Traditional divination—or the study of divine signs—uses objects, surfaces, or symbols to access oracular messages. The night of Halloween, when the veil to the unknown is the thinnest between the worlds, is ripe for practicing the divinatory arts!
The root of “divining” means “of god,” and oracle comes from “to speak,” so divining is listening to what is spoken by the gods. Indeed, many connect these communications as coming from ancestors, spirits, or guides, but the divinatory arts can also increase intuition
and psychological insight.
Divination can help us withdraw information to guide our lives as we ponder questions like: Should I keep dating this person? Is this just my new apartment or is it home? Should I switch jobs or stay put where I work?
3 Fun Forms of Halloween Divination
Try the methods below to receive messages on All Hallows’ Eve. Arrange an altar with holiday colors, bits of nature, flowers, milk, cakes, beer, and herb bundles to invite in ancestors and spirits.
Scrying uses reflective surfaces and intentional gazing. Throughout time, cultures have used surfaces, crystals, or other reflections to try to access future outcomes. The Druids and Greeks used obsidian tools or crystals, and Scottish Highlanders referred to clear quartz as “stones of power.” It is said Nostradamus used a bowl of water for prophecy.
Scrying can help us become meditative, tap into the unconscious mind, and create self-understanding. It is easy to set up, with relatively little preparation or expertise. All you need are mirrors, glass, or crystals—any reflective surface will work!
- Start with a question that is well-formed and direct.
- Set up your altar (make it spooky!), and grab a notepad. This is a good time to recognize what has passed on and to embrace transformation.
- Make sure you are comfortable and able to clear your mind. “Mindset is incredibly important,” says Danielle Schilke, an experienced scryer and resident witch at Jacob’s Trading. She suggests meditating, laying down, resting, or playing a guided meditation to get into the right frame of mind.
- Recite your question.
- When you're ready, open your eyes and start staring into the surface you’ve chosen to use. Stay open to receiving messages from guides or your inner voice. Look for images or see if there are any changes in your face in the reflection. You can also try loosening your focus and see if a “fuzzy” or peripheral stare creates a response.
- Jot down whatever you notice. Ask yourself: What new information or image is there now?
Schilke suggests that even if your thoughts or what you see are strange to you, be sure to mark them down. “Scrying can be draining, so only do five-minute readings,” she advises. Short bursts of gazing help maintain your energy and build your skills. She also stresses that scrying takes practice and that receiving messages can be hard at first; reading skills must be cultivated.
Tasseography is the art of reading tea leaves that became popular in the 1600s. In a time when witchcraft was taboo, tea readings became a hidden way of prophesizing. Whether or not you’re a witch, Halloween is a wonderful time to consider what you want to bring into the future.
[Read: “The Good Witch’s Apprentice.”]
Fine, loose-leaf teas are recommended for this Halloween divination, so that there is freedom in the movement and formation of images. Black tea is considered best because of its uniform shape.
- Arrange a special space with a teapot and a wide-mouthed, round-bottomed white teacup and saucer. Make sure the cup is not narrow and that the handle does not go above the rim. Add hot water to your tea leaves and steep for ten minutes.
- Set your intention…and then pay attention! When formulating your own question, make sure it’s clear and that you avoid roaming around in your head too much. Ask: What is it that I really desire to know?
- Drink the tea until there is only about a teaspoon of liquid left. Swirl the tea leaves with your fingers. Then place the saucer flat on top of the cup like a lid, with the cup facing up. Hold together and flip the saucer and cup (while thinking of your question) upside down and set it down.
- Place hands on top of the bottom of the cup as the liquid drains out. Take a breath and think of your question again. Lift the cup off with your left hand, flip it back upright, and stare at the soaked tea leaves. Look for symbols, patterns, pictures, or anything full of meaning. Perhaps there is some recent event or media you have encountered. Do not shy away from any immediate intuitive hits.
Jennifer Billock, a certified tea specialist and writer of the popular Kitchen Witch newsletter, celebrates tea readings as efficient, fun, and mobile. While astrology
or tarot readings can require background knowledge and lengthier readings, tea readings offer effective messages. For instance, in a recent tasseography session, Billock says she saw the shape of a plane, “and the person I was reading for ended up needing to fly out to California.”
Billock also appreciates the way tea readings can be paired with other divining tools or done with others. “It's important to remember that all forms of divination are subjective,” she cautions. “You may not see the same thing someone else sees. When I read leaves for people, I always show them what shapes I see so they can have extra clarification.”
Using books to extract divine insight is known as bibliomancy. It originated using religious texts, and Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey were oft-used. All you need is a book, a stack of poems, or lyric sheets.
- Select your text. I recommend using those you feel hold Truth in them, such as spiritual books, sacred texts, wisdom teachings, or my favorite: books defining symbols. But even an ordinary book will work!
- Be sure to have ample light and space on a flat surface. Light a black candle and pass the book through cleansing smoke.
- Take the book, close your eyes, and open up to a random page without overthinking it. Keep your eyes shut. Move your finger and feel for an energetic area, but then stop whenever inclined. You also can flip through the text using a pen, a wand, or tool (the more meaningful, the better). Insert it from the top and flick open a page, moving it down and around until you stop and select. Hold your finger there.
- Now, the fun part! Open your eyes. What phrase or words do you see? You may decide only to read whatever words your finger is on or consider the sentences around it. These words might feel like an affirmation, an answer or, a prediction. Don’t worry if the page is blank or the space is white— that also can be interpreted.
- Record your impressions, stay open, and have patience with yourself. Try not to judge the message or become frustrated. Like the art of poetry, divination is a way of paying attention.
Confidence in divination takes time and repetition, just like any practice. Have fun with these as opportunities to gain intuitive muscle. As Danielle Schilke says, “Everyone has it—but it needs to be developed and worked on…you just need to start.”
Halloween Divination for a New Year
According to the Pagan Wheel of the Year, Halloween is the new year, and so it is an excellent time to integrate new habits and maybe even glimpse what the coming year holds.
More Halloween divination: Is your feline sending divine signs?