Among the questions haunting humankind across the bridge of generations, most revolve around these in one form or another—

What lies ahead?
What does the future hold?
Where am I going?

Because spirit is the invisible half of nature, we learn much about spirit by observing nature closely and participating in it intimately. We observe the cycle of the seasons, for instance, and see how the changes of increase and decrease are inevitable—yet the precise timing of their arrival can only be predicted accurately by closely watching the signs that actually precede them. Likewise, we participate most intimately with the cycle of change when we sow seeds in spring, cultivate growth in summer, harvest benefits in autumn, and save energy in winter. Understanding the cycles of spiritual good fortune comes in large measure from such analogies of nature.

But when is spring in the particular arena of life that concerns me at this time? How long will it last once it arrives? Can I facilitate its early arrival—or delay its departure? What season am I in right now? How do I make the most of it for the greater good?

Or, even more basic: Can the different arenas of my life be moving through different seasons at the same time? Can, in other words, my relationship with one person be moving through autumn while another is just entering summer? Can my work be moving through winter at the same time as my health is moving through spring? Can the social and political climate around me be moving through one season even as my financial fortunes are moving through another?

And, perhaps, most basic of all: What are the trends developing right now and in what direction? How can I respond to them without setting in motion any negative backlash? How can I respond so as to set in motion forces that amplify and advance my efforts?

Divination is a useful tool for exploring these and other concerns that arise in life because the most authentic divinatory systems embody the One Spirit. Whether they are authentic because they are inspired to a greater degree than others or simply because time and tradition have carved a river of meaning through the stone of rationality is difficult to say—but the fact remains that the most authentic divinatory systems give voice to the One Spirit through answers in the form of an Oracle.

Authentic divinatory systems express a complete philosophy of life. They take into account the role an individual plays in life and her or his relationship with the rest of Creation. They provide meaningful explanations for birth, death and transformation. They provide meaningful principles for organizing society for the greatest good. They establish congruent values and ethics that allow the individual to gain without taking away from others. They answer questions in a way that helps the questioner succeed by providing insight into his or her greater potential. They do not, in other words, merely tell the future as if it were a predetermined state divorced from the living reality of free will and creative intention.

It is obvious that spring will come every year. But precisely when will it come? Will it be colder or hotter than usual? What crops will be best to plant—and when? By analogy: it is obvious that I will start a new relationship sooner or later. But is this one the right one? Is this the right time? Is it the right kind of relationship for this time in my life? From another perspective: I want to start a new venture but is this the right time to undertake it? Is it matched to the social and economic climate of the time? If not, can it be adapted to fit or should I wait or go in a completely different direction?

The future, then, is not some absolutely predictable "season" that is always the same, always demanding of us the same responses, divorced from the living reality of free will and creative intent. It is, rather, the living potential gestating in the womb of the present. Awareness of this living potential is at our fingertips. When we say that spirit is the invisible half of nature, we mean that spirit lives in all matter. We need look no further than our own experience to see how the matter of our body is but half the story: In the same way that spirit dwells in our own body, it dwells in all matter—and just as our spirit awakens to its fuller potential at times of intense change, so does spirit living within all other bodies. As has long been said, When Spring arrives, all the flowers blossom together.

So the living potential gestating in the womb of the present is the creative intent of the One Spirit, constantly providing all the resources and opportunities for us to succeed beyond imagining. And as the voice of the One Spirit, the Oracle translates the perennial truth into the language and symbolism of the Age, answering the questions that will lead to the success that we can imagine.

But the Oracle does not simply speak to the diviner, answering his or her questions mechanically. As the embodiment of the One Spirit, it also hears the diviner, listening to the thoughts and feelings behind the diviner's question. Because all things are manifestations of the One Spirit, the Oracle is attuned to the individual music each instrument in the entire symphony is playing. Because it exists in the inner landscape of the nonphysical, the Oracle is attuned to all the individual dreams making up the collective unconscious. Because the Oracle works from within to synchronize good fortune in the external realm, it teaches how each individual might advance in the short-term even as it constantly exerts its influence to actualize its long-term goal of peace and prospering for all in the Golden Age of Humanity.


At the crux of a diviner's skill lies a harmonious balance between intuitive understanding and critical thinking.

It is said of the great Chinese diviner, Shao Yung, for example, that he and his son were sitting beside the fire one winter afternoon when footsteps outside preceded a knocking at the door. "Quick," Shao Yung said to his son, "what do you predict is about to happen?" The son replied, "So many footsteps symbolizes wood and so many knocks symbolizes metal. This certainly refers to the wooden handle and metal head of a hoe. Therefore, I predict that our neighbor has come to borrow a hoe." Shao Yung corrected him, "Your grasp of the elements, wood and metal, are quite accurate but you have ignored the fact that this is winter, not spring. For this reason, it is clear that our neighbor has come to borrow an ax to chop wood for a fire and not a hoe for planting."

