Divination is simply the use of an object or objects to learn answers to questions or to see an event or events which are not perceptible to the average person.
Witches and/or magicians who are born with the rare natural gift for prophecy are known as Seers, who can foresee the future with their Inner Eye. Non-Seers can learn divination methods, but their success varies. User can employ divination, a method of reading the future, the present and the past and/or provide help to a problem at hand by using a cultic, standardized process or ritual. Divination can be achieved by communicating with the supernatural (i.e. gods, demons, spirits, and nymphs) or just by reading certain patterns.
|The most oracles of the ancient world was the Oracle of Delphi|
A prophet (oracle) is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and to speak for them, serving as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people. The message that the prophet conveys is called a prophecy. Oracles were thought to be portals through which the gods spoke directly to people. In this sense they were different from seers who interpreted signs sent by the gods through bird signs, animal entrails, and other various methods.
Oneiromancy - also sometimes spelt oniromancy or occasionally onieromancy - is the ancient art of dream divination. The word comes from the Oneiroi, the sons of Hypnos the Greek god of sleep. Usually such dream interpretation was of a prophetic nature as opposed to the modern psychological analysis whereby dreams are often seen as clues to the present state of the dreamer (part of the scientific field of oneirology). Dreams are our primary connection with the unconscious mind. They occur along the boarder between conscious mental activity and the unconscious, and a good deal of mixing occurs between these two levels of consciousness in dreams. Because of this, dreams may reflect a number of different things, and may be interpreted at different levels.
Oneiromancy thus also occurs in the Christian bible as omens or messages from God:
- Jacob dreams of a ladder to heaven (Genesis 28);
- his son Joseph dreamed of his future success (Genesis 37) and interpreted the dreams of the Pharaoh of Egypt (Genesis 41);
- Solomon conversed with God in his dreams;
- Daniel interpreted dreams (in the Book of Daniel);
- Joseph, husband of Mary, was directed to flee to Egypt (Matthew 2);
- Paul was told to go to Macedonia (Acts 16).
Perhaps the most well-known example of oneiromancy from the Christian bible is Joseph's interpretation of the Pharaoh’s dream of cows (Genesis 41). Here the Pharaoh is said to have dreamed of seven fattened cows emerging from the Nile, to be followed by seven lean cows that devoured the former. The Pharaoh’s magicians were unable to interpret this dream, so Joseph was summoned. He interpreted the dream as meaning that Egypt would have seven prosperous years followed by seven lean years.
Such a symbolic interpretation might seem natural to us today, however for many cultures in the past oneiromancy was seen as more of a science than an art. Hence there were books of dream interpretations which were consulted. A few of them contain helpful guidelines. Most of them are crap. Avoid “dream dictionaries,” books that contain alphabetized listings of “common” dream symbols and a dictionary definition of what they mean. Dream symbols and their meanings are never precise, always changing, and are different from person to person and culture to culture. If, as in the case of the Pharaoh’s dream of cows, the answers were not in the sacred book then the interpreters were at a loss.
Protection for the dreamer
People once believed that nightmares were caused by evil spirits, or black Magic Because of this belief, a number of spells and protective amulets were devised to protect the sleeper from the negative influence of bad dreams. Modern psychology now tells us that bad dreams are manifestations of anxieties and fears that plague us at the edge of consciousness, and that we may or may not be consciously aware of. Therefore, bad dreams are often more productive than good ones because they force the dreamer to be aware of problems that may hinder their growth. Whatever the cause, however, nightmares can be extremely unpleasant and frightening, and magical protection is an effective way to prevent nightmares. The simplest way is to cast a circle around the bed before going to sleep.
One common form of nightmare is called “the Old Hag” or “the Witch riding your back,” also known as “night terrors,” or “incubus attacks.” This type of dream occurs during the in-between state as the sleeper is just waking up. The sleeper thinks they are awake, but are unable to move and may feel as though they are under attack by an unseen entity. It was once a common belief that these dreams were caused by evil spirits or malevolent witches. Several protective measures against suck attacks are found in European and American folklore traditions.
A dream pillow is a small pouch or pillow placed on or under the pillow to bring pleasant dreams, and keep bad dreams away. It can be made out of any old cloth, or cloth pouch, of any color that represents dreams to the sleeper. The dream pouch is stuffed with sweet-smelling herbs and should be blessed by the deities of your choice.
Chamomile and jasmine are sweet smelling flowers that make an equally sweet tea. Chamomile can be steeped in hot water by itself, or with a little jasmine, and a little honey for a light, relaxing evening tea to curl up with a book with. Valerian root contains naturally occurring oil which is very similar to Valium. It has a rich, earthy taste and smell, which some people find unpleasant. Adding a little peppermint, chamomile, or both to the tea helps to improve the taste. Valerian and skullcap are great sedatives, and can be used alone or together for a restful night’s sleep. Mugwort grows along the side of the road with goldenrod and ragweed, and should be avoided if you suffer from hay fever (late summer/early autumn allergies). Hops are used in brewing beer. While it is useful for getting a good night’s sleep, it is a depressant, and should be avoided by individuals who are taking anti-depressants. Any good book on herbalism will go into more detail on the uses and effects of these herbs.
Hypnos is the Greek personification of sleep
Morpheus is the Greek god of dreams
Maya is the Hindu goddess of dreams
Caer Ibormeith is the Celtic goddess of sleep and dreams
Celtic goddess Epona was seen as the bringer of dreams