Oracular Mechanics

By Allan Ritchie

Imagination, Intuition and Divination

The mechanics of the Tarot are fascinating. I continually seek to discover what makes it work. There are questions because a tarot reading is full of mystery, suspicion and uncertainty. My curiosity watches every time I lay out the cards and I wonder what is happening. When a tarot reading works something beyond the logical happens. Rendering meaning from card images and placement is a mental activity. This process draws from the reader’s ability to conceive of meaning from the understanding of symbols. This ability is a connection between imagination, intuition and divination.

These were my three steps into Tarot. When I first started, I picked up a deck as a brainstorming and creativity expanding exercise. Slowly I began to notice my intuition like a muscle was growing stronger. Then later I started reading for others. These steps took me from my imagination creating stories to my intuition learning lessons then on to divination for answers to questions for others. Now when I have a deck in front of me there is a combination of all three happening. While on the path I was not aware of the process. It was a rush discovering and developing my Tarot craft. Carried along by the excitement I did not see the steps in a wider perspective. Moving from ignorance, to knowledge, skill then to reading, teaching and writing about Tarot I lacked an awareness of the milestones of each new transition. Akin to being in a fast moving river I tended to notice the river and not the distance I had traveled.

I am recreating this experience. In this series of articles I will be writing about the similarities and differences between imagination, intuition and divination. I purpose to engage these three concepts by developing a new working oracle. Searching out the right tool was harder than I thought it would be at first consideration. The thought of merely plucking an oracle deck off the shelf at the local bookstore was an idea. There are plenty of decks and oracles that I am completely unfamiliar with and that would give me the chance to explore. However this does not fit my aim. A deck or any oracle tradition that is currently used is already steeped in a mythos and many were created with the intention of divination. I want to explore the process from the ground up. I want to take something that was not created for divination but rather for the imagination. I want to feel that frustration of ignorance and uncertainty become the bliss of knowing and understanding. I want to be on the frontside where imagination works and then intuition takes over and where the voice of the divine begins to speak from the mundane.

I wanted to choose something that was normal or ordinary and outside oracular history. A few ideas circled around in my head. Loteria cards are on the verge of breaking into the market as oracles and considered those as they are cards and symbolic. Then I thought of the card game Magic: The Gathering. About a year ago I spent a couple of months learning and playing the game. It was intriguing as they had a magical elements, point values and fantastic artwork. Not satisfied but feeling like I was on to something, then I went to the games section on the toy aisle at the local department store. There I discovered my treasure. I had seen the game before. I gave it rudimentary thought to its potential but now is the time to seize the opportunity for greater investigation.

Rory's Story Cubes ® are all that I would want from an oracular device. They are similar to other forms of divination. They were originally intended for game play. The randomizing action of shaking and rolling the Story Cubes is like the shuffling and dealing out of cards. The Story Cubes with their clunky shape roll, spin, and topple around when used. This harkens back to the act of tossing bones, casting lots, flipping coins or sticks. They just feel right in that way. They are also language independent for the Story Cubes are completely symbolic and free of any writing. The Story Cubes are singular symbols etched on each side of a six-sided cube.

Created by Rory O’Connor, Rory's Story Cubes ® are the registered trademark of The Creativity Hub Ltd. and licensed to Gamewright in the United States. There are a number of sets. The Original set is nine six-sided cubes with fifty-four black images. The Actions set is also nine cubes with blue images mostly of a gender-neutral person performing some task.  Next they created the Voyages set another nine cube with green images. They have been issuing annually three-cube sets call Mix-ins which revolve around themes. Currently available are Enchanted, Clues, Prehistoria, Intergalactic, Medic, Score, Fright, Animalia, and Mythic. Last Autumn they released the nine-cubed Batman themed set based on the comic book and Moomin themed set based on the series of children's books. Also there is the larger sized Story Cube Max in Original, Actions, and Voyages sets.

The Story Cubes create an encounter with interpretation. Their intended purpose is to engage the solitary player or groups in the act of building original narratives. The players roll the Cubes and then they create stories from the random images. Gaming the imagination, the Story Cubes engage the players mentally. This is the act of creation and assigning meaning. Something from  chaos is creation. Imagination sees the chaos and creates meaning. Intuition sees truth in the chaos. Divination hears a voice from the chaos. Meaning, truth and the voice heard from chaos is what I am examining.

Story Cubes have been used before and I am not the first to delve into readings with them. You may already have a set of Story Cubes and tried it out. So I will not be transversing original territory but I want to look with a beginner’s eyes on a process. It will be with deliberate care that I examine each step of the journey. I want to see things that I have done for years in a new light or with special relevance. Working the Story Cubes into a divination tool does not hold the certainty of success, regardless I expect that what I learn will bring what I do with Tarot in to clearer understanding. I hope to bring you along with me and see what we can discover.

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