How to Develop Your Intuitive Language
((Chapter Five of our Ultimate Guide to Making Magic with the Sacred))
Oh to be able to see into the future! The delicious security of knowing you’re making the right choice — that you should marry the man who just proposed or take the job offer. That’s what most people think of when they think of divination.
In our experiences, divination is something more – something deeper.
Many people who pursue witchcraft – at the heart of it all – seek a way to empower themselves and their lives. Nearly everyone who joins the Temple of Ara as a member describes their spiritual journey as a journey of discovery — both self-discovery and discovery of what is out there, what is possible. They desire to understand their place in the world, and to know that that there is more to life—that there are more cosmic connections than what are outwardly apparent.
In this quest for self-knowledge, and in the development of our relationship with Mother Nature, we come to realize that there is more to reality than what we see with our eyes– what is known as non-ordinary reality.
Non-ordinary reality (see Carlos Castaneda, who originally coined the term) can be described as the dimension of the Cosmos that exists outside of and parallel to the linear time-space arena of ordinary awareness.
According to Michael Harner, anthropologist, educator, author and the founder of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, ordinary reality is the reality that we all perceive together. It’s the reality in which we can all agree that there is a clock on the wall.
Non-ordinary reality is the reality that is associated with what Harner calls the shamanic state of consciousness. That is, when consciousness has been altered and you’re able to see what you normally don’t see in an ordinary state of consciousness.
Ordinary reality is something that virtually everybody agrees on. Non-ordinary reality is very person-specific. The information obtained in non-ordinary reality is tailor-made to the individual—other people may not perceive it at all, as opposed to the information obtained in ordinary reality, in which everybody gets the same thing.
You can consider non-ordinary reality the quantum level of where the Divine resides, where spirit resides – the Other world, or the Dreamtime.
Divination as the bridge between ordinary and non-ordinary
As anyone who has experienced anything about shamanism knows, there is great wisdom and insight to be gleaned from non-ordinary reality. According to Harner, access to non-ordinary is related to the degree to which you have entered the shamanic – or altered – state of consciousness.
In an altered state of consciousness, shamans and Nature’s Witches talk with plants and animals, with all of Nature. This is not just a metaphor. Everything that’s ever been known, everything that can be known, is available to us in the Dreamtime.
There are many methods to alter consciousness and many tools to use – from shamanic drumming, ecstatic trance, dreams and even the use of oracle tools such as the Tarot.
At the root of all of this, is what we call divination.
The real purpose of divination is found within the word itself: divination is a way for you to engage in a dialog with divinity. Through divine communication we receive the guidance, insights, inspiration, wisdom that we need in daily life and on our soul’s great adventure.
Divination is an act of communion, an experience of love and wisdom.
There’s another gift that divination offers: a mirror to see deeply within, to know yourself – your strengths as well as shadows. Any method of divination is an oracle, which means the mouth or voice of divinity. It the Divine supporting you as you find the gold within the darkness.
With divine insight, we can understand ourselves, our learned patterns and unconscious impulses, the meaning of a current situation, or dilemma. The insights we can help us change how we feel, think, and behave, and so change our future.
Through the divination, you’re also cultivating your intuition and your confidence. Best of all, every time you engage in sacred communication, you remember that you are not alone – you are part of the great Oneness with All.
Learning to speak your language
Traditional cultures have systems or cosmologies that explain the universe. These shamanic cosmologies explain for the people where the world came from, what we are, how we got here, and most importantly why we are here. These cultures also sanction divination systems or tools that the people use within these cosmologies to interpret their dreams, journeys, and visions.
The invisible world speaks to each of us through our own unique symbolic language. Learning to accurately interpret that language is essential to understanding your journeys, dreams, and inspirations. “The art of interpreting messages and visions is based entirely on how your see yourself in the Universe,” explains Christina Pratt, author of An Encyclopedia of Shamanism, “and how you understand the true nature of your soul.”
