Divination Tools: Exploring the Deep Self
In this article, we shall attempt to capture the essence behind the use of Divination Tools such as the I-Ching, Norse Runes, Astrology and even dream journaling. Are they simply arbitrary productions of the human mind with absolutely no value to us? Or can they be used for self exploration and mastery even if you are "not spiritually inclined"?
Divination tools and the nature of time
We live our lives within four dimensions — length, breadth, height and time. Although it is easy for us to measure with our senses the nature of the first three dimensions, the nature of time is more elusive and difficult to grasp.
It is quite impossible for you to know perfectly well the arrangement of your own subjective thoughts and actions that will be, five minutes from now, let alone that of objective phenomena inside three dimensions outside. Time has always been the dimension responsible for the greatest anxiety.
Indeed, the technologies that we've developed could be said to have come out of this anxiety to mitigate "undesirable time". This is true not only for the technologies that are meant to predict, but also for those that are meant to give us comfort and protection.
However, what about technologies meant to capture the very nature of time itself? Mankind has been using various forms of Divination tools since the dawn of time in an attempt to capture the nature of time.
In the article on elements, we explored phenomena that happens in space-time as permutations of expansion, contraction, the mediation (or in-between expansion and contraction) and solidification. We can talk about both objective phenomena and subjective (thoughts, emotions etc. ) as a form of permutation of such elements.
Upon careful contemplation, it becomes quite easy to see the most fundamental axiom that not only do phenomena happen in objective space-time, but more importantly, within subjective consciousness. Even if we take the scientific, objective study of consciousness itself, that very act and the thinking involved happens in consciousness! Paradoxically, the object exists in the subject and vice versa. Therefore, it can be called the subject-object. This is often depicted in occult symbolism as the ouroboros, the snake eating its' own tail, which is also the symbol of infinity:
(It is Interesting note that the "ego" or "self" is also part of the object that happens inside consciousness space.)
In The Shaiva-Shakta Tantric lore, this is often poetically (or archetypally) likened to Shiva or Bhairava as consciousness and Shakti or Bhairavi as it's contents. Objectively then, space-time itself can be likened to as Shiva and material stuff and events can be likened to as Shakti. Shiva eternally observes the dance of Shakti and contains her, but paradoxically Shakti is also the mother of Shiva.
If in fractal cosmology, the universe is said to be fractal across large scales, then each slice of time can be said to exhibit it's own nature across all scales. That is, Shakti dances eternally and no matter what the scale of her stance of the dance in a particular slice of time within space you wish to capture, it would be fractally, the same in its nature although increasingly more complex as we go up in scale!
This also seems to be the idea behind Carl Jung's work on synchronicity — the acausal connection of two or more psychic and physical phenomenon. That is, subjective psychic events and those happening in the outside world may have a simultaneous appearance (which we like to call coincidence).
In this world view (as opposed to causality), the universe is like a Symphony or a piece of music where a future "tone" can change the nature of a tone in the present or past! The world view of causality then is like a crutch for our anxious rationality, as a result of our inability to capture the entire Symphony or the stance of the dance of Shakti (Including our own thoughts and unconscious) or the whole of the fractal pattern.
In Jung's own words:
"A certain curious principle that I have termed synchronicity, a concept that formulates a point of view diametrically opposed to that of causality. Since the latter is a merely statistical truth and not absolute, it is a sort of working hypothesis of how events evolve one out of another, whereas synchronicity takes the coincidence of events in space and time as meaning something more than mere chance."
All of this can also be attributed to our inability to grasp intuitively, the truth that our "self" or "ego" identity is also a "happening" within consciousness. It would be more accurate to say that there is "selfing" happening in the space of consciousness, along with everything else. This illusory divide perhaps is the primary culprit that causes us to helplessly perceive in terms of causality, instead of the whole thing as a form of pattern.
Modern physical science has also confirmed how time is an illusion, therefore couldn't it be that it's persistence is largely subjective and "psychological"? This might also explain our capacity to experience the flow of time differently, and also the ability of psychedelics to induce experiences where time stops altogether. We already discussed how existence can be viewed as subject-object (absolute truth) instead of subject vs object (relative truth).
Divination tools are in one way, technologies that help us mitigate our anxiety of not being able to perceive time as a whole. But more importantly, they are tools that let us explore the deep waters of ourselves and by consequence, the universe itself.
Sortilege and Geomancy
Various peoples throughout the world have developed various types of Divination tools to capture the nature of time which include the sortilege/geomancy variety, numerology, palmistry, astrology and even direct observations of omens in the surroundings.
