I was going to save this until after the Agon was finished, but I can't wait. :) I want to give you all a preview of one of the two Zeus cards (the other is still in production) that will be available after July. The winner of the Agon will have their prayer on the card. Check it out. This image is by Grace Palmer. :)
3. What sort of training should a diviner have?
Training in a word should be extensive. Firstly, I would want to make sure that the would-be diviner knows thoroughly how to ground, center, shield, and cleanse, that he or she does these things regularly, and can do them under pressure. When I teach my students, they spend at least a year on these techniques, which I consider absolutely fundamental. It's also helpful if there's an understanding of basic conjure. It helps with keeping clean and cleansing an area and sometimes a client.
After that, a diviner needs to have a good, solid, consistent relationship with hir ancestors. This too is fundamental and one of the best protections a diviner can have. Before I sit down to divine, I do extensive prayers, not just to my Gods and holy Powers but to my ancestors first and foremost. There's a Lithuanian saying that notes "the spirits of the dead are the protection of the living" and this is so, so very true, all the more so because clients are not generally coming to you because they're having a good time. They're coming to you in the midst of emotional difficulties, trauma, confusion, or struggles, or spiritual miasma. They can bring shit in with them. One's ancestors are the first line of defense (and the second, and the third) not only in warding away the crap clients can bring with them, but in helping the diviner maintain good signal clarity. I pray to my blood ancestors, those chosen by spirit, and to the ancestors of my spiritual lineage before the client comes through the door, and often when the client is seated in front of me - always.
After this, I want to see a strong, really strong relationship with the Gods. This is sacred work. It's not a carnival trick. I want to know that the diviner in question has an ongoing practice of deep devotional work. I think this is crucial to developing and maintaining good signal clarity. I prefer diviners who are God-owned, but this is personal preference. I also prefer them to have inborn psi-talent. I don't care if it's empathy or the Sight, but I think to be even remotely competent, there has to be some inkling of talent there, and preferably the ability to sense energy flow too. It's also important to have a sense of when miasma or spiritual imbalance, uncleanliness, and disorder are present, though this can and probably will develop with experience. And because so much of the diviner's work of prescribing corrective action may involve offerings and sacrifice, he or she ought to be fully versed in the sacred stories of his or her Holy Powers, any taboos surrounding Their veneration, and traditional offerings.
After that, I would expect base-line competency to include thorough grounding, experience, and knowledge in one system of divination, preferably two or three, one of them being a binary system. If the system involves familiarity and/or alliance with a family of spirits (as the runes can), then the diviner needs to know how to effect and maintain that cleanly and well.
Ideally the diviner works with a teacher/elder, under supervision for at least a year before being set loose to see clients on his or her own. I'd hope for an ongoing relationship with a master diviner/elder/teacher, and colleagues so that you have the equivalent of a journeyman working under supervision, and a support group to help discuss, debrief, and sort out any issues that might arise.
I would strongly suggest that the diviner take a couple of basic courses in counseling 101 because sometimes there's a really fine line with clients. As diviners we are dealing quite often with people in crisis and sometimes what comes out at the mat can be devastating, or at least upsetting. Being able to gauge the emotional state of the client so that one can make good judgments about how to deliver the reading is important. People are essentially coming to you saying "sort out my life." It's important to know how to have good, healthy, firm boundaries, and how to conduct a reading without causing harm. It's helpful to have a list of local, competent resources too from clergy, to domestic abuse hotlines, to counselors, to other spirit workers. It's ok to refer and a diviner should have the humility to know when he or she or e is above hir pay grade.
I think the diviner also needs to be able to detach from the issues and emotions the client brings in and anything that evokes in the diviner him/herself. Don't get personally involved. Do the emotional and psychological work that's so necessary to good clean devotional work. Don't let your ego get in the way. Get yourself out of the way and let the reading flow.
That's all I can think of now, but if more comes to mind, i'll come back and edit this post accordingly.
I'm not competing in the Zeus Agon as i'm the one sponsoring it, but I did want to post this in honor of Him. I was at the Met Saturday and while wandering through the American wing, into the Greek and Roman sections, I came across this eighteenth century (I think) French plaque. It was a gorgeous piece of marble with the image of Zeus and Hermes chiseled into it. So here it is and may They both be hailed.
I realize that I have over sixty cards now available. Here is the full list by Pantheon:
Dionysos (three cards)
Eros and Psykhe
Nine Muses (set)
Zeus (in progress - not yet available but soon)
Sekhmet (two cards with a third in progress)
Eir (two cards)
Freya (two cards)
Frigga's retinue (set)
Loki (three cards, a fourth in progress)
Mani (two cards, a third in progress)
Odin (three cards)
Many of these cards were sponsored by devotees of the various Gods depicted. If you would like to sponsor a card, either full or in part, please contact me at krasskova at gmail.com and we'll sort it out. Right now, I have a list of over a dozen cards in progress or soon to be in progress. The next cards to go to the artist will most likely be Brigid and Hephaestus.
