Tag Archives: divination

I am an Initiate. This is what I do.

It happens fairly often now, where someone asks what my personal practice looks like.  Normally I respond in the general: well, here’s what I typically do each day or so.  I describe my home hearth practice.  And it occurs to me now, that I don’t often talk about what my practice as an Initiate looks like.  Or what my practice as a Priest looks like.  Or what the dove-tail looks like in my practice as an Initiate-Priest.  And not only am I not talking about it, I realized with some of the current discussion going on about The Spirit of ADF, no one appears to have talked about it much.

When you apply for entrance into these programs, you’re asked to respond to things like “What does being an Initiate mean to you?”, “Why do you want to be an ADF Priest?”, and “What form do you think your vocation will take?”  in your intention letters and vocational statements.  You’re asked to talk about what these things are without having been there yet.  And that is incredibly difficult.  If you’d like to read mine, you can find them here: Initiate Intention Letter, Clergy Intention Letter, and Vocational Statement. It is interesting that my Initiate Intention Letter still rings true for me.  Now having undergone the Ordeals and been tapped in to the Current, my Path was brightened and focused, but the root of it hasn’t wavered.

I know when I was an Initiate Candidate, I had no idea what Initiate Work looked like.  And even with several ADF Grove Priests in my Grove, when I was working through our Clergy Training Program, I had no idea what the personal Work of a Priest looked like.  Now, the obvious caveat here is that this experience will vary from initiate to initiate (especially) and priest to priest.  That’s part of the beautiful diversity of our organization.  But, we do have some commonalities, and I’d like to talk about them without getting into the Mystery of each specific Order.

So, as an Initiate, what do I do?  I’d like to start by talking about my Initiate Oath.  Each Initiate makes an Oath following third, and final Ordeal, that completes their initiation. It is book ended the same for each Initiate “I come from the Fire at the Center of Worlds… And with these tools I shall lead others to the Flame.”  We each fill in the middle of that Oreo cookie with imagery regarding the tools we gained.  Here is my full oath:

I come from the fire at the center of worlds,
Where the burning stars fall from the heavens to the seas.
Mists to open. Mists to bind.
Where the oak tree stands upon the mound.
Mists to open. Mists to bind.
Where the fire rages amongst the storm of lights and rain.
Mists to open. Mists to bind.
Where the stranger in the darkness stands as guide.
Mists to open. Mists to bind.
Where the heartbeat of the Mother ignites the fire within.
Mists to open. Mists to bind.
With these tools I shall lead others to the flame.

So, in the external work that I do, I am focusing on bringing others to the Flame.  That is the guiding statement for almost all of my work as an Initiate.  To me, this means that not only am I doing what I can to be a mentor to folks within our organization in general, wherever they may be on their path, but I am also specifically focusing on those who have expressed and interest in becoming Initiate’s themselves.  I have focused heavily on making sure that the path to Initiation is accessible to all who wish to walk it.  While it falls much more in the mundane realm of things, and not in the spirit worker realm, one of the things I did, that I think has had the most benefit thus far, is I fleshed out and built a fully structured syllabus and class that guides the beginning Candidate through all the required coursework and offers supplemental activities to make the work more enjoyable, more fulfilling, and ensure that the Candidate is as prepared as possible for the Three Ordeals they must undergo for Initiation.

“That’s great,” you say, “but what does being an Initiate in your actual spiritual practice look like? What do you do? What is an Initiate?”

I’m glad you asked! 😉 As an Initiate, I see myself as a Spirit Worker within an ADF context.  This means, that first and foremost, I work with the Current.  What is the Current you ask?  Well, here is an article that describes it’s establishment: https://www.adf.org/articles/working/initiatory-current.html  Notably, what is mentioned in the article is that at the culmination of a Candidate’s training, they will undergo a ritual of initiation that will tap them into a spiritual Current that unifies all ADF Initiates and that they would be able to use as the “juice” for their Work.  Because it was also an ADF Unity Rite, all of ADF was also joined into this work.  The Current is described as “flowing through ADF.”

I had just joined ADF when the Current was established, and was not there for that rite.  I came after, so I can only speak to what I know about it from my own experience and what I’ve learned about it along the way from my own Initiation and from the spirit work that has followed.  For me, the Current is the energy of the organization itself, and of the other Initiates who have been tapped in to this Current. It is a source of power for magic, divination, and trance journeying.  It is a connection to other Initiates.  Each Initiate sees it and works with it in a different way.  For me it most closely resembles the Mists of Magic that flow in the liminal spaces between the worlds.  It is referenced in my oath when I say “Mists to open.  Mists to bind.”  I weave the Mist of the Current into my magic.  I let it flow through me when I do divination.  It flows all about me and through me when I do trance work, and I use it as a tool to aid me in my journeys.  The Current is an integral part of my practice as an Initiate.

So, in my regular practice, what do I do as an Initiate?  I do Initiate-specific trance work, and make the attempt to do this a couple a times a week, though like most things, it ebbs and flows with what is going on in my life.  Since beginning the Initiate Work, my delineation between trance, magic, and divination has blurred.  They each tend to feed into the other. My trance work contains bits of magic and divination.  When I do magic or divination, I am certainly in a trance state.

So, this Initiate trance work for me generally takes the form of me traveling out from my Inner Grove with my spirit allies, and doing other spirit work, which may or may not include magic or divination.  Sometimes I go to places I know, sometimes I go to new places.  I seek new spirits who desire to work with me, or who may be beneficial in my own work. If I am doing helping work, I may seek out a spirit who can help me with that.  If I’m doing bardic work, I may seek out inspiration in the Otherworld.

I seek tools that will help me as I journey.  Do I need a way to bring the light of the Fire with me wherever I go (literally and metaphorically)?  Then I will seek that out.  I seek advice from spirits I know.  How should I approach this problem?  What direction should I focus my creative efforts?  I explore symbols and sigils in the Otherworld.  One of the cool things I’ve done and have just started writing up is I have journeyed focused on each symbol within the Greek Alphabet Oracle, and deepened my connection to the symbol set, finding new and more nuanced meanings for interpretation.  Each symbol has a location and vision in the Otherworld.  I occasionally engage in tandem-trance, where I journey with other Initiates (whether we are physically present in the same space or not) and we exchange experiences and visions. This allows us to build our Otherworld maps, and find the places where they overlap.  We can meet the spirits that another has met, and begin working with them independently.

Like most of the work I do as an ADF Druid in general, my goal with my trance work is to deepen my relationships with the Kindreds, and as an Initiate, it often becomes experimental.  I use my experience, knowledge, and devotion to gather around me powers that help me further the deeper work of trance, magic, and divination. This in turn deepens my practice further and as I find things that work for me, I share that with others so that more can benefit from it.  Sometimes this means introducing people to new spirits I’ve met.  Sometimes it means sharing new ideas for divination with others.  Trying them out in this world, rather than the Otherworld.  Sometimes it’s writing a song, or prayer, or piece of poetry that will help others connect to Our Druidry in a way they hadn’t before.

All of this to me is leading others to the flame with the tools that I have gained as an Initiate.  This post ended up longer than I anticipated, so I’ll post what I do as Clergy in a later one.

Seeking Peace

This sonnet was written as an interpretation of a divinatory reading. I asked “How might [person] find peace in their current situation?” I received Epsilon, Rho, and Tau. The first quatrain interprets Epsilon, the second quatrain interprets Rho, and the third quatrain interprets Tau. The final couplet is the three taken together. I would like to experiment with this style of reading more. I’m drawn to the idea of “prophecy in verse” and enjoy working with Euterpe in this way. It requires a certain amount of time to write the sonnet after taking and interpreting the omen, but I found it worthwhile, and it allowed me to delve deeper into meanings and explore more poetic language as a Seer.

“Seeking Peace”

Come together now and tell of your dreams:
Of desire and the fire within,
Of cool waters, the deep and flowing streams
Shining with blessings as they swirl and spin.

Know sweet Nature’s song is quiet and strong:
A patient voice that nurtures. It carries
on the wind, whispering that you belong.
Walk this path slowly, as the way varies.

Companions by your side, they come and go
as they must, each teaching you a lesson.
Be not afraid, for as they leave, you grow.
A tree: reaching the dawning sun again.

Join with a patience, the long view showing
Peace in acceptance, even when going.

Trance 2

  1. Describe your regular method of entering basic trance. (min. 300 words)

There are two main methods that I use, and it depends almost entirely if I am entering trance in a ritual setting or not.  Both methods include an aspect of controlled breathing as well as an auditory cue if possible.

My preferred method is to use some form of sonic driving to enter a trance state, and to maintain it throughout the duration of trance.  When doing this, I choose one of the auditory tracks I’ve used for this purpose in order to maintain continuity of the auditory cues my brain is used to.  The three types of tracks I use most often are either one of Harner’s 30 minutes drumming tracks at 240 beats per minute, or a complex drum track that is of a similar tempo (Fierce Tibetan Gods, of part of an African Percussion compilation), or an atmospheric type recording by Sigur Ros.  I’ve found that the straight up drumming tracks are the ones I’m the most successful with, especially if I’m in an area with a lot of distractions.  This is partly because I will have the sound continually playing to help maintain the trance (unlike the other recordings which may end after 5-7 minutes), as well as the fact that they include a callback beat to signal when the trance should end (Harner).  As the recording begins I begin focusing on my breathing and slowing it down to a comfortable and regular tempo.  As I progress deeper into the trance my awareness of my breathing fades and by brain locks into the sounds of the drumming, which will then seem to echo and morph, and eventually fade if a deep trance state is attained.  The drumming will remain in my subconscious if I’ve entered a lighter trance state.

While sonic driving is my preferred method of entering trance, it is not often the method that is used during a ritual setting.  During ritual, I again control my breathing and slow it down to a comfortable and regular tempo. Most often in ritual this is enough to put me in a light trance, which is all that is needed to complete the magical workings of a ritual.  There is the slightly woozy and disconnected from the world, yet connected to everything feeling that helps signify to me that I’ve entered a light trance.  Normally within ritual the only time I enter a deeper trance is when I’ve doing the work of the Seer.  In this case I’ve built in an auditory and olfactory cue to help me enter the state that makes interpreting the omens easier.  I take a deep breath to center myself and then call out to Apollo Mantikos, crushing an offering of bay leaves, using the same prayer I use every time I pull omens: 

Apollo Mantikos, guide my hand.

See with my eyes. Hear with my ears.  Speak with my voice.

I crush the bay leaves in order to offer them because it is both a sounds and a smell that happens every time.  This resonates with the idea that the Pythia had a whole series of steps that she would do the same every time in order to prepare her to speak with Apollo and enter that trance state where that was possible.  The Pythia is the name given to the Oracle who dwells at Delphi and speaks for Apollo (Johnston 33-50).  As I use them in a similar way to put myself into a light trance in order to make that call to Apollo Mantikos and be able to hear and interpret his words, I feel it is an apt way of doing things.

 

  1. Explain the use of trance in group ritual, including trance techniques including the Neurolinguistic Programming techniques of “anchoring” and “leading” in trance induction. Give an example of how you would script this use in ritual. (min. 500 words for the essay, 200 words fro the script)

Trance in group ritual can be a very powerful tool to engage the folk on the same page, and help to bring them all together in the same mindset, and thus allowing any energy that has been building to align.  This alignment of energies and purposes will help make the ritual flow more smoothly and make any magical acts that will occur more powerful.  Trance work in ADF ritual is most commonly seen during the Two Powers meditation, where the folk are connected to the powers of the realms, as well as to each other.  In this instance, trance is used to establish the group mind.

One of the ways group mind can be established through trance involves including aspects of Neurolinguistic Programming, such as anchoring and leading.  Anchors are some sort of stimulus that invokes a certain mindset.  The anchor will first need to be created and reinforced in order for it to be successful.  A successful anchor is something that is a unique stimulus and can be linked to a specific state and repeated (Ellerton). In the script below, the initial anchor is the body posture, specifically the part of the body posture that includes the cradling of the belly around the baby with the hands in the specific position described.  Other more subtle anchors are added in the initial step to continue to reaffirm the connection to the desired state.  For example, the instructions to “feel your palms on your belly” as a kinesthetic stimuli, and the feel and sound of breathing as well as the phrasing “take a deep breath, hold it for a moment, then exhale” continues to act as an auditory stimuli for this state.  As a visual stimulus, the script below includes phrasing such as “feel your roots extend into the earth, growing into your Mother.”  I think it’s important to include all three types of stimuli (kinesthetic, visual, and auditory) if possible, especially when you’re leading group trance experience.  You don’t necessarily know who is going to respond to what kind of stimuli, and so it because very important to make sure you’re reaching as many people as possible.

So other instances of anchoring lines that I have experienced included phrases such as “And now, Children of Earth, see in your mind’s eye…” which for me is a very strong auditory anchor that ritual work is about to begin, and that I will be entering some sort of magical or religious state of mind.  There is also the common visualization of during the Two Powers of send your roots down into the Earth, and your branches up into the Sky.

Once you have established an anchor, the next part of a successful trance induction is establishing rapport throughout the trance so that the folk will be more likely to let their barriers down and follow the progression of instances that you are leading them towards.  This is most often done by allowing your voice to mimic the way they should be feelings as you establish their anchor.  Most of our trance work in ADF public ritual involves making sure that the folk feel comfortable, relaxed, and secure as they engage their minds to interact with the liminal state.  So, to lead them into this, you would modulate your own voice to mimic this relaxed and calm feeling.  Other methods include “mirroring techniques to match the person in terms of tone, word choice, volume, breathing tempo, and body language to form a rapid bond” (Knight).  This is most often done by speaking in calm, smooth tones, with frequent pauses to allow their mind to slow down as your words slow down, and by allowing the slow breathing patterns that you are requesting of them to also be the slow breathing patterns that you yourself are using.  In the script below this is reflected both where there are commas (which I placed to indicate a short pause for breath), and where the word “pause” is included (to indicate a longer pauses, about 3 seconds or so).

*** Script ***

(note: this script is intended to be used by pregnant women engaging in the Birthing Posture (Goodman), and is designed to allow them to begin to connect with their baby in the womb)

Sit or stand with your feet parallel and firmly planted in the Earth, about six inches apart.  Keep your knees slightly bent. Looking straight ahead, close your eyes, and relax. Rest your hands on your belly with the fingers and thumbs held close together.  Your index fingers are about two inches apart, pointing towards your navel, gently cradling your baby.  Hold your arms away from your body, elbows sticking out, with your shoulders back. Your posture is good.  You’re comfortable, smiling inside, and cradling your baby.  Let a feeling of calm wash over you.

*pause*

Focus on your breath.  Take a deep breath in, hold it for a moment, and then exhale.  Again, breathe in deeply, pause for a moment, and then exhale.  Once more, breathe in deeply, pause for a moment, and then exhale.

Feel your body begin to relax.  Begin with your cradle.  Take a breath and feel your palms on your belly.  Exhale as you let the tension release from your hands and wrists. Take a breath and feel your arms extending out from your body.  Exhale and release the tension in your shoulders.

Now feel your spine extend from the base of your skull all the way down to your tailbone.  Take a breath and feel roots extend into the earth, growing into your Mother.  Now exhale and release the tension in your back.  Let it flow down into the Earth.  Focus once again on your breathing and feel with each inhale your connection to the Earth grow.  Feel with each exhale your tension flowing away.

*pause*

As your tension flows away feel this release also in your womb.  Feel your baby as she is given more freedom to move, as less pressure is placed on her.   Feel her tension lessen as well.

*pause*

Focus now on your heartbeat.  Feel as your pulse beats within your fingertips.  Feel as your pulse beats  within your belly.  Feel as your pulse beats within your chest.  Feel as your pulse beats with the Earth Mother.

Let your breathing relax as you focus on your heartbeat.  Listen to the faint beating within your ears.  Listen as this beating becomes louder.  This is how your baby hears your heart.  This is her connection to you.  She is soothed within your womb as you are soothed by the Earth around you.  Listen to the steady thump-thump, and feel that connection between the Earth, and you, and your baby.

*pause*

You tensions now eased, and a connection established, think now on the joy of your baby.  Think on the joy in her creation.  Think on the joy of her inside you now.  Think on the joy that she will bring into the world with her.  Think on the joy of raising her from infant to child to teen to adult.  Think on the joy that she will bring to all the lives she touches.

*pause*

With these joys in mind, feel them as a warmth growing between your hands.  Let this warmth pulse with your heartbeat, and with each breath grow stronger.  Let the warmth fill the space between your hands, spreading across your belly.

Now, let that warmth begin to seep down into your womb.  Let your joys fall across your baby so that she too can feel the ecstasy that she encompasses.  Let the warmth of outrun joys pulse through her as easily as your heartbeat does.

Feel the love, and joy, and warmth as it fills you and your baby together.  Spend some time focusing on these thoughts.  How do they make you feel?  How do they make your baby feel?

*210 bpm drumming for 15-30 min*

Begin to once again concentrate on your body.  Listen for your heartbeat, pulsing through you and your baby with love and joy.

*pause*

Feel your fingertips, warm now with that joy pulsing through them, as they gently rest on your belly.  Feel your arms as they extend out from your body.  Let your posture relax as you wiggle your fingers and toes.  Perhaps you roll your shoulders or neck, bringing yourself back to your body.

