With only four possible answers and eight possible refinements, the sort of questions you can ask and get a meaningful answer to will be very limited. This method is good for answering questions like:

  • Will entering into this romance/ business partnership result in good or ill-fortune for me?
  • What does the future look like for this relationship/business/project?
  • If I make a bid for this position/invest in this company, will I succeed?
  • I have high hopes for this endeavor I just began; are my hopes well-founded?
  • I’m trying to decide whether or not to make this commitment. What will it mean if I do?
  • Will this person, with whom I’m so much in love, propose marriage to me? Or, conversely: If I propose marriage to this person, will they accept?
  • I’m going to be traveling soon. How will it go?
  • What’s in store for me in the near-future?

As you can see from this proposed list, it mostly answers one question: will I succeed or fail in what I’m either doing, or planning to do?


Now that I’ve gone over the composition, the procedure, and the scope of this divination tool, it’s time for some examples.

Example One: On a National Level

Donald Trump’s adventure as POTUS has been looking a bit wobbly lately, so I asked ‘what is in the near future for Donald Trump and his administration? The resultant throw appears below:

Because the dark wooden bead representing the ‘black pearl’ fell off to one side with only two shell-beads near it, I disregarded those immediately and focused on the light-colored wooden ‘pearl’ and its neighboring shells. The shells form only a half-circle and certainly not a cross, so none of the Eight Refinements can be applied to this reading.

Four of the five shells closest to the light bead were convex-side up. That means ‘interrupted happiness and temporary set-backs’—at the time of this writing, the White House has been emptied-out with employees either sick with Covid-19 or working from home, and Trump himself was reportedly sick with Covid-19(and may still be). The September 26th Rose Garden announcement of Amy Coney Barrett as the next Supreme Court Justice nominee, which was supposed to have been a triumphant moment for the administration, is now believed to have been a ‘super-spreader’ event which brought the Covid-19 epidemic to the White House, and has slowed down the confirmation process.

The advice this throw gives is to persevere, show self-confidence, and seek out new opportunities, if necessary–which is exactly how Donald Trump has handled every apparent set-back he’s ever been faced with in his entire life. So, though accurate, this result doesn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know, nor does it shed any meaningful light on the future. So it goes.

Example Two: On a Personal Level

Wanting to try my new set of divinatory buttons, I decided to ask a personal question this time. I’ve been toying with the idea of participating in this year’s National Novel Writing Month, which happens every November. But too-chicken to be specific, I wimped-out with the open-ended question, ‘will anything I write between now and the end of the year be successful?’ The resultant throw was this:

The white button had just two smaller buttons near it and there was a third off by itself in the upper right corner, so all four went back in the cup, and I focused on the black button and the six smaller buttons closest to it as my answer. Since none of the six remaining buttons formed either a cross or a circle, the eight refinements don’t apply.

Five of the six small buttons were concave-side up, so the answer was ‘unexpected good fortune may await you, so count on luck if effort fails to attain your ends.’ Not exactly a ringing endorsement of my writing talents, but I’ll take what I can get. It further advises me, ‘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.’ Good advice for someone of wobbly confidence who’s never made a serious attempt at writing a novel.


This is another good example of a divination method which emerged spontaneously from using materials at hand. The benefits of this divination method are it doesn’t take up much space, can be thrown together quickly with on-hand materials then dispersed again if you wish (just throw it all back in the buttons jar and give it a good stir), and can give you one of its limited answers quickly. With some well-chosen objects, you could make it a thing of real beauty. It can help you with yes-or-no, stay-or-go, how-am-I-doing type questions. May it bring you years of enjoyment and helpful answers!


  1. Ask a personal question, and make a note of the answer. Does this answer feel essentially correct? Were you encouraged or discouraged by the answer? Return to your notes in the future. Did it pan out the way the beads or buttons predicted?
  2. Ask a question using the head honcho at your school, the CEO of whatever company you work for, or a politician in the news as the subject of your inquiry. Make a note of the answer. Does this answer sound essentially correct? Does it tell you anything new about this person? Return to your notes later. Given how things panned-out for this person, was this answer essentially correct?
  3. Given your experience with these two questions and the resultant fall-out, a.) would you use this divination tool again? and b.) under what circumstances do you foresee using it, if so? and c.) are there any other divination tools or methods covered elsewhere on this website which would do the job better?

Extra Credit: Compile two sets–a set of buttons-only and a set of pearls & shells, and try asking a question of both. Did one set work better for you than the other did? Did you prefer using one over the other, or were you fine using either one?