For Fourth of July weekend through the end of the Polytheist Leadership Conference, I'm offering the cards at a discount: $3 a card instead of $4 and five or more for $2:50 a card instead of $3. 50 a card.
I do have select 5x7 meditation cards available too so if you like the prayer cards, please do inquire about the meditation cards.
that is all. Happy fourth to my american readers.
(image "Janus" by G. Palmer)
(This is a list of virtual shrines where folks can go to learn about various Deities and light virtual candles, find out ways to honor Them, etc. If you have a virtual shrine and would like it to be added to this list, please contact me and i'll be happy to do so (It need not be a shrine to a Norse Deity. i'd like to provide as comprehensive a list as possible).
My shrine for our ancestors: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/ancestors/welcome.html
Norse and Germanic Deities:
Ran, Aegir, and Their Nine Daughters: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/ninesisters.html
Kari, God of the North Wind: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/kari/welcome.html
Logi, God of Hungry Flame: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/logi/welcome.html
Angurboda, Ironwood Chieftain: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/angrboda/welcome.html
Mengloth, and Healing Goddesses:
My shrine to Mani, Sunna, and Their Family:
Elizabeth Vongvisith's Loki shrine: http://flamehair.weebly.com/index.html
My shrine to Sigyn and Her sons: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/sigyn/welcome.html
Idunna Shrine: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/iduna/index.html
A shrine to Jord: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/jord/index.html
A Shrine to Holda: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/holda/welcome.html
Bragi's Shrine: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/bragi/welcome.html
Ullr's Shrine: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/ullrs-shrine/welcome.html
Nerthus' Shrine: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/nerthus/index.html
Jormungand Shrine: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/jormundgand/index.html
Forseti's Shrine: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/forseti/welcome.html
Mimir's Shrine: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/mimir/index.html
Hyndla's Shrine: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/hyndla/welcome.html
Frigga's Shrine: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/frigga/index.html
Hela's Shrine: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/hela/welcome.html
Mordgud's Shrine: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/mordgud/welcome.html
Freya's Shrine: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/freya/welcome.html
Baldr's Shrine: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/baldur/welcome.html
Nidhogg's Shrine: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/nidhogg/welcome.html
Andvari's Shrine: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/andvari/welcome.html
The Nornir: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/norns/welcome.html
Skadhi's Shrine: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/skadi/welcome.html
Surt's Shrine: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/surt/welcome.html
Loki's Shrine: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/loki/index.html
Glut's Shrine: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/glut/welcome.html
Odin's Family: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/odins-family/info/welcome.html
Tyr's Shrine: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/tyr/index.html
Fenris' Shrine: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/fenrir/welcome.html
Sif and Thrud's Shrine: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/sif/index.html
Niorun's Shrine: http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/niorun/welcome.html
Hermes' Shrine: http://nshrine.com/shrine/Herm_and_Hermaion
Aedicula Antinoi, a small shrine to Antinous (also with a fascinating blog): http://aediculaantinoi.wordpress.com/
Flying with the Hooded Crow, a Shrine to Celtic War Goddesses: http://dunsgathan.net/caithream/
Over at the Boukoleon I have my newest post up in which I discuss prophets, opera, castrati, art, inspiration, Dionysos, sacrifice, devotion and more. Check it out, folks.
Today I received the second entry for the Zeus Agon, which runs till July 31. Thank you, Sparrow.
Oh Great Zeus,
Mighty Sky God,
How I love your beautiful skies!
I live in a place known as Big Sky Country
Where the blue skies go on for miles and miles
Along the lonely prairie roads.
Even in the big cities here
Your skies are magnificent.
The clouds are constantly changing.
Big, cotton ball clouds sailing across the blue sky
Followed by clouds as fine as spider webs.
And when Helios’ rays shine on the clouds,
Oh what a feast for the eyes!
Your white clouds become tangerine, rose, and lavender.
The Renaissance Masters must have found inspiration
By looking at clouds such as these.
Least I forget Your storm clouds
Oh Mighty Thunderer!
Dark purple and grey clouds huge as temples
Creeping slowing across the sky.
Soon Your lightening and rain will come
And then everyone will feel Your raw power.
Oh Great Zeus,
Mighty Sky God,
How I love your beautiful skies!
The only difference between a monist and a monotheist is lack of conviction.
2. a) What systems of divination are you conversant in?
b) Have you noticed any differences in how they feel, the types of responses you get with them and the types of questions they're suited to answer?
Oh my Gods, too many - at least thirty. Part of my work as a shaman is divination. It's my primary "job" if you will and I have often found myself in the right place and time to learn more systems. Hell, Sannion even courted me by teaching me five systems of divination I didn't know and gifting me with a proper set of tools for each. LOL.