Take a deep breath and let this breath of the Mother rejuvenate you.  Exhale, and let the energy you’ve pooled within yourself seep back into the Earth.  Again, breathe in deeply, pause for a moment, and then exhale, coming back into yourself.  Once more, breathe in deeply, pause for a moment, and then exhale.  Let the last of the excess energy flow back into the Earth.

*pause*

Open your eyes and let your arms fall to your sides as you come firmly back to your body.

 

  1. Describe three experiences of trance. These trances must come from three different methods chosen from the list below: (min. 600 words for each experience)

b) Sonic Driving

Sonic driving is probably one of the most reliable ways I’ve been able to attain trance.  It is especially useful for me because not only does it align everything in my brain, but it also blocks out distracting noises that can pull me out of trance.  That being said, it is also one of the methods that I feel much more comfortable with when whatever it is I’m listening to has a callback beat, because it does hold me in trance so well.

For this trance experience I used Harner’s 30 minute double-drumming track.  I was slightly depressed going into the trance work, my husband was having a very moody day, and the baby had been cranky all day.  Needless to say, there were a lot of distractions vying for my attention.  It took me longer than normal to drop into trance. I stayed aware of what was around me longer.  As I listened longer, I began to hear bits of music or songs overlaid on top of the drums, with colors accompanying the sounds. This is not terribly unusual, but normally when it happens it feels more coherent.  This was more like if I were sitting in a closet with 4 separate concerts going on in the rooms around me.  I felt like there were words for some of the strains I was hearing, but I couldn’t pick them out. Other strains of music clearly didn’t have words and were just snatches of lyrical lines, here and there.  While all of this generally falls in the category of “trance work” for me, as I often begin to see colors alongside musical lines, it also generally falls in the pre-trance work state that I get.  That place where the world gets fuzzy as your brain hyper focuses on one thing, and then, like a black hole, folds in on itself and the “real” trance work begins.  This pre- stage lasted longer this time than normal.

When I did hit what I recognize as trance journey work for me, I was on the beach, which is not terribly unusual. I put my hands in the water as the waves rushed in and my hands tingled. When I pulled them out the skin was gone and they were dripping blood. It didn’t hurt or anything, I just didn’t have skin on my hands up to the wrists anymore.   It was like I was wearing gloves made of blood. There was a fire on the beach. I stuck my hands in the sand to coat them in grit and that hurt a lot.  I suppose much like you would expect if you shoved an open wound into gritty, dirty sand. Then I stuck them in the heart of the fire and inexplicably, that didn’t hurt at all.  It tingled again and when I pulled them out I had skin again but it was metallic, hard, and impenetrable. It was flexible like skin but obviously metallic and obviously impenetrable. It looked kind of like Peter Pettigrew’s silver hand in Harry Potter, except not silver.  It was a bronze color, like deeply tanned skin, and had a slight metallic sheen.  They still felt like my hands and still felt like I could use them in exactly the same way for everything. And the new skin still felt like skin, except soft skin. Baby skin. New skin.

Then I started to drift away and there was no more journey work. I was just sitting in the nothingness with the drums pounding in my head until the call back came. And the callback was more jarring than usual. Normally I need the whole callback string of beats. This time as soon as the drumming stopped I was jerked out of trance.

I did some follow-up on this one, looking into what different symbols might mean.  Open cupped hands represent innocence and the bare essence of your being.  So, part of my interpretation of this experience is that I have been blessed with the bare essence of myself and have received the blessings of the waters.  There is also some aspect of a cleansing and purification by fire in order to be made new.  Much like the visual concentration trance discussed below, I think this indicates some type of rite of passage or initiation.

d) Chant/Mantra

One of the tasks for a Bard in ritual space is to maintain the flow of energy.  When it is begin built up, it is important not to let any escape, and when a slow point in the ritual hits, the Bard can help to keep the energy from trickling away.  One of the best ways to do this is by including music, songs, or chants that will engage the folk and keep them participating in the ritual.  There is a certain trance state that happens when a Bard needs to be able to sense the energy patterns in a ritual and help to maintain and control the flow of energy.  It’s like throwing a lasso around the folk, where the Bard focuses on holding the energy that is built during songs and invocations within the bounds of the rite so that it can be used later in the rite.

At our Grove’s Imbolc ritual, there is a portion of the rite where energy is likely to flag.  First the waters are passed and quaffed, and then the Healing blanket is passed around to be recharged.  This is a lot of down time where the individual people at the rite are not necessarily actively engaged in the action.  As the Bard for the ritual in 2012, a large part of keeping the folk engaged fell to me.  In addition to being the Bard for the ritual, I also had the role  of calling down the waters and infusing the blessings into the waters. So, I was already in the mindset of holding all the energy in, and was already in a light trance state from that.

Following the Blessings was the working where we recharged the grove healing blanket and did healing work for a grove member and her mom, who had just had a horrible accident.  The working was especially powerful for me this time because I wrote the song we were using to build energy.  It’s actually the first song I wrote with guitar accompaniment, and yet still seems like one of the most powerful.  Perhaps because I wrote it while I was in that state and with that need.  It’s simple, easy to pick up, and can be layered with echo lines, counter melodies, and harmonies.  We just used the one section, rather than the whole song, in the rite, and I let the folk riff off the basic version as they felt moved to:

Let the rain wash away all your worries.

Let the rain wash away all your fears.

Let the rain wash away all your troubles.

And let the storm come rolling in.

 

Let the waves wash away all your heartache.

Let the waves wash away all your pain.

Let the waves wash away all your anguish.

And let the tide come rolling in.

 

Let this song wash away all your sorrow.

Let this song wash away all your tears.

Let this song wash away all your despair.

And let the harmonies of friends join in.

 

As I led the song, the healing blanket was being passed around, and I could see the flows of energy coming off people and bouncing against my lasso, so they would reflect back into the blanket.  As the song continued I began to hear bits of music and harmonies that weren’t there.  This is one of my usual indications that the magic is working, when I hear the whole choir and all its parts.  The strains of melody and harmony being woven together took on shapes and colors, and wove themselves into the blanket.  It all looked a lot like the introduction to Fantasia, where the narrator is explaining the different instrumental sounds and using visual stimuli to help.  I’ve experienced synesthesia-like trances before, but this was the first time it had happened with such intent and in a public ritual space.

f) Visual Concentration

This experience was a trance stemming from staring at a flame, which led to some divinatory revelations as well. It was kind of intense.  I traveled to the deep with Poseidon like I haven’t done for quite some time.  It started at Chenille, and most folks had already gone to bed.  There had been a fire in the fire pit, but it was burnt down to the coals.  I began to restart the fire from the coals, and as it was completely dark, the liminal space was amplified. I worked on starting the flames up again by breathing on the embers and carefully adding bits of kindling and wood.  Breathing on the fire is like taking breaths when swimming. Blow out, slowly and carefully, and then turning your head to the side to take another breath.  In water it’s so you don’t breathe in the liquid, and when coaxing a fire back to life it’s so you don’t breathe in the smoke.

Poseidon is so very powerful.  He has raw power and depth, and is very big, intense, and alien feeling.  You can’t control the ocean, and you can’t understand the ocean.  I work extensively with him, specifically for trance work, so going into a trance with him, and journeying to the depths of the ocean is not in and of itself unusual.  There is a release of control when I trance journey with him that intensely.  He is big enough to wash you away without even meaning to.  And when I experience trance with hi, it is not entirely intentional, it is still somewhat scary, no matter how much I have worked with him in that capacity.  It is nearly always magical from me when the deep trance with him happens.

After the flames were coaxed back to life I sat back on my heels and staring into the flickering light.  The trance began as I felt like I was standing waist deep on the shore with the waves crashing against me. And then the spray hit my face and I was suddenly at the bottom of the ocean in the deep dark of his realm.  That is normally my signifier for entering trance.  The spray of the ocean hits my face, and I drop into wherever I need to be.  As I hit the deep ocean, streaks of living fire cycloned around me.  There was the overwhelming presence of Poseidon almost vibrating around me, pulsing, sonar-like.  The tongues of flame solidified into a lantern shape and there was a distinct and sharp difference between the heat coming off the flame and the bone deep chill of the water.  Then as the lantern shape solidified further it was very obviously Phi overlaid on Zeta. (Phi is “having done something carelessly you will hereafter blame the gods” it’s taking responsibility for your actions. And Zeta is Zeus’s symbol. “Flee the storm lest Zeus destroy you.”) And that’s kind of terrifying.  I don’t normally see symbols when I trance, and perhaps that’s because I’m only just now getting them so deeply ingrained that they can comfortably appear.  There was a distinct sense of Poseidon needing me to see these overlaid symbols and understand them. But the danger and intensity that exuded from the lantern symbol was not his and not from him, but rather was a warning passed along, like something that he was sharing behind the back of another.

The general gist of the message seems to be that forewarned is forearmed.  It is extremely confusing though.  Does it mean that you must take responsibility for your actions, but then run from the consequences?  I feel almost completely blind with this vision.  Am I going to mess things up that bad?  Perhaps there is also an indicator that the message is from Zeus, as Zeta is his symbol.  It’s possible that this is the case, however that is certainly not the primary meaning of that symbol in this sense.  It may not be an immediate threat, but it is there.  I considered that the symbols could be an either/or situation, such as “take responsibility for your actions or you’ll anger the powers that be and have to run.” That could be the most likely interpretation, except that the symbols were overlaid, so I feel that they go together.  It is unusual for me to see overlaid symbols.

It’s also possible that the symbols modify each other. The overlay blends them into something different than the individual components.  Additionally, I feel like the lantern shape was also important, and the fact that it was made of fire, living fire.  Maybe it is a portal and the overlay symbol is the key.  Part of the message could be that I must travel through the heart of the fire.  My entrance to that trance world is through the lantern; access granted with the key.  The key could be Phi since that is what be traveled through.  And taking responsibly for your actions can also mean having a personal acceptance of it.  That this is the choice you had to make, and owning up to the fact that that was the chic you had to make.  Part of the acceptance could be that my actions must involve flight, and the flight may be through the heart of the fire.  And taking responsibility means sometimes you get burned. And you can’t endure the fire. You have to flee through it.  And fleeing isn’t always “bad,” sometimes it is just necessary.

An initiation of some sort, or a rite of passage, could make sense. Lanterns light the way. And a place of transition requires you to accept your past and leave it behind.  That’s feeling more right.  There’s still the intensity and vague sense of danger though. And the feeling that who is the message actually from is not Poseidon.  He is just the messenger in this sense and the original giver of the vision didn’t necessarily want me to see it, or at least not with this timing.

 

  1. Submit an original trance induction script based in ADF symbolism (e.g. Two Powers, Fire/Well/Tree, Three Realms, etc.). (no minimum word count)

Children of Earth, take a moment to calm your mind and body. Breathe deep and close your eyes. Listen to the sound of your own breathing. Hear your heartbeat thrumming inside you. Pause for a second and just listen.

***Pause***

See in your mind‘s eye where you stand now and picture yourself walking away from where you are.

You‘re walking towards a deep and old forest. Feel the cool, damp earth on your feet. As you enter the forest feel the cool autumn breeze brush your cheek.

Notice the sounds around you. A gentle rustling of leaves, perhaps from the wind, perhaps made by a squirrel bounding by. Notice the sunlight dappling across your face. A last breath of summer caressing your face, heartening you for the colder days ahead.

As you are walking deeper and deeper into the forest you suddenly come upon a clearing. There is a small pond in the middle of the glade surrounded by trees around the water‘s edge. One of these trees calls to you and you glide over to it. Place your hands on the trunk and feel the rough bark against your palm. Feel the ancient wisdom emanating from it.

Turn and place your back against the tree. Feel yourself sinking into it, becoming part of the tree. Feel your toes mix with the roots twinning down into the earth. Allow you mind to follow those roots and tendrils as they creep ever deeper, until suddenly they plunge into the cool deep waters far below the surface of the earth. Use the knowledge of the tree to pull those waters up through your roots. Feel them approaching you, up and up, until they reach your toes.

Feel the waters pulsing up through your toes and heels, moving up your legs and pooling in your groin. Feel them surging up into your chest and down your arms. Feel your branches swelling and cool waters seeping into your fingers, your leaves. Feel the waters rush up and fountain out the crown of your head, your uppermost branches and leaves, and come cascading back down into the earth to soak back down cooling your roots again. Having taken your fill, feeling replenished, allow those cool, dark waters to bleed back down into the earth.

Again feel the wind brush through your hair, your leaves. Feel as the sunlight shines down on you, brightening and invigorating you. Allow your leaves to take in that bright, golden light. Let it convert to pure energy and infuse your head and chest with light and energy. Let it saturate your branches and flow into your finger leaves. Feel as it washes down through your groin and flows down your legs and energizes you down to your roots. Having absorbed as much light as your body will hold, let the remainder reflect back off you, back into the sky.

Feel how the combination of the cool waters and the bright light mixes within your body. Feel how it mingles and brings a new awareness to every essence of yourself. Let your attention drift over yourself from your roots, to your trunk, and on up to your leaves.

Let a breath of wind catch one of your leaves and watch as it drifts downward to land fall lightly into the pond. Watch as the water ripples outward from this light touch. Allow your awareness to follow this ripple outward and see as it collides with other, similar ripples. As you follow those to their source you see that they also come from fallen leaves.

Now seeing all these leaves in the water creating ripples that touch and rebound off your own, you notice all the other trees surrounding the pond. Reach out your awareness and sense that these trees are all part of this grove. Reach out and feel that you are not alone in this glade, but rather you are surrounded by the warmth of your kin. You are all here together.

Take a moment and allow this feeling of togetherness and oneness to soak into your mind, your heart, your bones and your soul. Listen to the breathing of those around you. Your hearts beat as one now.

***Pause***

With this new realization that you are here among family, you begin to disconnect your self from the tree, just as all those around you do. Wiggle your toes and separate them from the roots. Wiggle your fingers and feel the leaves fall away. Roll your shoulders, allowing you to step out of the tree and once again become your own self.

As you now look around you see that while before you came to this glade alone, you now are leaving among friends. It is time now to turn away from the glade and walk back out of the forest. Listen, as before to the sounds around you. You can now hear the laughter of friends, and you feel now not just the warmth of the sun, but also the warmth of companionship. As you break out of the forest and head back towards your body here keep that feeling that you are now one with the people around you.

Now, step back into your body and take deep breath to settle yourself back in. Wiggle your fingers and toes. Now begin moving your arms and legs just a little as you feel yourself come back to this place. Here, among kinfolk, we may now move on with the work we have for today.

 

  1. Submit an original trance induction script based in Indo-European Mythology. (no minimum word count)

Begin by finding a comfortable place, either sitting or standing.  Take a deep breath, and let the cares of your day to day life fade.  Take a deep breath, and let the worries of the world fade.  Take a deep breath, and feel the connection to the earth around you.  Take a deep breath, and feel the connection to the spirits around you.

See in your mind’s eye a mountain rising up beside you.  The red-gold dirt dry and powdery at your feet.  You footsteps lead you up the mountain, and as you climb the dust swirls around your feet.  The red-gold dust rises with you, and the sunlight catches it, forming shining motes in the air.

As you climb higher, you pass marble pillars.  Now there are small plants growing along the mountainside.  Laurel trees begin to take shape around you as you reach the pinnacle.  You see there is the entrance to a cave, and leading away from it, a narrow path that goes further up.

You step onto the path leading further up, and all at once you are surrounded by lush, green, growing things.  Soft grasses caress your feet, and the laurel trees shade your every step, taking in the heat of the day.  You crest the top of a hip, and find that you have come to a T-junction.  The path to you right leads down into a small valley with a pond at the center, and the path to your right leads up into a crevice in the rock face.  You head right, and make your way down in to the valley.

When you reach the pond you splash water on your face and take a few deep breathes, preparing for your work with the Pythia.  From the base of the laurel tree you take a dried leaf.  You crush the leaf, letting the scent of bay waft by you, and drop the leaf pieces into the pond.

*at this point, each person crushes a bay leaf*

You stand, and with the scent of bay growing ever heavier around you, filling you, you walk up the path again, this time heading for the crevice in the rock face.

You step up to the dark, taking a deep breath.  The Pythia awaits you, you need but enter.

 

  1. Describe the process of creating your inner locale, the challenges and aids you experienced in the creation of this locale, and (optional) its appearance. (min. 1000 words)

I already had a basic image of my inner locale when I began working on trance work. It is the calming place I created when I was going through dialectical behavior therapy, and was a place that I could visualize easily. The purpose initially was to be able to see myself somewhere calming where I could think and not be stressed out by the fast paced world, and my triggers there.

As I began trance work, I found that I was starting there, and so I began cultivating it to better meet my spiritual needs. I begin by envisioning myself pressing my back up against my tree, a cypress at the edge of the pond, complete with roots bulging up through the soil, and let myself sink into the trees awareness.  As I connect to the powers above and below my vision of the mundane area around the tree fades and a gray mist or fog fills the peripherals of my vision, eventually pulling back to reveal my inner grove.  I have set up my inner grove to be essentially a starting point, or a jumping off point for any other trance work I may do.

