This article is part of a series: Divination & Decks
If you’re looking for some new divination methods to spice up your practice and don’t know where to turn, I recommend that you turn to the east – Eastern Europe. Slavic people have a close connection to magic and divination. While the traditional spiritual practices of most of the world are quite well-known here in North America, Slavic practices are still relatively underground and are ready to be rediscovered and the unique divination practices can be a breath of fresh air if you’re looking for new ways to divine the future.
Divination at the Crossroads
The crossroads, in particular the intersections of dirt paths, is a spiritual place in many magical traditions. For Slavic people, however, it holds special power as a place where divinations can be done. One particular divination rite for finding out clues as to who your true love will be, involves going to the crossroads at midnight with a group of single friends and a large tablecloth. To begin, one of you must pick up a nearby stick and draw a large circle of protection on the ground at the center of the crossroads. Everyone in the group sits inside this magic circle and the tablecloth is placed over their heads like a tent. One by one, each person in turn calls out their name and then all listen to see if there is a noise from an animal predicting that love will come to this person this year. Whether it’s a dog barking, the hooting of an owl or the howling of a wolf, the characteristics of the noise will give some details as to who their future lover is to be. A noise that is close by means that the love is someone who lives nearby, a far away call means that the lover is coming from a distance.
At the midsummer festival of Kupala, it is traditional to make flower crowns to wear on one’s head. There are several divinations that can be done with these pretty wreaths. One involves floating the wreath on the water as a love divination. A wreath that floats across a pond or river means a successful year in love, but a wreath that sinks indicates love challenges for the year. For those who are already spoken for, it’s possible to do a family divination by taking one’s flower crown to the forest as an offering to the spirits. Hang it on a branch and return in a day or two. If the leaves and flowers are still fresh, it will be a positive year for the family; if it has wilted, then the tradition is to untie the wreath to “untie” the obstacles for the coming year.
A particular somber and spooky divination happens twice a year at the special holidays that honor the ancestors. A special wheat, honey, and poppyseed porridge called Kutya is prepared and is served to the living as well as a bowl set aside for the ancestors. The living ones who partake leave their spoons on the table overnight. If anyone’s spoon is overturned the next morning, it’s a message from the ancestors that that person would be joining the realm of the spirits in the coming year.
For Ukrainians and many other Slavic people, bread is honored as something magical and holy. In the old days, the bread for the week was baked in the home on Saturdays. How the bread turned out would predict how things would go in the home for the coming week: bread that was light and fluffy would indicate ease and happiness in the home, bread that was flavorful but heavy would signify kindness in the home but that there might be challenges coming from people outside the family, and bread that was tough and chewy would mean that there was a family member who was going to be stubborn.
These practices are just a few of the fun and meaningful forms of divination that are being remembered and revived and waiting to be rediscovered. Expand your divination a little beyond the popular methods of fortune-telling and look into the old ways, whether Slavic practices or those from other cultures and countries. There’s a wide world of divination and magic out there waiting for you to explore.