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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia
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Divination

This article was written by Chic Cicero and Sandra Tabatha Cicero on May 14, 2002
posted under Golden Dawn

The word divination is based on a Latin word that means "the faculty of foreseeing." The word comes from the Latin word for "divine power," or "of the gods." This indicates that the true meaning of the word divination is "to make divine."

Far from being a superstitious practice, the art of divination reveals itself as a spiritual science that seeks to discover the divine meaning behind "chance" events. Divination has existed as a tool for psychic well-being and spiritual health long before modern psychology was born, although the later science has often borrowed heavily from the former.

Divination can open up the mind of the diviner to wonders of the spiritual world and the invisible universe that is behind the visible universe. Also, the different methods of divination are good exercises for developing the student's powers of intuition and imagination.

Two forms of divination are taught in the First Order of the Golden Dawn. These are geomancy and tarot. Geomancy or "earth divination" was originally performed in ancient times by poking the dirt with a stick and taking note of the number of holes made. The Golden Dawn method of geomancy is accomplished using pen and paper to generate random numbers of dots.

The tarot deck used by the Golden Dawn was based upon S. L. MacGregor Mathers’s research and subsequent drawings of the cards. Mathers built his system of correspondences from the earlier observations of Eliphas Levi, who drew a remarkable comparison between the cards of the tarot and the Thirty-two Paths of Wisdom on the Qabalistic Tree of Life. Many of the most popular tarot decks of today, including the Rider-Waite deck, Aleister Crowley’s Thoth deck, and our own Golden Dawn Magical Tarot are based upon Mathers’s original drawings of the cards.

In the First Order, simple card spreads such as the Celtic Cross method were used. Not only were students of the Golden Dawn expected to memorize all the Qabalistic and astrological correspondences of the tarot cards and be able to perform readings with them, but in the higher grades they were also expected to draw their own versions of all seventy-eight tarot cards.

In the higher grades of the R.R. et A.C., tarot divination was performed using a method known as the Opening of the Key, a long and detailed technique that required five separate card spreads based on the formation of the Tetragramaton (or "Four-lettered Name" of God), the twelve zodiacal houses, the twelve signs of the zodiac, the thirty-six decanates, and the Qabalistic Tree of Life.

Divination was also performed in the Second Order grades using the more complex methods of Ring and Disk and Enochian Chess. However, and not the least bit surprisingly, tarot remained the preferred method.

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