On Canada Day I had the extreme pleasure of taking part in a webinar on designing your own collection oracle, hosted by Carrie Paris and the Santa Fe Co-Ed Tarot Tribe. It was so much more than I expected and I gained some incredibly valuable insights into not only creating my own oracle, but in unravelling what drives me to practice divination.
I first came across charm-casting online via a blog that I think has disappeared in the meantime – or I’ve lost track of (I’m pretty sure she was Canadian…) – and was reminded of more recently when I found Kristen’s (Over the Moon Oracle Cards) charm-casting series. She got me excited about building my own charm oracle all over again! Kristen even has Pinterest board to inspire you, and O.M.G. seriously her oracle and tarot decks are so inspired – if you want to know what it looks like when someone follows their muse, look no further. (Her readings are equally insightful and you’ll learn so much by following her blog and IG.)
Another recent discovery is Karen Krebster at Muse’s Darling, who uses a combination of cards, charms and runes to do daily readings. Carrie actually mentioned Karen specifically during the webinar as someone who has taken the Magpie Oracles and made them their own unique divinatory tool. (Here’s some more inspiration for your inner magpie!)
But back to the webinar…
Getting started, Carrie reminded us all that, when it comes to divination,
What you seek, is seeking you – Rumi
She told a story of her childhood experiences with post-dinner divination via rosary, and asked us to think back to our own childhoods and where our interest in divination might have begun. Most likely there was some thing or everyday occurrence that influenced us to take this path, whether we knew what it was at the time or not.
Now, my family are a mixed bag of mystics and skeptics; sometimes in the same person! My father has a cadre of dead folks who have been his homies since childhood, he’ll reference the fair folk half jokingly, and most of my childhood occult learning was done by reading his library books! But astrology? Tarot? Palmistry? Any of that is bunk. He has personal reasons for that, which I understand, but no quarter for divination there.
My mom, as far as I know, has her head in the clouds but her feet firmly rooted in the African dirt. My grandparents were far too Dutch to ever entertain the idea of “outside forces”; even God was a largely unspoken thing (though I guess it might have been hard to believe any any saving graces after living in Nazi-occupied Europe.) The closest they got to “mysticism” was the tradition of putting a 1c coin in the Christmas pudding! I might have heard my aunt speaking about things, though I can’t recall any specifcs; time spent with her was too difficult and traumatic for me to remember anything but the bad.
I think I was just born this way, and then all the little external pieces helped to build it into what it is today: the incredible 110, 130, 210 and 290 sections in the town library (and the reference section was even more astounding); the ever-present shadow of the African Sangoma, throwing the bones in a hut filled with muti; weekly trips to the 2nd hand bookshop with its gumball machine that delivered plastic charms and fortune teller fish; and the single, solitary nod to anything *woo* – Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs (it was the 70s after all!)
Who is your muse?
This is a photo of me at nap time, around 4 or 5 years old. Next to my pillow is a collection of my “special things”. It’s not that I couldn’t go to sleep without them, but I wouldn’t.
I was big on collecting and I didn’t discriminate: candy wrappers with their pretty colours and patterns and magical mirrored linings were as likely to be saved as interesting coins and gemstones. To a child, everything has the potential for worth (something to remember). I had marbles; just a few, and they were prized for their colours and patterns. The aforementioned gumball charms – dozens of these, the hotdog being my favourite – lost to to trans-Atlantic move (*crying*). My family actually called me a magpie!
When Carrie spoke of her matchbox collections I was practically knocked off my chair by the memory of my matchbox! I’ve been struggling to remember what its precious contents were and I’m pretty sure it held crayon shavings and possibly small bits of broken crayons. I remember taking it with me everywhere. Why crayon shavings?? Again, the colours. and the forms they made – some circular swirls, some tightly curled around like fern buds, some folded back-and-forth on themselves – it’s always been about colours and patterns!
everyday objects & the mantic arts
Carrie spoke about loving the opportunity to go through friends’ junk drawers, as they are a veritable goldmine of meaningful objects – you can reach in randomly and whatever you pull out will have some purpose or the other. This made me think of how we, as humans, have a tendency to drag our junk (physical and spiritual!) around with us.
