the crowd has been calling out for a while and you only just heard it today. The cards have been falling like that, the words were in the book, the song played over and again until you were ready to know. And now you’ve got the message.
But then comes the temptation to interpret – to consult a text or call a friend – to replace the direction, the resonance, the ah-ha! moment with tangibility and credibility – “does this mean..?”, “oh, yes it means this and that“. There’s the urge to take that received knowledge and examine it from every angle, poking and prodding and squeezing every last drop of what its made of out of it.
This is where we read too much into things. We get our answers and then want to question them.
And its this very mistrust of what’s given to us in its own form that destroys the divine part of divination. We apply the scarcity mind-set that proclaims Not Enough and disconnects us from the benevolent source – the larger intelligence – that is soul.
So the challenge is not how to read omens and signs but to contain them. In other words to stick with the original message rather than allow the mind’s tricky ways to unravel it and remake it into something else.
Its as simple as this. Trust that if you ask, the answer is on its way. Notice what life is showing you because soul makes intelligent, meaningful statements all the time.
Keep a journal – the act of writing mystical experiences shows you your own understanding of them . Stop interrogating the answers and, above all, sit for just a moment with what you’ve received and recognise the magic.
Trust it, its part of who you are now. Laugh with that kookaburra, sing along and smile at the voice from the crowd and then keep on walking, you’re on your way.