This seems to be one of those divination methods which works better in theory than in practice. For as well as this worked, I might as well done it in ‘Lucky Dips’ fashion, discussed in one of my New Year’s divination lessons in January, and folded the slips in half, stuck them in a bowl of dry rice, lentils, or beans, and chose a slip at random. Perhaps the quality of paper I used was too cheap, too absorbent. Perhaps I simply needed to give the process more time. Perhaps I’m being too harsh, and more experimentation is needed.
But I don’t want to discourage you from trying it. You may succeed where I failed. This is why I encourage everybody to be a divination scientist. Many divination methods take practice. Some divination methods you instantly take to like a duck to water, and others may not work for you no matter how hard you try. Still others, you may have to work with them for a while before they become ‘attuned’ to you and start working for you. But you must be willing to experiment, in order to figure these things out.
Of the two approaches, approach number one, rolling the slips up into scrolls, then embedding them in clay and pouring water over them, worked better for me than just laying the slips in the bowl dry and hoping for the best as I poured water over them.
If you’re going to go with the number two approach, just the slips and water, I’d recommend trying a better-quality paper that may rise to the surface faster. OR–I can think of only one solution which would make this approach work faster and better, and that’s with a group. As I poured the water in the bowl, I noticed the slips of paper naturally stirred around in the bowl. If practicing this as a group, you can either have one person slowly pour the water into the bowl as each participant comes up and grabs a slip at random as it drifts past their fingers. Or, you can fill the bowl with the slips and the water first, then as each person comes up to grab a slip from the water, someone stirs the water up, so that the slips are floating around again, however briefly, and the inquirer can grab one at random. Just have a hand towel on hand if you try it this way.
In general, this doesn’t appear to be a divination method you can hurry, particularly approach number one. But if you have other things to keep you occupied in the mean-time, and don’t mind checking back later with your bowl of murky water and soggy slips of paper, this might be a divination method worth employing. Just be on the look-out, if you are practicing approach number two as a group, and everyone’s questions have been answered and the ritual is over, for that one wisenheimer who will think it’s funny to throw the bowl of water on somebody. There’s one at every party.
- Try approach number two, the slips of paper in a bowl and water. Your choice of paper. You can use one of the sets-of-thirteen I devised, or use your own. If none of the slips of paper rises to the surface of the water, leave the bowl overnight and see if one does. Did it work? If one or more slips rose to the surface, can you see how the answer relates to your life issues right now? Did the answer feel right?
- Try approach number one: roll the slips of paper up into tiny scrolls, embed them in clay placed at the bottom of the bowl, and fill the bowl slowly with water. Your choice of set-of-thirteen, or devise your own. Did any come loose immediately, or did you have to wait overnight? If any came loose, can you see how the answer (or answers) relates to your life issues right now? Did the answer feel right?
- Keep a record of the results you received for both methods of floating slip divination, and return to those records at some point in the future. Did things transpire according to the direction the answer slips seemed to indicate?
- Given your experience with this divination method, how would you re-write the rules, if at all? Would you use this divination method from time to time, or is it one of those divination methods which is interesting to try once or twice, but no more than that? Are there any circumstances or people with whom this would be a good divination method to practice?
It sounds very “Jane Austin” to me. Why do you think it might be hundreds or thousands of years old? I’d think early/indigenous cultures would prefer other methods not relying on paper, but that’s just *my* hunch.
Good point. It *does* sound very Jane Austin-ish, and was probably more-used in more-recent centuries. I suspect that as long as there have been bowls, water, clay, some sort of paper to write on, and something to write with, some enterprising soul probably tried this particular approach to divination further back than we know. I’m inclined to think such an enterprising soul would most-likely be from one of those early civilizations around the Mediterranean, such as the ancient Egyptians, Greeks or Romans, three societies with some variety of paper in use. But in the end, I have no proof–just a speculation.