Jewellery was once a way of carrying your wealth with you (I mean, it still is, but with different motivation) – think of the gorgeous, heavy layers of jewellery that the Kuchi people are known for, or the chest pieces Viking women wore for both adornment and functionality. And I have a hard time believing that no woman ever used the items carried on her châtelaine as tools for divination!
I started building my charm bracelet when I was 8 years old. I know they’re not “cool” anymore, but that doens’t bother me one whit! There’s something satisfying and comforting about gently shaking my wrist and hearing the shimmering sound of silver as these personal symbols brush against my skin. It’s a way of connecting to myself, and could even be thought of as summoning the Muse!
In my younger years I would wear layers of necklaces with pendants (and rings. to the point where friends would ask what was wrong if they couldn’t hear me coming ;D) and when I outgrew this particular aesthetic, I still wanted a way to keep those special things around me. So I constructed a charm necklace. Silver and plastic and faux pearl and precious gems all hold equal personal value in this collection – their worth is measured by what the mean.
Spontaneous items that have meaning for the moment
What are you? What is your purpose? What do you stand for? What is your message?
These are some of the questions Carrie encouraged us to ask each and every piece we consider adding to our oracles, in order to condense it down to only the precise items that hold the most power for that particular oracle. A set created for general reading will require different symbols than one for romantic love readings, after all. There’ll be some overlap, but the core issues are vitally dissimilar.
When it comes to assigning meaning, read what you see, what the symbol means to you, and trust your first intuitive flash. Symbols are individual projections of the essential now – ie. what is happening now affects how you interpret the symbols. This is why the same card from the same tarot deck can mean a different thing in every reading, after all!
An example of such an examination of personal symbolism would be a button:
- it conceals, but it also reveals, and the revelation is a measured one – if you go too fast, the buttons rip off!
- buttons join
- they repair what is broken
- if you lose a button, it can be replaced, but sometimes the new one won’t match completely
- the childhood pleasure of sifting through grandma’s button box, exploring for treasures, finding matched sets (there’s a sense of family connections and ancestry too)
In analyzing my own collection of truth-tellers, I’ll be using the SIFTSEI method. It’s something that comes naturally to me and it’s a useful way of breaking things down into individual components of the whole:
Sense : what is this item about/what is it?
Intention : why does it exist/what is its purpose?
Feeling : how does it make you feel?
Tone : is it happy, sad, threatening, helpful?
Symbolism : personal and collective symbolism of an object
Emotion : what does it make you feel? (this is a deeper level of feeling and the difference can be subtle eg. a snake can make you feel scared, but the emotion behind that is the loaded personal history and experiences and connections that “snake” has for you)
Imagery : these are the sparks of intuitive meaning that come to you, that don’t necessarily relate directly to the object – this is the essential essence that makes this oracle yours!
Creating an oracle is so much more than simply gathering a bowl of junky bits together – it’s a real opportunity to delve into what everyday objects mean to you. Understanding how you subconsciously interpret the symbols around you will give you so much insight into how you interact and communicate with the world as well. I think it fosters an appreciation for the “little things”, too, in a “see the universe in a grain of sand” kind of way.
Seeing this in action
As a closing activity to the webinar, Carrie asked us to grab 4 items that were within reach and lay them out in a cross pattern as seen below. And then shit got #real, real fast!
The basic reading we created without thought or (conscious) judgement is a jump-off place for creating our first oracle. This is the Muse behind what is seeking us, and what we are seeking, whether we know it or not. (I even managed to incorporate reversals, quite unintentionally!) So. *deep breath*
- Foundation (wire cutters) – cutting, severing, cauterising (wire cutters tend to slightly “pinch closed” where they cut)
- Reaching for (eraser) – erase mistakes, do-over, fresh start
- Let go of (watercolour wrapper Rx) – the trappings of “art”, all you’ve thrown away/discarded, empty meaninglessness
- Open up to (HK ring Rx) – childhood turned on its head, reclaiming fun, broken heart (the ring is a heart shape)
ISN’T THAT INCREDIBLE?! Talk about a smack upside the head #tellmehowyoureallyfeel What’s utterly astounding is that my daily draw for this day addressed the exact same issue of letting go of my past artistic failures! Not even joking that I teared-up immediately when Carrie was explaining the positions and their meanings. Jeezus.
I’m looking at creating my own charm-casting oracle in a completely different way now! There’s actually direction and purpose behind it, rather than just being a collection of things that might be suitable. Going to take my time and do it right.