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Samhain Divination

Seeing the Future at Halloween

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In many agricultural societies, a popular pastime at Samhain was that of divination - after all, this is a time when the barrier between our world and the metaphysical realm is at its thinnest. From scrying in a mirror to using an apple to foretell the name of one's future lover, many traditional divination methods were practiced in rural cultures for centuries. You can use them today for your own divination at Samhain, or any other time of the year.

 

Apple Divination

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Apples have always been popular tools for foretelling the future. There are a number of traditional methods in folklore for seeing who one's lover might be.

  • Peel the apple, keeping the peel in one long piece. When the peel comes off, drop it on the floor. The letter it forms is the first initial of your true love's name.
  • Wait until midnight at Samhain, and cut an apple into nine pieces. Take the pieces into a dark room with a mirror (either hanging on the wall or a hand-held one will do). At midnight, begin eating the pieces of apple while looking into the mirror. When you get to the ninth piece, throw it over your shoulder. The face of your lover should appear in the mirror.
  • If a girl has more than one potential lover, peel an apple and pull out the seeds. Place a wet seed on your cheek for each boyfriend. The last one left stuck to the skin represents the suitor who is the true love.

Apples have more magical aspects than just divination - be sure to read more here: Apple Magic and Folklore

Water Divination

Image © Patti Wigington 2012; Licensed to About.com

Water is known for its magical properties in many belief systems, so it's only natural to use it for divination workings. Try one of these on Samhain night.

  • At midnight on Samhain, go to a lake and gaze into the water. You should see your lover's face reflected in the lake before you.
  • Fill a cauldron with water, and then light a candle. Drip the hot wax into the water, and see what shape it forms. The shape will indicate the profession of your future lover, if you're working on love magic. It can also foretell changes in your non-romantic life, such as job issues or questions related to home and family.
  • Find a moving body of water like a stream or river. Select a piece of wood to represent the person you wish to be your lover, and throw it in the water. If it floats downstream, he will be true and constant. If the wood gets caught up on the bank, or sinks, your lover will be unfaithful.

Foretelling with Food

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There are a number of divination methods that use foods, baking and cooking as their focus. Some of these are still practiced today.

  • Scottish Bannock Divination: in Scotland and northern England, a girl would bake a bannock cake in the evening. In complete silence, she walked to her room and placed the bannock under her pillow. Her dreams that night would show her the face of her lover, and in the morning she ate the bannock.
  • To find out if you'll find love in the coming twelve months, separate an egg and drop the white into a glass of water. If it sinks immediately, love is forthcoming. If it floats on the top of the water, you'll spend the next year alone.
  • Take two nuts, one for yourself and one for your lover. At midnight on Samhain, place them on a grate over your fire. If they burn well, you'll have a long and happy relationship. If one nut pops or burns, it means one of you will be unfaithful.
  • Hazelnuts can be used in workings related to divination and dowsing - tie a ripe one onto a string and use it as a pendulum.

 

Scrying Mirrors

Image © Patti Wigington 2009

Samhain is a time to do some serious divination - it's the time of year when the veil between our world and that of the spirits is at its thinnest, and that means it's the perfect season to look for messages from the metaphysical. Scrying is one of the best known forms of divination, and can be done in a variety of ways. Basically, it's the practice of looking into some sort of reflective surface -- such as water, fire, glass, dark stones, etc. -- to see what messages, symbols, or visions may appear. A scrying mirror is a simple black-backed mirror, and it's easy to make one yourself. Here's how: Make a Scrying Mirror

The Ouija Board

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Want to use a Ouija board for divination, or communing with the spirits? Well, that's fine... if you know what you're doing. Before you use one, be sure to read this information on how a Ouija board works, and what potential problems can arise: Should I Use a Ouija Board?

 

Reading the Bones

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It is believed that in many parts of the early Celtic world, at the time Samhain, villagers would throw the bones of slaughtered cattle into the fire, and then make predictions by scrying, or reading the images in the flames. You can do this too, or you can make a set of divination bones, which is something many magical traditions rely on. To make your own set, follow the tips on our Lithomancy page, but use bones instead of stones. A great resource for "throwing the bones" in divination is Cat Yronwoode's book, Bone Reading Divination Magic.

 

Tarot Layouts

HorseshoeSpread.jpg
Image © Patti Wigington 2013; Licensed to About.com
For many modern Pagans, Samhain is a good time to see what the coming year will hold - after all, it is the beginning of the Pagan new year! Consider taking some time to do a Tarot card reading - or have a friend do one for you - and focus on a bit of quiet reflection on what's to come. It's worth noting that if you choose to do this, it's worth the time and energy to do a detailed reading - after all, we're talking about an entire year to come! It's also a good idea to make notes as you go along. That will help you remember what you read during the process, especially when you're trying to figure out in June what you saw back in October. For some different Tarot layouts you can try, be sure to check here: Tarot Card Layouts and Spreads

 

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