There is an alternative to pearls and sea shells: you may use buttons instead. One large white button, one large black button, and nine smaller buttons of a different color. Ideally, the buttons you use for this divination method should be the kind with a concave side and a slightly-convex side, so you can tell which buttons are right-side-up and which are upside-down, but really, any buttons where you can tell front from back will do. Shank buttons, toggle-buttons (the kind used to hold a coat closed) and completely-flat, plain buttons won’t work. If you can find all of the needed buttons in your button jar at home, great.

You will also need a cup to hold these items, and for pouring or tossing them out onto your divining surface, if that’s how you want to go about it. If you’re the sort who prefers to shake them up in your hands while asking a question then just dump them, a draw-string pouch will suffice.

PERFORMING THIS DIVINATION

As always, start with a prayer for guidance and true answers. Traditionally, the two pearls and the seven (or nine) shells were thrown into a large sieve and shaken seven times, then tossed or emptied onto the divining surface. You may use your cup instead, or even your hands. I like to cup them in my hands and shake them up while saying a prayer/invocation (I think they pick up my energies better that way), then either throw them onto the casting cloth, or simply split my hands apart and let them scatter how they will.

If eight of the nine shells/buttons land nearest to one of the pearls/large buttons, and the number of right-side-up and upside-down shells/buttons are evenly-split, four-four, then toss everything in the cup and thrown again. You want an uneven split.

The first thing you need to observe is which pearl/large button has the greater number of shells/ buttons closer to it. Only that pearl/large button and its shells/buttons will be taken into consideration. The other pearl/large button and its shells/buttons should be returned to the cup.

The next thing you will observe is how many of the shells or smaller buttons have landed right-side-up or upside-down. (With sea shells, right-side-up is the ‘mouth’ side up). If you have an even number of right-side-ups and upside-downs, or no majority either way, then the entire cast must be rejected and all items are returned to the cup for another shake. A ‘majority’ in this divination method is at least four shells/small buttons either right-side-up or upside-down. A two-two, three-three or four-four split renders the cast null and void, and a fresh cast must be thrown.

INTERPRETATIONS

Once you’ve determined that you have a workable throw, then your result will fall into one of the following four categories:

A majority of shells/buttons nearest the white marker, four or more with the mouth-side or concave side up:

Health, wealth and happiness over a continued and possibly prolonged period. Love, business and friendship all show promise, provided you give them the due attention these commitments require.

A majority of shells/buttons nearest the white marker, four or more with the rounded or convex side up:

Interrupted happiness and temporary setbacks are in store. You can win out if you persevere. Seek out new fields of endeavor and new friends, if necessary; see it as advancing in a new direction, rather than a retreat (which it may be, frankly). Self-confidence will go a long way toward solving your problems.

A majority of shells/buttons nearest the black marker, four or more with the mouth-side or concave side up:

Unexpected good fortune may await you, so count on luck if effort fails to attain your ends. Your troubles may be frequent, but if so, they will be small. Worry is your one real enemy here, so avoid it. Look for a ‘rainbow’ in this situation. Your glass is half-full, not half-empty.

A majority of shells/buttons nearest the black marker, four or more with the rounded side or convex side up:

This indicates bad luck. If you’re confronted with failure, then it may be the better course of action to start over, with a fresh endeavor or a new person, rather than to try to patch things up, or to fight on in the hope of victory. This answer relates more to business, than to love or friendship. But in those instances where the love or friendship is intermingled with the business, then matters may be that much worse—you may be looking for both a new line of work or interest, and a new friend or lover!

THE EIGHT REFINEMENTS

In addition to the four main answers outlined above, if any of the following conditions are met, than one of these eight additional predictions, which I call the Eight Refinements, may be added to the main answer:

If five or more shells/buttons form a well-defined cross, then:

If they land nearest the white marker:

Four or more with the mouth/concave side up mean interrupted happiness. How severe the interruption, only time will tell.

Four or more with the rounded/convex side up mean that something you have done, or planned to do, may cause you deep regret. Avoid taking this action–if you still can. If you’ve already done it, be prepared to go into either damage-control or damage-mitigation mode.

If they land nearest the black marker:

Four or more with the mouth/concave side up indicate that whatever luck is due you should come very soon.

Four or more with the rounded/convex side up mean that if luck does come your way, don’t take it for granted, be grateful for it. Because something else may come along to nullify your bit of good luck.

If five or more shells/buttons form a well-defined circle, then:

If they land nearest the white marker:

Four or more with the mouth/concave side up indicate you may receive valuable gifts, or a sum of money.

Four or more with the rounded/convex side up betokens travel. You will either go on a pleasant journey, or receive a welcome visitor.

If they land nearest the black marker:

Four or more with the mouth/concave side up indicate that anything you are counting on may prove either disappointing, or not worth the trouble involved.

Four or more with the rounded/convex side up mean an up-coming trip may be either dangerous or unprofitable (or both), and therefore something to be avoided. If you can possibly back out of it at this late a date, you are advised to do so.

As you can see from these eight refinements, it’s pretty-much up to the diviner to determine when the shells or buttons have formed a ‘definable’ cross or circle. If you’re having to really stretch your imagination in order to make out a cross or a circle, then these probably don’t apply. Remember, the instructions say a well-defined cross or circle.

Below is a handy-dandy guide you can print out and keep with you when doing interpretation.