I stand with my tree at my back, and it acts as a portal back to my body, only needing me to sit back down there to go home.  All around me are dry, meadow grasses, becoming greener around the edges of the pond, which is surrounded by a few other cypress trees and some reeds.  Also at the edge of the pond is my tree, and also now the tree planted there from the seed Nemetona gave me (see the write-up on this from Trance 1).  Additionally, there is a small fire, that while seeming too small to maintain itself, is clearly burning hot and strong.  Occasionally there is a girl, Hestia,  sitting in the flames, or maybe made of the flames.  Behind me a forest rises up, mostly of pine and similar trees.  It appears quite spares at first, but thickens the deeper one walks into it, and rising in the distance is a mountain.   If I traveled up that way, winding my way through the deer trails, I was likely to meet with Artemis. When Artemis is my guide, we start at the edge of the forest and as we walk into it, we approach the area we need to be, and she will again guide me back to the edge of the forest at the end of our journey.  My trance journey experiences that headed this direction tended to be transformative, and have roots within the real world experience I was struggling with. I would say that the take away from these journeys was most often a strengthening of myself, and a stronger resolve to know myself, and be true to myself.

Later, as I began working with Poseidon, another addition was made to my locale. As I walk out there is a plateau covered in the dry, meadow grasses and becoming sandy and rocky near the edge, where there is a drop off a cliff face, with a barely visible path down to the shore.  There is a small, rocky beach in the cove that is formed there, with rocks out just a bit, acting a breaker for the waves.  As the waves crash against them, a spray floats across the beach.  I walk down the cliff face to the beach, and sometimes as the spray hits my face I feel swept away, and others times I walk into the waves and am pulled out by the riptide.  When I’m working with Poseidon, his pull is stronger.  He is much more vast, alien, and huge than Artemis, and it has been much more difficult reaching an understanding of how our journeys are to work.  His awesome power led me to put a bell at the edge of the beach that dangles into the water.  When it is time for me to return to my body, the bell will ring and guide me back to land.  I added this bell because I found that I was having a hard time with a call back from trance, so by including a callback mechanism within my inner locale, I am better able to respond to the callback that happens externally.

Another issue that I found was happening during guided trance journeys that other people were leading was that because of the way my inner local is set up, it was too big for me to traverse the whole length of it and “make it home again” by the time they were trying to end the trance.  This left me feeling panicked and rushed all through the journey.  So, the way that I mitigated this was to put a series of gateways and ‘fairy rings’ through my inner locale.  Each of these gateways and fairy rings connects to all the others, and they allow me to quickly jump between locations that I’ve added to my inner grove.  This has helped immensely in making my trance journeys more relaxing, more rewarding, and more successful in general.

I also work with Garanos Crane to guide me on other journeys. When I leave with him we start from the pond, and he dives into it, and it becomes a kind of portal to other worlds.  This is most often the path that I take if I’m engaging in trance work for the purpose of journeying to an unfamiliar place, and/or with an unfamiliar guide (speaker).

One of the more recent additions to my inner grove is a wall of earth with a cave inset within its face.  There is a flickering light coming from within.  This part of my inner grove has grown stronger and more present the more work I’ve done with Hekate as a Gatekeeper and Guide.  I can now call on her, and see her, torches held high, ready to use the cave as a starting point for journeys with her. This aspect of journey work tends to lead me to both the Underworld, as well as to the liminal spaces where the gods are easier to hear.  This included work done with the Pythia and various other bits of oracular work.

 

  1. Journal for five months, continuing the trance work journal you began in Trance 1. Provide an essay based on this journal detailing how your experiences have affected your practice. (min. 1000 words for the essay)

Since I was completing the journal for both Trance 2 and Magic 2 at the same time, one of the things I found is that I began using trance intentionally in my magical and divinatory work, and it has played an integral role. I’ve found that in order to be in the best mindset to achieve the results I want with my magical work, I need to enter a least a light trance. This trance may differ depending on my location, if there are other people present, if the magical working is taking place in or out of a ritual context, and how complex the magical working is.  The deepest trance states I use in conjunction with magical work are done when I am in my own home, by myself, in ritual space, with a complex working.  If I’m going to go deep into trance I need to feel safe and comfortable.  This could probably be done around a few people who I trust as well, though that opportunity has not presented itself.  I am also more likely to enter a deep trance state for more complex workings because this will minimize distraction and help me to better focus my intent.  Additionally, I’m more likely to do a complex magical working within ritual space because if it is that important or that complex, I will probably be asking the spirits for assistance.

I also use trance when I am doing divinatory work. Having practiced more with the NLP triggers one of the things I’ve changed since completing Trance 1 is adding in the crushing of the bay leaf. Initially I was just saying the prayer and making an offering of the bay leaf. But I found that by crushing it as I offered it, it not only added another auditory and olfactory cue for me, it was also a cue that was unlikely to be replicated outside of that specific instance, and will thus keep the trigger strong (Ellerton).

When I do divination the first thing I do is take a deep breath to center myself and then call out to Apollo Mantikos, crushing an offering bay leaves, using the same prayer I use every time I pull omens:

“Apollo Mantikos, guide my hand.

See with my eyes. Hear with my ears.  Speak with my voice.”

 I crush the bay leaves in order to offer them because it is both a sound and a smell that happens every time.  This resonates with the idea that the Pythia had a whole series of steps that she would do the same every time in order to prepare her to speak with Apollo and enter the trance state where that was possible.  As I use them in a similar way to put myself into a light trance in order to make that call to Apollo Mantikos and be able to hear and interpret his words, I feel it is an apt way of doing things.  This intentional use of trance has helped to augment my divinatory practice.

I also use trance for magic when I’m writing bardic pieces.  Part of the Order of Bardic Alchemy work requires you to write a bardic piece in ritual space, with the intent to use it during ritual.  The Muses are my bardic patrons, and whom I work with most frequently when I’m doing bardic work.  I call to them for inspiration before I write, and often before I play, sing, or perform.  I decided the piece I would write would honor them, and give me an alternative method to call to them, rather than with a simple invocation.

After completing the devotional and making offerings to the Muses, I sat with my bard book open, staring at a candle flame. The words seemed to come excessively quickly.  I often describe the process of this ‘gift song’ as trying to catch the Awen with your pen, and funnel it down into something coherent on the page.  This was not my first experience with a ‘gift song,’ and like the others, the whole piece was written in probably under an hour: words, chords, melody, and all.  It required very little revision following the initial writing.  “Muses, Sing Through Me” is still the main way that I call to the muses before beginning bardic work.

I also use trance when I’m doing healing work, in order to focus the intent of the energy being directed, as well as allowing me to better visual the target when I’m working from a distance.  Most recently we performed a healing at a Druid Moon for one of our Grove members.  Paul, Missy, and I led the working, which involved everyone toning and focusing the healing energy through to the grove member.  We began by breathing together and then started the toning.  The regulated breaths that are required by toning, combined with the circular motions Missy was making with incense helped to drop me into a deeper trance.  Things seemed to slow and the sounds took on a synesthetic quality, seeming to thicken and color.  I focused on wrapping the grove member in the tones.  As we continued to work, I began to hear the overtones and harmonics coming out of the toning.  That is one of the cues that I recognize as an indicator that the intent is properly focused and the magical work is taking effect.  We continued for just a bit longer past the overtones, letting them fully sink in, before completing the work.  I was surprised to note that the Folk followed me in ceasing the toning, and then Missy tied up the loose ends with pretty words.

Another powerful instance of trance that was surprising to me was one that among other people, that I didn’t lead, and that had no journey script to accompany it. At my grove’s Gaimonios druid moon we had lit the three fires of Belenos, and for the working, took turns standing within them (at the center of all three) and being blessed by the fire of inspiration, the fire of fellowship, and the fire of sacrifice/blessing. Please note that MJD says “the juju works anywhere within the circle.” What he meant was, you don’t need to stand super close to the fires and possibly get burned.  I led the toning while we each took a moment within, stating our needs, and standing there. MJD warned that some people might be trancey, what with the fire and the toning and all. I wasn’t sure that I would be, but once I stepped within the ring of stones, it hit me. I slitted my eyes partially because it felt right, and partially to help with the smoke. With the sounds buffeting against me, I got that slightly woozy feeling that trance brings on. The fires around me seemed to take up my whole vision, and began sparking and flashing. I drew my hands up, pulling the fires warmth and energy, and pressed it into myself.  I had asked for focus and perseverance.  Another note regarding this trance experience was that I don’t remember the fires feeling warm once I stepped within the ring of stones.

One of the things I’ve noticed has improved significantly since my work in Trance 1, is that I’ve begun to really learn and catalog what my “tells” for me to be able to tell that I’ve entered trance. I know that my breathing steadies, and my center of balance seems to shift. Most often I feel like gravity has moved and I’m leaning heavily to the left or right. If I am doing trance work accompanied by sound of some sort, when I’ve entered trance the sounds seem to circle around me, meaning that the location of the noise seems to be moving around me. Sometimes there will also be other layers of sounds that get added in, whether overtones, or drumbeats, or harmonies, that flesh out whatever it is that I’m listening to. Oftentimes I will get a tingly feeling that runs from the base of my neck down my spine and arms. Less often, I will get a feeling similar to the beginnings of an asthma attack, where my chest seems to be constricting and the air seems thicker.   Visually, the world will first go black and then colors will shift and sway across my vision until they clarify into an image or series of images.

I have also grown better at drawing my line in order to have more controlled trances rather than often having the experience of being horsed. Part of this I think has come with the magical work I’ve done, and learning to use my Big Voice, and part of it I think has come because now that I have a dependent, I have more reason to have that line drawn, and more conviction when I say “not right now.” One of the things I’ve done to encourage this progression fit right in line with the Trance 2 work. I set aside time, at least weekly, to open myself to the spirits and engage in trance. I found that by practicing more on my schedule allowed me to feel more confident and get more out of the trance work. Not only do I have a better memory for the trance work now, but I’m also getting better at making interpretations of what I see.

The final thing that I feel is significant from this period of time is that I’ve experimented with different methods of entering trance, and have found that certain ways of getting there are more beneficial than others depending on the circumstances and reason for going into trance. After Trance 1, there were some methods that I wanted to experiment more with once I wasn’t pregnant. I did some more work with Body Postures and found them to be extremely useful with internal work where the intention was to give me insight about myself and the way my brain operates. I especially enjoyed how using Body Postures in trance could help me to regain my center and allow me to approach things with a fresh perspective. I experimented with auditory confusion, and was surprised to find that I enjoyed it, where others I’d spoken to about it absolutely hated it. I found it soothing and mid numbing. I experienced some of the physiological effects of trance. Most notably a dizziness and a strong tingling in my spine. Like when someone just barely brushes the hairs on the back of your neck. Other than that I’m slightly sleepy. I used Sigor Ros and Fierce Tibetan Gods as my music for the auditory confusion that was most successful.

All in all, trance work has definitely enriched my practice from many different angles. I have grown more adept at everything from magical workings, to divination, to liturgical work and leading or participating in rituals.

 

  1. Describe an experience of leading a trance induction in group ritual. (min. 300 words)

 At Wellspring, the advanced study students wanted to do trance together.  We had initially hoped that we’d all be able to do this together, however, the Norse-kin broke off and decided to do their own thing with the World Tree, so I then volunteered to lead a trance for the Hellenes who wanted it.  We got the kin flame, and calling Hestia, we lit it.  We were on the stage at the main pavilion, in the darkness except for the flickering candle light.  I had some extra candles, and so lit one for each person, and gave each person a bay leaf.  I instructed them to hold on the bay until the point in the spoken guidance where they would crush it, and to focus on the flame.  We would be ascending the mountain of Delphi in order to commune with the Pythia. I also set aside a flame and leaf for myself.  Once everyone was ready, I instructed them to get comfortable, listen, and focus on their flame, saying:

“Begin by finding a comfortable place, either sitting or standing.  Take a deep breath, and let the cares of your day to day life fade.  Take a deep breath, and let the worries of the world fade.  Take a deep breath, and feel the connection to the earth around you.  Take a deep breath, and feel the connection to the spirits around you.

See in your mind’s eye a mountain rising up beside you.  The red-gold dirt dry and powdery at your feet.  You footsteps lead you up the mountain, and as you climb the dust swirls around your feet.  The red-gold dust rises with you, and the sunlight catches it, forming shining motes in the air.

As you climb higher, you pass marble pillars.  Now there are small plants growing along the mountainside.  Laurel trees begin to take shape around you as you reach the pinnacle.  You see there is the entrance to a cave, and leading away from it, a narrow path that goes further up.

You step onto the path leading further up, and all at once you are surrounded by lush, green, growing things.  Soft grasses caress your feet, and the laurel trees shade your every step, taking in the heat of the day.  You crest the top of a hip, and find that you have come to a T-junction.  The path to you right leads down into a small valley with a pond at the center, and the path to your right leads up into a crevice in the rock face.  You head right, and make your way down in to the valley.

When you reach the pond you splash water on your face and take a few deep breathes, preparing for your work with the Pythia.  From the base of the laurel tree you take a dried leaf.  You crush the leaf, letting the scent of bay waft by you, and drop the leaf pieces into the pond.

*at this point, each person crushes a bay leaf*

You stand, and with the scent of bay growing ever heavier around you, filling you, you walk up the path again, this time heading for the crevice in the rock face.

You step up to the dark, taking a deep breath.  The Pythia awaits you, you need but enter.”

At this point I said no more, and allowed myself to also enter trance.  I had had to hold myself a bit apart during the spoken guidance, and especially during the crushing of the leaves, particularly since that is one of my own NLP triggers for trance.  I’ve found that the hardest part of leading trance is holding yourself apart from the triggers and the trance work so that you can do your best to make sure that others are safely entering and exiting trance.  It’s also important I think to be able to stay conscious of the time that you’re letting people journey.

With this trance, I was fairly confident that I could allow more time for folks to journey, since they were all practiced to some degree or another at trance work.  That is also why I allowed myself to enter trance, since normally I don’t if I’m leading because I don’t know how the folks will react.

During the silent portion, there were a  decent number of distractions, including the sound of people walking across the gravel, talking from folks socializing at different fires, the cold, and the bugs.  If there had been a drum available, I probably would have been drumming, since that works nicely to cover those distracting noises and gives the brain something to dismiss all noises as.

But as things stood, each person worked using the visual concentration of the flame to guide them.  I had success personally as the flame divided out and merged again, shifting and turning into shapes made of flame and shadow.  It was like watching a play staged in a shadowbox theater.

 

Work’s Cited

Ellerton, Roger. “Basic NLP Anchoring Concepts.” Basic NLP Anchoring Concepts. Renewal Technologies Inc, 1 Jan. 2005. Web. 2 June 2014. <http://www.renewal.ca/nlp31.htm>.

Goodman, Felicitas D., and Nana Nauwald. Ecstatic Trance: A Workbook : New Ritual Body Postures. Havelte, Holland: Binkey Kok Publications, 2003. Print.

Harner, Michael J. The Way of the Shaman. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1990. Print.

Johnston, Sarah Iles. Ancient Greek Divination. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell Pub., 2008. Print.

Knight, Lee. “Establishing Rapport: Pacing and Leading (NLP 3/5).” : Establishing Rapport: Pacing and Leading (NLP 3/5). Overachievers, 28 Feb. 2008. Web. 2 June 2014. <http://overachievercoach.blogspot.com/2008/02/establishing-rapport-pacing-and-leading.html>.

 

Divination 2

  1. Describe the geographical and temporal distribution of your chosen symbol set. If the symbol set was used cross-culturally, describe how each culture used your chosen symbol set. (min. 300 words)

The primary source for the Greek Alphabet Oracle comes from an inscription found in Olympos (an ancient city in Lycia), which is in the geopolitical region of Anatolia.  This Olympos was named for the mountain peak Tahtali Dağ, which the Greeks who moved into the region called Mount Olympus after their own Mount Olympus in Greece.  This was part of the Hittite Empire in the Late Bronze Age, and was completely Hellenized by the influx of Greeks following the Persian Wars when it fell under the Macedonian Empire. The people in the region initially spoke languages in the Luwian family, before the amount of Greek speakers effectively converted the linguistic makeup of the region (“Lycia”).

While there is little evidence to suggest that this specific Greek Alphabet Oracle was used cross-culturally, there is evidence that shows a variety of alphabet and dice oracles in general were used across Greece and Asia Minor, though there is not nearly as much evidence to see how the alphabet oracles worked.

In Bura, there was evidence of a dice oracle where the Seer would cast the dice onto a table, or perhaps into a dish of holy water, and from that numbers shown on the dice, find a corresponding letter.  It seems as though this particular version of the oracle was used before taking part in other ceremonies, religious or otherwise (Heinevetter 33).

In the ancient Pisidian city of Adada was a similar inscription to the one found at Olympos.  This one was also found on a mountaintop, and in addition to the collection of letters and phrases, contained an invocation to Apollo and Hermes.  It is likely that the Seer would call on Apollo to guide his divination and on Hermes as the messenger of Zeus. It interesting to note from the German translation that the Oracle, that is the person through whom the gods speak, is called literally the “Orakelsprüche” – the speaker of oracles.  I find this to be particularly interesting when you combine it with the belief that at the time, all magical acts were spoken (Heinevetter 33-35).

