The idea of divination has become somewhat maligned in present times, primarily from two opposing currents: a science that places faith entirely in its own material rationalism, and a theology which insists that only God is purely divine, and perhaps worries that seeking knowledge of the future, therefore, opens oneself up to potential evil. While the image of God can harden into literal notions of a super power, a trusted ally, the image remains subject to what fear and desire captures under duress. Rather than a wall, God might also be the veil; the thinning edge transversing dimensions.
Divination than is a practice in which the questions we carry with us come under scrutiny and are refined by experience and the call to love and be loved.


Divination also suffers a malnourished understanding from secular science which does not give any credence to influences and experiences that cannot be anchored to a system of measured repetition. Divination though, as other practices, is an immeasurable qualitative experience much like love and desire. In a world destroying itself through the glut of unending, destructive, over-consumption, why would we not seek out those practices that expand our capacity for love, satisfaction and the sense of both who, I and Thou are?

“Certainty is absence of infinity, infinity is presence of uncertainty.”
Nanamoli Thera

To limit the idea of divination to that of forecasting the future though, is to miss the idea that it is also a way of seeing and participating in the presence, simultaneously, of both the mundane and the eternal. And if the eternal is that which is all inclusive, then it potentially opens us to that which we don’t know. If God knows, or is all, then every time we learn something new, we are already divining. Where does one draw the line as to what is dangerous, subjective or off limits? …and how might it matter? Through the study of astrology, I am learning to question what it is that divination can provide for us moderns, and learning what it once did in the not so distant past.

Love starts in the personal and means me; then it means my soul and my whole being. Then it moves me, my soul and my being into archetypal being, into a sense of interiority: an interior process contained within me, and myself contained within the interiority of a chaotic universe transformed by love into a cosmos.

James Hillman, The Myth of Analysis

To see into eternity then, is to see into the cosmic order, to glimpse the qualities of God, or the gods, and participate in the realm of coming and going. Love is that which creates from infinity, binding the seeming chaos into an expression of life-giving order. We are already seeing, from all that touches and moves us, an archetypal expression of divinity that calls the little self to something beyond. And without losing that smallness, we may enlarge our perspective through the multi-faceted seeing of multiple dimensions.

Diviners 640px-Inf._20_Priamo_della_Quercia,_Indovini

The Sacred Arts of Divination

The arts of divination have been revered and practiced by every culture in every time. These practices might indeed seem to some as an attempt to be God, to steal the gods’ powers, and obviously humans have very much been inclined to use and abuse power for a seeming gain, whether personally or collectively, but divination is not in and of itself the danger. That we have trouble discerning the proper and improper use of power doesn’t go away by refusing the attraction to power, but by discerning the consequences and trade-offs of our uses of it.

The aesthetic sense of divining may provide one with skills for course correction by seeing into the possibilities of not only what the future holds, but more importantly, to see more clearly into the present; to see oneself, others and the nature of the world as it is. Not for truth, but for love’s sake. Ultimately, it is the ever-expansive sense of the present that opens one to experience universal truths and the divine – an experience of which gives substance and weight to all that the soul truly desires: love, compassion and acceptance.

When the aesthetic sense is not disregarded as meaningless, care for the past, present and future come to us more readily through awareness of love and beauty.

To live one’s life practicing an awareness of the patterns that we live by, and to seek to align oneself to an ordering of life which values beauty, love, sustainability, and a fuller participation as one among many, accepting the limits of the conditions of life; its joys and sorrows, gains and losses, is itself a divinatory practice.

Personally speaking

Perhaps the natal chart of astrology can display the players and the patterns in my life experience, that to some extent, I remain bound to and bound by. But the continuity of the patterns also serve as windows into eternity. They show me the universal nature of human experience and by seeing them more clearly, I can, on a good day anyway, choose my response. My response may or may not change any outcome, but it can show me that my response matters and that all human exchanges are really calls to share in love’s beauty.

These openings further the possibility of seeing the sacred in all life, and in seeing the the sacred throughout all worlds, divine and sacred, and ultimately as one.

Q&A: Natal Promise and Planetary Transits


Knowledge of the Future

What any divinatory practice brings to the fore, are the questions we have, embedded within a call from the unknown, and how it matters to us. But rather than directly providing the knowledge that we believe we need to know – what will happen tomorrow; will I get the job I applied for; will my children be happy, etc. – beginning the process of asking such questions, provides for each of us, images of the desires that capture our attention, the relationships we experience, and how we tell the story of what is happening to us, and the world around us.

What lies at the other end of our quest to know, is perhaps a greater awareness of the nature of our desires through the images we carry of purpose, hope and expectations. This leads to the consideration of just how much influence we do have over the nature of ourselves, other people and situations that we find ourselves in.

Until these fundamental questions about the nature of ourselves, and of the world are allowed to enter into the narrative of our own telling, it seems unlikely that any idea of the divine, or aesthetic of eternal time will even be desirable to us, let alone offer an understanding of what it is we need to make our way through the mystery of love’s purpose.