It is one thing to train ourselves to make accurate intuitive leaps about the forces at play within a situation—and yet another to develop the analytical skills to place the Oracle's answer within the context of the current time and place.

In this sense, we can say that the art of divination lies in developing an ever greater sensitivity to the spirit dwelling within matter while the science of divination lies in developing an ever greater understanding of human nature.

From the perspective of this art, people differ only in their sensitivity to the spirit inhabiting matter. At one extreme, there are those who appear completely insensitive and behave in the most brutal ways imaginable, feeling no compunction about killing forests, animals and even people. At the other extreme are those who experience all of matter as sacred and treat everything in the most reverential way.

Obviously, diviners tend toward the latter extreme, basing their actions on the open-hearted experience of sensing the sacredness of everything. Like most things that express our higher potential, such as music or acrobatics, it takes a specific kind of training or practice to achieve an ever-growing sensitivity to the One Spirit inhabiting the one body of Nature. It is the lack of such training that permits the most brutish among us to take the lead in much of civilization's behavior, particularly its political and economic activity. The entrenchment of a materialistic world view of domination, greed and self-interest that promotes the "common sense" attitude that matter is "dead" and "the ends justify the means" is all built on a carefully-reinforced social consensus of resisting emotional contact with the sacred within every form of creation. We could not, of course, treat nature or one another the way we do if we were to all allow ourselves to feel that everything and everyone around us is sacred. Is the divine.

From the perspective of this science, people differ only in their intention to transform themselves into ever more benevolent and creative individuals. At one extreme, there are those who believe that they cannot change who and what they are, forever blaming others for the opportunities they missed and the injuries they caused. At the other extreme are those who view themselves as inner shape-shifters, forever treating their present sense of self as the cocoon within which their next sense of self is already metamorphosing.

Again, diviners lean toward the second of these extremes, basing their actions on the will to transcend every stage of personal development. This requires a conscious balance between utterly appreciating the present moment and never falling into the trap of self-satisfaction. A balance between a contented peace of mind and a ready willingness to ever answer the call of the higher self. A balance between standing comfortably on the present rung of the ladder and reaching for the next without hesitation. The secret to greater understanding of human nature, after all, is that it does not come from observing others—it comes from experiencing the living unconscious common to every individual. We really cannot free ourselves of all the ulterior motives that obstruct and contaminate the clarity of the Oracle's answers unless we encounter our unconscious self-defeating attitudes and behaviors—and replace them with new consciously-accepted responses that spur us ever onward to greater benevolence and creativity.

The training involved in the art and science of divination, then, can be described as the practice of the spirit warrior, who can be defined as a woman or man who (1) senses the sacredness of all matter and (2) defeats the self-defeating enemy-within.

This two-fold training produces a profound transformation in the spirit warrior. Seeing and feeling the sacredness of everything, we come to sense our own sacredness. And, freeing our intention of ulterior motives, we make ourselves a clear instrument through which the Oracle's song might be heard.

In this way, the diviner finds himself or herself on the path of the sacred human. Recognizing our own sacredness, making ourselves a vehicle for spirit: the two-fold path of purifying sensitivity and intention leads us to (1) an intuitive grasp of signs and symbols and (2) the logical discernment to place the Oracle's answer in context without being unduly influenced by personal opinions and experience.

It is paradoxical that we come to divine change by (1) becoming more sensitive to the unchanging and (2) transcending the temporary by identifying with the eternal, but such precisely is the two-eyed vision of the diviner, who gazes unblinking into the face of the relative and absolute realms simultaneously.

Below is an outline of the training course to be discussed in upcoming posts.


I. Breaking through the Time-Mind (The Language-Mind)
Psychological Time as Stream of Self-Talk:
Interrupting Linear Narrative

II. Breaking through the Body-Mind (The History-Mind)
Self-Identity Conditioned by sum of Body's Experiences:
Creating New Sense of Self

III. Breaking through the Goal-Mind (The Will-Mind)
Illusion of Control as a Separate Being:
Hearing Authentic Calling

IV. Breaking through the Pattern-Mind (The Five-Senses-Mind)
The Common Sense of Ignoring the Unchanging:
Passive Attention vs Active Attention

Author's Bio: 

William Douglas Horden has researched indigenous divinatory systems of ancient China and Mexico with passion and independence since 1969. He is steeped in the shamanic world view from living in the Copper Canyon of Mexico with the Tarahumara Indians and in numerous other indigenous communities over the past few decades. William was initially trained in the I Ching by Master Khigh Alix Dhiegh and has since developed a fresh new approach to the ancient art. He currently lives in Roseburg, Oregon and Coatepec, Mexico. Along with his collaborator, Martha Ramirez-Oropeza, he is the author of "The Toltec I Ching: 64 Keys To Inspired Action In The New World".