Heinevetter also references the work of Kaibel, who theorized that when the letters were inscribed on stones and placed in a temple, the priest at that temple would put these stones into an urn, and “his hand would be guided by the deity” and upon drawing out a specific letter, he would immediately know what it meant (Heinevetter 35).  

 

  1. Describe the division of sacred and profane use for this symbol set in cultural context (i.e. how was the symbol set used in every day life, and how was it used in religious contexts?). If you find no such division, explain why you think that the set was either entirely sacred or entirely profane in the culture. (min. 300 words)

Ancient Greek was used from about the 9th century to the 6th century BCE, and is the language used by the classical poets, playwrights, historians, and philosophers.  The Greek alphabet, specifically the Ionian Greek alphabet and its dialect, has uses both in the sacred and the profane, though most writing appears to be for profane purposes.  For example, the literature of the ancients Greeks was written mainly in Old Ionic Greek.  This includes the works of Homer and Hesiod, from whom we get a large portion of our knowledge about the deities today (“Ionic Greek”).  While some of these texts, such as the “Homeric Hymns,” were arguably used for sacred purposes, such as invoking deities within a ritual context, I think it’s important to remember that many of the texts were written with the purpose to entertain and perhaps teach ethical and moral lessons.  This can be seen in The Odyssey, where the trials and tribulations of Odysseus are related.  It is, on its most basic level, an adventure story.  It also teaches the lesson that one should be careful which gods one offends.

Hesiod’s works, particularly Works & Days, fall fairly solidly into the category of profane uses of the language.  The vast majority of Works & Days contains information on the proper way to behave and complete certain mundane tasks.  For example, he instructs on how to determiner he proper time for plowing your field and planting your crops: “Mark, when you hear the voice of the crane who cries year by year from the clouds above, for she give the signal for ploughing and shows the season of rainy winter” (Hesiod ll. 448-457). He also includes a variety of moral lessons that the narrator tells to Perses.

It is interesting to note that the Greek Alphabet Oracle has an overwhelming number of symbols that relate to having to work hard for any successes you might have, and that this is the general feel of Works & Days, wherein Hesiod tells the reader and Perses, in great detail, the jobs that must be done to be successful in life, and the morals issues one must tackle to be judged properly.  I would postulate that this particular work either draws from the alphabet oracle, or informed the alphabet oracle, because the resonance is between the two is very strong.

 

  1. Describe the life of a seer in an Indo-European hearth culture, their techniques of divination, and the respect they received. (min. 600 words)

I think that in the past, just as it is in modern times, the Seer acts as an intermediary between the Folk and the Gods.  Also important to note is that the seers of ancient Greece were written about by people who had real life seers before them.  And those ancient seers then tried to behave as the seers in myth were portrayed to them.  “So art imitated life, and life art,” so it isn’t easy to pick out a cut and dry source for how the Seers in ancient times actually worked and behaved (Flower 21).

The role of the Seer in Ancient Greece took multiple forms.  They can be basically divided into the Institutional Oracles.  These are the ones that most people have heard of and know about, and they are the ones who commanded the most respect in their time.  The other type of Seer in Ancient Greece was the mantis.  They are the independent diviners, and were paid through their services.

The Institutional Oracles were an important part of the economic ecosystem of the cities they existed around.  Generally speaking, they did not provide for themselves in the way of sustenance, but rather relied on the folk they served to bring that to them.  In the Homeric Hymn to the Pythian Apollo there is story asking how the people chosen by Apollo to care for his temple shall be provided for.  They were reminded that “the glorious tribes of men will bring gifts to you as Iepaeon (`Hail-Healer’), and you will receive with delight rich sacrifices from the people dwelling round about” (Evelyn-White).  This meant that when the people brought forth sacrifices to the altar of Apollo at his temple, the priests there would be well fed as long as the fame of the oracle lasted. In this same sense, it was also beneficial for the surrounding towns to enhance their Oracle’s reputation.  The more people traveled through, and stayed for extended period of time, the better business was for that town.  This was especially true of the Oracle of Delphi, which later became the site for the Pythian Games (Johnston 34-46). This being said, the Institutional Oracles, while perhaps the most famous, were certainly not the most widely used method for gaining knowledge.  The oracles would only take questions once a month, and the right to ask a question was very expensive (Flower 2).

The Institutional Oracles were often described as receiving their omens through ecstatic trance.  The Oracles would enter trance and as the questions were asked, they would posit answers to these questions, most of which were then translated into verse by the priests and priestesses who tended the Oracle and the temple of the god the Oracle spoke for (Flower 6-7).

For the independent diviners (manteis), they made their living much the same way other merchants did: by selling their wares and services to the public.  They were well-respected as part of the aristocratic class of men (and sometimes women) who would seek to further themselves and their reputation not only through their divination, but also through feats of strength and courage (Johnston 116).  The mantis is “one who speaks from an altered state” or “one who is in a special state of inspiration.”  They are literally “workers for the community” and they have a special gift and skill that cannot just be learned, but rather has to be granted by the divine (Flower 23).

The manteis had a very important role in the military history of Greece.  In myth, every army had its own mantis, because of how important it was to consult the will of the gods when approaching something that their good or ill will may determine the outcome of the battle.  The mantis would bring out sacrificial animals before a battle.  He would kill these animals and read their entrails, determining how the battle would go and what would need to be done in order to win the battle.  Generals were known to put great weight in these divinations, and would even delay battle until the omens were fortuitous.  The independent diviner had more freedom than the institutional oracles to peruse the life they wanted.  They were less tied to the people in the sense of dependency, but also had to prove themselves much more than the institutional oracles to maintain their reputation and thus be able to sell their services (Johnston 116-118).

The mantis was also a crisis manager; he was an integral part of the Hellenic society.  When something went wrong, the mantis would not only look to the future, but would also look to the past.  It was his job to determine how the folk might have offended the gods at some point in the past so that the correct amends could be made to set the course of history back on a good path.  He coasted the line between priest and diviner, and existed in that liminal place where he was able to travel and be available for those that needed him for a variety of services (Johnston 116-118).

The manteis commanded a certain type of respect, as they straddled the line between priest and magician.  The term mantis carried far more respect than the term magos.  “Anyone could insult a mantis by calling him a magos, and any magos could lay claim to higher status by calling himself mantis.”  And just as the authority and reliability of the seer lays outside of the self now, so it was then: “You could call yourself whatever you wanted; the proof of expertise lay in what other people were willing to call you” (Flower 66).

As mentioned above, the manteis used a variety of methods for divination, one of which was the reading of entrails (both extispicy and empyromancy).  Other methods included augury (the behavior, movement, and calls of birds), the interpretation of dreams and portents (like storms, earthquakes, and eclipses).  They also occasionally, though not often compared to the institutional oracles, engaged in spirit possession (Flower 24).

It is interesting to note that the role of the mantis extended beyond only divination and was also said to include healing and purification (Flower 27).  This meshes well with what I’ve experienced as a seer, because after a reading has been given to someone, they often have a lot to think about, and sometimes a lot to deal with.  I have had many readings that end with the querent in tears, and me left in the position where my best course of action is to offer some form of comfort and healing.

 

  1. Describe what you have done to connect with this symbol set on a spiritual level, where your ideas came from, and how it has affected your method of learning this set. Some examples might include (but are not limited to) carving or sacrificing for your runes, gathering each kind of tree for a set of ogham, or doing volunteer service at your local zoo to get more closely acquainted with the behaviors of animals. (min. 600 words)

Connecting with the Greek Alphabet Oracle on a spiritual level has proven easier than my attempts at connecting to either the runes or the ogham.  I suspect this is partly because I resonate better with a divination system that matches my hearth culture.  One of the first things I did that has helped me connect to my oracle is make one to use.  Part of this was necessity.  There was nowhere to purchase one, and so my options were if I wanted to use this system, then I would have to make my own.  So I did.  I researched the way that the ancients made their version of the oracles, and finding that I had a hard time with the dice due to the math, decided I would prefer the traditional sortilege.  The ancient system had its symbols painted or inscribed on pottery fragments, so that was my first step.  It didn’t go well…

I started out by making a terra cotta dish of my own, and let it dry-fire in the sun.  So it hardened nicely, and, while not particularly pretty and not particularly water tight, it was a bowl.  Then I smashed it, and picked up the fragments, using those as my first set of pieces to carve symbols into.  Well, as I’m sure you can imagine, this did not go as well as I’d hoped.  First of all, it’s hard to carve into hardened clay without breaking pieces.  The second obstacle came from when I began doing divinations with this set, the pieces were all different sizes and some were sharp on the edges.  Not conducive to good, active seership, and I’m really not into bleeding for a reading.  The third and final obstacle, and the one that led me to make a new set, was that, wonder of wonders, pottery is fragile, and some of the pieces broke into dust after too much carrying them around.

This incident, while regrettable in its unfortunate outcome involving cuts on my hands and the symbols wearing away to dust, did at least help me to get my magical juju flowing into connecting with and understanding this symbol set.  I successfully learned what each symbol looked like, and put a bit of my own energy into the creation of the set.  Then, when I did make my new set (this time out of wooden disks, paints, and gold leaf paint) I was better equipped to charge and put my new found knowledge and understand into each symbol.  On this new set I put the symbol and its name on the front of each disk, and then on the back put the phrase that corresponds with it.  This proved extremely beneficial to me in the beginning as I learned to match the symbols to their names and to their phrases.  It has still been useful even now, because while I no longer need the crutch of the names and phrases, it’s been beneficial for those people that I have done readings for to be able to see that corresponding phrase.

While the above text describes how I connected with the set on a magico-religious level, and while that certainly helped with learning the technical symbols themselves, I definitely resorted to more esoteric methods to actually learn the set, its symbols, and meanings.  To memorize them I started by pulling a single symbol each day and making sure I knew the word, key word, and phrase that went with it, as well as the meaning I’d begun to tease out of it from my work connecting with the set.  However, I found that I was missing some of the symbols this way, because I don’t often pull some of them, which mean they weren’t coming up in my daily drawing of them.  So I turned to the tried and true method of flashcards, and was able to fairly quickly memorize the symbol set this way.

 

  1. Describe the overall symbology of a chosen divination method as well as each individual symbol in that set. Review and compare to your answers to this question from Divination 1, explaining how and why those views have changed over time. If you have changed your primary symbol set, why did you change? (min. 600 words for the descriptive essay, and 100 words per symbol)

When I began working with the Greek Alphabet Oracle in Divination 1, I was working on learning the symbols and their meanings.  Each letter in the alphabet oracle correlates to a phrase containing a key word that starts with that letter (Sophistes).  In the initial learning phase I examined the letter itself (I use the Ionian Greek alphabet for the purposes of divinatory work), the key word, the phrase that goes with it, as well as the phrases that I wrote to correspond to the letter’s sound in English (since the key word for each phrase is in Greek, and thus the first letter does not match to the Latin alphabet that we use when it is translated to English).

Some key points that I’ve analyzed since beginning the work with this symbol set are my choice of which alphabet to use, and a deepening of my understanding on each symbol.  I chose to use the Ionian Greek alphabet for a few reasons.  In part, it was simply because to my eye, it looked cooler, and once I started learning the symbols, it would have been difficult to switch.  Another reason I chose this particular alphabet was because I didn’t want to run into preconceptions regarding the letters based on their modern usage.  The biggest culprits for me here are the Greek letters that are used in mathematical equations, such as Delta, Sigma, Lambda, Gamma, and Rho.  I still have trouble separating out Delta from its meaning within the oracle (strength is weak) and its mathematical meaning (change).  The final reason I chose this particular alphabet is because it is likely a closer approximation to the alphabet that would have been used at the time the oracle was used than the modern Greek is.  The Ionian alphabet was the alphabet that was used in the writing of the Illiad and the Odyssey.  And as far as why I didn’t use a different ancient alphabet, most of that relates to not all of the oracle’s letters being found in other incarnations of the ancient Greek alphabet, as can be seen when you compare the various scripts side by side (“Ancient Scripts: Greek.”)

One of the things I have done as my understanding of these symbols deepens is develop a narrative to accompany each symbol.  This has helped immensely in my personal understanding of the symbols, as well as made it easier for me to explain that meaning to others, but in individual explanations and in combined meanings of multiple symbols.  By developing these narratives, it has allowed for facets of each symbol to come out and become more apparent.  These facets allow the symbols to have a different emphasis depending on the situation and its proximity to other symbols, or placement within a divinatory spread.  Many of the narratives come from accepted myths within the hearth culture, some come from accepted cultural norms at the time in history, and some come from trance work I’ve done as I’ve worked to deepen my understanding of the symbols.

The symbols themselves seem to fall into three generalized categories: how the gods influence the lives of men, how men influence the lives of men, and how nature influences the lives of men.  This appeals to my English major self in that it encompasses the types of conflicts that can are experienced in a narrative: Man vs. Man, Man vs. Self, and Man vs. Nature (or Divine, as the case may be).  That is to say that some struggles are between mortals.  For example, Pi advises perseverance through adversity.  Tau advises that there will be a separation from the people around you.  Some struggles are internal. For example, Delta advises that outright strength and full on assault is not always the best options.  Rho advises waiting, despite a possible desire to blunder forward.  Iota reminds that work is the way to succeed.  And some struggles are with forces that cannot be controlled. For example, Kappa advises endure the waves.  Zeta advises fleeing the storm.  Theta reminds that the Gods are helping.

Alpha: “The God [Apollo] says you will do everything {Hapanta} successfully.” 

Alpha reminds us that we have the support of our gods, and to trust in the reading that we have been given.  It is a note that we will be successful at any goals we have set for ourselves.  This can also mean that the querent needs to stop second-guessing themselves when they are considering their actions and to just go with it. In some cases this symbol can also signify that the problem needs to be looked at from all sides in order to have the most favorable outcome.

Beta: “With the help of Tychê [Fortune], you will have an assistant {Boêthos}, the Pythian [Apollo].” 

I have always taken a large part of Beta to mean that in order to receive the help you desire and need, you will need to ask for that help.  It is good fortune that will aid you, but you can’t have that good fortune unless you’ve sought it out.  It is important to ask for the help, because otherwise the being you are seeking help from either won’t know that you need it, or will place such a high value on the act of asking that unless that happens, they will refuse to give it.

Gamma: “Gaia [the Earth] {Gê} will give you the ripe fruit of your labors.” 

Gamma is the symbol of the Earth Mother.  It represents the culmination of our work and our projects, as well as the new life that can begin thanks to her bounty.  In a reading that involves actions, this symbol indicates that a successful outcome is at hand due to the work that has been put in, and the seeds that have been carefully tended.  It can also represent the cycle of life, from nothingness, to seed, to something to be tended, to the culmination of that project, which then cycles back around and allows us to begin planting seeds anew.

Delta: “In customs inopportune strength {Dunamis} is weak.” 

Delta is the symbol that reminds us that whatever methods we normally use to approach a situation will not work in this case.  The analogy that use to explain this symbol most often is that for many people, it is it takes a certain amount of strength to confront those who are at odds with us or our ideas, however, it often takes even more strength to sit back an listen to those conflicting views and either choose to accept them, or choose to disagree.  In either case, the approach that you initially want to try, or normally would try, is not the course of action that should be taken here.

Epsilon: “You desire {Eraô} to see the offspring of righteous marriages.” 

Epsilon is the symbol of fertility.  It represents the creative magic that comes from working towards a goal.  It is the imbas and the inspiration that gets a project off the ground and moving along.  It is also the culmination of work that has been welcomed and approved by the Gods and/or community.  It is also literal fertility, as has been demonstrated by multiply instances of magical work done where this symbol was pulled, and babies happened soon after.  It is a symbol of support that the culmination of your desires and projects is strong, and depending on what symbols are pulled along side it can advise how the desire will (or will not) come to fruition.

Zeta: “Flee the very great storm {Zalê}, lest you be disabled in some way.” 

Zeta is the symbol that represents Zeus, the storm god.  At first interpretation, this symbol can mean that there is a situation that has occurred that the querent must remove themself from.  It can also mean that the querent must set aside those things which are no longer serving their goals, or which are acting as obstacles to their goals.  This setting aside mainly relates to things and situations, differing from Tau, which deals more with a separation from people.  A deeper look into this symbol carries an additional meaning that this ‘fleeing’ is okay, and advises the querent to accept that sometimes it is necessary and in their best interest to remove themselves from something, and that that is okay.

Eta: “Bright Helios [Sun] {Hêlios}, who watches everything, watches you.” 

Eta is the symbol that represents Helios, the sun.  This is the oath symbol, and can serve as a reminder for the querent to keep any oaths or promises that they may have made.  It can also be an indicator that one must consider their oaths when they are decided what actions to take.  Depending on the surrounding symbols, it can represent that an oath needs to be taken, or that the consequences of breaking an oath must be considered.  This symbol, unlike the sun symbols from other systems, does not represent victory.

Theta: “You have the helping Gods {Theoi} of this path.” 

Theta is the symbol that represents the Theoi, the Olympians, the Shining Gods.  This is a very good symbol to get when the querent is considering actions because it means that Gods are in agreement with their actions and will help bring those actions to fruition.  There is a similarity to Beta, in that both symbols signify that help can occur, however the different here is that the help that is being received does not necessarily have to be asked for, and the help that is being received is coming from the Gods, not from other mortal sources.