At the bottom of every question we ask, friendship we find, house we buy, vacation we take, language we learn, book we read, song we sing, is our perpetual state of want and need. Desire sustains us and belongs to time. We eat, digest, excrete, and we endlessly repeat the cycle. But beyond the desires that sustain us physically, lies a seemingly endless pool of possibilities, just as the starry night seems without bounds or limits. Our relationship to desire feeds, shapes and forms both our character and our destiny on both small and large scales.

Intelligible vs. Omniscience

It is much easier to reject all practices of divination by looking for a failure of omniscience. For then we are off the hook and can stay in our comfort zone. For a true practice, whether of divination, art, writing, music, scientific research or otherwise, requires the courage to move beyond one’s comfort zone and into the unknown. Trust and faith are then necessary and can be found in the everyday world through those who grace our journey, and from the invisible realms of the dream and stream of images that we attend to.

Although it might be true that many who seek out an astrology natal chart or Tarot card reading might be eager to hear “what is going to happen to them,” what might soon become apparent to any seeker is this tug of war between fate and free will. The very act of initiating and submitting to a reading admits one’s fate into the room, as it also invites the idea of “participating via co-operating” with fate by invoking images that “know ahead of time,” or “know at a distance.”

Karma, Fate, and Free Will in Astrology Dr Glenn PERRY

Determinism and Freewill in Astrology Benjamin N DYKES

Objective Versus Subjective Reality in Astrology – Chris Brennan and Benjamin Dykes

The Soul of the World

The Soul of the World is the second part of James Hillman’s two-part book, The Thought of the Heart and The Soul of the World, in which he sees a world suffering a breakdown in much the same way as individuals suffer. A world ensouled, a psychic reality, in which we imagine with our hearts, connecting each of us to the things of the world, as part of the Anima Mundi. See Here for some of my recent thoughts on first part of the book, The Thought of the Heart. 

“The world, because of its breakdown, is entering a new moment of consciousness: by drawing attention to itself by means of its symptoms, it is becoming aware of itself as a psychic reality. The world is now the subject of immense suffering, exhibiting acute and crass symptoms by means of which it defends itself against collapse.”

So, is the world broken because individuals are broken, is it us, the family (or lack thereof), the community that are to be blamed for brokenness, or is it just as much the other way around? Are we broken because of the breakdown of the world? The essay was presented in the late 70’s and I think we have begun to turn our gaze outward a bit more, but perhaps we still need a way to enter into a sense of the world as ensouled; a world that, through an awareness of its images we sense is alive needing our attention and love. For some of us, too long have we lived convinced of the world’s deadness which risks alienating us from caring and just as importantly, from feeling cared for by the world.

“Rather let us imagine the anima mundi as that particular soul-spark, that seminal image, which offers itself through each thing in its visible form. Then anima mundi indicates the animated possibilities presented by each new event as it is, its sensuous presentation as a face bespeaking its interior image – in short, its availability to imagination, its presence as psychic reality. Not only animals and plants ensouled as in the Romantic vision, but soul is given with each thing, God-given things of nature and man-made things of the street.”

He is arguing for a readmittance of our animal sense, an aesthetic response to the face of the world, a world that is not just dead matter, but alive by virtue of its images presented in each particular thing. And this response is necessary as “…any alteration in the human psyche resonates with a change in the psyche of the world.”

“To interpret the world’s things as if they were our dreams deprives the world of its dream, its complaint. Although this move may have been a step toward recognizing the interiority of things, it finally fails because of the identification of interiority with only human subjective experience.”

When sense and imagination of the world leave us we are left with “images without bodies and bodies without images, an immaterial subjective imagination severed from an extended world of dead objective facts,” we then sever the heart connection as the hearts way of perceiving is both sensing and imagining. “To sense penetratingly we must imagine, and to imagine accurately we must sense.”

Our modern troubles with the heart lie perhaps not only in the physical heart but this thinking heart of perceiving and sensing. Maybe our suffering hearts are sick from more than just what we eat or how much exercise we get, but from the suffering of the world and our relation to it. But if the world needs our aesthetic, animal sense to re-imagine our contact with it, Hillman reminds us that it’s not so much the beauty of arts and a sanitized, deodorized world that will heal it, but an aesthetic knowing leading us to “thing-consciousness,” felt and seen in all of the objects we encounter in our day-to-day; the chair we sit in, the cars we drive, the inornate and anorexic walls and buildings, erected quickly and built with practicality and efficiency in mind and not for their beauty or the beauty of the world.

Hillman insists that it is in the particular things, even the smallest things, including our need for speed, expansion, the hunger we are unwilling to live with that make up the soul of the world and that only through our attention to these things, and caring for them can the world in turn care for us. This revisioning would be itself an environmental movement, a love affair in which “each of us reworks our background” that is the world, a world alive that is ensouled.

“A world without soul offers no intimacy. Things are left out in the cold, each object by definition cast away before it is manufactured, lifeless litter and junk, taking its value wholly from my consumptive desire to have and to hold, wholly dependent on the subject to breathe it into life with personal desire.

When particulars have no essential virtue, then my own virtue as a particular depends wholly and only on my subjectivity or on your desire for me, or fear of me: I must be desirable, attractive, a sex-object, or win importance and power. For without these investments in my particular person, coming either from your subjectivity or my own, I too am but a dead thing among dead things, potentially forever lonely.”

All quotes from James Hillman, Spring Publications.