There’s been a variety of thought down through the ages about the proper time to divine. One line of thought says night is better than day for divination, because the energies are calmer, more inwardly-focused and more other-worldly at night. Then again, ancient Egyptian priests and priestesses preferred to practice lampadomancy, that is, lamp and candle divination, at midday in a completely dark room. Another divination source says never read when the weather is stormy or windy outside, because then the energies will be too unsettled to do a proper reading.
As another example, One dice divination expert says it should be performed on a Monday or a Wednesday. Another dice expert says Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are the most favorable days of the week for casting the dice, but it should not be attempted on Fridays and Saturdays. (This source stated no opinion about Sundays). Madame Le Normand, diviner to the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and his first wife, Empress Josephine, reportedly flat-out told her clients that if they wanted a positive response to their questions, then Friday was the proper time to consult her.
Some methods of divination are not time-dependent and may be performed at any time, because the timing will not affect the result at all. Examples of this are number divination, name divination and lexigram divination.
The key factor to consider in deciding when to divine is this: calmness. The best time to divine is when the diviner is feeling calm and secure, and when the environment is calm and secure. You can take the weather outside into account if you wish, but the most important weather is inside you. If you can establish an oasis of calm inside yourself, even in stormy emotional times, you can divine anytime.
Another timing factor you may want to consider is regular habit. If you establish a set time of the week or day of the month for the practice of divination, then you may be able to establish in all levels of your mind the message “Now is the time for divination. Set aside all my other concerns and worries at this time, and give me true answers.”
First, clear your mind. This is where the regular practice of meditation comes in handy, because meditation is the exercise of getting your brain to sit down and shut up for a few minutes. You want a source other than your conscious mind answering you in divination, so clearing the slate is the first order of business. If your conscious mind had all the answers, you wouldn’t be divining.
Second, invoke help. One of the biggest complaints I see about divination is it makes you a channel for the Devil—such complaint of course coming from conservative monotheists who’ve never practiced divination in their lives and never would. Divination is communication. You can specify who you want to come through in a divination session—God, your Guardian Angel, Spirit Guides, dead relatives, nature spirits, your own Higher Self. Indeed, you should specify who you want to influence your reading in order to have a successful reading. Otherwise you’re just doing the equivalent of lying spread-eagled in your front yard and inviting passersby to come and get it, which is basically what Ouija-board-users do when they jump on the board without asking for protection first. Just as there are in the flesh, there exists good spirits and bad spirits. You want only the good spirits to come through. If you expect the Devil to come through in a reading, he will happily oblige you. Ask for an Angel, and you’ll get an Angel. It’s that simple.
Third, be sincere. Remain open to the answer you get, and trust completely that whatever the answer is, it is the correct answer to your question at that time. If you are maintaining a cynical or experimental attitude when you are shuffling, stirring-up, or shaking your divination tool, a ‘let’s see if this nonsense is actually good for something’ frame of mind, then you’ll get a nonsense answer. That’s how it works—refuse to take divination seriously and it won’t take you seriously. Suspend disbelief. Honestly want a straight answer. Honestly expect a straight answer. You’re always free to ignore the input you get from a reading.
Be clear on what divination is and is not. Divination is not making your decisions for you. It is providing you with input. Divination is not ‘generalized answers which could apply to anything’, it is an answer which specifically addresses the question you asked and your life situation right now. Each divination tool or method has its own spirit or personality, and will approach your question from a different perspective. Some you may like and get along with more than others.
There may be those rare occasions when whatever divination tool/method you use, and whatever entity you ask to speak to you through it, both it and They refuse to give you an answer, or give you only nonsense answers. At those times, you need to recognize and respect that. In all likelihood, They have a good reason why They don’t want to answer you. Simply put it away and walk away. Try again another day.
When divining, it is best if you recite an invocation out loud before you begin, or while shuffling or stirring-up the divination tool of your choice. In general, your invocation should have four parts: 1.) an appeal to Whomever you wish to influence the answer, even if you’re an atheist and all you’re consulting is that part of your mind which has all the answers 2.) ask Them to speak to you through the tool/method you are using 3.) tell Them the matter or issue you are asking about and 4.) tell Them what part of the deck, cluster or pile you’ll be drawing your answer from, if that is information relevant to the divination tool you are using, so They arrange things correctly. I like to finish the invocation with another appeal that They speak to me through this device right now, so actually, that’s five parts. For example, my favorite invocation is as follows:
“Gods, Ancestors, Nature Spirits, my own Higher Self,
Speak to me through these (cards/tiles/dice/whathaveyou).
And of the (cards/tiles/dice/whathaveyou) I shuffle/consult now,
Show me what I most need to know about (fill in the blank with your question).
I will take the (top three cards from the middle pile/tile from the center of the cluster) for my answer.
Gods, Ancestors, Nature Spirits, my own Higher Self,
Speak to me now.”
You may be in situations where you can’t say an invocation aloud, so in those cases, its fine if you do it silently, but words spoken out loud have more power, and you eliminate the guesswork for Whomever you’re asking to influence the reading. Speaking out loud insures everybody is on the same page and knows what is expected of them. At the end of the reading, remember to thank Whomever you invoked, whether the answer is positive or negative in your eyes. They just did you a solid favor and manners matter, even in divination. After all, you may want Them to come back to influence a future reading, and you don’t want to get a reputation for being an ingrate.
Some people like to have certain music playing, or incense or a scented candle burning, or crystals around, or more likely have a special ‘casting cloth’ for divining on. This is a matter of personal preference, not a requirement. If such things help you focus and get in a divining state of mind, then use them. I find the right state of mind is far more important for divining than having the right accessories.
Some divination methods, such as the yes-and-no stones, or the pendulum, you have to ask a great number of questions in order to get a discernable picture of the issue you’re asking about, and that is fine. But for most divination methods, my general rule of thumb is: no more than three questions in one divining session. At most, no more than one divining session in a day for the same inquirer (the traditional word for ‘inquirer’ is ‘querent’ but I’ve found some people are uncomfortable with that word).
Like I said earlier, I’ve found each divination tool has its own ‘spirit’ or personality to it, and you don’t want to tax that spirit’s patience. In fact, the I Ching will even tell you when you ask it a third question, “You are becoming impatient. I do not instruct the impatient.” Just as you wouldn’t permit a young child to pepper a guest with many questions, do not yourself or let anybody you’re doing a reading for, pepper the Spirits with a whole long string of questions. Again, it’s a matter of courtesy to the Spirits.