Iota: “There is sweat {Hidrôs}; it excels more than everything.” 

Iota is one of the many symbols that indicates a need for work.  The Olympian Oracle, and the Greek mythos in general, is very clear in maintaing the fact that mortals are responsible for their own actions and are responsible for making their own fortunes in the world.  Iota is the epitome of that worldview, reminding the querent that in order to achieve their goals, they will need to work at it.  Additionally, the work referenced in this symbol is most often external work.  It also indicates that the work will be hard, and that the best way to achieve the optimum result is by doing that work.

Kappa: “To fight with the waves {Kuma} is difficult; endure, friend.”

Kappa is the symbol that represents the ocean.  It is both a warning and an encouragement.  It is a warning because it can signify that a situation is about to arise that will require the querent to keep a level head, and endure the turmoil that will try to throw them off course.  It is also an encouragement because if there is already a situation that the querent is working through that contains a lot of turmoil, it helps remind them and sympathizes that “yes, we know that it’s hard, but we need you to keep plugging away at it.  We still care for you and are not turning our back on you.”  It is a reminder that the going is tough right now, and it will take strength to endure, but you’ve got to try.

Lambda: “The one passing on the left {Laios} bodes well for everything.” 

Lambda is a signifying symbol.  It acts as a notice that there is going to be a sign or a portent from somewhere that will act as the turning point for a situation.  It relates to the querent that this sign will come from somewhere that is either very unusual for them, or from an unexpected place.  The turning point also indicates that things are about to turn around, and the world can expect to look up again.  Or, if things were already going good, there may be a bump in the road which, when paired with Lambda, will indicate to not read too much into that because things will still turn out okay.

Mu: “It is necessary to labor {Mokhtheô}, but the change will be admirable.” 

Mu is another one of the many symbols that indicate work.  While Iota reminds the querent that only by working hard can they excel at their goals, Mu helps to give the querent faith.  While the work may be arduous, and you may want to stop doing it, it will be worth it in the end.  Mu is also an indicator of work that will happen internally, while Iota often signifies external work.  Mu is an especially apt symbol to pull when the querent is facing a choice to do something they may not want to do.  It reminds them that the easy path is not always the right one.

Nu: “The strife-bearing {Neikêphoros} gift fulfills the oracle.” 

Nu is the strife-bearing gift, and is the hard-won lesson or hard-won strength that you receive following a series of trials. Nu is the silver lining of a bad situation.  The myth that explains this symbol perfectly is the story of Heracles.  Heracles was a mortal, who was cursed by Hera.  This curse meant that he had an extremely rough time of it, and was forced to atone for actions that never would have happened had it not been for Hera.  However, it is also because of those actions, those labors he had to do, that made him worthy of being called a hero, and later a god.  And so, it is the strife-bearing gift that came out of it.  He had to deal with the curse and the labors following it, and that was no fun, but out of all that hardship, pain, and hard work came the gift of godhood.

Xi: “There is no fruit to take from a withered {Xêros} shoot.” 

Xi is one of the agricultural symbols within this set.  Agricultural was very important in the ancient times, and so it made for a good analogy to help people understand the deeper meanings behind the phrases.  Xi is the reminder to the querent that they need to tend the seeds they have planted if they expect to have any sort of good result from it.  It is dangerous to begin many, many projects but to not follow through on any of them to the point of completion.  This symbol warns against just setting up your master plan, but then not caring for it, nurturing it, and tending it to ensure that all the pieces fall into place and everything works out in the end.

Omicron: “There are no {Ou} crops to be reaped that were not sown.” 

While Xi talks about tending the seed one has planted in order to achieve the ends you want, Omicron takes that back one more step.  The warning inherent in Omicron is that if you didn’t lay the groundwork for your project to succeed, if you didn’t plant the initial seeds in the first place, then you will not see the culmination of any projects.  Omicron encourages forethought and foresight when approaching a goal or an outcome.  Omicron, Xi, and Gamma are the three symbols that follow the agricultural progression: from seed to plant, and from plant to fruit.

Pi: “Completing many {Polus} contests, you will seize the crown.” 

Pi is the symbol of perseverance.  This symbol indicates that there are trials in your future.  There are obstacles that you will need to overcome in order to reach your desired outcome.  This is both a symbol of hope, because it explains that if you are persistent, and keep plugging away and doing things the way you have been, that you will eventually gain whatever it is that you have placed value on.  It can also carry a note of caution, reminding the querent that there are going to be a lot of steps on their path, and that there are going to be a lot of obstacles that must be tackled to achieve their goals.

Rho: “You will go on more easily {Rhaion} if you wait a short time.” 

Rho symbolizes patience.  This is the magic 8-ball answer of “try again later.”  Everything is so much in flux right now, and because of that there is no clear answer or clear direction indicating a course of action.  It will work out better if you wait for all the pieces to fall and let everything settle, and then reevaluate.  This can also mean reevaluate your work and your assumptions to make sure they are accurate, and that you’re not giving in to your biases.  In most cases this applies toward the querent assessing their biases, but I’ve also found that if a reading is being done for someone the seer knows well, this can also be a caution to the seer to not assume too much about the reading, and instead focus more on what the symbols are saying and less on what they know about the querent personally.

Sigma: “Phoibos [Apollo] speaks plainly {Saphôs}, ‘Stay, friend.’” 

Sigma is the trust symbol.  It means you need to trust your instincts, and trust your gut.  You need to trust that the gods have a plan going on, and you’re part of it.  It also means you need to stay the course and keep doing what you’re doing.  Hold your ground.  Sigma stands opposite Tau.  Where Tau represents a separation, or a cutting away, Sigma represents a holding together and staying strong.  It can also hold a connotation of together we are stronger than we are apart.  This can also caution the querent to stop second guessing themselves, and that this is as plain as the gods can make the message right now.

Tau: “You will have a parting from the {Tôn} companions now around you.” 

Tau signifies a separation that will occur. It can mean that the querent must distance things which are no longer serving their goals, or which are acting as obstacles to their goals.  This setting aside mainly relates to people and situations, differing from Zeta, which deals more with a separation from things. This symbol also carries less in the way of an acceptance that a separation will occur, and is more of a warning that this separation will occur and has the intent to allow the querent to prepare for the aftereffects of that separation.

Upsilon: “The affair holds a noble undertaking {Huposkhesis}.” 

Upsilon pairs nicely with both Pi and Mu.  It informs the querent that the task at hand is a worthwhile thing to be doing.  The keyword in this symbol is Undertaking.  This can be both a noble quest, or it can be an ordeal.  It can also be both something that needs to be done as well as something that is going to be a lot of work and hard to complete.  There is also an undertone that the querent needs to seek understanding to determine whether they are supposed to seek out something noble to do, or whether they are already doing something worthwhile and are going to face obstacles on the path.

Phi: “Having done something carelessly {Phaulos}, you will thereafter blame the Gods.”

Phi indicates that the querent needs to take responsibility for their own actions.  If you have made a mistake, then you need to own up to it and accept the consequences.  Do not try to foist the blame off on someone else for what you have done.  Do not try to lay blame at the feet of the Gods when only you can determine your own actions.  On the slip side of this, you must also refrain from taking credit for work that is not yours.  This essentially boils down to honestly and examining yourself and your ethics.

Khi: “Succeeding, friend, you will fulfill a golden {Khruseos} oracle.” 

Khi represents wealth, worth, and value.  This can be physical value, or it can be something that you have placed value on that is an intangible thing.  This symbol can be an indicator that if you have placed value on something then you are more likely to put the time into it and put the work into it, and thus succeed at any oaks you have set for yourself.  Khi is strong indicator that you will be successful at whoever it is that you put your mind to.  On the other hand, depending on where it falls in a reading, it can also be an indictor to reexamine your values, and reexamine where you’re spending your time and what you’re putting work into.

Psi: “You have this righteous judgment {Psêphos} from the Gods.” 

Psi is the symbols that indicates you have a directive from the Gods.  They have given you a task, and given you a set of actions to take and goals to have.  You are expected to follow through on them.  This can also mean that you have been given what ever it is your deserve.  This could be a good or a bad thing depending on the querent’s situation and/or the symbols that are pulled along side it.  This symbols comes up fairly often for those people who have either asked a specific question regarding their spiritual work, or for those who have a call to serve the gods, folk, and land.

Omega: “You will have a difficult {Ômos} harvest season, not a useful one.” 

Omega is another one of the symbols that deals with work.  However, where as many of the others symbols discuss the work that needs to be done, and how it will benefit either the self or the situation, Omega indicates that there will just be a lot of work to put in, and you won’t feel as though it’s worthwhile.  This can be a warning that you’re pouring all your energy into something that is not something you should be doing.  Additionally, depending on where it falls in a reading, it can also indicate that even though the work sucks, and you don’t feel like anything is coming from it, you’re not getting anything out of it, it is still work that you have to do.  You still have to clear the field to plant new seed, even if your harvest has been completely decimated.

 

  1. Describe the primary sources available regarding your chosen symbol set, explain the place of inspiration in your interpretations, and describe how the synthesis between historical source work and inspiration plays in your personal practice. (min. 1000 words)

The primary source for the Greek Alphabet Oracle comes from an inscription found in Olympos, which is an ancient city in Lycia.  There are actually a couple of different inscriptions, though this one appears to be the one that most sources for the Greek Alphabet Oracle pull from.  The inscription begins with an invocation to both Apollo and Hermes (Apollo being the prophet, and Hermes being the messenger of the gods, specifically Zeus), and is then followed by the 24 phrases, one for each letter.  In Ancient Greek the phrase would begin with a word that started with that letter.  This made the key word for each phrase the one that started with the letter, and the remainder of the phrase helped for further clarification.  The inscription was divided up into 5 verses, the first being the invocation, and the 24 phrases making up the remaining 4 verses (Heinevetter).

These 4 verses divide up the symbols as follows.  The first verse contains Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, and Zeta.  The second verse contains Eta, Theta, Iota, and Kappa, Lambda, and Mu.  The third verse contains Nu, Xi, Omicron, Pi, Rho, and Sigma.  And the fourth verse contains Tau, Upsilon, Phi, Khi, Psi, and Omega (Heinevetter).  I’m not sure that these divisions contribute at all to the meaning, though my sense is that they most certainly could.  However, there are no sources that have broached this subject, and the division of verses is only mentioned in the German source books.  I haven’t explored the possibility of adding subtle nuances to the meanings of the symbols by including which verse they belong in.

As the only primary source that exists for this symbol set contains simply the phrase, which begins with the word that starts with the indicated letter (Sophistes), I have made use of inspiration and myth to begin expanding on my knowledge of the symbol set and it’s subtler meanings.  The first thing I did, in part to help my remember which phrase and meanings was associated with each letter, was write a poem of my own, which allowed me to add some of my own insight while maintaining the structure of the initial inscription. I had the phrases that I wrote begin with the same letter, or at least sound, so that as I was learning them it would be easier for me to remember.

Alpha: “The God [Apollo] says you will do everything {Hapanta} successfully.” 

All you do is successful.

Beta: “With the help of Tychê [Fortune], you will have an assistant {Boêthos}, the Pythian [Apollo].” 

Because you asked for help

Gamma: “Gaia [the Earth] {Gê} will give you the ripe fruit of your labors.” 

Gaia gave what you need.  Harvest it.

Delta: “In customs inopportune strength {Dunamis} is weak.” 

Deciding how to act and when strength is necessary

Epsilon: “You desire {Eraô} to see the offspring of righteous marriages.” 

Eager to see the results of union

Zeta: “Flee the very great storm {Zalê}, lest you be disabled in some way.” 

Zeus causes the storm: flee before his anger

Eta: “Bright Helios [Sun] {Hêlios}, who watches everything, watches you.” 

Every word you speak, Helios knows the truth

Theta: “You have the helping Gods {Theoi} of this path.” 

Throughout your journey, you will have the gods help.

Iota: “There is sweat {Hidrôs}; it excels more than everything.” 

If you lose all else, your hard work remains

Kappa: “To fight with the waves {Kuma} is difficult; endure, friend.”

Keep on enduring the inevitable with courage.

Lambda: “The one passing on the left {Laios} bodes well for everything.” 

Learn that blessings come from the most unsuspecting places

Mu: “It is necessary to labor {Mokhtheô}, but the change will be admirable.” 

Much good will come through labor and toil.

Nu: “The strife-bearing {Neikêphoros} gift fulfills the oracle.” 

Notice when strife has come, for it is a sign.

Xi: “There is no fruit to take from a withered {Xêros} shoot.” 

Expectations should be rational

Omicron: “There are no {Ou} crops to be reaped that were not sown.” 

Only what you plant will yield a harvest

Pi: “Completing many {Polus} contests, you will seize the crown.” 

Perseverance through adversity will win many battles.

Rho: “You will go on more easily {Rhaion} if you wait a short time.” 

Remain a short while and you will proceed more easily.

Sigma: “Phoibos [Apollo] speaks plainly {Saphôs}, ‘Stay, friend.’” 

Stay and hold your ground

Tau: “You will have a parting from the {Tôn} companions now around you.” 

Travelers must eventually part ways.

Upsilon: “The affair holds a noble undertaking {Huposkhesis}.” 

Understand whether you should seek a noble quest, or whether your quest is being hindered.

Phi: “Having done something carelessly {Phaulos}, you will thereafter blame the Gods.”

Fate is yours alone – take responsibility for it and do not blame the Gods.

Khi: “Succeeding, friend, you will fulfill a golden {Khruseos} oracle.” 

Completion of your goals is excellent

Psi: “You have this righteous judgment {Psêphos} from the Gods.” 

Suitable judgment has been passed down by the Gods.

Omega: “You will have a difficult {Ômos} harvest season, not a useful one.” 

Onerous times await you.

As I continued to learn this symbol set, and was beginning to use it for readings for other people, I needed a better way to explain what each symbol meant.  I need the flowery language of poets and bards to help me explain the meaning in such a way that could be understand by the vast majority of people.  So I turned to the myths.  There are good myths that be used to explain nearly every symbol, and I have taken to using them extensively when I’m explaining an omen I’ve taken, and am trying to make sure that the querent understands the subtler meanings behind it.

My favorite example is that of the letter Nu.  Nu is the strife-bearing gift, and is the hard-won lesson or hard-won strength that you receive following a series of trials.  The myth that explains this symbol perfectly is the story of Heracles.  Heracles was a mortal, who was cursed by Hera.  This curse meant that he had an extremely rough time of it, and was forced to atone for actions that never would have happened had it not been for Hera.  However, it is also because of those actions, the labors he had to do, that made him worthy of being called a hero, and later a god.  And so, it is the strife-bearing gift that came out of it.  He had to deal with the curse and the labors following it, and that was no fun, but out of all that hardship, pain, and hard work came the gift of godhood.

 

  1. Maintain a journal of regular divinatory practice (entries at least weekly; daily is ideal) for 5 months. At the end of that five-month period, write an essay reflecting on the importance of daily practice; the results seen (including whether your ability to work with this symbol set has increased and why you think it has); and your feelings about the symbol set’s strengths and weaknesses after this period of work (min. 1000 words)

During the course of keeping this journal, I rarely engaged in daily practice.   Most of my entries are spaced out with one every few days, sometimes more frequently if there was a ritual I was taking the omen for as well.  There is a chunk of time in the second month of the journal where I diligently took an omen each morning before going in to work.  What I found was that the meaning seemed to get diluted.  The days ran together, and the omens ran together, and the meanings ran together.  I found the daily divination strategy to be counterproductive when I was taking daily omens.   Part of this certainly could have been the time of day that I took the omens, and the rush of the morning.  However, as I do daily morning devotionals, the timing seemed to make sense, not to mention the fact that if I wanted the omen to guide me throughout the day that I should take it before I truly started my day.  I found more value in the ‘spaced out by a couple of days’ divinatory work.  The view was longer, and that seemed to help the omens make more sense.

I will say that this chunk of time doing daily divination was most beneficial in that the last vestiges of uncertainly I had with the symbol set vanished with this work.  Because I was working with them every day, the few symbols that I was unsure of were solidified in my brain.  I also began to truly get a sense of the often subtle differences between the various symbols, for example, the difference between Iota and Mu.  Both of the symbols reference that work will be necessary, however Iota is work that occurs externally, and Mu is work that occurs internally.  Both types of work will effect change, and both types are necessary to achieve your goals, but the approach is vastly different.  Iota might require you to actually go confront that person you’ve been clashing with and take many, many steps to begin to repair the relationship.  Mu would require you to examine within yourself how you have been acting in relationships, and what changes you need to make internally to deal with the situation.  Of the two, Mu is often much harder, because while Iota requires physical labor, Mu demands that you work to change something within yourself and how you view the world.

Overall, regarding the strengths and weaknesses of this symbol set, I would say that it boils down to the fact that this is a rough set for beginning diviners.  It is a hard set to learn divination with.  Many of the weaknesses of the set become strengths the more you work with it, and the more you engage with it.

