There’s no limit to the tools that an experienced diviner can use to find secret information. Divination relies on the idea that nothing is truly random — therefore, anything with an element of “randomness” can serve as an omen, in the right context.
From bird calls to patterns in tea leaves, diviners have been using all kinds of tools, symbols, and natural phenomena to tell them what they need to know. Over the centuries, certain tools have emerged as particular favorites. These include:
Runes are a relatively modern invention based on an ancient alphabet. The Elder Futhark rune system is a Germanic alphabet where each letter is a pictogram — a symbol with an entire meaning of its own.
Each one is etched into an individual piece of bone, wood, or stone, which are kept in a pouch.
Rune casters use them by drawing them out at random, laying them in a grid formation, or casting them onto a flat surface and reading their meanings.
Surprisingly, scrying mirrors are a very old divination tool. Back when mirrors were precious and difficult to make, all mirrors were regarded as quasi-magical objects.
Even today, when they’re far less expensive and much easier to come by, diviners use special black mirrors for divination. These are just like regular mirrors, only with a black background.
They can be purchased pre-made, but many diviners prefer to make their own.
See also: Mirror Scrying: Mirror Divination Guide.
Any type of crystal can be used for divination. Some spherical balls are used for scrying, but some diviners prefer to keep pouches of small, tumbled stones for divination.
These are used like runes or bones: They may be drawn from a pouch, or shaken up and cast on a surface.
Entheogens are one of the only internal tools used for divination. These are plants or fungi with psychedelic properties that trigger visionary states when ingested or rubbed on the skin.
Some shamans and witches use entheogens for spirit communication, or journeying in the spirit or astral realms. If the user has a question that needs answering, they can interpret the visions they experience for an answer.
Water works just like a scrying mirror. It’s usually placed in a special scrying bowl made of black glazed porcelain or dark stone, and set on a flat surface.
This gives it a dark, mirrorlike quality that makes it suitable for divination. Both of these rely on the diviner entering an altered mental state that causes visions to appear on the surface.
See also: Water Scrying: Water Divination Guide.
Tarot cards began as a deck of regular playing cards consisting of trump and pip cards. Over time, they became a popular method of divination.
In tarot divination, the trump cards are called the Major Arcana, and the pip cards are the Minor Arcana. Each card has its own meaning, and can be interpreted alone or in conjunction with the cards around it.
The most popular deck is the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, and it’s what most modern tarot decks are based on.
Fire is a popular divination method for witches, especially during spellwork. All types of fire can be used for divination, from candles to a roaring fireplace.
The motion, color, and direction of the flame yield meanings which the diviner interprets for the answer to their question.
Bones are used for “throwing bones.” Despite the name, they may consist of shells, stones, bones, charms, or any combination thereof.
To use them, the diviner shakes them up, casts them on a cloth, and interprets them based on their individual meanings and their position.
Pendulums are one of the easiest divination tools for beginners to get acquainted with. These consist of a weight on a string. Fancy pendulums might be made of crystal or brass on the end of a silver chain, but many diviners get by just fine by tying a ring to a piece of string.
They then hold the pendulum so it hangs freely, ask a question, and interpret the answer based on its motion. Some diviners use pendulums inside of a vessel, such as an empty drinking glass.
The number of “clinks” the pendulum strikes against the rim can be interpreted as “yes,” “no,” or a letter of the alphabet.
Candles are multi-function divination tools.
First, it’s possible to divine using the candle’s flame, as mentioned above under “Fire.”
Second, some diviners interpret the shape, color, and quantity of the remaining melted wax when the candle’s finished burning.
They may either interpret the wax in the bottom of the candleholder, or pour a small quantity of the melted wax into a vessel of cold water.
Lastly, some interpret the smoke or soot given off by the candle for signs.
Spirit boards are tools that consist of letters, numbers, symbols, and short phrases on a flat surface.
To use them, diviners work in small groups. Each member places their hands on a flat tool called a planchette. They then ask a question, and allow the planchette to move on its own.
The motions of the planchette can point to phrases, spell out words, or otherwise yield information relevant to the question.
Psychic cups, or fortune-telling cups, are special vessels used for reading tea leaves. Most tea leaf readers use plain old teacups for this purpose, and interpret the shape the leaves form in at the bottom.
Psychic cups are covered with letters, numbers, astrological signs, or other symbols. The way the tea leaves fall indicates which of these symbols the diviner should interpret.
Most psychic cups have their own proprietary designs, each with a printed guide to their meanings.
Scrying bowls are usually dark in color and used for water scrying, but they can be used in other ways.
Some very old divination methods call for anointing the interior of the bowl with oil, and observing the flicker of a candle flame reflected in the oil’s sheen.
The diviner interprets the shapes and patterns formed by the flicker for answers. Any solid-colored (preferably dark) bowl can work for scrying. For some witches, a cauldron pulls double-duty as a scrying bowl.
See also: Scrying Guide: What is Scrying?
For diviners, astrology charts function as blueprints. Astrology says that the position of planets at a certain moment in time — say, the moment of someone’s birth — influence the course of events.
An astrology chart outlines exactly where all of the planets were located at a given time. An experienced astrologer can read this chart and elaborate on how the position of each planet will affect what happens.
Astrology charts are most commonly made for people, to explain how the planets impact their personalities, careers, relationships, and other facets of their lives.
There’s no limit to their use, however — astrologers can interpret charts for everything from significant dates in history, to entire countries.
Numerology is a concept that goes as far back as ancient Greek and Roman mysticism. Certain numbers are regarded as imbued with significance, and this significance can have an influence on the person, place, or thing to which they’re attached.
A numerology chart is a chart of all of a person’s meaningful numbers — including their birth date, the letters of their name reduced to a numeric form, and the results of special mathematical formulas. The numerologist can then decode these numbers and describe their effects.
Astrodice is a new method of divination. Unlike regular playing dice, astrodice are used in sets of three. Each 12-sided die is marked with astrological symbols.
One relates to the houses, another to the planets, and the third to the signs. Diviners use them by asking questions, rolling the dice, and interpreting the symbols that come up.
Incense is used for smoke divination. The diviner asks a question, lights the incense (usually stick or cone, though they may use other types), and observes the shape, color, speed, and direction of the smoke.
This type of divination is popular with witches and others who use incense in their spells, since it offers a convenient way to see how the spell is going.
There are no limits to the tools available to aspiring diviners. This list is just the beginning — a regular cereal bowl can serve as a scrying bowl, and a burning stick works just as well for fire divination as a fancy candle.
No matter which tool you choose, remember to stick with it. The more time you spend acquainting yourself with your divination tools, the better and faster your results will be.