Let's see (I'll probably miss one); I currently know the following:
Northern Trad. Soul Map
Vapors of Melinoe
Diloggun (I'm still learning this one!)
Obi (I do this only for myself)
tarot (I really dislike reading tarot though. I find other systems more accurate)
Lymyran Oracle Stones
Oracle of the Doors
the Toys of Zagreus
The Web of the Spinners (seven systems using the same type of casting cloth)
Astragalomancy of Herakles Mainomenos
Bones of the Ancestors
the Lots of Mousaios
Coins of Orpheus
The Sortes Empedocleae
Olbion Oracle bones
You'll notice several binary systems there. They really come in handy. For a long time, I eschewed them, but then came a point where I realized that it's good to have a clean, simple binary system (one that will handle only yes or no questions). Once I started working seriously with one of these systems I found that they weren't really all that binary. While it's true that questions must be carefully formed to be yes/no questions, this was not a bad thing. It forced clients to think and craft their questions with care, and once the coins or stones or shells or dice or what have you hit the mat, I rapidly realized that there was an awful lot of context provided beyond yes/no. it takes a skilled diviner to parse this out, but particularly where Deities are involved, in addition to answering the question, I found that it was possible to get quite a bit about the whys and wherefores of the answer.
I also found, very early on, that it was important to have more than one system. Sometimes the rune spirits flat out refused to read for someone. Every so often, a client would walk in and i'd hear them *giggle* in a way that made me decide to read that client with just about anything else. sometimes for whatever reason, it just didn't feel right to use the runes, and sometimes clients had an aversion to them. So early on I began to flesh out my kit.
There's also that certain questions lend themselves to certain systems, particularly if one is devoted to a specific Deity or wants insight from or around that particular Deity. Sometimes I'll go into a session intending to read with one system and get a really strong feeling as we begin that it's not the right one to use. This is almost always borne out in the divination itself and I usually end up switching to some other system from what I initially intended. I think this is something that one develops a facility for sussing out with experience. Each system has its own character, in many, many cases its own governing spirit or family of spirits and part of learning to be a good diviner is learning to interact with, negotiate with, and developing a relationship with these spirits while at the same time developing your own Sight so that you can adequately interpret. The fact that a spirit may come into play is interesting in that I strongly suspect one of the reasons that some systems just don't resonate with some diviners is essentially what amounts to personality conflict!
Some systems like baraja are down and dirty, ready for all the mundane, petty questions that i would never, ever think of bringing to the runes, or diloggun, or the Dionysian leaves (does johnny like me? Is he seeing that bitch Sara? etc. etc. you know, the kind of questions that make serious diviners cringe, roll their eyes, and wish for a good stiff drink).
Odin's oracle is one that I adore using, but I have to be careful. It opens me right up to Him and He is not, in the context of this system, often one to sugar coat His advice. When I read with this system, I tend to be far more straightforward, brusque, even harsh. Some clients welcome the directness, others crumble under it, so i have to gauge very carefully when to use this.
The more experienced I become as a diviner, the less I like to read tarot. I find it is not as down and dirty and direct as baraja for one thing. It's also more human centric, at least the way that I was taught. I love tarot cards, I love the artwork, and find them interesting in and of themselves but I rarely read with them anymore. I have so many other systems that I find more direct and more accurate.
While none of these systems is what I would class an "oracle," despite their names, I do find that I prefer working with systems owned by a particular Deity. It opens the possibility that one will receive a direct oracle, but also, that Deity tends to be powerfully present when His or Her system is being used.
In the course of a reading, I usually cycle through at least two, sometimes three systems (unless I'm reading with diloggun, which has its own protocols and strictures). With a general client reading, I often like to begin with lithomancy. This system gives me a nice overview, a cross-section of the client's wyrd where they are right now at this very moment. sometimes that can be the whole reading -- it just plunges right in and goes deeply into what the client is asking, but more often, that will lead me to determine the next, deeper system to be used. Sometimes also, I'll be working with a system and it's just not responding to the question, or isn't going deeply enough and if i feel that I can go more thoroughly into a question by switching systems, i will. Some clients take a little more untangling than others.
Tonight on Wyrd Ways Radio, Sannion and I discussed the ins and outs of living in a blended household. I think we realized half way through that we perhaps weren't the best couple to be discussing this. It just wasn't that difficult for us. LOL. we communicate easily and both prioritize our Gods. Any issues that came up were easily discussed and we had no problem taking it to the divination mat. Still, I suppose some folks will find this show useful. The archive can be found here.
If any of you have questions about living or working in a blended household, please feel free to email me at krasskova at gmail.com or Sannion at sannion at gmail.com and we'll do our best to answer them.
Join us for our next show Wednesday, July 16 10/9C.