Strengths:

  • often give specific instructions on how achieve the goal you were striving towards (ex: zeta = flee, kappa = endure)
  • lack of primary sources means you really have to engage with the set to get meanings

Weaknesses:

  • for beginners to the set, so many of the symbols appear to have the same meaning
  • agricultural based: if those metaphors don’t make sense to you, it can be hard to grok the meanings
  • the symbol set’s reputation as “the doom and gloom oracle”
  • lack of primary sources leads to having to do a lot of work on your own to get meanings
  • requires knowledge of the myths to truly begin to understand and explain the subtle meanings
  • oftentimes the keywords offer little guidance as to the meanings of the symbol

 

  1. Describe your method of taking an omen or doing divination in your private practice, from start to finish. Include any prayers said, deities invoked, or sacrifices made. (no minimum word count)

In my private practice, when I take an omen, I start almost identically to how I start every other time I do divination.  The first thing I do is take a deep breath to center myself and then call out to Apollo Mantikos, crushing an offering bay leaves, using the same prayer I use every time I pull omens:

Apollo Mantikos, guide my hand.

See with my eyes. Hear with my ears.  Speak with my voice.

I crush the bay leaves in order to offer them because it is both a sounds and a smell that happens every time.  This resonates with the idea that the Pythia had a whole series of steps that she would do the same every time in order to prepare her to speak with Apollo and enter that trance state where that was possible.  The Pythia is the name given to the Oracle who dwells at Delphi and speaks for Apollo (Johnston 33-50).  As I use them in a similar way to put myself into a light trance in order to make that call to Apollo Mantikos and be able to hear and interpret his words, I feel it is an apt way of doing things.

Then I begin pulling symbols out of the bag, letting my hand stir them around and linger over them until one ‘feels right’ and I pull it out and lay it out as part of the spread.  I do not put the symbols back after I pull them, because I feel that in most cases this is not conducive for me to be able to relate the symbols to each other.  It makes sense to me to have the smaller pool of symbols, and I feel like if this is how I always do my divinations, then the messages I receive from the divine will answer my questions in such a manner that this makes sense.

 

  1. Describe the results of nine divinations you have done for others (without assistance from a book). (min. 300 words per reading, and 600 words for a summary)

As usual, the first thing I do is call out to Apollo Mantikos, crushing an offering bay leaves, using the same prayer I use every time I pull omens:

“Apollo Mantikos, guide my hand. 

See with my eyes. Hear with my ears.  Speak with my voice.” 

The spread I use most often for divinatory readings for others is one that I developed myself, called the Delta Plus Spread.  The symbols are pulled all in a row, with the interpretation coming after all symbols have been pulled.  The layout is indicated below.  The “D” symbols are pulled first, and form a Delta.  The “P” symbols are pulled second, and form a plus sign.

D2                            P4

P1             P2

D1            D3                      P3

 

The Delta portion is the action plan, the change. The meanings of the symbols circle around, each symbol feeding into and relating to the other two.

The Delta symbols can then act as a catalyst for the Plus portion to occur. The Plus portion first runs from left to right. These two symbols are interpreted together in part to represent what will happen following the action plan, and in part to represent what will be allowed by their culmination.  Then that horizontal meaning circles to the bottom and the vertical meaning runs rom bottom to top. The vertical meaning is both influenced by the horizontal meaning and then must also pass through the horizontal meaning to reach the P4 result.  So, as P1 and P2 have come together for an interpretation, they then can allow P3 to happen.  Then to move from P3 to P4, the vertical meaning must be interpreted with the knowledge that this path must pass back through the horizontal interpretation, influencing the symbols again.

I always ask after I’ve completed a reading if the person has any further need for clarification.  If they would like further clarification, I continue to pull symbols form my set without putting those already drawn back.

C3

C2

C1

 

These don’t necessary feed up the path into each other, but that can sometimes help in determining the order of importance of the necessary steps to reach a point of clarification.

One thing I have found interesting as a pattern in my readings is that those people who either are currently priests, or plan to embark on the path to priesthood, is that they nearly always receive Eta or Psi in there readings unless they have asked a very specific question that doesn’t revolve around their position.  For priests, I think these two symbols have similar meanings.  Eta is meant as a reminder that we must hold our oaths, and Psi is the directive from the gods.  So, assuming that a priest has been called to serve, they will have both been directed to take that path, and will have oathed to continue on that path.

Another thing that is interesting, is that when I have done readings for people that I know well enough to know who their patrons are, I often pull the symbols that represents their patron.  For example, when reading for a friend who has one of the storm gods as a patron, I pulled Zeta, and there was a definite shift in the feeling of the meaning.  This has also happened with another who works closely with the Earth Mother.  I have had that similar shift in the feeling of the meaning occur when I’m doing readings for folks that I don’t know, and it makes me curious if perhaps their patron(s) were represented within the reading.

I occasionally do other spreads for readings, though not as often.  I do a basic Past, Present, Future reading when someone has a question that specifically pertains to that, or when they just want a short reading.  These are both not as detailed, but also more straightforward.

I’ve also considered putting the symbols back after I’ve drawn them, so that all options are valid for every single pull, but I feel that in most cases this is not conducive for me to be able to relate the symbols to each other.  It makes sense to me to have the smaller pool of symbols, and I feel like if this is how I always do my divinations, then the messages I receive from the divine will answer my questions in such a manner that this makes sense.  I could see putting all the symbols back if a person has a completely different follow-up question, rather than a simple act of clarification following the initial reading.

 

Querent 1:

Delta Plus spread:

Question: Whatever I need to know…

D1: Nu- the strife bearing gifts. Out of the ashes and out of difficulties you’ve faced there is a hard-won gift you’ve been given to use.

D2: Tau- a separation from those now around you. A division of the way things currently stand.

D3: Xi- there is no fruit to bear from withered shoot. If you don’t tend the seeds you’ve cultivated, then you should not expect them to grow.

P1: Pi- Perseverance. Completing many contests, you will receive the crown. The trials that occur before your goals are realized.

P2: Eta- Helios, the sun, the oath watcher. Hold fast to your oaths and virtues.

P3: Omega- there will be a difficult harvest, not a useful one. There is a lot of work to be, but it may seem like it’s not going anywhere and it may not be rewarding.

P4: Rho- patience. You will have an easier time if you wait a bit.

Delta: there have been difficulties and out of these difficulties you’ve been given gifts and lessons. You are also currently cultivating seeds, and in order to properly tend them and allow them to bear fruit you must apply your gifts. You must also be willing and able to set aside something that is an obstacle. There must be a separation in order for your seeds to come to fruition.

Plus: Perseverance regarding your oaths. Continue to hold fast to your virtues, your word, your promises, and your oaths. There will also be a significant amount of difficult work that you may feel is not going anywhere and you must simply be patient and continue to do the work. This continuance of the work is what will allow you the ability to continue to hold true to your oaths.

 

Querent 2:

Delta Plus spread:

Question: General Reading

D1: Lambda – Look for an unusual or unexpected sign

D2: Kappa – endure the waves and the turmoil that surrounds

D3: Beta – You must ask specifically for help, rather than just expect it.  And because you ask, so shall you receive.

P1: Nu – the strife-bearing gift and the light at the end of the tunnel.  The lesson received after turmoil

P2: Xi – There is no fruit to take from a withered shoot.  Tend the seeds you have planted

P3: Khi – Succeeding, you will fulfill the golden oracle.  Wealth and value, more often immaterial wealth and abstract value

P4: Gamma – The Earth Mother grants you the ripe fruits of your labors.

Delta: Endure the choppy seas and be willing to ask for help when you need to.  Look for an unusual or unexpected sign that signifies the end of the choppy seas is near, and you’re moving on to the next step.

Plus: The difficult times have taught you a hard lesson and given you a hard-won gift.  Use that gift to now tend your seeds, your projects.  In tending those seeds and accepting the fruits of those labors you are then able to take the wealth and value and worth received, and gift it in turn to the Earth Mother.  The Earth Mother will then complete the cycle and in turn return the love and gifts back to you.

 

Querent 3:

Delta Plus spread:

Question: no question, general reading only

D1: Delta – Inopportune strength is weak.  While it takes strength to stand up for your beliefs, it sometimes takes more to sit back and say nothing, just listening.  A different approach is needed

D2: Pi – Perseverance.  Completing many contests, you will win the crown.  After many trials, you will make it through

D3: Theta – The Theoi stand by you, helping you as the bright and shining gods.

P1: Nu – the strife-bearing gift.  Out of the ashes you receive a hard-won gift or lesson.  The light at the end of the tunnel.

P2: Epsilon – you desire to see your projects come to fruition and have things fall into place

P3: Omicron – there are no crops to harvest for seed that were not sown.  If you expect results, you must first do the work.

P4: Psi – a directive from the gods.  They expect you to do something for them, and it is their righteous judgment.

Delta: Persevere on your path, and know that the waiting is often harder and requires a different strategy.  it requires a different kind of strength than active strength.  You also have the helping gods, which will help to make the path clearer, and easier to maintain.

Plus:  The strife-bearing gift.  You’ve been given gifts that are things that have emerged from the ashes.  Now you must plant those gifts, those seeds, if you would hope to realize the result of the gifts you received and the lessons you learned.  You must do this, because you have been given this directive from the gods.

 

Querent 4:

Delta Plus spread:

Question: general reading

D1: Alpha – the support of the gods that you will be successful, and the assurance that you are on the right path.

D2: Mu – the work is going to be hard, but it will be worth it.  The change will be admirable

D3: Khi – worth, wealth, and value.  Determine what you value, and what you desire success at

P1: Iota – there is a lot of work, and doing the work is what will allow success

P2: Kappa – endure the turmoil, endure the waves.  There is difficultly ahead, but stay your course.

P3: Eta – oaths.  Helios watches over the oaths you have taken, and holds you to them

P4:Nu – the strife-bearing gift.  Out of the ashes, a gift arises.  This is your hard-won lesson, and your light at the end of the tunnel.

Delta: Determine what it is that you place value or worth on, and put in the work towards that thing.  By putting the work in, you will be successful at it, and you will value it even further.  Note as well, that you have the support of the gods that you’re making the right choices.

Plus: As a barrage of stormy seas crashes against you, whether situational or emotional or whatever, you are going to have to work hard to not let it drown you and sweep you away.  By working at it and maintaining yourself and your values, you will then be able to keep your promises and oaths, and acquire a gift from the lessons learned within the stormy seas.

After talking with the querent regarding his view of the reading:

He is struggling with being Senior Druid, and the way the bureaucracy of the position is preventing him from doing what the community needs, and serving the folks the way they need to be served.  He was considering not running for re-election but the ‘oath’ piece brings a new perspective on that.  There has been a lot of push back and he’s struggling with whether or not to push a change in the by laws.  The previous senior druid, and founder of the grove, is not being very accepting of any changes to the current by laws and way that things are run.

Delta: He values the change, and the work will be hard to get the by laws chained, but it would be worth it to make those changes. Also, the gods remind him that he has their support in the matter.

Plus: If the bylaw changes are made, there will be a shit storm that he will have to work like hell to not drown in it, and let it consume him.  This would allow him to keep his oaths, but he’d have to pass through the storm to receive the gift at the end, and the light at the end of the tunnel.

I recommended he do some divination of his own, and determine to what extent his oaths hold in the eyes of the gods, and to do some serious thinking on whether or not he’ll broach the subject.

 

Querent 5:

Delta Plus spread:

Question: What to focus on in the short term to have peace of mind.

Delta: The changes you must make:

D1: Kappa – perseverance – you must persist at the things that are of value to you and keep working at and thru them despite any difficulties.

D2: Zeta – flee – you must discard those things that no longer serve you.

D3: Beta – ask for help – to both persevere and to discard the things that aren’t working for you, you will need to ask the gods, spirits, and people to help you with this.  They will not help, or will not know you need help, if you don’t ask for it.

Plus: If you make these changes, the outcome is:

P1: Xi – put in the work – with the effort you’ve made, things will be fine

P2: Khi – success – you will be able to have peace of mind, calm your thoughts, and calm your emotions

P3: Eta – keep your word – you need to keep any promises you’ve made, or perhaps by making the changes, you will be able to keep your promises and your honor.

P4:Alpha – everything – because you asked for help the gods will ensure that you be successful in this endeavor.

 

Querent 6:

Past, Present, Future Spread

The Querent asked me if I had ever done a reading with there being a question, but without me knowing what it is.  I said that I didn’t think I had, and so she suggested that we try it.

So, initially, without knowing the question:

Past: Gamma – the earth mother gave you the ripe fruits of your labors.

Present: Xi – There is no fruit to take from a withered shoot.  Tend the seeds that you have sown if you expect to have a good harvest.

Future: Omicron – there are no crops to reap that were not sown.  If you have not planted the seeds, then you won’t even have the option of having a harvest at all.

The first thing I asked her after seeing the symbols I’d pulled was whether or not she was a farmer.  She smirked at me, and said yes.

With that in mind, I gave her the following interpretation:

You received gifts, and now you must care for them.  And in order to repeat the cycle of a good harvest and reaping those rewards, you must plant the seeds anew, and continue to tend and care for them.

After this, the Querent revealed to me her question:

She is writing a book on gardening for pagans, whether it is full-scale farm, backyard garden, or pots of plants on a patio.  She was stuck in the process, and had stagnated.  She wanted to know what to do to be able to continue writing it.

 

Querent 7:

Delta Plus spread:

Question: general reading only

D1: Mu – there is a lot of work ahead of you, but the change that comes out of it will be worth it.

D2: Omega – You will have a difficult harvest, but not a useful one.  As you are working, you will feel that you’re not getting anywhere with it.

D3: Beta – because you asked for help, you will receive aid.  Without asking, you will not gain that which you desire.

P1: Alpha – everything you do will be successful.  You have the support of the gods.

P2: Zeta – flee the storm.  This is the signifier for the storm god.

P3: Nu – The strife-bearing gift.  Out of your struggles and out of the ashes you have been given a gift or a lesson.

P4:Khi – Wealth and value.  Succeeding, you will fulfill the golden oracle.

Delta: You need to do the work, and it will affect a change.  However, you will get no benefit from that change unless you ask for help front he gods or others around you.  You will find the work difficult and unrewarding.

Plus: If you have asked for help, you will successfully complete all you have set out fro, as long as you listen to the words of your patron (a storm god) and set aside that which no longer serves you.  You must take all the gifts you’ve been given out of the hard lessons you’ve had to learn, and apply them if you hope to find value, worth and success from your work. Your experiences have made you who you are.  Use that knowledge.

 

Querent 8:

Delta Plus spread.

D2                            P4

P1             P2

D1            D3                      P3

The Delta portion is the action plan, the change. The meanings of the symbols circle around, each symbol feeding into and relating to the other two.

The Delta symbols can then act as a catalyst for the Plus portion to occur. The Plus portion first runs from left to right. Then that horizontal meaning circles to the bottom and the vertical meaning runs rom bottom to top. The vertical meaning is both influenced by the horizontal meaning and then must also pass through the horizontal meaning to reach the P4 meaning.

Question: General Reading

D1: Psi – the righteous judgment and directive from the gods

D2: Upsilon – this is a noble undertaking. it will be work, but it is the right path

D3: Lambda – the unexpected or unusual sign

P1: Xi – tend the seed you have planted if you expect to achieve results

P2: Tau – a separation or pulling apart of the ways things currently stand.  A barrier.

P3: Sigma – A very clear indicator to stay the course, stay on your path

P4: Zeta – Flee the storm / set aside those things that are not serving.  There must be a sloughing off of the old for new beginnings to occur.

Delta: Watch for the unexpected sign that will guide you in the knowing what the task is that you have been given and when to begin. The task is needed and necessary, a lot of work, and a directive from the Gods.

Plus: You must release a piece of something that is stopping you and creating a barrier and preventing you from tending to you seeds.  You should also stay among friends and know that sometimes it is necessary and okay to flee from what you have built.

Clarification was requested:

C3

C2

C1

C1: Theta – the Theoi, the shining gods of your path

C2: Rho – You must wait a short time

C3: Beta – Asking for help.

You must ask for help in order to have the gods’ guidance.  And you must be patience in waiting for their response.

 

Querent 9:

Delta Plus spread:

Question: general reading

D1: Epsilon – the offspring of righteous marriages.  A coming together of creative energies.

D2: Psi – the righteous judgment of the gods.  A directive from the gods.

D3: Zeta – flee the storm and set aside the things that are creating obstacles.

P1: Theta – the Theoi, the helping gods of your path

P2: Iota – There is much work, and by doing the work you will excel

P3: Lambda – The unexpected or unusual sign

P4: Alpha – everything you do will be successful

Delta: In order to allow your projects, desires, and imbas/creative juju mingle and successfully create, and thus allow you to complete the tasks that the gods have required of you, you need to set aside that which no longer serves you.

Plus: Once you have set these things aside you will be able to do the work to develop your relationship with the gods.  Then you will be equipped to recognize the sign that will allow you to achieve everything the gods have directed you to do.

 

  1. Describe the method you would use for drawing an omen in public ritual, how it is different from any private practice you do, and how it is different from taking an omen for another individual. (min. 600 words for the essay)

The method that I use for public omens is essentially identical to how I do reading for myself, or private reading for other people.  I still do the set up the same way.

The first thing I do is take a deep breath to center myself and then call out to Apollo Mantikos, crushing an offering bay leaves, using the same prayer I use every time I pull omens:

Apollo Mantikos, guide my hand.

See with my eyes. Hear with my ears.  Speak with my voice.

