One of the old traditional ways a Shaman or one walking the shaman's Path uses for divination is learning to decipher guidance and answers from natural and animal symbols.
The natural world is full of symbols that can be used to answer a question or warn of an event. According to Kristen Madden, author of The Book of Shamanic Healing, this gift is not something that can be taught in a book.
Indeed, I have not found much information on Shamanic divination, other than a description of what it entails.
However, I am used to having wildlife do odd things around me. So far the messages that arise from the birds and animals that continually visit are foretelling some event in the future. These animals don't usually just appear to me for no reason; consistently I am able to understand and connect with them if I can see into their eyes. This takes some getting used to; I was taught never to stare at any wild animal, as it might be taken as aggression.
And there is a completely different feeling if the animal means me harm. Then I listen to the fearful energy that surrounds me, protecting me. The energy signature of most of the wild animals I have seen in near proximity is familiar and significant...it is similar to the one my guides have imprinted in me. I recognize the creature. And I intuitively know it knows me, too.
But that is as far as I am able to go at this time. Some animals...Eagle, Raccoon, Bear and Cat I have written about here; as a consequence, I know what these animals mean, and what message they are sending. But should an unfamiliar animal visit me, I would not know what the message was, unless I looked it up. The animal, too, has to exhibit unusual behavior...like Owl, when he visited...he flew into our yard only a few feet away, and sat staring at us for a long time, after which he flew directly towards us and over the fence. I hear him in the distance at night now; I haven't seen him since.
In practicing the old traditional ways, though, Shamans would know instantly by the animal's characteristics, what it was doing, which direction it was going, and countless other personal ways exactly what the message was.
A long time ago, an old man I knew would foretell the weather for the winter, and what the summer would bring, by the signs left by the animals and plants. It was intuitive for him. I was in awe of him; but he accepted his gifts as normal. In all the time I was close to him, he was never wrong.
From him, I learned to always find the directions in any place I was in. Watch the sun, he would say. I, in turn, asked what was I to do if it was cloudy? There are always shadows, he said...and I was left to ponder. On a deep, black cloudy day, I would be looking for shadows, in my youth...and I finally figured out what he meant. But it took a long while!
Divination is something like that. I find I have to be aware, constantly...and that can mean my attention is divided, between reality and the causal space. It is a hard fence to walk, sometimes. But since I am still learning to decipher the signs, I find it wildly fascinating. And relatively easy for me to do...I have used natural symbols for guidance since childhood.
When I lived on a rural property, it was a common occurrence for wildlife to wander through the yard. I accepted animals such as snakes, pheasants, bear, deer, elk, salmon and even a wolf or two as part of country living. I did not realize just because people lived in the country...all these animals didn't routinely show up at their door. But they did at mine.
It was one of the elements I mourned, when I moved. I was sure I would see no animals living in the middle of Qualicum Beach. I was sure I would lose that connection. Where were the trees and shrubbery that harboured so much wildlife? I knew I would have to create some, in my yard.
But even before the shrubs grew, animals, mostly birds, this time, found me. In the Spring, two mated Eagles flew very low over our heads, and I locked eyes with She Eagle for what seemed like a long moment. After that, it seemed the two were constantly visiting and now...just the other day, their two youngsters flew low overhead, carrying on their parents' routine.
Graham will tell you that large volumes of bird species fly over our yard, very low, with definitive intent. Eagle has shared his life with mine on many occasions. Crow, Woodpecker, Goose and many others share their glorious world on a regular basis. Raccoon recently visited. Cats abound, either in my dreams or the neighbour's visiting Cat. The ubiquitous Deer brings her babies to nibble on the fresh greenery that surrounds the outside of the fence. Rabbit loves the tender pond plants. My dogs give me infinite possibilities for reading animal behavior, and infinite practice!
Included in my awareness of animal behavior is also listening to the plant life that surrounds me. Each has his own story to tell, his own song to sing. There is a strong intuitive rightness
that comes over me, flooding me with energy, when I know I have placed a plant exactly where it needed to be, in the yard. It becomes intuitive gardening, and plants have rewarded my listening to them many times over. The next step is to learn how to listen to their guidance.
My physical body advises me of what is happening with the weather. But to divinate by cloud formations...signs from the sky...I have just recently become aware of them and have a long way to go before I find any degree of success with those. And there are many other, more personal ways, known only to himself, that a Shamanic believer can work with.
My favourite way is to receive guidance from my animal allies. What a profound gift if I could learn important information from such an awesome source!
Wouldn't it be something if my primary ally...Bear...should visit? Marching down Main. I guess that would be unusual behavior!