Polytheistic Ethics: Divination

People who do divination have a set of responsibilities to both their clients and to the act of divination itself. Since many people have a desire to know the future, they become open to suggestion when they consult a seer. Moreover because the diviner acts as an intermediary between the questioner and the Gods, divining becomes a sacred art. To address these concerns, many seers and diviners have a code of personal ethics.

The practical root for these ethics is that the questioner will remember the reading. Even if the reading was done at a party, people look to see if the good news will come true. Meanwhile, they try to dismiss any bad news, but will find ways to confirm that it is going to happen. This is known as the “confirmation bias” (looking for a confirmation of personal beliefs by the questioner). In addition, the questioner will assess any future event by the matrix that is set-up by the diviner during their reading. Therefore, people will remember the divination that confirmed their beliefs about the future.

The esoteric root is that, throughout history, divination has been practiced to discover the will of various Gods. (Divination is one way that the Gods communicate with humans.)The Runes of the Norse were obtained through a sacrifice by Odin, their All Father. Moreover, many Tarot readers regard the Tarot as a spiritual tool for connecting the Self with the Universe. To keep a clear channel to the Divine, many of these readers will safeguard their cards from “stray and negative energies.” Therefore, many seers do not approach the act of divining in a casual manner.

In his book, “Ogham: The Secret Language of the Druids,” Robert Ellison, Archdruid emeritas of Ar nDaiocht Fein (ADF), outlines ADF’s suggested principles for seers. The first principle is to regard that all readings as confidential. The only exception is if the client is going to attempt something dangerous. Even in public spaces, seers need to set up ways of to keep the reading private.

The second principle is that the seer should not exert any undue influence over the client. A person consulting the diviner is usually in a vulnerable state. He is open to suggestions from the seer, whom he unconsciously regards as the final authority of his fate. Hence, if the seer has a hidden agenda, she can easily manipulate the unsure client.

The third principle is that the seer needs to impress upon the client that he has options. An experienced seer knows that the future is never fixed but is usually in flux. The seer should act as an advisor to the client, and not as the final authority. Moreover, a seer is never the arbitrator of her client’s fate.

Adding to ADF’s suggestions, Stella Bennett, an experienced Tarot reader, claims that using the Tarot as a fortune-telling game will tempt the Spirits. Since she regards divining to be spiritual, Bennett endeavors to show respect to the Tarot cards, herself, and her client. She believes that showing any disrespect will cause a blowback from the Spirits to either the reader or the client. Bennett does not want any negativity brought into her life or her clients because of her actions.

Bennett stresses that since many clients are going through trying times, she needs to be positive in her reading, and usually ends her reading in an “uplifting tome.” Furthermore, she believes that the ethical diviner should not predict death or any other dire event for her client. Bennett counsels that the seer should caution her client about basing any life decisions on their reading.

Caitlin Matthews, Celtic shaman and Druid, regards divination as the “mirror of the Living Truth in the present.” Because of this, she sees a cause and effect to her reading, which she should not manipulatively change. If Matthews does not interpret the reading as it is laid out, the “web of the Universe” can be impaired. Since the information comes directly from the Living Truth to the client, her task as a seer is simply to relay the message. Matthews has no responsibility to see it carried out.

These particular diviners emphasize that their readings lay out likely scenarios, which are based on the past and present of their clients. Since the future is fluid, their readings are never absolute. Each diviner knows only a portion of the future, and not the whole story.

In his blog, “Weaving Wyrd,” Hrafn, Northern-Tradition spirit worker, discusses the boundaries that a seer needs to have. The boundary between the diviner, the Universe, the reading, and the client needs to be formed. First, he must establish where the information of the future comes from. The seer needs to ask himself whether it is from the Divine or from his own ego. Then the diviner acknowledges his own emotions and reactions to the reading itself. Without boundaries, each will bleed into the other and the seer will make errors based on hidden biases.

Works Used:
Bennett, Stella, “The Star That Never Walks Around.” Weiser: Boston. 2002.

Carroll, Robert, “Confirmation Bias.” The Skeptic’s Dictionary. 27 August, 2012. Web. http://www.skepdic.com/confirmbias.html.

Chametzky, Marc, “Ethics of Divination: An Exploration of the Wiccan Rede as It Applies to Divination.” Ecclasia. 10 March, 2004. Web. http://ecclasia.com/ethicsdivination.html.

Drury, Neville, “The Tarot Workbook.” Thunder Bay: San Diego. 2004.

Ellison, Robert, “Ogham: The Secret Language of the Druids.” ADF. 2007.

Hrafn, “Weaving Wyrd.” Web. http://weavingwyrd.com/.

Matthews, Caitlin, “The Celtic Wisdom Tarot.” Destiny: Rochester VT. 1999.

Wild Leon, “The Runes Workbook.” Thunder Bay: San Diego. 2004.


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