I crush the bay leaves in order to offer them because it is both a sounds and a smell that happens every time.  This resonates with the idea that the Pythia had a whole series of steps that she would do the same every time in order to prepare her to speak with Apollo and enter that trance state where that was possible.  As I use them in a similar way to put myself into a light trance in order to make that call to Apollo Mantikos and be able to hear and interpret his words, I feel it is an apt way of doing things.

Then I begin pulling symbols out of the bag, letting my hand stir them around and linger over them until one ‘feels right’ and I pull it out and lay it out as part of the spread.  I do not put the symbols back after I pull them, because I feel that in most cases this is not conducive for me to be able to relate the symbols to each other.  It makes sense to me to have the smaller pool of symbols, and I feel like if this is how I always do my divinations, then the messages I receive from the divine will answer my questions in such a manner that this makes sense.

The difference in taking the various types of omens comes in when I consider what spread to use.  In a public omen, it depends of their are set questions or not that are typically asked.  For example, when I take the omen for my Grove’s Druid Moon rituals we always ask:

  • What is our path?
  • On what should the Grove focus for the next month?
  • On what should each individual focus on for each month?

I pull a symbol to answer each question, and then also give an overall interpretation of the omen as a whole.

When I take an omen in one of the Full Moon rituals that I lead the questions I ask are always:

  • Apollo Mantikos, what wisdom or blessings do the Kindreds offer?
  • Apollo Mantikos, what wisdom or blessings do Selene and the Patrons of Magic offer?
  • Apollo Mantikos, what wisdom or blessings does [DotO] offer?

Then, as with the Druid Moon rituals, I pull a symbol to answer each question, and then also give an overall interpretation of the omen as a whole.

In our Grove’s public High Day rituals we most often, but not always ask:

  • Have our offerings been accepted?
  • What wisdom do the Kindreds offer us in return? 
  • What further needs do the Kindreds have of us? 

Then, as with the Druid Moon rituals, I pull a symbol to answer each question, and then also give an overall interpretation of the omen as a whole.

Occasionally during our High Day rituals we will instead ask for a blessing from each of the Three Kindreds.  These are then interpreted both individually, and then taken together to determine the blessing of the Kindreds as a whole.

Only rarely do I do in-depth divinatory work for myself.  Most often if I am doing a divination fro myself I’m either pulling a single symbol or three symbols to be interpreted together for a full meaning.  I find that I am often too close to the situation to be able to get a clear reading.  The exception to this, is that I will do an extended reading if I am preparing for extensive magical work, in order to be sure that I’m taking the right actions and that I have take all I need to into consideration.

When I’m taking an omen for another individual I most often use the Delta Plus Spread that I developed.  The symbols are pulled all in a row, with the interpretation coming after all symbols have been pulled.  The layout is indicated below.  The “D” symbols are pulled first, and form a Delta.  The “P” symbols are pulled second, and form a plus sign.

D2                            P4

P1             P2

D1            D3                      P3

 

The Delta portion is the action plan, the change. The meanings of the symbols circle around, each symbol feeding into and relating to the other two.

The Delta symbols can then act as a catalyst for the Plus portion to occur. The Plus portion first runs from left to right. These two symbols are interpreted together in part to represent what will happen following the action plan, and in part to represent what will be allowed by their culmination.  Then that horizontal meaning circles to the bottom and the vertical meaning runs rom bottom to top. The vertical meaning is both influenced by the horizontal meaning and then must also pass through the horizontal meaning to reach the P4 result.  So, as P1 and P2 have come together for an interpretation, they then can allow P3 to happen.  Then to move from P3 to P4, the vertical meaning must be interpreted with the knowledge that this path must pass back through the horizontal interpretation, influencing the symbols again.

I always ask after I’ve completed a reading if the person has any further need for clarification.  If they would like further clarification, I continue to pull symbols form my set without putting those already drawn back.

C3

C2

C1

These don’t necessary feed up the path into each other, but that can sometimes help in determining the order of importance of the necessary steps to reach a point of clarification.

 

  1. Give and explain the results of three omens taken by you in public ritual. (min. 300 words per omen)

May Hellenic Full Moon to Apollo – 14 May 2014

The working for this moon was a blessing of our divination tools.  I decided that I would like to have every person pull a symbol from their sortilege set (which I was very thankful that everyone who came was using sortilege) and interpret it.  Then I would interpret the symbols for their combined meaning.  Below is the text of divinatory part of the working, including the symbols that were pulled and interpreted.

We come together now in the presence of all the Theoi, but most especially Apollo Mantikos, Apollo Aphetor.  Prophetic One, Giver of Oracles.

Klûthi mou, Apollon! (Hear me, Apollo!)

Elthé moi, Apollon! (Come to me, Apollo!)

Deûro Mákar! (Hither, Blessed One!)

We come with our tools, and we come with open heart and empty mind.  We ask that you give us the gift of the Mantis, and the gift of your blessing, that our Sight might be improved.

*All Speak Together or Call & Response*

Phoebos, Radiant One,

Shine your light down on me.

Mantikos, Prophetic One,

Send your truth down to me.

Aphetor, Oracle Giver

Send your wisdom down to me.

Proopsios, Farseeing One

Send you visions down to me

Leskhenorios, Converser

Send your voice down to me

Loxias, Speaker

Send your words down to me.

Pythian Apollo, of Delphi,

Let your Oracle speak through me.

*if all are using a sortilege, each person draws a single lot and interprets (otherwise each person seeks an omen in whatever manner they generally use); whoever took the rite’s omen should make sure they are drawing lots from the full set for the working*

We have received the blessings of:

Nu – the strife-bearing gift

Sowilo – the sun and victory

Gebo – gifts

Birch – new beginnings

Khi – golden oracle fulfilled, worth, and value

Gamma – Gaea, the earth mother gives the ripe fruit of labors

30, The Clanging – illumination and enlightenment

Magician – power and willpower, as well as creativity

Eta – the Sun, and oaths

8 of Stones – apprenticeship and practice of skill

Ivy – journey, guidance, travel

7 of Arrows – insecurity and facing your doubts

Honeysuckle – lay down your burdens and have fun

Iota – sweat and work excel

Rebirth – new beginnings

 

Apollo Mantikos, Prophetic One,

I seek to know of these omens.

Let your truth be told through me.

 

Apollo Aphetor, Oracle Giver,

I seek to know of these gifts.

Let your wisdom flow through me.

 

Apollo Leskhenorios, Converser,

I seek to know of these messages.

Let your voice speak through me.

 

*Seer makes offering of Oil and/or bay and speaks prayer as needed*

Apollo Mantikos, guide my hand.

See with my eyes. Hear with my ears.  Speak with my voice.

 

These blessings and wisdom that we have received, when taken together, mean:

 

With the bright light of the sun illuminating our path, we have been blessed with many gifts. It is now time to take these gifts and focus our willpower and creativity to work on and practice our skills as we set down our burdens so that we might pick up burdens anew as we face our fears and set out on our new, enlightened path.

Reflect a moment on these gifts and how they pertain to your Sight.

  

3CG Summer Solstice @ Comfest: June 24, 2012 

As the Seer for the rite, I called out to Apollo Mantikos, offering bay leaves, using the same prayer I use every time I pull omens:

Apollo Mantikos, guide my hand.

See with my eyes. Hear with my ears.  Speak with my voice.

Apollo Mantikos, first I ask have our offerings been accepted?

Omega – No.  You will have a difficult harvest, not a useful one.

At this point as I nodded to MJD, and he asked if anyone had forgotten to give an offering, or would like to make more, I noticed that some of the offerings we had set out on the altar were still sitting there.  In the shuffle of the ritual, there was a huge chunk of offerings that were promised to the Kindreds that had not, in fact, been offered.  Jessie came up to offer those out, while I and a few others made additional offerings.

Apollo Mantikos, have our offerings and their additions been accepted

Epsilon – Yes, the fertility of our gifts and out desire to continue giving rings out.

Apollo Mantikos, what blessing do the Kindreds offer the community?

Khi – They give us knowledge and wisdom to follow the right path.  As they guide our steps to build a stronger community, we will succeed on our path.

Apollo Mantikos, what further needs do the Kindreds have of us?

Rho – We must have patience to know that we may not always get what we need or want immediately.  Sometimes we must wait for the right moment and wait for the proper time and proper materials to best serve the Kindred, our own community, and ourselves.

Taken together: The Kindreds want us to come together and flourish as a community and walk the path of the Old Ways with the knowledge that what we need may not come to us immediately, but if we wait we will best serve them and succeed in coming together as a community.

 

Elembivios Druid Moon: August 22, 2012

As the Seer for the rite, I called out to Apollo Mantikos, offering bay leaves, using the same prayer I use every time I pull omens:

Apollo Mantikos, guide my hand.

See with my eyes. Hear with my ears.  Speak with my voice.

Apollo Mantikos, first I ask have our offerings been accepted?

A wren called out in sweet, chirping song.  We took this to be a good omen, that our offerings were accepted.

Apollo Mantikos, what is our path?

Nu: The Strife-Bearing Gift

We have been through a lot of rough times, struggling and fighting to make sense of things.  We’ve experienced a great deal of strife.  Now it is time for us to look for the silver lining.  What lessons have we learned from this?  How can we use what we have learned to help others.  Now is the time for us to look at our struggles as a gift that has not only made us stronger and taught us valuable lessons, but to also look into spreading that wisdom so that others need not experience the same strife as we have.

Apollo Mantikos, on what should the Grove focus for the next month?

Sigma: Stay, friend.

We are only as strong as the sum of all of us.  The message is clear: we need to strengthen our bounds with each other.  As families often do, they have a tendency to grow apart at times.  We need to focus on building our ties between each other, support each other, and not give up on each other.

Apollo Mantikos, on what should each individual focus for the next month?

Epsilon: Desire Offspring of Righteous Union

There are things that we want to see.  Now is the time to take our goals and dreams and begin making the steps towards making them a reality.  This is the letter of fertility.  Allow the forces of creation to bubble up in you, and flare in you, and allow you to make the changes you need to succeed at your goal.

Taken together, these omens suggest that we focus on combining our respective powers and gifts and lessons learned to maintain and strengthen our bonds as a folk so that we can unite to achieve our goals.  “With our powers combined…”

 

Cranefest Hellenic Main Rite: September 2, 2012

Apollo Mantikos, what wisdom and advice do the Kindreds offer?

Omicron: “There are no crops to be reaped that were not sown.”

You must plant seeds first if you expect them to grow.  And in planting them, you must also be willing to tend them and care for them.

Apollo Mantikos, what wisdom and advice does Zeus offer?

Phi: “Having done something carelessly, you will thereafter blame the gods.”

Take responsibility for your own actions.  You can only control you and how you act and respond.  Do not take responsibility for others actions, and do not blame others for your own actions.  Zeus is the bringer and enforcer of justice.  Do not try to take his domain into your own hands.  Control yourself, your actions, and your reactions without assigning blame to others for your situation.

Apollo Mantikos, what wisdom and advice does Hera offer?

Iota: “There is sweat; it excels more than everything.”

To reach a place where relationships reach a balance, and a place of harmony, there is work that has to be done.  It is hard work to grow and maintain a relationship, but if it something you love and care about, it should feel less like work because it is worth it.  Hera helps create and defend healthy relationships, and reminds us that we can’t simply rest and expect those types of relationship to fall into our laps.  There is work that goes into creating them, and it is a labor of love.

Taken together the message is in building and sustaining relationships of all kinds remember to tend the seeds that you plant so that they might grow.  There will be a lot of work to do, and all you can control are your own actions and reactions.

The path to peoples’ hearts is a rocky slope that is hard to plant seeds of love on.  But once planted, if tended with love and care (because doing what we love should not be work) they will grow to be beautiful flowers.

 

References:

“Ancient Scripts: Greek.” Ancient Scripts: Greek. Lawrence Lo., 1 Jan. 2012. Web. 29 May 2014. <http://www.ancientscripts.com/greek.html>.

 

Evelyn-White, H. G. “The Homeric Hymns 1-3.” Classical E-Text. Theoi.com, 2011. Web. 06 Aug. 2012. <http://www.theoi.com/Text/HomericHymns1.html>.

 

Flower, Michael A.. The Seer in Ancient Greece. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008. Print.

 

“Ionic Greek.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Apr. 2014. Web. 16 May 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ionic_Greek>.

 

Hesiod, and Hugh G. Evelyn-White. “Works And Days.” Hesiod: Works and Days. Sacred Texts, 1 Jan. 1914. Web. 16 May 2014. <http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/hesiod/works.htm>.

 

Heinvetter, Franz. Trans. Jan Avende. Würfel- und buchstabenorakel in Griechenland und Kleinasien. Breslau: Grass, Barth & comp., 1912. Print.

 

Johnston, Sarah Iles. Ancient Greek Divination. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell Pub., 2008. Print.

 

“Lycia.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 14 May 2014. Web. 16 May 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lycia>.

 

Sophistes, Apollonius. “A Greek Alphabet Oracle.” A Greek Alphabet Oracle. Biblioteca Arcana, 1 Jan. 1995. Web. 17 May 2014. <https://web.eecs.utk.edu/~mclennan/BA/GAO.html>.

Divination 1

1.     Name and briefly describe one method of divination or seership technique common to three paleo-pagan Indo-European cultures. (minimum 100 words each)

The Drawing/Casting of Lots:  This method involves a collection of symbols, commonly from a writing system, from which the Seer picks from, and then interprets.

Norse: Runes

The Runes of the Elder Futhark is a writing system for the Germanic people.  Each symbol stands for a letter/sound, as well as additional divinatory meanings.  The runes are associated with wisdom and divination through Odin.  His story of how he learned the runes and gained their wisdom is related in the Havamal.  This discussion is more related to the magical uses for the runes.  Further meanings that apply more to the context of divination as used by man are found in the Rune Poems, whether they are from Norse, Anglo-Saxon, or Icelandic versions.  The traditional way of casting lots with the runes involved not only interpreting the meaning of each symbol, but also where it fell during the casting process (Thorsson).

Celtic: Ogham

The Ogham was a system of writing for the Celtic people in general, though it is found most commonly in Irish.  The alphabet dates from the 4th century CE, and most inscriptions are from the 4th-8th century.  Each symbol represents a letter, since the ogham was likely first used as a writing system rather for divination.  The Tree Ogham is the set of oghams that is used for divination.  The fews, or individual symbols, are broken down into five groups of five (called aicme (aicmi= plural), some of which are not commonly used in divination since they appear to have been meant solely for use in manuscripts (Ellison 1-12).

Greek: Olympian Alphabet Oracle

The Greek Alphabet Oracle comes from the Ancient Greek system of writing.  Unlike other symbol sets, where a collection of key words may accompany each symbol, the Greek Alphabet Oracle has a phrase that matches to each symbol.  The phrase starts with a word that begins with the corresponding letter.  So, when interpreting from the Greek Alphabet Oracle, not only does the Seer work with keywords and intuition, but also with an oracular phrase that references some aspect of life or the Gods within Ancient Hellenismos.  Traditionally the letter was chosen either by rolling five astrogaloi (goat knucklebones) and calculating the corresponding letter based on the associated numbers or by shaking pottery fragments that had been inscribed with the letters from a bowl or frame drum (Sophistes).

 

2.     Within the context of a single paleo-pagan Indo-European culture, discuss three different forms of divination or seership, and give an example of each. (minimum 100 words each)

Within the context of Ancient Greece, divination can be divided into roughly two categories: natural and artificial.  Both types were considered to be a communication between mortals and gods, but artificial divination is something that could be taught, whereas natural divination is something that is untaught and considered more reliable because it is a direct communication from the gods, rather than going through the channels of interpretation by mortals.  Another division that may make more sense and be less convoluted is to say that the two types of divination can instead be divided into institutional oracles and independent diviners (manteis) (Johnston 7-29).

Perhaps the most famous method of Greek divination is the Oracle, specifically the Oracle of Delphi.  This is both an institutional oracle and on that is noted for its natural method.  This specific natural method is called enthused prophecy.  The idea here is that a god, in this case, Apollo, god of truth and prophecy, possessed an oracle, called the Pythia at Delphi, and spoke through her with his voice.  The “breath” of the God filled the Pythia, and she spoke as Him.  One important thing to note is that the oracles were tied to their location, rather than to a specific person.  Thus we have the Oracle of Delphi, the Oracle of Dodona, etc.  A Pythia, serving at the Oracle of Delphi, is a woman born in good standing and who has been influenced as little as possible by the thoughts of man so that she may speak clearly Apollo’s words without overtones of human thoughts (Johnston 33-50).

Dice oracles were also popular.  These were a kind of “self-service” oracle.  The person seeking a divinatory reading would go to a statue or pillar where there were numbered phrases inscribed on the side.  They would take up five of the astrogaloi (four sided dice made from a sheep’s knucklebone) that lay on a table in front of the statue and roll them, adding up the resulting numbers.  They would them find the numbered phrase on the statue, which was the advice or answer to their question.  In Anatolia the oracular phrases were inscribed on a statue of Hermes.  Each phrase was “sponsored” by a particular deity.  The seeker would have to determine for themselves how the phrase and deity represented by their number applied to their question.  It is likely that there were manteis, or freelance, diviners present offering their services of interpretation to the seeker (Johnston 98-100).

