People all over the world have used divination tools in the attempt to communicate with the divine. The mystery of life, and being alive is nothing new and ancient cultures developed ways in which to ask questions and to look at the changing night sky, as well as to develop tools that were specific to their particular beliefs and practices. Divination tools were developed out of a cosmology that was contextualized within a particular place, and a particular culture. The tools, therefore, were developed within a framework that aligned beliefs with methods of expressing and “calling forth” or invoking answers to inexplicable mysteries.
We look to material culture for evidence of the earliest divination tools. Simply put, divination tools help human beings to have a better understanding of the invisible world, or the world unseen including people, events, cycles and seasons, and nature. As an example, the ancient Vedic people embraced the idea that everything in creation was made manifest from sound and vibration. Sanskrit was not a language, but rather a collection of sounds that were aligned with a specific “call” to the ethers. Specific in the sense of saying the sound precisely and exactly. The specificity of making the sounds precise, created a certain way of being in relationship with the elements such as rain, and earth and sky. There are over 250 words for rain. The number of words to describe rain is indicative of how challenging it is to describe or frame an experience that relates to the senses and to the mystery of life. Language and sounds are but one piece of the puzzle. We, as humans, needed more ways to understand, and therefore created divination tools.
There are numerous tools for divination. There is rune divination, scrying, tarot, divining rods, pendulums, music, mediumistic methods, tea leaves, numerology, singing, chanting, firewalking, dance, dreaming, and the list goes on and on. In ancient Egypt, Ireland, Africa, and all over the world, people created structures that were built in alignment with the stars, and celestial events such as the winter solstice and the summer solstice. Structures became a tangible way to build a relationship with, and to mark off significant days such as the winter equinox. The Incan civilization created quipus, or string storage systems that could have been markers of the changes in the constellations and tools for divinating cyclical changes and marking time.
It is important that we look more deeply into how divination methods, and divination tools were developed out of a rich context of culture, place, and time. It is through curious wonder that we may understand more fully, the reasons why people developed divination tools. Divination tools were an ancient healing technology that altered how people viewed the world around them, and their place within it.