Knox students took a crash course in the ways of divination last Saturday in the Compass room. Sponsored by the Pagan/Student Alliance on campus, the event went for two hours as students learned the background and two techniques of divination. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness of paganism and disprove stereotypes of pagans on campus.
Chicago Priestess Paulette who is the director of the Wiccan Interfaith Council International (WICI) led this event. Established in January 2006, it is a non-profit religious, educational, and charity-driven organization made to support individuals and groups of Wicca and also teach and preserve its traditions to a vast group of people who claim to be Pagan-based.
Of the 11 people that attended, nine were women and two were men. Several women were members of the Pagan Student Alliances on campus including sophomore president Ashley Atkinson and junior Elizabeth Wolfson. The rest were students interested in what the workshop was who wanted to learn about divination.
Before the actual workshop took place, Paulette had everyone sit close and take notes as she taught the history of Paganism and divination. She told how divination is used to guide, inspire, inform, or just to have fun for anyone curious about their future. Paganism is an earth-based religion that celebrates the energies of life around a God and Goddess figure.
Paulette then went on to tell the role Christianity played starting around 300-400 A.D. with the Council of Nicaea. From that time on, Christianity took the dominant role in religious services to the people and Paganism declined. Paulette talked about the Inquisition against witchcraft moving into the occult rebirth connected with political revolutions. It was not till the 1950s when the ban on witchcraft was lifted. Here, she stressed that not all witches are pagans. A Wiccan is a pagan who uses witchcraft to bring about change though not all Wiccans use witchcraft.
Paulette then went on to explain what WICI does for the community. Divination is just one facet of Pagan life as a suspension of thinking, a way of relaxing one’s vision and altering states of consciousness. It is not magic, so anyone can do it. She used Tarot cards as an example of reading a divination. It ties in with the connection of symbols and what they mean to the individual in each reading.
For the first divination, a tealeaf reading was done. She had to use plastic glasses instead of glass cups, but Paulette said that these readings should be in cups and the material should always be organic to tie in with nature. Despite that, she said it was still all right to do the reading, stating that everything happens for a reason.
With the tea itself, any will do as long as they are leaves and not bags. For this reading, lavender and peppermint were used in order to relax the drinker. When the hot water was poured, students were instructed step by step what to do in order to have a successful reading. As students slowly sipped their tea, Paulette talked about putting one’s question into the reading in hopes of finding the answer. She talked about the ways of interpreting symbols and how they should be read when the tea is drunk. After the tea was drunk, everyone turned their cups over to drop out whatever moisture was left and then turned over their cups to see their readings.
Things like placement of leaves and their numbers were shown to have significance. A lot of students continuously saw birds in their readings. At the end of the readings, Paulette emphasized how none of this should be taken too seriously and that everything is subject to change based on their own actions.
The next divination was water scrying. Paulette gave a brief history of the famous writer Nostradamus and how he did his scryings. Scrying is an art in itself and the oldest form of divination. Plastic bowls were used as cold water was poured into each one. After that, black ink was poured into the water and students were asked what they saw. For scrying, it is like tea reading in that no real thinking is allowed with the mind and the eyes must be free to wander and interpret symbols. For this scrying, people saw things like snakes, dragons, mountains, and women figures.
After this, Paulette gave some recommended books to read for anyone wanting to know more about divination and symbol interpretation. When that was done, the workshop was over and it was time to go.
“I thought it was really fun and informative. You have to trust your intuition,” said Atkinson.
“I thought it was wonderful and that it went well. I just wish there’d been more questions asked,” said Paulette.