Among the sortilege/geomancy variety are "primitive" shamanistic use of sticks and stones, the yoruba "ifa", tarot, the Indian vastu divination, Norse runes and the I-ching.
When we look at time-space from the point of view of space alone, it contains different "elements" that define the configuration or "nature" of its contents (hydrogen, helium etc.).
Similarly, if we are to look at time-space from the point of view of time alone, it would also contain different "elements" that define the nature of each particular "time". This we can call "temporal elements". The 64 hexagrams of the I-ching then, can be likened to different elements or "natures" of how time can manifest.
Therefore, by picking up a particular configuration of the I-ching hexagram (in the microcosm), you get the larger configuration of that particular time for you (in the macrocosm) or even of cities and larger events.
This is why Jung was interested in using the I-ching to predict the nature of the "synchronicity". That is, subjective psychic events and those happening in the outside world may have a simultaneous appearance.
Understanding the nature of space-time in this psychophysical universe through the angle of space, one would use mechanistic science. However, in order to grasp at the fabric of space-time through the angle of time, one has to use the science of direct observation/contemplation beyond the rational mind (which itself is a sense organ INSIDE consciousness).
One could use various Jungian techniques of dream Journaling as a start to become a more astute observer of the nature of "Shakti" or the "Tao" around at any given moment, for what the unconscious (or the collective unconscious) shows you is often of higher intelligence that "you", with "your" rational conscious mind alone may fail to grasp.
Remember that instead of interpreting dreams that you journal through the faculty of rationality, it would be more important to grasp intuitively at the pattern that expresses itself. Lucid dream practice can improve your faculty to be aware of the pattern even more greatly. This is practiced in Tibetan dream yoga.
The ancients, including the Taoists who practiced stillness and deep meditation were able to sense the "Flux" that existed at the center of stillness. This is what they called the "Tao". If one is able to sense the primordial pattern so close to the center intuitively, it would be no surprise that the different emanations (or stances of the dance of Shakti or the different primary wave patterns) of this Flux would be observable, thereby enabling the formation of the 64 different hexagrams.
Keys to mastery
The interesting sense building exercise that you can perform is to carry out a dream journal, whilst simultaneously journaling events of everyday, and comparing them to the events within the larger world whilst consulting the I-ching oracle. The rules that govern the temporal elements across all scales are fractal, and you will begin to see a synchronized pattern. Remember once again, that the idea is not to rationally interpret what you note, but to grasp at it intuitively.
Add to this the contemplative meditation practice of observing your own thoughts (the most important of all), and you have all the basic tools of "psychic exploration". You will be surprised how much of your own psyche is unconsciously aligned to (and produces?) the external environment.
Astrology, archetypes and myths
Astrology is another very intricate tool that is used to snapshot of the "dance of Shakti" at any given point in time.
Often, it gets too much said against it because of the apparent mechanistic way that it is misunderstood to "predict things". However, this is due to sheer misunderstanding of the process — the intuitive capacity that you need to get a
"reading" is not very dissimilar to that of the I-Ching.
The nine "celestial bodies" that astrology such as "Vedic" astrology uses to capture the "stance of the dance of Shakti" at any given moment are more importantly embodiment of different aspects of your psychic structure than they are representations of the physical "planets" themselves, gravitationally affecting you.
Our psyche structure IS responsible for the limited world that we perceive. Our sense organs (including thought) ultimately determines the horizon of our perception, no matter how many external tools we develop for they too are bound by our capacities.
In ancient cultures that gave importance to subject first, anything that exists in the objective world are reflections of the subjective psyche structure.
The nine celestial bodies are seen as physical analog/manifestations of the nine grahas that make up and constitute your own psyche.
The Sanskrit word for what is usually translated as "planets" is "graha". A "graha" however is most accurately translated as "psychic seizer".
Therefore, the nine grahas are the primary influences that constitute your psyche, the physical manifestation of the "planet" is secondary and only a map (fractally aligned) to the psychic arrangement.
At any given time, the permutations of the nine graha will determine the state of your own psychic structure up until the very depths of your unconscious, unbeknownst to yourself, and therefore also — considering the fractal nature of the universe — how the external world (at least up until the level of our solar system and its' point of view) is manifested.
Each graha of course, represents a different aspect of the psyche. Moon for example, represents the emotional mind and mercury the intellectual mind. Venus represents sexuality and sensuality whereas Mars is usually anger, war, ambition etc. Of course, these are very simplistic and the attributions can be far more intricate for each celestial body.