Another type of divination that was common in ancient Greece, as well as many other cultures, was the reading of entrails.  One reason this was so common was because those animals that were most often sacrificed to the gods (sheep, goats, cattle, and pigs) always shad their entrails read as part of the sacrificial procedure.  This was done often simply for the sake of making sure that the offering was acceptable to the gods.  The reading of entrails is thought to be rather straightforward.  The diviner would look at the innards of a creature, most notably the liver, and receive a yes or no answer to whatever question had been asked.  There is debate on the subject, but it is generally agreed on that this process can only be done three times each day for the same question.  This was more a sense of omen taking than other methods were. The belief was that certain signs would always precede creation events.  The manteis was trained to know what those signs were and what they were known to precede (Johnston 125-128).

 

3.     Discuss both the role of seers within at least one Indo-European culture and the relationship of seers to other members of the society, including in that discussion how seers or visionaries would have supported themselves or how they would have been supported by their people.(minimum two paragraphs)

The Institutional Oracles were an important part of the economic ecosystem of the cities they existed around.  Generally speaking, they did not provide for themselves in the way of sustenance, but rather relied on the folk they served to bring that to them.  In the Homeric Hymn to the Pythian Apollo there is story asking how the people chosen by Apollo to care for his temple shall be provided for.  They were reminded that “the glorious tribes of men will bring gifts to you as Iepaeon (`Hail-Healer’), and you will receive with delight rich sacrifices from the people dwelling round about” (Evelyn-White).  This meant that when the people brought forth sacrifices to the altar of Apollo at his temple, the priests there would be well fed as long as the fame of the oracle lasted. In this same sense, it was also beneficial for the surrounding towns to enhance their Oracle’s reputation.  The more people traveled through, and stayed for extended period of time, the better business was for that town.  This was especially true of the Oracle of Delphi, which later became the site for the Pythian Games (Johnston 34-46).

For the independent diviners (manteis), they made their living much the same way other merchants did: by selling their wares and services to the public.  They were well-respected as part of the aristocratic class of men (and sometimes women) who would seek to further themselves and their reputation not only through their divination, but also through feats of strength and courage.  The manteis was a crisis manager; he was an integral part of the Hellenic society.  When something went wrong, the manteis would not only look to the future, but would also look to the past.  It was their job to determine how the folk might have offended the gods at some point in the past so that the correct amends could be made to set the course of history back on a good path.  The manteis also had a very important role in the military history of Greece.  In myth, every army had its own manteis, because of how important it was to consult the will of the gods when approaching something that their good or ill will may determine the outcome of the battle.  The manteis would bring out sacrificial animals before a battle.  They would kill these animals and read their entrails, determining how the battle would go and what would need to be done in order to win the battle.  Generals were known to put great weight in these divinations, and would even delay battle until the omens were fortuitous.  The independent diviner had more freedom than the institutional oracles to peruse the life they wanted.  They were less tied to the people in the sense of dependency, but also had to prove themselves much more than the institutional oracles to maintain their reputation and thus be able to sell their services (Johnston 116-118).

 

 

4.     Identify and describe one method of divination to which you find yourself attracted, and discuss its relationship to paleo-pagan divination.(minimum 300 words.)

I am attracted to divination by lots.  This method is common across many cultures, and I find the juxtaposition of the simplicity of drawing a symbol against the complexity of interpreting that symbol within the context of the question and all the sublets that it may represent to be very effective and rewarding.  Since I am drawn almost exclusively to the Hellenic deities, I am specifically attracted to the Greek Alphabet Oracle, also known as the Olympian Oracle.  Within this symbol set are the 24 letters of the ancient Greek alphabet.  There is very little source material regarding this symbol set specifically (discussed in further detail in the following question), and what there is, is difficult to find translated into English or find at all.  In general, it is a method of divination that involves choosing a number of symbols seemingly at random and interpreting their meanings in relation to the individual symbol, in relation to each other and the placement of each symbol drawn, and in relation to the question asked.

The Greeks have many documented methods of divination, but I’ve found that the Greek Alphabet Oracle fits well within methods used across many paleo-pagan cultures.  The important part of this for me is that it means it fits well within ADF cult practice.  Drawing or casting lots is the most common method of divination I’ve seen in ADF public ritual, making the method of taking an omen in ritual familiar both to me and to the Folk (who are used to seeing Runes or Oghams drawn from a bag as a method of taking an omen).  This is why I’ve chosen to use the Greek Alphabet Oracle in my divinatory practice, even though it lacks in the way of obtainable source material.  It is familiar in application to other methods of divination commonly used.  On a practical level, it is also easily transportable, and can be consulted rather easily in a variety of situations and locations.

 

5.     Briefly describe the symbology of your chosen method of divination, and include a method of application for that system. (minimum 100 words overall description plus at least one sentence or line per symbol)

The system of divination that I used most often is the Greek Alphabet Oracle.  There are three traditional ways of using this system.  The first way is through the drawing of lots.  Traditionally this would have been done with pottery fragments, each inscribed with a letter.  This is the method that I use, drawing inscribed wooden disks from an opaque bag.  I found that pottery fragments were both too brittle, since I had no way to fire them, and the shapes weren’t uniform enough, removing some measure of objectivity.  The second method is through the casting of five knucklebones, or astrogaloi.  There are four “sides” of a knucklebone, and each is given a value (1, 3, 4, and 6).  When those values are added together they correspond to a letter.  There are 24 possible different sums, between 5 and 30, with 6 and 29 being impossible.  The third method is similar, except that it uses five six-sided die, rather than bone.  The possible values are again between 5 and 30, with both 13 and 25 being uninterpretable from a reconstruction standpoint.  Generally, the die will be recast, though some may choose to interpret 13 as having to do with sacrificed and resurrected Gods (i.e.: Dionysos) and 25 as having to do with perfection (being the square of 5) (Sophistes).

Each letter in the alphabet oracle correlates to a phrase containing a key word that starts with that letter.  Below I’ve written the phrase that goes with the letter in italics, as well as the phrase I wrote to add some of my own insight while maintaining the structure that these omens where taken in. I had the phrases that I wrote begin with the same letter, or at least sound, so that as I was learning them it would be easier for me to remember.

Alpha: “The God [Apollo] says you will do everything {Hapanta} successfully.” 

All you do is successful.

Beta: “With the help of Tychê [Fortune], you will have an assistant {Boêthos}, the Pythian [Apollo].” 

Because you asked for help

Gamma: “Gaia [the Earth] {Gê} will give you the ripe fruit of your labors.” 

Gaia gave what you need.  Harvest it.

Delta: “In customs inopportune strength {Dunamis} is weak.” 

Deciding how to act and when strength is necessary

Epsilon: “You desire {Eraô} to see the offspring of righteous marriages.” 

Eager to see the results of union

Zeta: “Flee the very great storm {Zalê}, lest you be disabled in some way.” 

Zeus causes the storm: flee before his anger

Eta: “Bright Helios [Sun] {Hêlios}, who watches everything, watches you.” 

Every word you speak, Helios knows the truth

Theta: “You have the helping Gods {Theoi} of this path.” 

Throughout your journey, you will have the gods help.

Iota: “There is sweat {Hidrôs}; it excels more than everything.” 

If you lose all else, your hard work remains

Kappa: “To fight with the waves {Kuma} is difficult; endure, friend.”

Keep on enduring the inevitable with courage.

Lambda: “The one passing on the left {Laios} bodes well for everything.” 

Learn that blessings come from the most unsuspecting places

Mu: “It is necessary to labor {Mokhtheô}, but the change will be admirable.” 

Much good will come through labor and toil.

Nu: “The strife-bearing {Neikêphoros} gift fulfills the oracle.” 

Notice when strife has come, for it is a sign.

Xi: “There is no fruit to take from a withered {Xêros} shoot.” 

Expectations should be rational

Omicron: “There are no {Ou} crops to be reaped that were not sown.” 

Only what you plant will yield a harvest

Pi: “Completing many {Polus} contests, you will seize the crown.” 

Perseverance through adversity will win many battles.

Rho: “You will go on more easily {Rhaion} if you wait a short time.” 

Remain a short while and you will proceed more easily.

Sigma: “Phoibos [Apollo] speaks plainly {Saphôs}, ‘Stay, friend.’” 

Stay and hold your ground

Tau: “You will have a parting from the {Tôn} companions now around you.” 

Travelers must eventually part ways.

Upsilon: “The affair holds a noble undertaking {Huposkhesis}.” 

Understand whether you should seek a noble quest, or whether your quest is being hindered.

Phi: “Having done something carelessly {Phaulos}, you will thereafter blame the Gods.”

Fate is yours alone – take responsibility for it and do not blame the Gods.

Khi: “Succeeding, friend, you will fulfill a golden {Khruseos} oracle.” 

Completion of your goals is excellent

Psi: “You have this righteous judgment {Psêphos} from the Gods.” 

Suitable judgment has been passed down by the Gods.

Omega: “You will have a difficult {Ômos} harvest season, not a useful one.” 

Onerous times await you.

 

6.     Describe the results of three divinations performed by you. These divinations may be text assisted. (minimum 100 words each)

Omen for Querant as she worries about her health (3/28/12)

Kappa — Theta — Beta

Things are going to be rough ahead, but you are loved, so stay strong.  The gods are with you.  Apollo the Healer is with you.  Good Fortune (Tyche) is on your side.  As the waves crash over you, you may find it harder and harder to endure all the tis being thrown at you.  Remember to float.  Work on just being.  The Gods are watching over you, and they are here to help you.  The path ahead has many obstacles, but allow them to guide your steps.  And remember that you specifically have the assistance of Apollo and Tyche.  They will help you get through the struggles ahead, but in return you must ask for help when you need it.  They can open the doors for help to be given, but you must walk through those doors and ask for what you need.

Comfest: Querant (6/23/12)

Past: Phi — Present: Omega — Future: Zeta — Overarching Connection: Nu — Further Clarification: Theta & Xi

In the past she had made some actions or mistakes that she was perhaps too hard on herself for or didn’t accept that that’s how fate or the situation should or was meant to go.  Presently she’s in a holding pattern, sending out all these feelers and none of them are taking hold.  Her advice to get out of the pattern is to stop pouring her energy into that which isn’t serving her, and stop per suing those things that are only draining on her.  The overarching connection is the strife-bearing gift.  What is the silver lining she can take from Phi, Omega, and Zeta?  She can learn not to be careless with others emotions, to continue trying to find a way out, and to recognize what is helpful to her.  For further clarification she was reminded that though she’s struggling on this path, the Gods have her back.  She also needs to be sure that she properly cares for and tends the seedlings she plants.  Either be all in, or don’t water your energy bothering at all.

Comfest: Querant (6/23/12)

Past: Nu — Present: Omega — Future: Theta

Maybe something bad happened a little while ago, but now you’re trying to fix, but aren’t really getting anywhere.  So, to work on fixing it you need to remember all the people around you and the divinities have got your back. You just need to remember that you can ask them for help.  You’re not in this alone, even though it may feel like it sometimes.  Learn from the mistakes of your past.  Every bad experience has a lesson within it.  Try to find that lesson and apply it to what you’re struggling with now.  You’ll find that your relationship with the divinities will deepen as you work through this current struggle and apply the lessons they gave you to learn.

 

7.     Discuss your view of the purpose of divination. (minimum 100 words)

Sarah Iles Johnston states that the purpose of ancient divination is “to gain knowledge of what humans would not otherwise know” (Johnston 3).  This general statement is true in all regards, but I think in terms of divination for religious purposes, if a general goal can be set that we’d like to live our lives to the fullest in the best way we can, then divination can guide us.  I believe that in our lives and in this world we’re each set on a path.  Our general course has been set by the fates.  Our threads spun out, woven, measured, and will eventually be cut.  The specifics are left up to us to determine how we spend our thread, how we burn our wick. Divination can help us see more clearly the path laid out before us so that we can make more informed and conscious decisions about the direction we’re heading.  It can also offer reassurance for choices made, or guidance to view a situation from another perspective.  In general, I see an omen taken as the way things will pan out if no changes are made in the course you are taking.  So, but seeing the path ahead you are more able to make an informed choice as to whether or not you should hold your course, or set your sails to divert a different direction.  As with all things, divination is no substitute for the thoughts and work and actions we put into our lives.  It cannot make the changes, but can help to clear the clouds so we can see a bit further and with a bit more wisdom.

 

8.     Discuss the relative importance and effect of divination within your personal spiritual practice. (minimum 100 words)

Within my spiritual practice there are a few ways that I approach and use divination.  On a personal level I will take an omen for guidance on the coming days.  I rarely look further ahead than a month, simply there are so many choices and branching of paths in that amount of time that an omen and the wisdom it provides could really go any which way.  I find it useful in this way to brace myself in a sense.  The other piece of this is that oftentimes taking an omen for myself will force me to see a situation in a different light, from a different perspective, allowing me to change my course if I need to.

I also use divination in ritual space, especially when working with a new or unfamiliar deity, to see if the offerings I’m making have been accepted.  I find this especially useful when I’m unsure of what kinds of things the deity would like to receive as offerings.  Following up on that, the other way I use divination is to see what blessings or wisdom are offered to me in return for the offerings I make.  I’ve found that I more often receive wisdom and guidance than I do specific blessings, but perhaps that is the nature of the Greek Oracle.

 

9.     Discuss your view and understanding of the function of the Seer. (minimum 100 words)

The role of the Seer is to serve as an intermediary between the Folk and the Kindreds.  The Folk can be anything from a solitary, to a Grove, to a larger community.  The Kindreds can be from any of the Ancestors, Nature Spirits, or Shining Ones depending on whom the Seer is addressing.  The Seer can serve as one in a ritual setting with a larger purpose, or in a more intimate setting with the main goal being to seek guidance from the Kindreds.  In the case of a ritual, the Seer takes the Omen, serving as the voice of the Kindreds.  In a more intimate setting, the Seer is directed more by the querant and the questions they ask.

 

10.     Discuss the importance and value of divination as it relates to ADF. (minimum 100 words)

The Seer directs the divination within an ADF ritual.  The Seer’s job here is three-fold: to find out whether or not the Sacrifices of the Folk have been accepted, to interpret the blessings and wisdom that is received in return, and to help the Folk determine how to apply those blessings and wisdom to their lives.  I think this is important because finding out if our gifts are well received helps to deepen our relationship with the Kindreds.  In addition, once we have learned what we’re being offered in return, it is sometimes overlooked how to apply those blessings and wisdom to our lives.  I’ve found that the Socratic method works well for this part because though you can give someone wisdom, if you cannot help them apply it to their own life, it does them little good.  By asking questions that help them focus on the blessing and think on multiple meanings of it, you can help them find the ways it applies to them.

 

Bibliography

Sophistes, Apollonius. “A Greek Alphabet Oracle.” A Greek Alphabet Oracle. Biblioteca Arcana, 2005. Web. 23 July 2012. <http://web.eecs.utk.edu/~mclennan/BA/LAO.html>.

Ellison, Robert Lee. Ogham: The Secret Language of the Druids. Tucson, AZ: ADF, 2007. Print.

Evelyn-White, H. G. “The Homeric Hymns 1-3.” Classical E-Text. Theoi.com, 2011. Web. 06 Aug. 2012. <http://www.theoi.com/Text/HomericHymns1.html>.

Johnston, Sarah Iles. Ancient Greek Divination. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell Pub., 2008. Print.

Thorsson, Edred. Runecaster’s Handbook: The Well of Wyrd. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 1999. Print.

 

Greek Alphabet Oracle

I’m starting to learn about the Greek Alphabet Oracle, and as such am trying to learn the meanings associated with each letter of the Greek alphabet.  I got the information on the oracle here.  What I tried to do was take the meaning of each letter and write it in a  phrase that began with that letter or sound.  This is what each of the Greek phrases did, so “translating” it has been slightly more difficult.  I would eventually like to turn this into a song of some sort for a better mnemonic device.  I’m using the dice method right now until I can make my own set of “Greek Runes” and plan to take an omen each day.

Alpha

  • All you do is successful

Beta

  • Because you asked for help

Gamma

  • Gaia gave you the fruits of your labors

Delta

  • Deciding how to act and when strength is necessary

Epsilon

  • Eager to see the results of union

Zeta

  • Zeus causes the storm: flee before his anger

Eta

  • Every word you speak, Helios knows the truth

Theta

  • Throughout your journey, you will have the gods help.

Iota

  • If you lose all else, your hard work remains

Kappa

  • Keep on enduring the inevitable with courage.

Lambda

  • Learn that blessings come from the most unsuspecting places

Mu

  • Much good will come through labor and toil.

Nu

  • Notice when strife has come, for it is a sign.

Xi

  • Expectations should be rational

Omicron

  • Only what you plant will yield a harvest

Pi

  • Perseverance through adversity will win many battles.

Rho

  • Remain a short while and you will proceed more easily.

Sigma

  • Stay and hold your ground

Tau

  • Travelers must eventually part ways.

Upsilon

  • Understand whether you should seek a noble quest, or whether your quest is being hindered.

Phi

  • Fate is yours alone – take responsibility for it and do not blame the Gods.

Khi

  • Completion of your goals is excellent

Psi

  • Suitable judgment has been passed down by the Gods.

Omega

  • Onerous times await you.