The Fair Fortune Teller, by Augustus Jules Bouvier (1827-1881)
Perhaps you love consulting oracle cards as much I do. My own romance with the art began in adolescence, when I learned to “read fortunes” with a playing deck. The only other divination cards available to me then were the Tarot, and I immersed myself in the mysterious worlds they opened. But I longed for more variety. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, to have new images, symbols, and interpretations to work with?
My wish came true on a grander scale than I could have dreamed. Today, our divination treasure chest overflows. I counted more than 275 types of oracle card decks listed on Amazon. Their variety is dazzling. They draw inspiration from the skies above and the earth below, from angels and bones, orchids and rock n’ roll, Magdalene and Lord of the Rings. A friend recently introduced me to The Ghetto Tarot, a breathtaking work using images from the streets of Haiti.
But who could have imagined the newest evolution of oracle instruments? Online and app oracles bring us multimedia richness never available before. They allow us to interact with the material in fresh, exciting ways. In designing Ask The Guides, for instance, we delighted in creating cards (medallions) that rush toward you from visually stunning realms while celestial music enchants the senses. And we loved delivering oracle readings in spoken words as well as print.
I feel tenderness for the many-splendored oracle instruments we see today. They carry my thoughts back to the ancient world, when the arts of divination flourished in a thousand forms.But even beautiful instruments make no music without a player. That’s where you and I come in. When we use divination cards in the most artful ways, something sublime happens.
How can we receive the most beneficial guidance from oracles?
First, we approach the session with respect and ask questions that really mean something to us. I think of it like this. Suppose I were granted audience with a profound counselor whose knowledge and wisdom stretched far beyond my own. How would I use my time? Would I peevishly test my host with trick questions? Would I make pointless inquiries like, “Will I win the lottery?” I don’t think so.
When you approach an oracle with sincerity, you DO have access to that profound counselor. It is your own deep psyche, or soul, or divine nature. Whatever name you give this source, it holds a “matrix of knowing” vaster than the mind can encompass. We can access this wisdom through many channels. But oracular practice has always been an especially powerful tool. No other art I know makes such skillful use of symbols, images, and metaphor to open gateways of revelation.So we want to ask the best kinds of inquiries to obtain the best results. I have noticed that the most effective question does two things: it identifies my specific personal concern but also gives the oracle room to speak in its own way. Here are some examples:
“My relationship with (name) seems very troubled, and I don’t know what to do. Please give me guidance that will help me now.”
“I have been offered a job with (name.) But I don’t know whether it’s right for me. Tell me what I should know to help me make the right decision.”
“I am struggling with a health issue (describe it.) My wish is to recover completely, but I lose hope sometimes. I ask for your help and blessing. “
Questions like these are specific, but they don't limit the oracle's response to "yes" or "no."
Seeking a prediction of the future has always been discouraged. Most practitioners believe that future events are not fixed and that our free-will decisions help shape things to come. But I have noticed that future probabilities are sometimes offered by the oracle when this information seems helpful.
Visconti-Sforz Tarot, mid-15th century
RECEIVINGYou asked your question. You received words and symbols from the oracle. How do you make sense of them?
Remember, your deep psyche already knows the right answer or direction. Your job is to bring these insights to the surface, like raising glistening pearls from the sea floor. The symbols you were given are meant to help this process.You may immediately connect with the answer you seek. You may realize in a flash that the job you were offered is NOT right for you. You may experience an "ah-hah" feeling or a deep, anchored certainty within. Your own soul has spoken.
But often, we need more time for insight to surface. Let yourself go a little out of focus. Gaze at the images you received or let the words turn in your mind. Free associate. Apply the symbol meanings to your question. Chances are, something of value will arise for you.
Copper engraving of a 5th century, b.c.e, image of the Delphic or
At the end of every session, it is good practice to give thanks for the experience. The attitude of gratitude pulls in amazing blessings. Even if your session didn’t quite take you where you hoped to go, remember that the great Matrix of Knowing is always streaming guidance to you. Revelation may come from anywhere at any time. But whenever you wish to consult the oracle again, be assured that it eagerly awaits your return.