Accuracy in interpretation is important, especially when we being to allow our information from our helping spirits and guides to inform our actions in everyday life. While the messages from spirit resonate with our soul, they are all filtered through our consciousness. Thus, our accuracy in interpretation is limited by our accuracy in how we see ourselves and the world around us. Consistent and effective clearing practices are essential if we are to interpret the messages from our guides accurately and use them to co-create lives of beauty, joy and purpose.
Here are some tips on how to learn to speak your unique symbolic language:
Record your experiences.
This is the first and most important step. Taking notes, even a few sentences that encapsulate the experience literally draws the content of the unconscious out into the realm of the concrete.
Intuitive messages are subtle and can fade from your conscious mind very quickly unless you take action to record them. In fact, neuroscience research indicates that intuitive insights not captured within 37 seconds will likely never be recalled again.
Journal writing is a highly effective way to access your intuition and capture its wisdom.
If you’re trying to understand your dreams or perhaps think you don’t dream or can’t remember your dreams, simply keep a journal by your bed. And every morning, write “No dream to record”. Within two weeks of this process, you will begin to remember your dreams. (In fact, “you might open the floodgates!”)
Identify how you were feeling during the experience.
For example, we suggest asking yourself: “Was I scared, angry, remorseful, etc.? Do I still feel those feelings the morning after? How comfortable am I feeling these feelings?”
Feelings are important because, according to C.G. Jung, we are always being called by our unconscious self to feel into our ideas, thoughts, and actions to gain a deeper sense of who we are and where we are going in our lives.
Put down the symbol dictionaries and reference books.
You’ve probably come across reference books that feature specific meanings for dreams, runes, the Tarot — even power and spirit animals. While there may be some universal meaning for these symbols, the key is to figure out what the symbol means to you.
So, even though there may be some universal elements, symbols have different meanings for different people. We are all unique and carry very personal histories that impact the symbols, objects, feelings, tastes and smells that we associate with a particular dream story, shamanic journey, or other divinatory event.
It would be great to say that interpreting your symbolic language is as simple as reading a book, and it’s all been figured out for you. The truth is that interpreting your symbolic language is the most changeable aspect of divine communication. Everything is a variable, including you – because everything is changing (on a deeper level).
There isn’t a simple book that will help you interpret your symbolic language for this reason.
Remember you’re the expert.
There are no experts other than yourself when it comes to your own psyche so don’t stop trusting your own inner guide to your unconscious, your intuition, and your own helping spirits.
Stop assuming that anything written in a book is correct regarding your own helping spirits. If you have a question, you need to ask them directly and listen to their answers. Our helping spirits are coming to us with unique answers for us. There isn’t a book published that’s going to better interpret your journey than you. You need to ask and pay attention and learn to interpret what your helping spirits are showing you. Don’t rely on outside sources to interpret your symbolic language.
You can learn a lot from even the most mundane experiences.
You may be thinking that your dreams or shamanic journeys just aren’t fascinating, flashy or profound enough to explore. But even dreaming about having oatmeal for breakfast can yield thoughtful results.
As an example, here are some questions you can ask yourself, to better understand your dream of oatmeal:
“Am I alone with my oatmeal? Am I inside or on a veranda with a gentle breeze? Are the oats organic? Overcooked? What’s nearby? How do I feel about the oats? What do oats typically symbolize for me? Are there any memories that I can tie to eating oatmeal? When was the first time I remember eating oatmeal for breakfast? How did my mother make oatmeal, and do I make it the same way as an adult?”
Receiving wisdom from your intuition shouldn’t be a passive experience. Get specific about the information you need and what kind of answers you’re looking for. The more clearly you pose your questions, the clearer the answers will be.
Take immediate action.
The Universe rewards those who take action – and so does your intuition. When you act on the information you receive from your inner source of wisdom, you open the channel between your subconscious and conscious mind even wider and will receive more intuitive messages that are stronger and easier for you to hear and act on.
Once you’re more comfortable perceiving your symbolic language, not only can you receive sacred messages, but you can also send them. You can use the symbols, images, and metaphors to communicate to the Divine, thereby bringing greater meaning, depth, and energy to your spiritual practice.