Divination is the practice of foreseeing the future. Many diviners, however, work with the client’s past and present in order to clear the way for the future. The word divination is derived from the Latin root “divinus”, which means “divine” or “inspired by a god”. Sometimes divination is called fortune telling. Divination has been used throughout history and within various cultures in the form of reading events as signs or omens.

Anyone can practice divination. You don’t have to consider yourself a psychic even though everyone has intuitive capabilities. The more you use your intuition, the more developed your intuitive skills become. There are specific ways to enhance your intuitive skills such as reading intuitive instruction books, taking intuitive development classes, and practicing, practicing, practicing.

Use divination wisely. It has been proven in the study of quantum physics that just by focusing on the future we can alter its course. However, divination can be used as a tool to bring unconscious information from our subconscious and superconscious minds. By calming our mind and focusing our attention, we are able to open our conscious minds to new information. The act of divination and the use of tools to form patterns can greatly assist us in our focus.

There are many forms of divination but this article’s focus is on one particular form of casting lots. This practice of throwing items such as shells, stones, bones, sticks, beans, dice, coins, or cards, is called cleromancy or sortilege. The items may be thrown on the ground, on a mat or hide, or in a circle.

“Throwing the bones” is a slang term that originated from some indigenous cultures. The bones might consist of animal bones, stones, coins, cowrie shells, nuts, and other natural objects. “Bones” is also slang for dice, which may have originated from divination bones.


Here is a step by step process for creating your own divination system. Divination systems can be purchased but I have found that when I created my own system with meanings that I assigned to each item, my intuitive readings felt much more powerful and clear.

Step 1: Collect your objects. You can use any number of items you wish and they can be of any type. I use natural items so that I feel tapped into the nature spirits and the energy of mother earth. (See photo below.)

Step 2: Assign a meaning to each item. The meaning of each item can be obtained through simple intuition, meditation, or shamanic journeys. Make sure you record the meaning of each item in a journal.

Step 3: Pick a ground to throw on. Some suggestions for a ground to throw on would be a circle or square large enough to contain all the objects when thrown. Some objects may fall outside of the circle or square and that has as much meaning as those that fall within. You can draw a “grid” on paper or you can purchase a cloth to use as a ground. The Q’ero, the indigenous descendants of the Inka, weave a cloth called a four quarter cloth. It is a great ground to use for divination. (See photo below.)

Step 4: Ground yourself and create a sacred space. This is an important practice for protection purposes. When you are ready to begin a reading, do a grounding visualization. Then open sacred space by calling in your spirit protectors and guides. Ask them for their guidance and support during your divination session.

Step 5: Choose a question. Here are a few guidelines to help you formulate the question you want to ask during your divination session:

  • Ask one simple precise question at a time. Do not use compound questions, i.e. use “and” or “or” in the question.
  • Don’t ask “yes”, “no”, “should”, or “when” questions. You will get more precise information if you use questions that begin contain “who”, “what”, “where”, “why”, or “how”.
  • Only ask questions about yourself unless you have informed consent to ask questions on behalf of another soul.

Step 6: Cast objects on ground. As you consciously think about your question, throw the items on your ground.

Step 7: Interpret meaning. Your intuition is stimulated by focusing on the visual results of the items thrown. However, you may receive information through feelings, hearing, or thinking (knowing). For additional information about interpreting meaning, refer to Section #3 below.

Step 8: End the session. When your session is complete, gather up your items. You may want to clear them by some form of smudging with sage or Florida water. Keep them in a safe place. Thank and release all the spirit protectors and guides that assisted you during the session.

The photo below shows a set of items I created. They have been thrown on a Q’ero four quarter cloth.

DIY Divination

I will share the meaning of each item for example purpose only:

Stick – Male Acorn – Growth / Future
Cowrie Shell – Female Prickly Seed – Fire / South
Crystal – Thought Triangle Stone – Earth / West
Coral – Emotion Shell – Water / North
Pine Cone – Spirit Feather – Air / East
Eucalyptus – Ancestors / Past Corn – Abundance & Sustenance
Oval Stone – Foundation / Present Open Cone Pod – Possibilities

Acorn – Growth / Future
Prickly Seed – Fire / South
Triangle Stone – Earth / West
Shell – Water / North
Feather – Air / East
Corn – Abundance & Sustenance
Open Cone Pod – Possibilities


Many times Spirit passes messages to us in forms other than language such as metaphors and pictures. You may not be able to interpret the meaning of your thrown objects literally or the meaning may have an obscure message that will make more sense sometime in the future. You may want to record the results of your divination session in a journal for future reference.

There are two ways to derive meaning while “reading” the bones:

  1. Each item has a specific meaning. Note where the items fall in relation to each other and the significance of their meanings. What metaphors can be drawn from the location of each item?
  2. The overall pattern of the items after they are thrown. What is the meaning of their position and their relationship to other items on the ground?
    The figure below shows how meaning can be applied to the location and pattern of the items after they are thrown. I developed this grid after studying different sources including the psychology of art therapy and sand tray therapy. Don’t take this grid as gospel. You can develop your own meaning from the location of items on the ground.

Divination Grid

Copyright © 2014 Drake Bear Stephen. Except where acknowledged. http://www.DrakeInnerprizes.com