Each festival in the Wheel of the Year has some sort of divination practice associated with it, perhaps because the veils between the realms were always considered to be thinnest at the fire festivals, making it easier to communicate with the realms of ancestors, the living and that of the deities and fairies, aka The Good Folk aka the Sidhe.
In many ways, the fire festivals were also very much related to farming activity and husbandry of animals. For peoples without formal calendars, they instead marked the passing of the year and the seasons through what was happening in nature around them. For instance, we know that Imbolg timing was related to the birthing of the lambs (and other practices, such as preparing the land for seeding), and Lúnasa with the harvest of the first grains such as wheat, corn and barley (so welcome, especially if the previous year’s harvest was poor).
Imbolg is no exception when it comes to divination practices, and is particularly known for weather divination, which helped our ancestors in their early spring practices such as when to till the soil, sow seeds, or where the nomadic herds might be heading, etc. And this practice is carried on today in events such as Groundhog Day (also celebrated as Candlemas in Christian traditions)!
Groundhog Day coincides with Imbolg, and is traditionally celebrated on February 2nd. It is clearly rooted in those ancient weather divination practices. The groundhog’s behaviour signals the coming weather: if it emerges from its den and sees its shadow in the bright daylight, it returns to its den and winter will linger for six more weeks. If the groundhog does NOT see its shadow due to clouds, spring weather will arrive early. This was important information for agrarian activities. Channel the groundhog (or even a squirrel!) and receive your forecast for the coming of spring!
Some also celebrate Lunar Imbolg (or Lúnasa) on the Full Moon closest to the festival. In 2023, that would be February 5th, the Full Moon in Leo arriving at18:38 UTC (10:28 am PST).
How might you bring divination into your Full Moon, Imbolg or Lúnasa soul work or practices? Read on!
Divining with the Elements
Consider connecting with your witchy intutive self by trying some forms of divination associated with the elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water (or your preferred element system such as the Chinese five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal, and water), looking for images or signs that capture your imagination and interpreting their meaning or information about the past, present or future.
That could include divination practices such as:
EARTH: Geomancy, traditionally practiced by interpreting markings or patterns formed by tossing/casting handfuls of soil, rocks, sand, etc. There is also a rather intricate tradition of scribing 16 marks onto paper, but I have little experience with that. I tend to go back to basics with the Earth element divination, simply using stones, crystals, and pebbles, casting them cast them onto a flat surface and then interpret the shapes. I have also done this by casting them onto a paper or cloth marked with symbols, directions or seasons, which I can then bring into the reading. This is also good for working with stone or wooden runes. You might also consider using a crystal, wood or stone pendulum, or even a crystal ball (very similar to scrying, see below)
AIR: Aeromancy, the general name for divination practices associated with the air and sky, such as the practice of divining cloud formations (nephomancy), winds (austromancy), or even comets (and there is one coming around early February) to sense what is to come. Look to the sky. What messages are the clouds sharing with you?
FIRE: Pyromancy, definitely not to be confused with pyromania! In this practice, one gazes into flames of fire or candles, looking for images and how they move and transform into various shapes. You might also consider capnomancy, in which one interprets smoke from candles, incense, and other burning objects, just as you would interpret clouds. Another possibility is ceromancy, the reading of melted candle wax puddles or drips (per the header image).
WATER: Water Scrying, the practice of gazing into a reflective surface of water (still water or in a bowl) and interpreting the images seen to see into the past, present or future. You can find more info about this in the Inner Journey Events blog post Introduction to Scrying.
Tips for your divination practice
Before beginning any form of divination, consider setting an intention for the work (for instance, that the information or messages you receive will be in your highest good) and then cleansing your self, your space and any tools you are using. Call on your guides and allies for their support, and thank them what all is complete.
Be sure to capture your divination insights in your journal. You may begin to see trends, and learning your own personal symbols for events, but know that the meaning of a particular symbol may also depend on the context. For instance, if you see a horseshoe, a traditional symbol of good luck, pay attention to how it is positioned. Open at the top could indicate receiving good luck, but open at the bottom could mean one’s luck is pouring away. But if you have a horse, or reading for someone with a horse, the horseshoe may be drawing awareness to the animal’s health, etc.
Header image credit: Image by jstankiewiczwitek from Getty Images per Canva Pro
Woooooooo, I still have to look that stuff up!