“When you come right down to it, reading Tarot cards is really very simple. You decide on your subject and your questions, you shuffle the cards and then you turn them over , usually one card per question, and see what they tell you. The trick, really, lies in the seeing.”Rachel Pollack, Tarot Wisdom
This article discusses the potential differences in the terminology and how the use of fortune telling and divination as a style and as a method may affect our approaches to reading.
Ultimately, I think we end up in similar same places but it’s worth exploring, especially as they are seen as different sides of the same coin.
Fortune Telling is a form of divine guidance. Fortune is also known as Fortuna, the goddess of Luck, Chance and Fortune. She is a divine being who has a particular role to play in our lives.
Wikipedia describes her as:
…the goddess of fortune and the personification of luck in Roman religion. Fortuna is often depicted with a gubernaculum [a ship’s rudder/steering destinies], a ball [usually standing on it to depict uncertainty] or Rota Fortunae [Wheel of Fortune] and a cornucopia [horn of plenty/ gibing abundance]. She might bring good or bad luck: she could be represented as veiled and blind, as in modern depictions of Lady Justice, and came to represent life’s capriciousness.
Knowing the above does give the ‘fortune’ part of Fortune Telling a bit more of an edge. It brings to mind thoughts like, ‘What has fortune got in store for me?’ and begs the question, ‘can I win favour with Fortuna?’ This raises questions about what a prediction actually is and if we have ‘free will’ or not.
I like really like the statement below as it shows that a predictive reading can also be empowering:
‘Fortuna Speaks Negative To Warn. To Be Warned Is A Chance To Prepare. Preparation Is Grace’– borrowed from a forum post.
Some people worry that readings take away free will but just as a reading can show us our fate, it can also offer us options about what can do about it.
I was lucky enough recently to hear Rachel Pollack tell a story about the Jewish tradition of ‘arguing with God,’ if we are able to connect to Fortune and Fate why can’t we argue our case?
What about Divination? How is that defined? The Wikipedia entry starts off with this:
Divination (from Latin divinare “to foresee, to be inspired by a god”, related to divinus, divine) is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic, standardized process or ritual.Divination, Wikipedia
The phrase that stood out to me is inspired by god. How powerful is that idea? Not to just be connected but be inspired by a god.
So at this point, the distinction between Fortune Telling and Divination is the difference between being warned or being told vs being inspired.
Because of the nature of the ‘language’ that comes from the cards, the decks and systems we choose do influence the reading we receive. A Lenormand or playing card reading is likely to be a more a ‘telling’ experience and from an oracle or tarot deck, we are more likely to get an ‘inspiring’ reading.
Another factor is the questions we are willing to put to our cards. There appears to be an acceptance to ask a more invasive question in a ‘fortune-telling’ reading than in a ‘divination’ reading.
And then there is the point where a reading of just the cards ends and where advice from the reader creeps in.
When I started to learn Tarot it was at a time where there was a push for Tarot to be as seen as professional and for it to move towards a more ’contemporary coaching-style’ rather than the more ‘traditional’ model of telling and prediction.
But since I’ve been learning to read Lenormand and other older cartomancy methods I’ve been forced into thinking differently. I am challenging myself around about what questions I am willing to ask, the nature of the answers I want the cards to give and how I integrate (if at all) my own views into that process.
There is also a conscious choice about whom want we want to reach out to in order to receive guidance. That is a very much a personal choice and goes into the realms of belief, which is outside the scope of this article, but I wanted to mention it as another influence.
Does choosing between fortune telling or divination make a reading unnecessary cold or overly comforting? An argument for a more fortune telling style reading is to keep a distance between the reader and the querent. whereas a divinatory reading can be seen as trying to empower the querent.
During a fortune telling-based reading you could stop at the telling level of giving information but that’s stopping you from taking it to the guidance level?
And with a more divination-based reading what’s stopping you from taking it back down to practical advice?
Nothing is stopping you defining your own rules. It’s a good idea to sit down an explore your boundaries and comfort levels, as well as being conscious of what style or styles you offer and how that may affect the service you offer.
I hope this has given you something to think about. What do you think? Is there a difference between Fortune Telling and Divination?
I am really proud of this post and it’s one I personally refer back to quite a bit.