The personalities of the celestial bodies' and its' influence on everything around you
It is important to keep in mind that the grahas influence not only us, but also larger "personalities" such as a family, a clan, a town, a city, a country etc. The idea is not different to Jung's observations with his use of the I-Ching and synchronicity.
The celestial bodies themselves have their own personalities and are the very embodiments of the various personalities that make us and the world that we live in.
The difference is that each of them are "purely" those personalities, whereas "we" are a combination of the personalities of the different grahas. The larger world that we experience also have personalities that constitute the permutations of the same grahas, only differing in scale.
In Jungian terms, the celestial bodies would be the primary archetypes that make up the personalities of the psycho-physical world that we experience, across all scales, at least until the level of our solar system. They not only make our personality, but also the personality of the solar system.
Indeed, the world we most closely know and can relate to most, is a world of “personalities”.
A dog or a cat might also be classified as a personality by most of us. However, upon more contemplation, one can see that there are more subtle forms of personalities. Trees have their own personalities, but going even further, the hive minds of a group of ants or bees have their own personalities. In fact, we ourselves are “personalities” of groups of many different cells.
But remember — our brains do not actively look at each other as a group of cells, but as personalities or “I”s. It is easy to see why we have the affinity to work with personalities, rather than any other types of abstractions
If the celestial bodies encapsulate the primary building blocks of the psyche and therefore the type of world events at large, then the celestial myths can be said to encapsulate the interactions between these primary archetypes.
These myths are then eternal, because they (the different basic types of interactions between the celestial archetypes) keep manifesting in the psyche and the world at large over and over, repeating itself. The interactions between the celestial bodies encapsulates how the Shakti dances. They are anthropomorphized and act with each other.
Myths too have a life and a personality of their own. We humans, whether we are aware of it or not are living out narratives that have captured our minds. A certain story or characters within the story can very subtly but powerfully influence the way in which we perceive the world. Myths then, use us humans as vehicles to live out their lives! This is perhaps one reason why myth reading is often prescribed by early religions as a way to reach higher states of consciousness. They're also used as means, along with Mantras, gemstones etc. To counteract "malefic effects" of celestial bodies and boost their "beneficial effects".
Following is an example of how celestial myths can encapsulate time events across all scales, taken from "The light on life" by Hart Defouw and Robert Svoboda, a highly recommended read should you wish to explore the subject further:
"One of the Sanskrit names for Venus is Shukra, which means 'white', and Venus is indeed a bright, white orb, the brightest object in the night sky after the Moon. Venus is so bright that you can see it even during daylight, if you know exactly where to look.
Another meaning of shukra is 'semen'; just as Venus is the brightest (= most potent) planet, semen is the most potent (the 'brightest') substance in the male body. People tend to be at their most amorous when Venus is shining brightly in the sky, either in the early part of the night, just after going to bed, or early in the morning, just after waking up (a man's testosterone being at its highest daily level around four a.m.).
From the mythic angle, the deity who plays the role of Venus in the cosmic drama of Jyotish enjoys a capability which no other celestial possesses: the power to bring the dead back to life. He was awarded this ability after being swallowed by Lord Shiva and spending one hundred divine years in His belly. Venus dies and is reborn in many cultures, including the Sumerian (where her name is Inanna) and the Mayan (Quetzalcoatl, the Plumed Sky Serpent).
Should you plot Venus' risings and settings, you would find that he creates a serpent in the sky, the death and rebirth serpent which the Tantric tradition calls the Kundalini Shakti. This is one reason why Venus is one significator of Tantric ritual in a horoscope.
This death and rebirth myth is a product of observational astronomy. Venus, which has a 584-day cycle of visibility, appears as both the Morning Star and the Evening Star. In between these periods of visibility, each of which lasts about 263 days, come two periods of invisibility, during which Venus is conjunct with the Sun. When Venus, as the Evening Star, moves toward its solar conjunction, it 'sets' in the sky - it appears lower and lower each night until that fateful night when it fails to appear at all, swallowed up by the Sun, who may be identified here with Lord Shiva. Both the Sun and Shiva represent the Universal Soul.
When, after two weeks (or sometimes less) of invisibility, Venus reappears, he becomes the bright Morning Star, the Soul's Herald for another 263 days. Then again he sinks into conjunction, this time for about seven weeks, until finally he re-emerges as the Evening Star. When some clever observer of the heavens noted that the period of these two Stars is almost precisely the same length as the average human pregnancy (roughly 265 days) - enough time for a slain hero to die and be reborn - all the elements of the death-and- rebirth motif were in place and ready to be mythified."
