By Mike Gleason
Divination for Beginners: Reading the Past, Present & Future, by Scott Cunningham
Llewellyn Worldwide, 0738703842, 199 pp. (+ appendices, glossary and bibliography), 2003
This book, scheduled for release next month is the latest offering from the estate of Scott Cunningham, best known for his works on herbalism and Wicca. It is one in a series of introductory-style books, designed to give a broad overview of a topic and provide a starting point for further investigations.
Although I have heard many complaints about the proliferation of “101″ books lately, I have to say that I feel this is a good thing. It has become easier, in the past decade, to find introductory volumes on many topics. If many readers (and authors for that matter), never seem to progress beyond this level, that is a personal short-coming.
It is far too easy to assume that divination is most symbolized by the “1-900″ psychic hotlines. Scott used this book, one of the last he worked on before leaving this level of existence, to show the many varieties of forecasting available to all of us.
Scott gives a very broad overview of the sources of divinatory systems and the ways to utilize these systems before moving on to actual techniques and interpretations.
I disagree with his assertion that, when using ancient methods which traditionally required specific rituals in preparation, these rituals may be foregone today. When ritual preparations were required, it should still be required, in my opinion.
He discusses the dangers and advantages of using divination, and tells what to look for.
Each of the more common forms of divination receives an adequate explanation, although those which require more extensive learning leave a lot to be desired. But, that should be expected in an introductory book.
Scott makes it clear that divination is neither magick, nor the result of some psychic gift. It is learnable, and usable, by anyone willing to put in the time and effort to learn the techniques.
One of the appendices lists over 75 different forms of divination, which gives a feel for the breadth of this book. Of course, it isn’t possible to go into great depth for all of these. Still, there is enough detail given to give one a start towards finding a method which will work for them.
His bibliography runs to nine pages and covers wide range of topics. It contains some hard to find items, and is heavy on folklore and superstitions, which is to be expected in this field, as many divinatory methods have been preserved in these areas.
This is an excellent introductory book, by an excellent author. Looking for a readable overview of the subject of divination? This is the book to start with