Karma, psychically embedded patterns at birth and free will
In the article on the elements we discussed how when you are born, there can be said to be a particular permutation of the elements within the Akasha or consciousness. These permutations can be likened to the eternal dance of "Shakti" whereby, if you take the snapshot of each given slice of time, you will be able to catch her in a particular "stance" of her dance, where certain elements are dominant and others are dormant.
The snapshot of your astrological profile of the macrocosm captures this permutation in terms of the nine celestial bodies, and thereby fractally, the nature of your own psyche and genetic pattern.
Karma and Divination tools
Chief among misunderstood concepts today has to be the law of Karma. It is often conflated with social laws that govern what is Good or Bad and "punishments" that are associated with it. However, the truth is, it is impossible to know what is good or bad at all times and what action will lead to what results — "the road to hell is often paved with good intentions".
The law is simply put newton's third law — every action has an equal and opposite reaction. However with Karma, this law also extends psychically.
Every action that you perform can be said to have a sort of psychic recoil into your deep subconscious (into the Astral body) which will then subtly alter the way it is structured. This recoil goes back as far as the causal body beyond the Astral body, disturbing it with new "patterns", which then later trickle down back into the physical mind and body, making you subtly act in ways that confirm to it, putting you in situations.
What patterns are generated in the causal body is impossible to know, except when it is ready to, or almost ready to express itself in the Astral body (the psyche), altering the nature of the time that is experienced.
This is where Divination tools such as the I-Ching and Astrology can be said to come in — they "shed light" on it, giving you the tools necessary to "karmically engineer" destiny. Of course if you have developed perfect intuition and higher consciousness into your own nature, such tools become redundant!
Divination tools and Free will
The question that is frequently asked while discussing Divination tools is everything fated and pre-determined? This however, seems to be the wrong question to ask.
The various processes that happen in your body happen involuntarily, beyond our control — the beating of the heart, the digestion, temperature regulation etc. Similarly, much of the contents of the psyche happen involuntarily also, and this is often referred to as the subconscious. But going further, even the apparently conscious decisions you make can be thought of this way . Even from a scientific standpoint then, the universe “does” you, but you simply have the perception of being a separate entity.
Or conversely, on a more optimistic note (that various Eastern religions and philosophies also insist to be true), you ARE the universe and the illusion is that you are not, but more importantly there is no "you" as separate from the larger universe. The illusion is the "I" feeling.
This seems like the idea behind the Kundalini Shakti identifying herself with the Ahamkara (ego), only seen from a different angle.
The difference is not in what is "willed", because everything can be said to be ultimately, willed by the absolute.
The difference is in the level of consciousness — what isn't inside the vicinity of consciousness is said to be "external" and "fate", whereas what is consciousness is perceived to be "will".
"Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate" — C.G. Jung
Remove the concept of "you" and "I" from language and it can be said to be what is going on.
Divination tools are a way to explore our psyche and as a consequence, increase our level of boundary of consciousness. The Sanskrit word for astrology is Jyotisha, meaning "lord of light". It is unfortunate that it is largely used for petty concerns these days!
Other forms of Divination
There are a myriad of different Divination tools that exists, including Numerology, Divination through interpretation of body parts (using their shapes, relative size and markings, which includes palmistry), observation of omens, Crystal ball and mirror gazing, use of pendulums etc.
There is even the Tantric technique of using breath as a means to grasp the "rhythm" of the pattern, called "Swara yoga", not to mention getting aid from ethereal beings for assistance.
The expert Divination master will of course, try to master and employ multiple Divination tools as part of his/her repertoire. This might take a lifetime and for most of us, such an endeavor would be impossible.
However, what seems to underlie them all is the ability to grasp at the pattern, or the "tune" or the stance of the dance of Shakti. If one develops a keen sense of intuition, one can go a long way!
It would be a mistake to fall into the modern fashion of considering tools of Divination (or any tools of psychic exploration) as arbitrary productions of the human mind with no value.
Even if you are not "spiritually inclined", the value of using Divination tools as an addition to your repertoire of self exploration is undeniable, particularly with easy to use and master tools such as I-Ching.
So do start observing patterns of synchronicity, instead of considering the universe as a dead, lifeless being. Observe how your own inner reality is aligned with the universe, and employ one or more divination tools and try to learn to intuitively sense patterns!